I'm not normally the tour type, but being in India, where there's no chance of deciphering the language and feeling a bit intimidated by how different it is from Europe and the US, plus all the horror stories you hear, I decided it'd be best to find a tour guide for at least a couple of excursions. I also love to eat locally and try street food, but food contamination is a well known issue in Delhi and I did not want to spend half my time in India in the bathroom, and a tour guide would hopefully know safe places to eat.
After tons of research, Trip Advisor is awesome for this, looking for tours that weren't too "touristy" I found MKH Tourism's Old Delhi Bazaar Walk and Haveli Visit and it sounded perfect. It had outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor, actually had a website that was navigable and professional and an itinerary that was perfect for my taste of travel. Which is basically bypass touristy places, head straight for "old town" and delve right into the culture of the place. I like to be immersed in the texture of a city, see how people live and work and play, and visit local places.
The Bazaar Walk was all that and more! Not only did we get immersed right into the thick of Old Delhi life, we got lots of info from our guide (who likes to be considered a friend, not a tour guide!) on the cultural, historical, and religious aspects of Old Delhi.
I love that it still feels like a big community and if you can see past the surface grime Old Delhi is really beautiful, it's full of amazing architecture and lovely people.
Take a walk with me through Old Delhi...
|We started our day spying a monkey dashing from rooftop to rooftop.|
|Making our way through dingy streets that are chock full of character.|
|There is gorgeous architecture everywhere!|
|A common scene! The streets are all about safely dodging between a cow, a rickshaw, and throngs of people!|
|Small dark doorways that I wouldn't think to even enter lead to beautiful marble rooms filled with beautiful decor.|
|Temples around every corner. This one was literally the size of a walk-in closet.|
|Ganesh. The remover of obstacles. My favorite.|
|They take their prayer seriously, this is a "drive thru" window, if you don't have time to stop in, you can pray as you pass! :)|
|Our first stop for food. We even got to help cook.|
You really have to overlook the feet issue when in Delhi. Almost every person we saw working -with food or otherwise- sat cross-legged or crouching. It was hard not to think about this guy's feet being so close to the food we're about to eat, lol.
|Passing through the produce street where there was mounds of fresh veggies for sale.|
|I wonder if she's been selling vegetables here, on this street, her entire life?|
|Is this not gorgeous!!! ...I'm also feeling the sudden urge to get a nose stud :D|
|This boy was doing a brisk business.|
|Next we came to the spice wholesellers, which was inside this building complex.|
I took this shot between sneezing, there are some pretty strong spice fumes in there.
|Then up to the rooftop, where you can really appreciate the beauty of Old Delhi.|
|I find this shot breathtaking!|
|Best moment of the day. I waved at this little girl and she waved back. Cute!!|
|And then to the retail spice shops!|
|Sniffing teas, yumm!|
|I LOVE this. This girl was really young but already had herself set up as a very knowledgable (and profitable) seller.|
--notice the smart phone in her hands! :)
|Back on the streets to make our way to the flower market.|
Kites are huge in Delhi, flown from the rooftops by bored children!
|We stopped by a Paan maker. Paan is a wrap made of a betel leaf with various ingredients inside.|
Usually made with tobacco and chewed by men (and spit everywhere on the ground).
|The streets are packed with vendors of all sorts. This family wholesales their pastry balls to restaurants.|
|The flower wholesalers. The floor was covered in mounds of flowers.|
|Gorgeous fabric draping the rose petals.|
|Outside the wholesalers is a vendor stringing flowers (which he bought upstairs) to sell as offerings at the temples.|
|Next is the "Women's Market" where they sell mostly to women preparing for their wedding.|
I wanted to touch everything!
|Look at all that color!|
|So many to choose from. This was a tough street for me to get through quickly, this was not a shopping trip, lol.|
|And finally onto the amazing Sikh Temple. Everything was gorgeous.|
These men in the front are singing scriptural compositions called Kirtan.
|And finally, the day ends at this gorgeous Haveli (mansion) where we will have a traditional Indian dinner.|
|Yum. Turns out I like Indian food from India better than the "Americanized" Indian food from the states.|