“If you want to experience the sights, the sounds and the smells of “real” India all at once, the best way is a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi,” said Anil Bahal, my India tour director.
So on my first day of touring India with Globus Tours, I climbed into a tiny rickshaw to let all of India come rushing at me all at once. The rickshaw driver must have legs of steel to be able to bike two people and their covered seats into the mass of people in the Old Delhi markets without ever showing signs of weariness.
There was barely enough room for the rickshaw and the amount of people walking past the market’s mostly pedestrian streets. But for such a narrow street, I felt like my senses couldn’t soak everything in fast enough. Everywhere I looked were bright colors from bejeweled fabrics, fresh fruit and store signs. Incense hung in the air, as well as excitement from the bustling activity of people buying, selling and honking to get through. Then of course there is always the occasional man pushing a cart of bricks or woman carrying a large bag of clothes on her head.
The rickshaw turned out to be a perfect way to safely watch the madness of the market without the headache of trying to navigate the labyrinth of streets. People would even take the time to wave a friendly hello as we passed by.
My first day also included a quieter side of India at Delhi’s Jama Masjid and Tomb of Humayun. These magnificent buildings made me realize that the country has managed to preserve a vast quantity of ancient structures. Built in the 16th and 17th centuries, these two historic sites provided a glimpse into the time of India’s affluent Mughal Empire.
One colorful scene on the rickshaw ride
At the Tomb of Humayun
At the Jama Masjid