I am travelling into the interior, from Mumbai to New Delhi (700 miles) with three Chinese ladies. All this courtesy of Jet Air a full flight in the world’s smallest 737 replete with screaming two year olds placed strategically throughout the aircraft.
I had arrived in Mumbai on Thursday midday and was disappointed not to find pigs in the airport car park as reported by Mike. I billeted at the Taj Lands End in Bandra. The Bandra district is home to most Bollywood stars so I felt quite at home in this massive hotel with mock regency interiors.
I have been assiduously following sundry ‘Advice to Travellers’ – only bottled water, keeping tooth brush in a sealable polythene bag, avoiding salads and fruit (never a chore). Therefore, so far, I have experienced no untoward feelings in the downstairs department.
The experience so far has been strictly metropolitan; two upscale restaurants, the later serving exquisite sea food (curried strongly) and on the first evening a visit to a disco. Given my paranoia in relation to diet and staying off the toilet, I was concerned about the name of the venue; the invitation to the ‘ice breaker’ party was at a club called Poison
QUOTE “Poison is one of the most famous night spots of Mumbai, and probably one of the very few place that are likely to be active on a Thursday Night J However, being more of a lounge / night club, they do not serve dinner. We have made sufficient provisions for appetizers…but just thought ill point this out so that everyone can prepare accordingly”
No matter – it was hip hop night (excellent music and I was familiar with most of the artists featured) and by the time I left at 12:30 am the queue of well dressed, highly attractive young people had wrapped itself around several blocks.
One or two drawings completed, on Saturday morning, I emerged from the chiller cabinet/hotel lobby out into 30 degrees of heat at 9 am to make a picture of the Rock View Hotel, out on to which I look each morning from my room. The hotel was one of the 10 locations bombed one Friday in 1996. The bombed out rooms stared back it me as I looked out of my hotel room. I later learnt that an internecine dispute has prevented the Rock from being redeveloped.
Now I look forward to Delhi hopefully without the belly as I stare at my in-flight snack.
DEHLI: STAGE TWO OF THE JOURNEY – ABOARD FLIGHT 407 SINGAPORE AIRLINES TO SINGAPORE
Well the airport car park Delhi was more interesting. A ‘take charge’ porter in luggage reclaim took charge. He got us through the crowds and followed the hotel driver dutifully to the car park. Along the journey he ‘collected’ a few other men who also claimed to be porters and wrestled him for the trolley
The closer we got to the people carrier the more disturbing the fracas. I was keeping an eye on the girls, herding them together and got some cash ready to bung our porter from reclaim. Whatever, I gave him the money and ducked swiftly into the van and let them sort it out.
Sunday morning marathon sightseeing in Delhi and in the afternoon the drive, 210 kilometres to Agra to see the Taj Mahal the next day: the Wonder of the World who’s name that launched a thousand take-aways.
DEHLI MOSQUES AND LUTCHENS
King George V commissioned architect Edwin Lutyens to layout out the central administrative area of the city – very different from designing large houses in the Home Counties of England. At the heart Lutyens placed the impressive Rashtrapati Bhawan, formerly the Viceroy’s House and the arresting India Gate. He collaborated with fellow architect Herbert Baker to create an impressive body of Edwardian architecture topped out with distinctly Moorish features. It is now known as the LBZ in Delhi – the Lutyens Baker Zone.
Our Toyota people carrier cut it way through the crowed Chandni Chowk market area and getting out and clambered up the almost sheer flight of steps to the Jama Masjid Mosque. Jama Masjid was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and is one of the largest and best known mosques in India. We left our shoes at the courtyard door and I donned a wrap to cover my bare legs. The building, in local red sandstone ascends impressively from its central court yard and in a heat the burns the soles of bear feet the whole site appears the hover above Delhi.
We were taken to the Qutub Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world, 72.5 metres high (237.8 ft) It is significant example of Indo-Islamic Architecture, inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It towers above us, made of fluted red sandstone, covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur’an. In 40 degrees of heat we drifted around the surrounding buildings among many fine examples of Indian artwork all built around 12th century.