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Friday 1 Apr 2011
Delhi, India

Red Fort and "mad" Delhi nightlife

Local holyman ... or...
Local holyman/nutjob

I got to experience the wonderful Delhi metro today. It's a world away from the smoggy streets full of taxis and rickshaws and is a surprisingly clean and efficient way of getting around the city. My hotel was near the "Hanuman" metro entrance, marked by a gigantic Hanuman statue which houses a full temple.

Inlaid marble flower work
Inlaid marble flower work
at the Red Fort

Today I took in the Red Fort. It was quite appropriate for me to visit the place at this latter stage in the tour as I had been reading up on the history of the Mughals in William Dalrymple's book: "The Last Mughal". Up to the mid-19th century, the Red Fort not only housed the Mughal emperor and his many wives/concubines, but seemed to be where a lot of the British East India company staff also lived. It is a city within a city, and the walls surround grounds covering 124 acres. It also took center-stage during the "1857 Mutiny" (or as the Indian's would see it, the "1857 Fight for Freedom from British oppression") when Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, was literally forced to lead a revolt of the Indian sepoys against the might of the British empire.

There were a lot of buildings to visit, including several marble-clad pavilions constructed over the 300 years that the Mughals ruled India, so I spent much of the day here. It was a pleasant enough place to relax, with extensive gardens, watching "chirping" squirrels scarpering around (sounding very much like small birds... the males seemed to sport gonads that were dragging on the ground!). The museums housed a lot of artefacts from the British Raj, but despite most Indians not holding any grudges against the English the museum curators clearly had a chip on their shoulder with exhibits describing the "horrors of the Imperialistic regime".

Shops inside the Red Fort
Shops inside the Red Fort

Naqqar Khana at the Red...
Naqqar Khana inlays

The main line of shops just inside the Red Fort (where the Shah's wives would have purchased jewels in the past) was now clearly a tourist trap, but I priced a few souvenirs regardless including some nice sandalwood elephants that I wanted to get for Gwen. I ended up getting two gilded paintings of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz for a pretty decent price. I decided to get Gwen some silk finery instead Laughing

Later I returned to see a Sound and Light show at the Red Fort after a yummy meal on the main bazarr in one of the large chain restaurants. The show was decent enough although clearly the anti-English sentiment was still strong when they wrote the script which dragged on a bit too long about the struggle against the English and the ultimate Independance movement. The earlier part of Delhi's history is far more interesting. I was exceedingly thankful that I had brought along my mozzie spray as the mozzies in the Red Fort are ravenous!

As I was leaving the Fort, I met up with an American bloke staying at our hotel (what can I tell you? If the hotel is recommended by Tripadvisor then you're guaranteed to get a bunch of yanks staying there Wink). He was in India for only 3 days on business. As this was the last night I could afford to stay out late we went out for a few beers at a bar called @live, which had a cool Filipino band. A "live jukebox" as the flyer said. Just shout out any tune, and chances are they could play it (albeit every tune seemed to have a reggae tempo). They ended the night playing a funked-up version of "With or without you".

As the place was closing at 1am (pretty common in Delhi), we took a "party" rickshaw (complete with Indian ragga music pumping out of the speakers, and a tendency to swerve down the road... as this was clearly the sort of "crazy fun" that farangis were supposed to love) to another pretentious place in a hotel that was charging a ridiculous entry fee of 3,000 Rs (about 60 euro) just to get in!

In any other country that would be steep, but in India it's just plain ridiculous. So we hopped off back to our hotel where the staff awoke from their slumber in the lobby, and provided us with fresh cold Kingfisher beers on the rooftop for the rest of the night. Poor guys probably wanted to sleep, but we were too wasted to realise the time.

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In Search of the World's Hottest Chili

Travel blog by peterforan

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  • Red Fort

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  • Red Fort

    Delhi

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    Red Fort