ultramarinus – beyond the sea

India

DAY 1 (2/5): PAL HAVELI & THE OMELETTE MAN, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, 2018.11.24

Haveli in India refers to a large historical mansion built by a wealthy merchant over a century ago.  Designed to impress both the residents and outside spectators, these buildings usually come with ornate carvings, beautiful frescoes, intricate window screens, and an airy courtyard or lightwell.  While many have been fallen into disrepair over the years, some havelis have survived into modern times and become valuable heritage buildings.  Rajasthan has some of the most famous and well preserved havelis in India, and some of which have been converted into museums or hotels.  Situated in the old city near the Gulab Sagar Reservoir and Clock Tower Market, the beautiful Pal Haveli was our hotel in Jodhpur.  Owned by the Pal Family, the two-hundred-year-old haveli was the place where we first experienced the historical sense and beauty of the Medieval Jodhpur.  Antique housewares, paintings, textiles and furniture offered a charming ambience.  From the rooftop restaurant, views of the busy Clock Tower Market and the majestic Mehrangart Fort were breathtaking.  Outside the hotel, the market streets and square near the Clock Tower dominated the street scenes.

Just a stone throw away stood a simple omelette shop that has been frequented by foreign tourists ever since Lonely Planet named the local eatery as the famous “Omelette Shop” in 1999.  Since then, this simple eatery has been elevated into legendary status among foreign tourists.  The life of Ramkishan Gawlani the owner has been completely transformed ever since.  According to an interview with Reuters, Ramkishan Gawlani was used to be poor and drank all day.   For 24 years he cooked meat, rice, lentils and sometimes omelette.  After Lonely Planet’s listing however, his business boomed dramatically with tourists all over the world come to him for omelettes.  He gave up the other options in his menu and became an omelette specialist.  Just a decade after the listing, he was cracking 1000 eggs a day and earned much respect in the city of Jodhpur.  Interestingly, the famous omelette man is in fact a vegan and has not eaten an egg for years.  His story reflects an interesting phenomenon about the tourist and guidebook industry.   According to Reuters, Lonely Planet has sold over a million guidebooks on India from 1981 to 2007, and has inevitably bringing tourists to the same hotels and restaurants throughout the years, and has created tension and jealousy among businesses, such as the hostile feelings of the other omelette shop owners towards Ramkishan Gawlani.  For us, we did visit the famous Omelette Shop for our first meal in Rajasthan because of its convenient location.  While not as legendary one might imagine, Ramkishan Gawlani ‘s omelettes were indeed delightful and convenient for us.

dsc_9991We arrived at Pal Haveli hotel straight from the airport in early afternoon.

dsc_9990Through the grand entrance, we entered into the main arrival courtyard of the hotel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the roof, Indique Restaurant is a well known establishment with good food and great views of the old Jodhpur.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe hotel reception lobby is situated right at the courtyard.

dsc_9977Despite its modest size, the reception lobby of Pal Haveli is decently decorated with traditional furniture and antiques.

dsc_9978Even the light switches reflect the long history of the building.

dsc_9980Our room was located right by the courtyard.

dsc_9984Inside the room, walls were decorated with traditional miniature paintings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust a stone throw away, the legendary Omelette Shop was busy serving foreign tourists.

dsc_9994Stacks of eggs and signs of “Lonely Planet” and “Tripadvisor” suggested we had come to the “right” place, but not one of the imitated ones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARamkishan Gawlaniwas busy making omelettes at the stove.

img_8605Made with several eggs, mayo, cheese, spices and bread, we tried the tasty Alibaba Omelette.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANear the Omelette Shop was the entrance into the Sardar Market or the Clock Tower Market.

dsc_9997_01Across the street from the Omelette Shop, we could see the side facade of our hotel Pal Haveli.

dsc_9998Dozens of tuk tuks or auto rickshaws await for tourists at the heart of the old city across the street from the Omelette Shop.

dsc_0003After a few rounds of bargaining, we hired one of the passing auto rickshaw for Mehrangarh Fort, the single most iconic sight of the city of Jodhpur.

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DAY 1 (1/5): IN TRANSIT TO RAJASTHAN, India, 2018.11.24

Known as the “Land of Marahaja” where Princes and Raiputs once led extravagant lives in palaces and castles of One Thousand and One Nights, the desert state of Rajasthan in Northwestern India is the most popular tourist destination in India.  In this incredible land of rich heritage, aromatic cuisines, ornate havelis, and lavish palaces, we were never far away from the stories of Rajputs and Princes, tales of desert caravans, exotic landscapes of the Thar Desert, elegant monuments of Hinduism, Jainism and Islam, and bits and pieces of the bygone glory of the British Raj.  India is well known for its vivid colours.  With “blue city” Jodphur, “pink city” Jaipur, or “golden city” Jaisalmer, nowhere in the country is more elaborate in bright colours than Rajasthan.

In 2016 we made a trip to Ladakh, the mountainous region in Northern India dotted with Tibetan lamaseries along the Indus Valley.  It was a pleasant journey in early summer when most of the Indian Subcontinent was baked in scorching heat.  This time in late 2018, we opted to experience the Classic India in the mild and sunny winter.  In 11 fascinating days, we ventured out west from Delhi, the Indian capital into Rajasthan for an extended version of the Golden Triangle route.  Undoubtedly the most popular tourist circuit in India, the Golden Triangle connects Delhi with the Rajasthani capital Jaipur and Agra, the former Mughal capital where the iconic Taj Mahal has proudly stood for almost 400 years.  Our second Indian journey began with a 6-hour evening flight from Hong Kong to Delhi.

map india 2018_2

We began our Rajasthani journey from Jodhpur, then headed to Jaisalmer via Osian, the westernmost point of our journey.  From Jaisalmer, we hopped back eastwards first to Pushkar by night train, and then Jaipur the pink city.  A hired taxi brought us further eastwards to Agra via Bhangarh Fort, Chand Baori step well in Abhaneri, and the abandoned Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sakri.  After keeping our fingers crossed and seeing the magnificent Taj Mahal without any scaffolding, we returned to the Indian capital to take on what we had left two years ago, to explore the city’s Mughal attractions.

01Our evening flight brought us westwards from Hong Kong, passing by big and small cities along the way.  At one point, we came close to the Myanmarese city Mandalay.

02From the mouth of Meghna River in the Bay of Bengal, our plane turned northwest to follow what could be the famous Ganges River, and passed by a myriad of rural villages along the way.

04After about six hours on the plane, the first thing welcomed us in Delhi was its infamous smog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter staying the night at a hotel in the Aerocity, we returned to the airport for our domestic flight going to Jodhpur. The elephant statues in the departure hall was a popular selfie spot in the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the departure concourse of Delhi Airport, we had a sandwich and coffee at Costa Coffee.

08A large sculpture with statues making yoga poses was another popular selfie spot at the gate concourse.

09From above, the Suburban Delhi looked greener than we thought.

10At this time of the year (early winter), it would hardly be a day without sunny weather in Northern India.

12As we headed west into the desert state of Rajasthan, arid landscape gradually came into sight.

14An hour’s flight took us to Jodhpur, the famous blue city of Rajasthan.

16The Jodhpur Airport has a simple passenger terminal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the exit gateway of the airport terminal, we met our driver prearranged with our hotel Pal Haveli.

img_8558Outside the car window, we had our first glimpse of the urban scenery in Rajasthan.

18Tuk tuks were everywhere in the busy streets of Jodphur.  We reached Pal Haveli Hotel in about 15 minutes.

 

 


Day 7: UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi, India

We had an evening flight back home. Before catching the airport train, we decided to have our last Indian meal at New Delhi. We took the metro to Connaught Place in New Delhi, the commercial and business heart of the Indian capital.  Formerly the headquarters of the British Raj, the circular hub has become a busy business and entertainment centre.  We exited the metro at one of the exits at the inner circle, and began to walk around the circus in clockwise direction.  Many old Georgian buildings were now occupied by retail shops like Nike or Levi’s, electronic and jewellery shops.  We attempted to find a place for dinner, saw a few restaurants near a movie cinema, but ended up picking a Indian restaurant with an old school charm judging from its entrance.  The restaurant was called United Coffee House, which had been around since 1942.  The high ceiling, chandelier dining hall expressed a traditional character of the British Raj. Designed by an American architect who lived in England, the place carried a Victorian and neo-Renaissance feel.  Every details such as tapestries and furniture were well attended to.  Judging from the first glance it seemed we had traveled back in time.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere was magnificent.  After a long day of heat and exhaustion, the United Coffee House came as a safe haven for us to rejuvenate ourselves before flying he night flight home.  After a satisfying meal and relaxing time at the restaurant, we walked out into the Connaught Place under the glittering neon lights and hype music.  We crossed the street and walked down the closest metro entry, swam through the waves of people heading to our opposite direction.  The music from the street was getting fainter as we went.  It was time for us to bid farewell to India.

dsc_6912Lamb leg marinated with spices in herbs sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMixed vegetable in creamy saffron sauce.

dsc_6913Upper seating area at the United Coffee House.

dsc_6914Connaught Place at night.

* * *

Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi


DAY 7: FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi, India

We walked down the grand staircase of Jama Mosjid that led to a busy street intersection adjacent to the mosque. We hopped on a tuk-tuk and asked the driver to take us to Chandni Chowk metro station.  After a brief visit of Old Delhi, it was time for us to return to New Delhi, where we would find a place for dinner and then take the express train back to the airport.  It was late afternoon and the traffic at Old Delhi was quite congested, allowing us a little more time than expected to witness the street scenery of the old city one more time.

Before our Indian trip, we came across a book by Japanese author and stage designer Kappa Senoo (妹尾河童).  The book was called Kappa’s Peek at India, in which Kappa used hand sketches and diary text to record the people, buildings, street scenes and sites that he saw and experienced during his trips to India back in 1980s.  The Indian street scenes that he depicted with his pencil sketches: the shops, the vehicles, and most important of all, the myriad different people doing various things for living echoed vividly to what we were seeing outside the tuk-tuk.  For us, the half hour tuk-tuk ride through the narrow and chaotic streets of Old Delhi was a remarkable journey allowing us to understand another facet of this complex and visually fascinating nation.

dsc_6871Small streets in Old Delhi were swamped with vehicles of all sort, all of which were moving slowly.

dsc_6868Motorcycles were pretty common in Delhi.

dsc_6870Vendors selling samosa-like snacks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABicycle rickshaws were still pretty common.

dsc_6876Given the traffic and sometimes poor conditions of the sidewalk, it wasn’t the easiest city for pedestrians.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rickshaws revealed the difference of social status of different local people.

dsc_6875A bicycle rickshaw driver resting.

dsc_6879Streets were full of vendors selling different merchandises.

dsc_6880Public water sourse for washing and cooling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe banana vendor.

dsc_6888Water drinking was essential under the hot temperature.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStreet vendors doing all sorts of trading and bargaining.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach person on the street looked as if there was an interesting story behind.

dsc_6890Bicycle rickshaws were very common on Delhi streets

dsc_6901Coconut vendor.

dsc_6908Under extensive globalization, international brands such as canon and Sony appeared everywhere.

* * *

Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi


DAY 7: JAMA MASJID, Delhi, India

After having a quick  lunch, we hopped on a tuk-tuk to reach our next destination, Jama Masjid.  The driver dropped us off on Esplanade Road at the east entrance, one of three gateways into the complex.  We climbed up a long flight of stair to reach the level of the main courtyard and east gate.  At the entrance gate, we took off our shoes and paid a “camera fee”.  It was late afternoon and the sun was behind the mosque and its 40m minarets, casting long shadows onto the ground of the main courtyard.  It was not the best time of the day for photo shooting but we still found this red sandstone & marble building magnificent despite signs of deterioration.

Built between 1644 to 1658, Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India.  The Mughal architecture was built out of marble and red sandstone, with two minarets, three domes, a prayer hall, three sides of covered colonnade, and an open courtyard that can accommodate 25,000 worshipers for prayers.  Because of the afternoon heat, there were not many people staying in the vast open ground in front of the prayer hall.  Most people took shelter under the covered colonnade surrounding the courtyard.  There was a large rectangular fountain in the courtyard outside of the prayer hall for ablution.  Without our shoes on, we could feel the burning heat from the stones under our feet.  We followed the path made out of a fabric to reach the semi-opened prayer hall.  Without interrupting other people, we picked a quiet corner and sat down on one of the 899 bordered marble slabs (marked for worshipers) to absorb the atmosphere.  Sitting by an open bay facing the courtyard, we saw a group of enthusiastic young children helping a senior staff to wash the courtyard floor.  Under the scorching sun, the children seemed to be the most energetic people in the courtyard.  They ran around the courtyard, chasing each other and the pigeons.  It was their laughter and giggling that made us feel more at ease in this unbearable heat.

dsc_6743The magnificent architecture of the east gate, flanked by the covered colonnades.

dsc_6745The south gate and one of the two 40m minarets.

dsc_6750The prayer hall with its three domes and two minarets.

dsc_6757There are 899 marble floor slabs inside the prayer hall defined for worshipers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the worshipers at the prayer hall with the courtyard beyond.

dsc_6764The east gate, fountain and the main courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople sat around the fountain for ablution.

dsc_6770Worshipers inside the semi-opened prayer hall.

dsc_6775The ground was constantly washed with water by staff.

dsc_6795Visitors with shorts and sleeveless tops had to cover up their bodies with fabrics provided at the entrance gate.

dsc_6783The path paved with cloths leads to the east gate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPigeons gathered at the main courtyard where a large patch of yellow grains were scattered.  The birds were constantly scared away by children.

dsc_6807We could hear the kids’ laughter as they successfully chased off the pigeons.

dsc_6829A boy running across the courtyard in front of the prayer hall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClose up of the running boy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother boy running in the main courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe defensive wall and watch towers of the Red Fort didn’t seem to be far away from Jama Masjid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were many people gathered around the east gate where we entered the building. When we entered the mosque, there were people offered to safe guard our shoes for a little money.

dsc_6840View of the payer hall from the cover colonnade.

dsc_6863We exited the mosque through the west gate.  The grandeur of the steps with the domes and minarets beyond was breathtaking.

* * *

Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi

 


DAY 7: RED FORT, Delhi, India

Before returning home, we had one last day of exploration in the Indian capital, Delhi.  It wasn’t the best time to visit Delhi because of the pre-monsoon heat, we did manage to check out a little bit of Old Delhi to get a taste of what many travelers described as a bustling city full of chaotic streetscapes, persistent touts, crazy traffic, tourist scams, conditions of poor hygiene, etc.  Due to the fact that it was our first time to Delhi, we selected two of the most popular attractions in Old Delhi: Red Fort and Jama Masjid.

Red Fort was the former royal palace of the Moghal Empire from the 17th to 19th century.  In the 103 hectare of land many former buildings survive inside its extensive walls.  Because of the red sandstone used for the defensive enclosure,  there comes the name of Red Fort.  Despite the noontime heat, we took our time to wander around the former royal courts and the splendid architecture from the late Mughal Empire.  We entered the complex through the famous Lahori Gate, walked through the covered bazaar Chhatta Chowk, visited the small Indian War Memorial Museum at Naubat Khana (Drum House), admired the former audience hall Diwan-i-Aam among tourist crowds, and lastly checked out the marble buildings at the inner court, including the Diwan-i-Khas, Khas Mahal, Rang Mahal, and Mumtaz Mahal (Red Fort Archaeological Museum).  The surviving buildings of Red Fort introduced us the concept of beauty and design ornaments commonly found in traditional Indian architecture.

dsc_6569Heading into the Red Fort through the Lahori Gate.

dsc_6573Local visitors at the Lahori Gate.

dsc_6564The Chhatta Chowk, which literally means the “covered bazaar”, is a unique covered market with 32 arches dated back to the 17th century.

dsc_6735The Naubat Khana (Drum House) was a common feature in an Indian palace.  Music was played several times a day at the Naubat Khana in the old days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA local visitor walking through Naubat Khana.

dsc_6605Inner facade of the Naubat Khana (Drum House).

dsc_6602The Diwan-i-Aam (Audience Hall) was the building where the Mughal royal members received guests and the public.

dsc_6609The Diwan-i-Aam was consisted of 27 square bays of arches made of red sandstone.

dsc_6620The throne covered by a marble canopy (jharokha) is the focus of Diwan-i-Aam.

dsc_6631Beyond the Diwan-i-Aam stand the inner court and residence buildings of the Mughal royal family.

dsc_6662The Khas Mahal serves as the royal residence of the Mughal emperor.

dsc_6665Local visitors walking by the Khas Mahal.

dsc_6674Beautiful details made of marble and gemstones at Khas Mahal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocal visitors dressed in vivid colours.

dsc_6677Local visitors at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6682Magnificent window screen at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6688Door handle at Khas Mahal.

dsc_6699Khas Mahal

dsc_6707Exterior view of Khas Mahal.

dsc_6711Much of the Red Fort was covered with green lawns.

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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi


DAY 7: LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi, India

After almost a week of Tibetan monasteries and arid Himalayan highlands, our brief Indian journey was almost coming to an end, and it was time to say goodbye to Lakadh.  It was a fine morning.  Tashi came to pick us up at around 6am.  It was only a short ride from Ladakh Greens Hotel to Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport.  At about 3200m above sea level, the airport is India’s highest commercial airport.  We waved goodbye to Tashi and entered the small highland airport.  It was chaotic at the Leh Airport.  The x-ray machine broke down for a bit and there were two long queues, one for men and the other women, at the security check.  After a bit of the hassle, at last we were off in the Ladakhi sky.  From above, Leh and its surrounding desert landscape looked spectacular.  Our plane flew south, passed over the mountains south of Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Himachal Pradesh.  After about 1.5 hour, we returned to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport once more.

We stored our big backpacks at the airport, and took the airport express train out to the city.  From the airport the train took about half an hour to reach New Delhi.  At New Delhi, we switched to the metro and rode for two more stops until we reached the stop of Chandni Chowk.  Famous for its centuries-old business as Old Delhi’s high street, Chandni Chowk is close to Red Fort, the former residence of the Mughal royalty from the 17th to 19th century.  After exiting the metro station, we were immediately overwhelmed by the people, colours, odour and sounds of the street in Old Delhi.  It was awfully hot at about 40 degrees, and extremely crowded.  We followed a crowd of people exiting the station, tried to find our way to the Red Fort, but were soon followed by two bicycle ricksaw drivers.  We asked the first driver going to the Red Fort.  He tried to trick us by saying 10.  We asked him once more before we got on whether he meant rupees or not.  He then clarified it was 10 USD.  We decided to ignore him and continued to find our way.  The second driver, a young man in his early twenties, followed us and tried to convince us to get on his ricksaw by saying it was very dangerous in Old Delhi.  We kept on walking aimlessly on the street thinking he would eventually give up, but he didn’t.  On the hot and crowded street of Old Delhi, he followed us for over 20 minutes.  At the end, we didn’t bother to find where we actually were, and jumped onto an empty tuk-tuk.  The tuk-tuk driver was more than happy to take us to the Red Fort.  After some sweat we finally reached the iconic Lahori Gate of the mighty Red Fort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had a morning flight back to Delhi. By the time we arrived at the airport, there was a long queue outside of the airport for security check.

dsc_6516At about 3200m above sea level, the airport is India’s highest commercial airport.

dsc_6517A Jet Airway plane landed on the runway. It reminds us of our landing one week ago.

dsc_6519View from the plane to down below.

dsc_6522Our plane flew south, passed over the mountains south of Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Himachal Pradesh.

dsc_6531From above, Leh and its surrounding desert landscape looked spectacular.

dsc_6533Spectacular view over the mountain view from the plane.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was over 40 degree Celsius outside. We were overwhelmed by the heat and the crowd once we stepped out of the metro station of Chandni Chowk. Without a proper map, We found ourselves disorientated in this old city quarter. It was a great relief to have found a reliable tuk-tuk  to take us to our first destination, the Red Fort. Below are some snapshots that we took along the way to the Red Fort.

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dsc_6740After some sweat we finally reached the iconic Lahori Gate of the mighty Red Fort.

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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi