Whirlwind non-stop tour – A travelogue

Happened to travel to Delhi on a family visit last week. This was one whirlwind of a tour – spread over 7 days, inclusive of travel to and fro from Benagluru, accompanied by my wife, mom, sister and my 5 year old niece.

Day 1

We started off on a Saturday morning from Bangalore with a typical rough ride to the airport. The flight was at 8:40 AM, which meant that we had to be at the airport at least by 7:30 AM and that meant leaving from home by 6 AM, given the unpredictability of Namma Bengaluru traffic. As it happens generally with vacations like these, the cabbie reported late and then to our horror, stopped at the fuel station to refuel as soon as we set off. I could see my mom saying muted prayers to invoke divine blessings to make sure that we reached the airport on time. Blessings they did provide! From then on, it was a mostly incident free journey to the airport, save the rough ride!

I was surprised by the change at the Delhi airport, more at the fact that there was so much space, which I had never imagined possible at the cramped old arrival terminal. The fact is that the infrastructure in Delhi was a lot better, but that is something that I will talk about on another day.

The sun was scorching and heat close to unbearable. Bengaluru had also played its fair part by bringing down the tolerance levels! My uncle had come to pick us up and we reached our “adopted home” in no time. After lunch, we moved to Noida to my in-laws place.

Day 2

We visited Mayur Vihar Phase-I. Two of my father’s elder brothers live here and we had lunch with one and dinner with the other. It was fun to catch up with all my cousins and their better halves and of course all the kids J Had a gala time. Also visited the Mayur Vihar Uttara Guruvayur temple in the evening to pay respects to Lord Krishna. This was the temple where I had my spiritual awakening about 11 years back 🙂

Day 3

Wife had an interview for MBA at IIMK. This was done on video conferencing from the Noida Hughes centre. Thanks to the advancement in technology, we had set it up so that she could take it from Delhi and thus not affect our planned vacation.

 We set off to Qutab Minar in the mid-morning for some sightseeing. One thing that hit me, apart from the heat literally, was that Indians were charged RS 10 as entrance fee while if you happen to be a foreigner, you will have to shell out RS 250 or 5 Dollars to set your eyes on this historical monument. Talk about preferential treatment 🙂 I for one did not complain, it was fun to be a domestic tourist in Delhi.

After renewing the ties with the sultanate, we moved on to acquire some bliss – Chattarpur Mandir was not far away. Gratification was instant. No sooner had we stepped in and offered our obeisance, God showered us with his holy water. Yes, the clouds opened up. All of us had that look on our face that is a wee bit difficult to describe. Alas, little did we know about what was in store.

We moved on to Palam Vihar, a suburbs near Gurgaon, where the last of my father’s brother lived. He passed away last year and we wanted to meet aunty. After spending some time with them, we returned to Delhi. I started off on the drive back at 6:30 PM. I had the expectation that I would be caught in the rush hour, but the downpour had changed the equation. After numerous diversions, I managed to drop off my Mom and sister at Gole market by 8:45 PM and proceeded on to Noida, only to reach at 11 PM. A distance of 45 kms in 4.5 hours. Come on, you got to be kidding! That is the time I would take to run that distance (full marathon)

Day 4

A late night meant a late morning and after the sumptuous brunch, we proceeded back to Gole Market. This was becoming a set routine. Nights at Noida and the morning drive to Gole Market to pick up Mom an Sis! I could do this route in my sleep now.

Today we planned to visit the Akshardham temple. Before that, we had a date with a positive side of urbanisation…yes a ride on the Delhi Metro. I parked my car at Patel Chowk (Yes. The metro stations have parking and lots of them). After paying for travel up to Kashmere Gate, we moved underground. The stations were clean and under closed circuit surveillance. Though the entry system needed getting used to, I was impressed. This was my second sojourn, but I was as eager as a child awaiting for his first cycle ride. We hopped in to the next tube and enjoyed the ride to our destination. A voice over announced each station as it neared also letting us know which side the platform would be. This was awesome! Can this be done on Indian Railways? As someone who has regularly travelled in the IR system, you would appreciate this. We alighted at Kashmere Gate and then went outside, as if to make sure that this was indeed Kashmere Gate. Once we had established this fact, we went back in bought tickets for the journey back to Patel Chowk to retrieve the car and begin the second leg of Delhi Darshan.

 The next destination was Lotus Temple. We passed the pillar that had given away while under construction on the metro line. We reached Nehru place and I looked at Ansal Towers. This was the building where my career began. Who would imagine that I would be back in about 12 years like this. The Bahaian Lotus Temple, an epitome of silence, was impressive. The structure is built like a blooming lotus. The silence inside was deafening. NO – This is not an oxymoron 🙂

It was now time to visit another impressive structure – The Akshardham temple. I was impressed by the system at the entrance. No mobile phones and cameras allowed inside. The guards were efficient and frisking done ala airport style. The structure was impressive, apparently built without using any steel reinforcements. The temple was closed, but the cultural complex was open. The complex is truly something that has to be seen to be believed. It was like one of the monuments that will survive civilization and continue to awe future generations. We spend a good part of 3 hours inside and returned home. We missed watching the musical fountain and the audio-visual show due to time constraints.

Day 5

How can a vacation be complete without “shopping”! This was the day earmarked for that one dreaded activity. I dread this because I am told that I am ESTJ and like structure, something that you cannot associate with shopping. It is that most unorganized and unstructured of the activities. I told myself in the morning – Dude, you have to bite the bullet!

Off we went to Sarojini Nagar. My folks took to SN market like elephants taking on a sugarcane field (HA HA – for all the mallus out there try to transliterate this into what you hear frequently in Malayalam). The carnage lasted 6 hours and all the heat. At the end of it, I was one tired man.

My niece found the energy to go to India Gate in the evening and I obliged. We were all sweating profusely even at 8 PM in the evening, but in the end, I was glad to have gone there.

Day 6

 The last full day before I flew back. This was kept aside for some return visits and some socialisation. My folks took the opportunity to complete the pending shopping that they had to complete. How in the earth, can someone do so much of buying? Go to SN to find out!

Day 7

Mom was down with dehydration. The doctor paid a visit and gave her an injection. I was worried about her being able to travel! The flight back was at 5 PM and we had to get to the airport by 4 PM. I needn’t have worried since this was Delhi and not Bengaluru. I finished some last minute chores and set off for Gole Market from where we were to leave for the airport. My wife decided to stay back for an additional week in Delhi with her parents.

The new terminal 1D at Delhi IGI aiport was too good to describe. A far cry from the old 1A & 1B terminals. GMR had done an impressive job.

 The flight back was pretty uneventful and we reached Bangalore by 8:30 PM. It had rained here and the temperature was pleasant. What a change from Delhi. The traffic though was bad and almost had me wishing I hadn’t come.

That culminated a week long hectic, but enjoyable vacation. There were a lot more that I wanted to do – visit Haridwar & Rishikesh, visit Teen Murti Bhavan, Raj Ghat etc. Time was a constraint, but I hope to do this in my next visit. Till then, Adieu!


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