This morning our plane arrived in New Delhi two hours late! We couldn’t take off to start with, because they couldn’t find four passengers, and then had to unload their bags (what happens to these people?! Where do they go to after they check in their luggage?). Then the plane couldn’t be parked, so we sat for what felt like an age before we could unclip our belts and stand up in the queue to shuffle off the plane.
Anyway, we arrived at the hotel at after 3am (we’re 5.5 hours ahead of UK time), and crawled into bed at 4am. Alarms set for 10am, to try and get breakfast. Rob made it, the boys and I snoozed on until nearly 11am. Our driver arrived at 11:45 and then we were off to explore the Red Fort.
There are rickshaws that will take you from the car park to the fort entrance, for 10 rupees per person. We walked the short path on the way there, and rode a motorised tuk-tuk/rickshaw on the return. When you arrive at the front of the fort, there are queues of people everywhere, and looking obviously foreign, you get waved to the front of all of them. First queue is for a entry ticket. There are separate booths for foreigners, women, and people of nationality of a variety of countries, including Indian. The “foreigners” ticket is the most expensive, but you spend the least time queuing, so there’s a pay off, I guess!
The second queue is for an audio guide. This requires a piece of identification or 2000 rupees, which they retain while you tour the fort, plus 100 RS for English or Korean, 60 RS for Hindi language. There are boards all around the fort grounds with a number on, and when you spot on you stand close to it and press the button on your device to hear the information about that area of the Red Fort in New Delhi. James always loves these tours (since first trying one at the Bayeux tapestry), and to hear him exclaim about what he was listening to was so lovely. For example, “Quick, Mum! There’s an elephant face around here – look up!” and “The emperor stood on a table! You can’t stand on tables!”, but later, “The emperor was imprisoned for life, Mum; what does that mean?”. As I was on Noah-duty, I didn’t hear any of the audio tour but both Rob and James enjoyed listening to it.
The third queue is for security, where a long line of people shuffle through metal detectors, airline-style scanners, and are eventually split into male/female for individual pat-downs. We skipped the security entirely, but the Indian-nationals queue was long, and they weren’t allowed to take in any plastics or food. Note that Indian-nationals are encouraged to use the cloakroom facility, which is available for all.
Visiting the Red Fort in Delhi is exactly like going to a National Trust property, really. Although, the Red Fort is a World Heritage Site, so the ropes that stop you going into particular areas are slightly more enforced!
One of our major themes of today was that we were stopped far too regularly for photos with families and children. We started quite graciously, happily, even. By the end, when we couldn’t even sit and rest for a minute without a whole family of people assembling around us. We had this happen in Thailand, too, but this time it’s me they want as well. A glimpse at life as a famous person.
After our tour of the Red Fort, we should have gone for lunch, but instead we went to India Gate. We saw it. I didn’t take any photos of it. I’m not sure if Rob did.
We got distracted by the awesome Children’s Park next to India Gate. It houses a musical fountain, a Jungle Book-themed fountain (neither operational today), a children’s library, and a huge play park. The boys ate an ice cream and then we toured around, checking out the topiary, the aquarium, and the gorgeous flowers. The air here is thick and hazy. There are billboards at various points around the city telling us our children are practically smoking by breathing this air. I’m not sure what such a campaign is supposed to achieve without significant government input… Anyway. We’re only here for a short while and hopefully there’ll be no lasting damage.
After a play on the various equipment in the Children’s Park, we got back in the car and drove to a family restaurant. We ate a variety of Western and Indian dishes, suddenly felt at once sane and tired, and headed back to the hotel in Delhi. We’re watching a movie, and then we’ll sleep!