I had a full day trip planned for Friday (to Jaipur), so I decided I’d spend my Thursday just sightseeing around Delhi. I also told myself that it would be a chill day, where I wouldn’t do too much. Funny how things can take a turn when you least expect it.
I had my breakfast at the hotel and then grabbed a ride to check out Humayun’s Tomb. It is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum and designed by Persian architects chosen by her. It was the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent, and is also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work.
After seeing the entire complex, I grabbed a ride over to Qutub Minar. Once I arrived, there was a large crowd of local tourists waiting in line for admission. When I went to the foreign tourist line, I was delighted to see there was no waiting. Once I secured my ticket, I was approached by a gentleman wearing a badge who told me he was a guide and asked if I wanted to use his services to explain the complex. I had remembered reading that often times around touristy spots, there would be guides who are not necessarily government authorized and to be careful when using. But he was very kind and his rate was very low (500 rupees) so I figured why not!
As we made our way into the complex, he took several photos of me while he explained the history and allowed me to take as many photos and ask as many questions as I wanted. Qutub Minar is a minaret and victory tower that forms part of the Qutb complex, which lies at the site of Delhi’s oldest fortified city, Lal Kot, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction on the minaret started in 1199 and it is 72.5 meters, making it the tallest minaret in the world built of brick.
Once we were done with the complex, he asked me if I had any more questions. I asked him if he could recommend somewhere to eat and he ended up walking me over to a nearby restaurant. He suggested the butter chicken and garlic naan so I went with that for lunch. I tipped him for his services and time and he told me that he’d come back to check on me after lunch. I figured I’d probably be done and gone before he came back but sure enough, he came back to see how my lunch was. I have to say it was one of the best meals I had in India!
Since he had not led me astray so far, I ended up hiring him for some more sights. So we hopped in a tuk-tuk and went to check out the Rashtrapati Bhavan, or the Presidential Palace in Delhi. By area, the complex is the 2nd largest behind Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy. We opted to just check out the beautiful gardens – and they did not disappoint!
After the gardens, my feet were killing me (blisters compliments of my new shoes and lots of walking since arriving in India) but we opted to check out another spot. We headed over to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib which is very close to the popular area Connaught Place in Delhi.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is one of the most prominent Sikh house of worship, and is known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, as well as the holy pond inside its complex, known as the Sarovar.
Gurdwara Bangla Sahib was originally a home belonging to Raja Jai Singh, a Hindu Rajput ruler in the seventeenth century, and was known as Jaisinghpura Palace. In in 1664, there was a smallpox and cholera epidemic, and Guru Har Krishan helped the suffering by giving aid and fresh water from the well at this house. Soon he too contracted the illness and eventually died in March 1664. A small tank was later constructed by Raja Jai Singh over the well, its water is now revered as having healing properties and is taken by Sikhs throughout the world back to their homes. In March 2021, the gurudwara inaugurated the cheapest diagnostic centre with the aim to provide healthcare for the poor. Patients can get an MRI scan at ₹50.
As with all Sikh Gurdwaras, the concept of langar is practiced, and all people, regardless of race or religion may eat in the Gurdwara kitchen (langar hall). The Langar (food) is prepared by gursikhs who work there and also by volunteers who like to help out. At the Gurdwara, visitors are requested to cover their hair and not to wear shoes. Assistance to foreigners and visitors with Guides, head scarves, and shoe-minding service can be found inside the compound and are available free of charge. While photography is not allowed inside the temple, they do allow in the kitchen and in the outer areas of the complex.
It was a wonderful experience seeing how everyone comes together to help at the Sikh temple. I would absolutely recommend everyone who visits Delhi check it out!
Before going our separate ways, I had the guide put his number in my WhatsApp contacts but I think we didn’t change the country to India because I was not able to message him. Which was a real shame because he was so much fun and made my day so memorable!
I headed back to my hotel so I could get a good nights sleep. Until my next entry…..I’ll stay dreaming of my awesome time in Delhi!