Food: Mutton biryani, Rs 80. Beef naan, Rs 20.
Drink: Bottled drinking water Rs 20 (at some shop you can find different brand for Rs 15)
I started to appreciate mutton biryani when Az brought me to Syed Restaurant in PJ after we got married and I moved to KL. Knowing that biryani is somewhat originated from Indian culture and we really love our mutton biryani everytime we visit Syed’s, Az since then has set a huge mission to search for the best mutton biryani in the world once we’re in India. Mutton biryani in India must be at least way better than Syed’s – that was what we initially thought. Anticipating to taste ‘better than Syed’s’ biryani, we start our search at one of the busy small roads in Old Delhi where there are restaurants sitting one after another.
How to get there: It’s located nearby (walking distance 1km) from the Red Fort (refer to here to get to the Red Fort)
Entrance: None, but camera will be charged Rs 200 (expensive!). I guess video camera was more expensive, so we decided to pay for camera only while I hide my DVD camcorder inside bag, and only take it out when nobody’s watching :P
It was Zuhur prayer time when we arrived in Jama Masjid, so I was hoping to see crowds of people praying. But there wasnt as many people as expected, and about half of them are actually tourists like us. There’s a large pond in the center of the mosque yard where you can take the wudu, but I cannot guarantee if you like the color of the water :P I let Az go inside to join the jamaan prayer, while I sit at the waiting area with our backpacks where many women are waiting with their little kids.
The Jama Masjid isn’t actually as big as we had expected. Maybe it’s claimed to be among the largest mosques in India (or at least, Delhi) if you count the yard – which is yes, very big. The interior part was only enough for at most 3 saf (lines).
The courtyard isn’t always full for prayers, probably only during Eid prayers (I think I’ve seen photos of Jama Masjid overloaded with people praying) while other time it’s a place for tourists hanging out, take pictures, and local people trying to sell souvenir.
Oh ya, you can see loads of pigeons inside, and they’re even being fed here. It can be fun, but at minus point, you’ll hardly see any area in the large yard free from birds poop, so watch out where you walk.
Photos above are taken using my super zoom lens, right from where I sat at the waiting area. Left: crowds at a typical street nearby in Old Delhi with insanely lots electric cables hanging. Middle: men sitting at the stairs towards the mosque. Right: The Red Fort seen from far away.
After prayer we went to wander around the old town and find a place for lunch.
How to get there: take Metro to Chandni Chowk station (from AIIMS station, it’s Rs16) and walk 1.5 km to the old city. Not even necessary to take autorickshaw.
Entrance: Rs 250
Our first visit was to the Red Fort in the old part of Delhi. It’s one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in India, built to be a Mughal palace in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan (yup, the one who built the Taj Mahal). Though coz of existence of some memorials and museums having built within the fort area, I had thought the place was all about India’s independence from British settlement rather than a palace. Which is also true, anyway. It’s called Red Fort because it was built with red sand stone in that era.
After we entered the main gate, there are many souvenir shops with impressive stuff attracting us but Az has made me agree not to start shopping on our very first day. He himself fell for some artistic-shaped chess set he was meaning to search for when we were coming to India, but decided not to buy yet. Inside the walls of the Red Fort is a composition of gardens with museums and abandoned buildings and pathways which might be confusing at first. We walked into the Museum of India’s Struggle for Freedom and Archaeological Survey of India to see some historical photos and monuments which we hardly recognize anyone except Mahatma Gandhi, who in this picture looks like as if he’s a long-lost great grandfather of Az :P
After further walking it leads you to a huge gate, and beyond the gate there lay other structures and buildings from the Mughal period. Naqqar Khanna, the huge gate to the courtyard heading to Diwani-Aam, a public pavilion. Many visitors walking towards Diwani-Khas and Hammam. Diwani-Khas is made of marble instead of red sand stone. So is the Hammam (royal bath) and I guess it used to be a small mosque there.
Close-up of Diwani-Aam. The pillar structure here gave me a Deja-vu that I’ve seen this in a Hindi film Fanaa of Kajol and Aamir Khan, and at this time I was trying hard to remember if the film really took place here. Only after we went back at Mr. Bashir’s, his nephew Mubashir told us it was Qutub Minar that was filmed in Fanaa, which we were going to visit the next day.
We proceeded to some small museums and old bridge to see railway from above before we exit the Red Fort and walked out to see the rest of the old city and Jama Masjid.
We stayed in a guest house next to Mr.Bashir’s place. It was a simple but neat apartment. We were supposed to CouchSurf at Mr Bashir (whatever it might mean) but the least we thought that we would be given a complete hotel room! There was a girl called Sushma who’s managing the guest house. She’s a very chatty girl and loves to talk to us, and she’s speaking Hindi with us all times as if we understand her :) Ya this is Susma in the picture.
View from our room
The location is in the South Extention II, less than 1km away from AIIMS Metro Station (AIIMS stands for All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, which is located next to the station, also with a hospital.) It’s still very convenient if you want a place near Metro station to get to almost everywhere in Delhi. If you’re too lazy to walk, rickshaws are available everywhere and it’s cheap if you bargain.
The guest house is a tall apartment, I think has around 5-6 floors. It doesnt come with elevator, but not bad as stairs are clean and well kept, only once we had to give emergency call to Mr Bashir as a huge dog was sitting in the middle of stair when we were going down. The room rate as Sushma’s was Rs.1000, as pictured below.
The room doesnt come with attached bathroom, rather in every floor there’s a shared bathroom (looking posh though, with a small fan inside!) and a pantry (with kitchenette) shared by guests in two rooms every floor. So in every floor there are only two rooms (not crowded). I met a guest from Afghanistan staying here for about a month in the room the next door.
The apartment has a balcony, from where we loved stand to get early morning breeze and sunrise, while watching nearby buildings and people passing by the street.
This small car is India’s cheapest card produced, at Rs.100,000 and we get to see alot of them around!
A lovely sunrise in our first morning in Delhi :) We’ll be visiting many places today and tomorrow.
Metro fares: New Delhi Airport to New Delhi station (Rs.80) and New Delhi to Green Park station (Rs.16).
Airtel Prepaid Sim: Rs.700
Autorickshaw from Green Park station to South Extension II: Rs.80
We arrived in New Delhi on 2 April after 6 hours of flight, almost midnight. Didnt take any photos at airport or Metro, but some short clips as you’ve seen in the trailer. After getting a sim card from Airtel counter in the airport (which was quite expensive compared to Malaysian prepaid starter pack), we immediately contacted our CouchSurfing host Mr Bashir. It was almost 11pm and we were suggested to take taxi directly to the address given, but instead, we wanted to take Metro airport line and we were convinced we would reach at least at nearest station to South Extension II area. Relying on Google map and the Metro map, I decided that we have to stop at Green Park station.