Thursday 19th October 2017
After a really good night's sleep, we had breakfast in the hotel then met the rest of our fellow travellers downstairs. We were picked up at 9am for a visit to some of the major sites in Delhi. The first place we visited was Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, constructed by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan. Beautiful place. After visiting there, we were taken by bicycle rickshaws to the spice market through the busy Delhi streets, crowded with shoppers doing last minute Diwali shopping. This was fun and exciting with the drivers getting at close quarters with pedestrians, cars, other rickshaws and delivery carts. We went to the spice market, apparently the biggest in Asia and afterwards back to the rickshaws for our trip down to the Red Fort, an absolutely amazing set of buildings surrounded by a wall and a moat. The wall is over 2 kilometres long and was where the Royal Mughal family (descended from the Mongols and Tamerlane of Uzbekistan) lived and ruled for over 300 years. The palace was sacked by the Shah of Iran in the early 1700s and was besieged and overthrown nine more times before the British finally defeated the Indians in 1857 (Indian Mutiny??). We then had a beer but no food at lunch time and went back to the hotel. We walked out again to a local shop to get a mixer for our aperitif then went across town with the group to a dinner to celebrate Diwali. We were all given turban-like hats and a colourful scarf and then we sat on chairs on a lawn and listened to the Bollywood music and dancing. It was a fun night. To bed around 11pm. Today was warm around 30c and humid. Delhi is a very green city with many parks, very busy but not quite as frantic as we thought it might be. There is a great deal of poverty, many slums and obviously some people don’t do well, but our guide is very optimistic that things will improve over the next few years. Not sure about that, but Indians seem very engaging and many people are curious and speak to you, so far it seems like a good place to visit.