New Delhi can only be described as a melting pot of two extreme worlds. Find out how it blew our minds.
Delhi has a new world with gated homes, high end restaurants, luxury shopping malls and an old world where piles of rubbish line the streets, stench from open sewers and men pulling carts along selling cow pat. If I hadn’t see it with my own eyes, I would find it hard to believe such a concoction could ever exist.
When we first arrived in New Delhi we were astonished at how modern the airport was and how well built the roads were. Driving along the highway, it didn’t feel like we were in India at all. If it wasn’t for the heat and the smell, I could almost believe we were driving along a dual carriageway in North London. Then out of nowhere we took one turn and everything changed.
There was utter chaos on the roads. Tuk tuk’s and cars coming at you from the left and right, trying to squeeze through tiny gaps and the noise from all the beeping was absolutely deafening. There are massive cows everywhere scavenging for food in the trash. We were told the cow is regarded as the ‘mother’ in India, but it’s sad that in such a built up city there is nothing for the mother to eat.
Although there are many incredible, historical sites dotted around the city, travelling around can be difficult and frustrating especially with small children. With sporadic and broken pavements, it’s not the type of city you can walk around in, there’s litter everywhere and even crossing the road feels like an achievement. But it is definitely an experience to be had.
Humayun’s tomb was definitely our favourite site in New Delhi. It’s a sanctuary in the middle of a frenzied city. The tomb was completed in 1572 and was the inspiration behind the great Taj Mahal, from the gardens, to the fountains and even the white marble dome. We spent a wonderful afternoon walking through the gardens and sitting under the shade of a tree admiring the impressive red brick structure.
India Gate and the best Children’s Park in the city
In the heart of the city is India Gate, a World War I memorial for the soldiers that died fighting in the British Army. It’s a really beautiful open space with water fountains and gardens. What was perhaps more exciting was the huge children’s park adjacent to the monument. There are lots of swings and slides, musical fountains and trees thankfully, which meant Ava could play in shade during the hottest part of the day. Definitely a must for families!
Entering Old Delhi is like entering a Hollywood film set in India, it fits all the stereotypes. The streets are so crowded, it’s noisy, polluted, one moment you smell open sewers and the next you’re hit by the mouth -watering smell of char-grilled chicken and Indian sweets. This is the first time I understood what it meant to be in a country full of 1.2 billion people!
As we walked past Jama Masjid, which is a beautiful Mughal structure, every so often we saw groups of homeless people, sitting tightly packed on the floor beside a street food vendor. We found out these people were waiting for leftovers or occasionally for someone to come by and pay the vendor to feed them. It’s interesting that in a place where you find absolute poverty you also find the greatest kindness from people.
That evening we had dinner at Karim’s, a highly recommended local Indian restaurant with the best curry’s and tandoori chicken. The place is heaving with locals and tourists, you really feel like you’re in the thick of it here.
We’ve all seen documentaries about the poverty in India and Ru’s seen Slumdog about 1,000 times, so we thought we were ready to face it, but ultimately nothing can prepare you. At this stage I could describe the poverty or tell you a sad story about a child living in such deprivation, instead I’d like to tell you how it’s humbled us.
Seeing people living on the streets, waiting desperately for handouts took us back to our everyday lives in the UK and forced us to assess our own unhappiness. It made us think about all those times we complained or worried about the mortgage, cars, our work or really wanting to buy that expensive TV with all latest mod cons that we can’t afford. All of these worries are minuscule compared to what these people face every single day of their lives. The struggle just to survive. Being in India has definitely made us feel blessed with everything we have. This is one of the best things about travelling, you start to look inwards and question what’s really important in life.