Delhi: Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

How to get there: Take Metro to Qutub Minar station (from AIIMS station it’s Rs 15)
Entrance: Rs 250, Camera Rs 20

After breakfast with Mr Bashir’s family, we took Metro to visit Qutub Minar. The station to stop is Qutub Minar station – which is very straightforward. Or so we thought. But it didnt turn up to be straightforward as we expected. We got cheated at the very station thus walking for 2 km to the opposite direction. Duh =,= Why people need to be so mean?? First we approached some teenagers hanging out at the station, asking which way we should walk to reach Qutub Minar. They said left way. Okay, we dont want to be fooled that easy so we asked a rickshaw driver (we believed he meant to ask us to ride his rickshaw but we said we’d just walk) and he said we need to walk  to the right way. Great.

By now we are convinced that one of the direction-givers were trying to fool us. To take extra precaution, we asked another group of middle-aged people, hoping that mature people wont try to fool us unlike a rickshaw driver or teenager would. They didnt sound very sure, but one of them pointing to left side. So we started walking towards left of the road in front of the station.

It was not fun when you have walked like 1km and still not seeing any signboard of the destination you want to go. I started feeling uneasy and seeing bus passing by, I was so hoping to ride them but unsure which would go to Qutub Minar. We keep on walking, and instead of seeing a sight of Qutub Minar signboard, we saw a sight of the next Metro station. Grr.. If we really need to walk all the way to the next Metro station to visit Qutub Minar, we the previous station was named Qutub Minar and not this one we’re just seeing? We  therefore concluded that we took the totally wrong way T_T and turned back to walk another 1.5km to Qutub Minar Metro station.

I didnt stop cursing those people, the teenagers at the station, the mature people on the street (how could we assume that mature people could give the best direction??Ugh) until we passed the station again from another direction. I felt the urge to find the bunch of teenagers and old people again and scold them at their face, but decided to focus back to our destination, Qutub Minar. In fact, Qutub Minar is located only half the distance we had walked the opposite direction earlier.

On our way, we got to see a significant looking monument in the other side of the road (click on the first thumbnail pic), but was not in the mood for diverting our path again, so we headed straight to Qutub Minar. After we paid the ticket, and went to the entrance, I heard someone shouted “Abang, Abang!” (translate: Brother! Brother!) and I paused, wondering if I have mistakenly  heard people speaking Malay in this center of India. When I turned back, a happily smiling boy waving at us from a van, and the whole van filled with people also looking at us and smiling. From the first impression we couldnt register fast in my mind that they’re Malaysian. I mean, they’re Punjabi by race and by default when you’re in India you would think they’re Indian Punjabi first before you can guess they’re Malaysian Punjabi. “Dari mana?” the boy asked, and we happily replied “KL”. It felt so good to meet another Malaysian in a stranger land :) And it felt better that they could recognize us as Malaysian from afar despite that we mistook them as Indians (sorry!). They waved a goodbye-and-see-you-again and the van left. So we proceed our way to Qutub Minar.

So to speak, we havent yet met any other Malaysians since we arrived in India 2 days ago, so the Punjabi family was the first. Even in Red Fort which was full of tourist, we couldnt remember encountering any Malaysian. Here in Qutub Minar, there are tourists but not many at this hour, so we could spend time walking slowly in the archaeological complex.

The Qutub Minar minaret was indeed very tall and standing strong. I mean, it was hardly ruined despite of hundred years of age. There’s another structure which is a metal pillar, I cant remember what its significance. Capturing the details of Qutub Minar where you can see Arabic script carved from the very stone making up the minaret.

Apart from the minaret, there are some other structure remain in the area. Yup, the whole area was quite big, and there’s another section having some ruins with many pillars  which look like they were built in different era than the Qutub Minar and its similar red-stone builts.

If you have seen this Hindi film Fannaa (starring Aamir Khan & Kajol) which is one of my favorite Hindi films, watch the video clip below and you get to see it was filmed right here in Qutub Minar. And we were here! ^_^

India Gate, New Delhi

walking towards India Gate

How to get there: Take Metro to Central Secretariat station (from Chadni Chowk station, it’s Rs 12) and walk 1.5 km towards India Gate. 
Entrance fee: none, it’s a public area.
Way back: we took Metro to AIIMS station, Rs.20 and bought Coke for Rs.20

I cant remember how India Gate fell into our visit list, we were aware that it’s only some kind of arch structure looking like one in France (I said this because I have French postcards with it and in fact I knew Paris Gate (or whatever it’s called) before India Gate). Nothing much to see around. Then again maybe because there’s nothing much to see, we put India Gate as add-on after our main course, Red Fort and Jama Masjid on Day 1. Plus, it’s located on the same Metro line (Yellow one).

We were told by the officer at the Metro station that we should stop at Central Secretariat station, and followed by some walks. You can get a rickshaw but we thought we wouldnt mind some more walking. Only after half an hour walk and we hadnt yet seen sight of India Gate, then we started to curse ourselves. It felt like we have walked 3km towards the India Gate, you have to cross 3 super huge recreational fields. I guess only after the first field you get to see sight of India Gate from far away.

Okay, we really NEED a rest. Thankfully the field grass here look clean and we could lay down. Seen everywhere were people hanging out in the nice-weathered evening, mostly family. Also, people selling snacks, drinks and toys are everywhere too. When we were rested, suddenly came two young guys approaching us, and greeted us in a friendly way. Although looking suspicious, we didnt mind some chats with them, until the minute they said they were looking for donation. It seems, seeking donation in a friendly way. They said it’s for charity for poor people. Okay, we have seen alot of beggars all over Delhi and if we didnt manage to donate to those poor people, why should we give money to these guys in clean shirt and shoes? Feeling awkward (since we were sitting and couldnt move or run away as we would when being approached by beggars), I grabbed some coins from our Metro change and handed them to one of the guys. Instead of being thankful, they giggled a little and showed to us a small booklet with handwritten list of some Westener’s names claimed to be tourists who had given donation to them, complete with the figure they have donated. Seriously, are they expecting us to believe that these people really gave them money just based on this little booklet? And seriously again, someone would donate Rs1000 to these suspicious strangers?? So they turned down our coins and gave them back to our hands. Right, if it’s really for poor people, I bet they would receive no matter it’s only coins. They’re obviously seeking money for they *own* pocket by fooling the tourists. They can get lost. We then got up and walked away.

Ah, finally, reaching India Gate. Maybe 50 steps to go. When we were crossing the 3rd road, some girls approaching me asking if I want to get henna. I said no, and to my surprise, she grabbed my hand anyway and fiercely put the henna on my forearm! Oi!! Get off my hands! Am I looking someone so desperately needing a henna that you can put henna to me while crossing the road? They’re totally making me sick that I had to run away even faster and wiped away the henna off my hands.

india gate

We are in the front of India Gate finally. Although my mood has been spoiled by now because of the henna girls incident. So. Tell me what’s so special that we had to walk THAT FAR to come all the way to here? =,=

Side note: We only found out later that Delhi has got this hop-on-hop-off bus which stops at a number of tourist places in Delhi (India Gate is included, so I guess it’s a better way to visit this place without hurting your feet too much). 

Restaurant in Old Delhi

restaurant old delhi

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)

mutton biryani

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.

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Delhi: Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid Delhi

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.

delhi jama masjid

After prayer we went to wander around the old town and find a place for lunch.

Delhi: The Red Fort

Delhi Red Fort

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.

Diwani-Aam

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.