India - One week in Delhi and Mumbai

From Bangladesh to India. I have never been to India and the plan for my little travel escapade was to stay 4 days in Delhi and 3 days on the west coast of India, in Mumbai.

Even though these two cities are interesting in their own way with all their "historical marvels" or what they all call them, they were not my favorite places I've ever visited. However, these busy streets, which were like circuses too, somehow were similar to the wild scenes in the streets of Bangladesh.

It's so easy to get robbed!

Maybe my relatively negative impression comes together with the experience of getting robbed in Delhi. A gang of pickpockets stole my phone in broad daylight, right under my nose, very professionally and sophisticated. And I didn't even notice them.

But more on that later. 

For sure there is much to do in India, with many cities to visit. And one of my main questions though before coming here was, if I should go visit the Taj Mahal or just leave it. 

Is it worth visiting the Taj Mahal?

The Taj Mahal, what a thrill! Not. I mean, seriously, it's so far away, like really, really far. I technically could have done a day trip there and back the same day, but that drive is just endless.

And when I finally arrive, guess what I get to see? Long queues, a huge temple surrounded by thousands of tourists, all posing for the same darn photo.  And the joy of dealing with those delightful vendors who just love to rip you off with their overpriced stuff. 

Let's not forget the scorching heat with no shade in sight, ah a pure bliss. And don't even get me started on the lack of anything remotely interesting in the area. Just a big old temple and that's about it. I thought it was underwhelming, and I better use the time I have for India to visit other things.

Arriving in India and their fast metro system

The flight was about 3 hours from Bangladesh. Upon arriving in Delhi, I was eager to immerse myself in the noise and history. The airport's efficiency in handling a large number of travelers impressed me, with separate immigration counters ensuring a smooth process. This thing is ready for a massive influx of people. They had like a gazillion immigration counters, making sure everyone got through in no time.

Utilizing the Airport Express Metro for a mere 60 cents was a cost-effective and time-saving way to reach New Delhi downtown in just 20 minutes, that's some efficiency right there.

I stayed in Paharganj. Would not again!

However, my accommodation choice in the Paharganj neighborhood proved to be a bit disappointing. Let me paint a picture - dust, dirt, stink, noise - it had it all! 

And don't even get me started on the lack of decent restaurants nearby, and, that locals have their toilets on the sidewalks.

Nonetheless, I decided to make the most of my time and hailed a Tuktuk to Connaught Place for a brief tour of the area. This huge roundabout is an open-air business area. 

Not far away from it, I ventured into Main Bazar Road, one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Delhi. The narrow and crowded streets painted an authentic picture of India, with the chaotic yet captivating atmosphere that I had imagined. 

It was everything I imagined - dirty, dusty, and packed with people. Just exactly what I wanted to see during my India trip.

Day 2 - Sightseeing all of Delhi in one Day

As I went around early the next day, I realized the enormity of New Delhi, with lots of attractions waiting to be explored.

Thanks to the convenient Tuktuks, it's possible to navigate the city relatively quickly, provided there was no heavy traffic, which fortunately wasn't the case that morning. With the main attractions situated about 1 km apart, planning my itinerary was straightforward.

First stop, Humayun's Tomb, a historical thing with a interessting architecture, that showcased the status of the Delhi sultans. The intricate designs and rich history, this is India. 

The area in Humayun's Tomb is huge. Lots of walking. But good in the morning when the sun is low.

From there, I made my way to the peaceful Lodhi Garden Park, where I had time to enjoy the greenery. Watching the historical significance of the area. But to be honest, well, it was a park, not much else to say about that.

Next on the list was India Gate, brimming with people like a magnet. Seriously, it seemed like this is THE place to be for every tourist. 

The grandeur of the monument and the bustling crowds around it, but, it was good to have a look here. It was interesting to witness the gathering of people from different backgrounds.

And then there's the Shrik Temple "Gurudwara Sri Bangla Sahib," a Hindu temple where you gotta take off your shoes and sock. Yeah, no thanks, I'll pass on the foot fungus.

However its a significant place of worship for the Sikh religion. Nevertheless, observing the peaceful devotion of the worshippers from the outside left a lasting impression on me.

In the afternoon, I embarked on a Tuktuk journey to the Red Fort, another iconic landmark of Delhi.

The experience was marred by the chaotic traffic and the constant honking of vehicles. Chaos, chaos everywhere, and constant honking, it's like a symphony of madness.

The pathway leading to the Red Fort was lined with a bustling shopping street, offering an array of shops and vendors. 

Amidst the crowd, I stumbled upon the "Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib", an important Sikh place of worship.

The best attraction all over Delhi is the Red Fort

The hustle and bustle around the Red Fort made it challenging to navigate through the crowd, but the majestic architecture of the fort itself made it all worthwhile.

Entering the Red Fort, I was greeted by a serpentine queue waiting to purchase tickets. But it's the best attraction in Delhi, no doubt about it.

Inside, there are a bunch of other buildings, it's like a marketplace, so many buildings. The vast expanse of the fort was breathtaking, but the large number of visitors made it challenging to fully appreciate the historical marvel within. 

Nevertheless, I spent a good two hours walking many corners of the forts, discovering various buildings and structures within their walls.

To conclude the day, I ventured to the Yamuna Ghat, also known as the Death River. Unfortunately, my visit was disheartening, as the river was heavily polluted, with a pervasive stench hanging in the air. Seriously, who throws everything and anything in there - remains of dead people, even!

But it's their religion so it's to be accepted. And the birds like it too. 

People were bathing in that filth. Insane! Yes, I noticed locals swimming and bathing in the river, using it as a means to wash themselves due to a lack of access to proper sanitation facilities. 

Day 3 - Pickpocket Robbing in India! It happens fast!

The most annoying part of this trip was getting robbed!

Eager to explore more of Delhi, I hopped on the efficient Metro system and headed south to the Select City Mall. The Metro ride took me through various parts of the city, allowing me to catch glimpses of everyday life in Delhi.

The Metro is like a magic carpet, taking me from North to South and within 30 minutes, I found myself at the doorstep of the huge shopping mall, a stark contrast to the historical landmarks I had visited the day before.

Those pickpocket street gangs are professionals

It was mid of afternoon and I ventured back to the Paharganj neighborhood. As I crossed the street toward my hotel, I found myself amidst a sudden altercation between two individuals. In the midst of the commotion, I failed to notice a pickpocket swiftly snatch my phone from my pocket. 

So the fight was about one of them accusing the other of stealing.

At that moment during the hectic, someone took my cell phone from my pocket without noticing. A few meters later I noticed it, but there was no one there anymore.

I went to the police. They wanted to know where it happened and then we went to the police headquarters, to a hall full of monitors and pictures from surveillance cameras from all over the city. 

Helpful Indian Police

After a few minutes of rewinding the specific camera footage, I was on it and they were able to identify four thieves. They distributed the footage of the culprits to every officer in the whole district and assured me that they will try everything to locate the gangsters.

I went back to the hotel. I was told that by the evening a police officer would report to the hotel and give me a police report.

Surprised about the effectiveness of police

In the evening at 11pm, I got called by the reception and the police were waiting downstairs. The inspector was sitting there, in front of him on the table my cell phone, including sim cards.

He said that they could find one of the thieves by his red shirt. The thief is now sitting in the precinct awaiting a rather long prison sentence, he said. Theft from tourists would not be tolerated under any circumstances in India and would be punished very severely.

Accordingly, I was grateful for the good work of the Indian police - I would never have expected that. Although, now a few days later, rewinding the whole happenings, I'm not 100% sure if the police had no other clues and connections with these phone thieves, or maybe are even involved with some kind of "deals" with them.......

It's terrible without phone

Tomorrow I have to go to the airport and then to Mumbai. Without my phone and without internet, without Google Maps and stuff, this would have been very tedious to continue the journey relaxed. 

Day 4 - Moving on to Mumbai

With my phone and Indian SIM card back in my possession, I boarded a short flight to Mumbai, the metropolis on the western coast of India. A short 2-hour flight and I'm there.

Upon landing, I opted for an affordable Uber ride to my hotel in Navi Mumbai, a more pleasant neighborhood. The journey took only over an hour due to the lack of traffic. But with Indian Uber prices (for about $7), I had no problem being a hotel in a different, better part of the city.

Hiking on Kharghar Hills

I embarked on a hike to the Kharghar Hills View Point, located in the southern part of Navi Mumbai. The trek, spanning approximately 5 kilometers, was steep but rewarding. The scorching heat made it even more demanding, but as I ascended, the mesmerizing views of the city and surrounding landscapes made every step worthwhile.

At the peak, I was greeted by the viewpoint of the Kharghar Hills, providing a respite from the noise from the city below. However, I couldn't shake off a sense of caution, as I learned that the area was also home to wild animals like leopards and venomous snakes.

Despite this knowledge, the opportunity to witness the natural beauty of Mumbai from such heights was too enticing to pass up.

As I descended from the viewpoint, I realized there were no Tuktuks available for a ride back to the city. Uber, on the other hand, was not a feasible option due to the steep terrain and excessive fuel consumption. Thus, I had no choice but to walk all the way down to the nearest street where I could find transportation back to my hotel.

The descent was boring, but it allowed me to further explore and appreciate the surrounding neighborhoods of Navi Mumbai.

Day 5 - Mumbai is much nicer than Delhi

I Ubered towards the heart of Mumbai, into the city center. However, finding a willing driver to travel the long distance proved to be a bit challenging. Eventually, I finally reached Mumbai City, and you know what? It was cleaner than I thought. 

Mumbai City exceeded my expectations, as I had anticipated a dirtier environment compared to Delhi or Bangladesh. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the streets relatively clean and well-maintained, showcasing a contrast to the image I had previously held.

The impressive architecture that adorned the city's skyline is not what I expected in India.

I checked out the fancy building and areas called "Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya". Try saying that five times fast!

Mumbai Gate was crowded, as usual I guess. I was met with a sea of people bustling around the monument, signifying its significance as a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists alike.

Nice to look around the historic landmark. At least not too long, as it's too hot.

The Mumbai Taj Mahal was a site I was eager to visit. To my surprise, the Mumbai Taj Mahal was not a historical monument but rather a luxurious hotel. Nevertheless, its grandeur and opulence did justice to its namesake, showcasing an architectural marvel in the heart of Mumbai.

Explored the area surrounding the Mumbai Taj Mahal. It's a hotel, a hotel! But it's fancy, I'll give them that.

The Mumbai Railway Station, now that's something, like really something. I couldn't help but admire the Mumbai Railway Station, an iconic landmark known for its stunning architecture. The hustle and bustle of commuters further added to the charm.

For the final stop of the day, I ventured to Girgaon Chowpatty Beach, known for its views of the Arabian Sea.

To my surprise, the beach was relatively clean. At least it seemed like that but didn't want to have a closer look. 

The drive back to Navi Mumbai was smooth. I guess I was lucky having departed Mumbai downtown before the end of working hours.

Day 6 - Time to leave. Will I visit again?

On the final day of my trip, I decided to take it easy and enjoy a day of relaxation. Time to relax. Mall lounging, hotel pool, and coffee. Savoring the last moments of my Indian journey. From the chaotic streets of Delhi to the stunning architecture of Mumbai, I had enough of these areas for the moment. 

But would I go back to India? Maybe yes, probably not, but it definitely is no priority at all!

Around midnight I boarded my flight back home.

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