Friday, December 1, 2017

Sightseeing in Delhi. Jama Masjid.

Ayşe standing in front of Jama Masjid.

Original Post Date: June 20, 2017.

We kicked off our day with breakfast in our Airbnb apartment. Our hosts had kindly stocked the refrigerator with a few items. There were eggs, bread, butter, and a carton of juice to which we added the mango shake that we had bought yesterday afternoon. In the cabinets, there was tea, coffee and sugar.  We also shared some mango - also bought at the market yesterday.  We made ourselves a simple breakfast and got to enjoy one of my favorite benefits of staying in an apartment rather than in a hotel - we get to eat breakfast in our pajamas!  The kitchen is small but well stocked in terms of dishware, utensils, and cookware.  The only thing we couldn't figure out how to do was turn on the oven so we had to call down to Keshap so he could come up and turn it on for us.  Otherwise, no toast.




I had booked our sightseeing day through a local tour operator called Pioneer Holidays.  The company is based in Agra but can easily arrange for tours in Delhi.  They are extremely reasonably priced and very professional.  I was very pleased with the level and quality of their services.  For our Delhi day tour, I had arranged for a car and driver to pick us up in front of the PVR Rivoli Theatre.  As we made our way to the theatre, we noticed it had rained overnight.  Chantale said she had heard it but I slept so soundly, I didn't hear a drop which is quite amazing because the door to our terrace is just a few feet from my bed!

In any case, the rain had cooled off the temps a bit so the weather was bearable.  I just hoped it would stay cloudy all day.  It would keep the heat down which also makes the humidity more bearable.  Not to mention that photos will come out better without all the shadows caused by the sun.

Our car and driver arrived a few minutes late.  Not too bad considering the horrible morning rush hour traffic in Delhi.   We were off to a good start!

Our first sightseeing stop of the day was Jama Masjid.  I love this place. I first visited in 2007.  Back then, I had arranged for a day trip around Delhi, pretty much identical to what we are doing today.   I was knew to Delhi back then and I have to admit, coming here was a bit overwhelming.  The mosque is located in the heart of Old Delhi which I cannot describe well except to simply say it's congested with people, vehicles, carts, and animals who are in constant motion.  It smells, it's dirty, it's chaotic and the seasoned traveler that I am now, I love this place.   I had to bring the girls here as their first stop.

Surprisingly, today, the streets of Old Delhi didn't seem to be bustling as much as I remembered them being on previous trips.  Perhaps, it's still a bit too early in the morning?

Our driver deposited us at the base of Gate No. 3.  I remember this being the same gate that I entered through on my last visit.



I remembered that at the top of the steps, I had to remove my shoes before entering the grounds of the mosque.  Today, we did exactly that.  I also paused to take a photo looking over and beyond Gate No. 3 to the heart of Old Delhi.  Seems oddly peaceful today.


The photo below shows what the world around the mosque looked like from another gate - it's wall to wall people!


Chantale and I both thought we were appropriately dressed for the visit but apparently, we still weren't covered up enough so after depositing our shoes, we each had to borrow an abaya to cover ourselves up with.  I had to do the same in 2007 and so I was prepared but I guess not enough.  Ayşe had her own abaya with her, a simple white one.  She happened to have it because prior to coming to India, she was in Turkey with her family and of course, had visited the mosque so she needed an abaya.  She also had a headscarf with her.  I covered my head with my scarf as well while Chantale opted to just wear her baseball cap.


Our guide gave us about 30 minutes to wander about and take photos.   For Ayşe, it was quite the experiencing being in a mosque in India - it was fascinating to listen to her comparing elements of Turkish vs Indian mosques.  Setting aside the fact that architecturally, it's all very different, she was still stumped by the fact that we had to remove our shoes before entering the complex. In Turkey, you go barefoot just before you enter the mosque itself.

In contrast, Chantale, the photo bug was relishing in the perfect photo taking conditions.  She fell in love with all the puddles of water - she loves reflections.  I was just trying to take it all in.  I really don't remember the place all that well from when I was here in 2007.  As I mentioned a few paragraphs up, I barely took any photos here so I don't even have images to recall the place by.  One thing I do not remember were all the birds.  On my last trip, I came here in the mid afternoon and it was a really hot day.  Maybe that deterred the birds?  In any case, I decided I better not let that happen again so I have to admit, I took my fair share of photos.  Here are a few.






When I got to this side view, I was puzzled because in my 2007, the hallway cuts all the way through the building whereas now, it's blocked.  I wonder why they did this?



Below is the side view from 2007.  At least I think it's the same view.  See the difference?













For most of the half hour we were wandering about Jama Masjid, we had all split up.  At one point, Ayşe and I crossed paths and I managed to convince her to pose for me.  After all these trips, it's become a bit of a running joke that she's tired of standing in front of the camera for me.  I know it's not true but I am more mindful of where I take posed photos of here.  She told that she had fallen in love with this mosque and so there was no objection from her when I asked her to pose for me.  I took a few shots including this full face on angle but I told her that my favorite shot is the one that opens this post.  I just happened to snap it when she was looking back at the mosque, before we started the posed shots.  I think it's a lovely shot even though you don't see her face.


We were well past the half hour time limit when we all finally made it back to the shoe deposit area.  Of course, this is our own tour so it's okay by me if we spend more time than the guide would like.  We have an entire free day tomorrow so whatever we don't get around to seeing today, we can see tomorrow.  No problem.

From Jama Masjid, we plunged into the heart of Old Delhi!