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Delhi was a short and sweet trip. Mayur had to attend a conference VLDB and give a talk there. So Reema and I accompanied him and made it a short weekend break. We arrived late on a Thursday night and left the subsequent Sunday afternoon. We stayed at the Leela in Gurgaon and did some limited sight-seeing in the city. Not much to write here actually. We just rented a full day 8-hrs 8-km taxi on Friday and Saturday, and saw a bunch of places in Delhi. On Sunday, we just relaxed at the hotel with swimming, spa, and an awesome breakfast. The Leela Gurgaon is right next to the Ambience Mall which had great food and shopping options. Delhi has some really good sites to visit and one can easily spend a week there, especially if one likes history. I do wish some of these old sites were better maintained and had more plaques explaining the history. But the city does not have too much to offer for kids. A lot of shopping and food options as well if you can find the time for it :).

Sep 9, Friday
On Friday, we visited the following places:
  • Qutub Minar: You can walk around the campus of this majestic tower but you cannot climb up anymore. You cannot touch the iron pillar either. Its impressive but having seen so many more tall buildings all over the world, it dwarfs in comparison. I think this is true of all places in New Delhi - they are all spectacular if you keep in mind the time in which they were constructed.
  • Bahai Lotus Temple: A longish walk from the parking lot to the temple. It is shaped like a white lotus with large water pools in between the petals. They used to run fountains in these pools earlier but they are stopped now so the water was stagnant and a bit dirty. The main prayer hall is very serene and cool due to the marble all over.
  • Humayun's Tomb: The building is very large and impressive. Not much inside - the main view is from outside. The lawns in front of the tomb were well-maintained and we sat there for quite some time playing with the pigeons :).
  • India Gate: India Gate is located in the heart of the city and you can get a rough view of the President's home the Rashtrapati Bhavan from there above all the pollution. Too many hawkers ruin the beauty and the sanctity of the place :(. But one must visit the Amar Jyoti as a mark of respect to our armed forces.
  • Akshardham Temple: If I had to pick one place to visit in Delhi, it would be the Akshardham Temple. They have a lot of security and we had to deposit all electronic items including our cameras and cell phones outside the temple, but it was totally worth the extra effort. The temple closes for entry around 6:30pm so we were lucky we got in at 6pm. We saw the laser show at the inner lake and it was mind-blowing with spectacular effects both on the water as well as on the building wall. They have very good cheap food on the inside too. The main temple and its sanctum santorum was incredibly beautiful - you can easily spend an hour there looking at all the intricate carvings. The temple was also beautifully lit up at night. Very well maintained and a rare five stars from me!

Sep 10, Saturday
On Saturday, we visited the following places:
  • Rashtrapati Bhavan: You can visit the RB by buying tickets online for a specific date and time. This is another place that I would recommend visiting. It was an honor to be able to visit the RB all the way inside the majestic home. Designed by Lutyens himself, the building has many impressive rooms some of which we saw: Meeting rooms, Dining room, the Darbar Hall where the Padma awards are granted, a room used for taking photographs with foreign dignitaries, and the library. Some parts of the RB could certainly have been better maintained but we really enjoyed the visit. We spent a little bit of time walking around the Mughal Gardens that surround the building but it was not the prime season for the beautiful flowers, especially the famous Rose Garden.
  • Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk: Both these places are located right next to each other in Old Delhi. I would totally not recommend going here - its just far too crowded. We wanted to eat at the famous Parantha-wali galli in Chandni Chowk but the food was just not that good, let alone the crowds and believe me, I am quite okay with crowds in India. Jama Masjid was also a long walk to the main center with blazing hot tiles in the courtyard to cross in the heat of the day. What made it worse was rickshaw drivers and hawkers continuously bothering you and asking you for rides and sales. A complete no-no, especially with kids.
  • Red Fort: Red Fort is a short walk away from Chandni Chowk. Again long walks in crowded areas. Looks nice from outside itself. We didn't venture too much inside.
  • Raj Ghat: Raj Ghat is the final resting place of Mahatma Gandhi. This memorial and several other memorials are located along the banks of the Yamuna river. It was a nice and quiet place with a few visitors. A moment of solitude in the otherwise hustle-bustle of the city of Delhi.

The rest of the time was spent chilling at the Leela Gurgaon. It was a very good hotel but the attitude of the staff could do with some improvement :). Delhi was good fun for a couple of days and I am sure you can easily spend much more time here. Hope to be back soon!