Stepping into Chandi Chowk, Paying Respects at Raj Ghat and the India Gate, New Delhi, India
New Delhi’ sights got richer after an experience getting a pedi cab ride through Chandi Chowk; New Delhi’s greatest market. Our adventures took us through Raj Ghat; Mahamatra Ghandi’s final resting area, the Red Fort and over to the India Gate. Our day was full of sights from traditional New Delhi.
This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Stepping into Chandi Chowk, Paying Respects at Raj Ghat and the India Gate, New Delhi, India.
“The sights of Chandi Chowk, Raj Ghat and the India Gate completed a great tour around New Delhi “
On this visit to New Delhi, India, we visited Jama Masjid, took a pedi-cab through the markets of Chandi Chowk, visited the Red Fort and Raj Ghat (the memorial site for Mahamtra Gandhi), and took in the India Gate.
Leaving a safe haven:
After Jama Masjid, we stepped out into our first taste of the streets of the real New Delhi. With no protection from fenced walls or other hotel security guards, we got our taste of the first real street life. It seems everything goes here and everything is hauled around on wagons or pedi-cabs. My corporate job working away at my computer at the office back home seemed pretty mundane compared to the back breaking work that these guys had to do to earn a dollar.
Our tour guide from The Leela Palace negotiated and arranged for us for a 20-minute rickshaw (peddle cab) tour around Chandi Chowk. Chandi Chowk was the local market outside of the Red Fort area. Our guide did make a joke that we might not come back safely to the car and it was a pretty entertaining experience – for us and for him I’d imagine after seeing all the reactions on tourists over the years. It was an excellent experience and the highlight of our visit to New Delhi.
A Pedi-Cab Ride around Chandi Chowk:
Our ride led us through old Markets, tiny alleyway streets, through various smells and fabrics areas. The work conditions for this poor driver were dreadful; peddling our 350 lbs combined weight around smog and carbon dioxide filled streets that were stop and go and completely clogged with traffic of all kinds. I paid the negotiated rate of 500 Rupees ($8 USD) including a tip and our driver was super satisfied.
The Chandi Chowk market place was a crowded area in a mostly pedestrian zone where mostly everything was for sale.
The perimeter streets had much busier cargo and traffic. Everything and everyone was going to a destination, along with some creative transport methods.
Each area of Chandi Chowk had different items for sale. We traveled through the sari area, the food area and even the textiles area. We were in some different territory and off the general tourist trail when people started really paying attention to us. It wasn’t in a dangerous way, moreover in a very curious way. It was especially prominent with the children that seemed to be just getting off of school.
The exterior of the Chandi Chowk neighbourhood looked just as I’d expect urban India to look like. Once you travelled into it’s quieter streets, you had a more intimate neighbourhood and market feel.
The food stalls of Chandi Chowk:
We wandered through the food stalls – New Delhi’s equivalent to the food fair. I wasn’t adventurous enough to eat items right off the street (more on this later) but most items looked relatively clean.
The Red Fort:
After our ride, we left Chandi Chowk and headed over to the Red Fort for a brief history lesson. The Red Fort interior was closed for extensive renovations so we had to enjoy the view from the outside. The Red Fort was a massive fort that was converted to a barracks by the British. Shah Jahan founded the fortress between 1638 and 1648 to protect the new capital city of Shahjahanabad but later got imprisoned by his son Auragzeb in the Agra Fort.
Visiting Raj Ghat
Mahamtra Gandhi’s Resting Grounds:
We were given the opportunities to design the rest of our tour depending on what we wanted to see. We were slightly ahead of schedule so I had a list of things that we might be interested in seeing during our visit to New Delhi.
Based on a discussion, we headed over to Raj Ghat. It’s the memorial site for where Mahamtra Gandhi was cremated. There are celebrations here during birthday and death of every year. It was a moving spot to see a leader of Indian history and a particularly stoic spot of significance. It was made more significant by us brushing up on Indian history before we left by watching the 1982 film by Richard Attenborough “Ghandi” before our trip.
The location is almost a pilgrimage of many Indian residents to pay tribute to the final resting place of this worldwide icon.
The inscription on the stone is supposed to read “Oh God” which were Ghandi’s last words before he was assassinated.
We headed on to the India Gate. We were not able to stop immediately at the gate thanks to a special event so we went onto the government buildings at Rajpath. The government buildings are quite impressive overall with typical British architecture.
We also got the opportunity to take a closer look at some Hindustan Ambassador Classic’s. According to wikipedia, this model has been in production from 1958 to 2014 and is a favorite with Indian politicians and taxi drivers.
At one end of the Raj Path was the Rastrapti Bhavan and the official residence of the president of India and former home to the British viceroy. We couldn’t get close but the gates were impressive. At the other end of the Rajpath’s eastern end was the India gate. It’s a memorial that paid tribute to 90,000 Indian army soldiers who died in World War I.
My thoughts on our visit to New Delhi:
Overall, it was a pretty spectacular day with the sights that we saw. New Delhi doesn’t quite have a natural beauty or any one great world renowned attraction, but our pedi-cab around Chandi Chowk was the most fun, interesting, and unique thing that we’ve done traveling in quite a long time. It allowed us to get a bit off the Hop on Hop off bus tourist path and get just a bit closer to the locals. I felt the half day tour was enough to get a short feel of what New Delhi was all about.