After a long India Air airplane ride from Baltimore Washington International via New York and London, we arrived in Delhi near midnight on May 15, 2004.  Customs was very quick, not the tedious Third World bureaucracy we often find, but we still heard the welcome thunk of the rubber stamp in our passports with relief. 

After a prompt pickup by our tour guide, it was off to town careening at high speed through light traffic - India drives on the left which only adds to the thrill.  At one point in a crowd of buses honking and weaving, came a motor rickshaw driver towing his vehicle on foot against the traffic oblivious to the onrush.  This was our first clue that traffic would be a major part of the tourist experience in India.

New Delhi, a section of Delhi build by the British in the 1930's for the new capital of India, is marked by wide boulevards, heavy greenery, large parks, and massive government buildings.  There is not a dense office core like we are used to in American cities.  Delhi is so thickly planted with trees that we arrived at our hotel, Le Meridien, thinking we were still out in the countryside somewhere.

The hotel was comfortable and well located, but way too dark inside for our tastes.  Maybe it was to avoid the heat outside, but the interior atrium that ran the full height of the building was unlit leaving one feeling like they were peering into a void when leaving your room to go to the lobby.
View from Hotel
View From Our Hotel Toward Connaught Place

  Before we get too far into this story, I should point out a small facet of the trip - May is the hottest month of the year in India - maybe that's why the price was so good. Somewhat belatedly in April, Neil pointed out to me that the normal temperature in Northern India in May would be above 110 degrees. How bad could that be? Why we'd already heard the stories about malaria, clouds of mosquitoes, and need for multiple shots and brushed those off. How hot could it be? Lathered in SPF 40 and the hospital recommended mosquito repellent, we were about to find out. It was 7:30 AM in Delhi and already over 100 and we were off to our first day of tourism.

The original tour was to include one day touring Delhi followed by driving to Agra the 2nd day. We chose instead to do the one day tour, then take 2 days to ourselves to tour and shop in Delhi. The map to the right shows the tourist stops we made that first day. Click on the BLUE HIGHLIGHTED boxes to view photos of each stop.
We started the day at India Gate which was close to our hotel.

INDIA GATE: Arch commemorating India's dead in World War I fighting for the British Empire.

RED FORT: Originally the Mughal emperor's fort prior to the British seizing it during the First War of Independence in 1857 (Called the Sepoy Rebellion by the British). India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, swore that he would only believe India was free of the British when he could rise the India Flag over Lahore Gate at the Red Fort.

JAMA MASJID: Literally "Friday Mosque", a common name for mosques and the largest in India.

HUMAYUN'S TOMB: This is the pre-cursor to the Taj Mahal serving as a model for that later structure.

QUTB MINAR: Early Mughal monument featuring the largest free standing brick structure in the world.

FREE DAYS: We spent the next two days on our own in Delhi touring and shopping.

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