After visiting India last year for the first time and falling in love with this wonderful country, I couldn’t wait to go back. My recent short second visit took me to the cities of Mumbai and Delhi. I am not usually a city person, however, this tour challenged my opinions and exceeded my expectations.
Mumbai, originally known as Bombay, is the capital of Maharashtra and the economic powerhouse of India. It is the fastest moving, most affluent and the most industrialised city in India.
The highlight for me was visiting the Dhobi Ghats. It is termed as the world’s largest outdoor laundry and features row upon row of open-air concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. As you can see in the picture above, men work at the laundry, doing 12 hour days and they all live there too. They provide a complete service of collecting the laundry, washing and ironing it and returning it clean and pressed.
At midday, we visited the Church gate station to see how the Mumbai Dabbawalas carry out their day to day duties. These “men with boxes” are part of a unique service industry whose primary business is collecting freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residences of the office workers (mostly in the suburbs) and delivering it to their respective workplaces. Various means of transport are employed in the process. Due to their immensely successful systems of operation, Dabbawalas have been invited to give lectures at prominent business schools all over the world.
After our busy morning, we spent the afternoon enjoying a wonderful curry in The Oberoi hotel overlooking the sea. This is a great place to stay in Mumbai.
I could have easily spent a few more days in Mumbai, but being a short visit it was time to fly on to Delhi. I will definitely have to go back to Mumbai and I would really like to visit the slums and also see the fishermen at work.
Delhi has been called the soul of the country, with its centuries of colourful history. Today, the city is a curious blend of the modern and traditional; skyscrapers, beautiful gardens and wide tree-lined avenues perpetuate the Mughal passion of landscaping and architectural excellence.
I was equally excited to explore Delhi, especially Old Delhi. We had a wonderful guide for the day and I found the Red Fort a fascinating place. The guide really gave us a sense of what life was like in India and I only wish I could have stepped back in time. There was such intricate detail on the fort and palaces.
To finish off we had a fun rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk, the busiest market in Old Delhi. It was noisy, chaotic and filled with smells of India.
Both cities make for a perfect short break to India or if you have more time there is so much more to India than the cities.