I arrived in Delhi late last night after a 14-hour trip from Chicago, during which we flew over Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Moscow, the Aral Sea, Kabul, and the Himalayas. It was dark most of the time so I saw very little of it.
I'm staying at the Radisson Hotel near Indira Ghandi International Airport (you can find it on the map here). It's a fairly nice hotel, very American in flavor. As with everybody I have met in India, the staff are very friendly.
The first overwhelming impression I got of Delhi was smoke - as soon as the plane touched down, a smell of woodsmoke entered, and it has not let up (I'm somewhat used to it by now, but if I think about it, I can still smell it). Here is what I found out my window this morning (the haze is smoke, not fog):
I'm told that this is leftover smoke from Diwali, which is a festival of light / fire. After breakfast, I took a cab, and went shopping for gifts for various people back home. I then had them take me to Red Fort, the past seat of the Mughal Empire. The cab took me as close as it could, then I took a rickshaw from the parking area to the fort. Here is an exterior view - the flag rises above the Lahore Gate:
The red stone comes from Agra, I was told. Much of it is carved decoratively:
Here is an exterior short of some marble building inside the fort. These are the baths (on the left) and the Emperor's audience hall (on the right):
This is looking into the Emperor's residence. The depression in the center was filled with water when this was a working Palace - in fact, the Palace was full of water from the nearby river:
This is the seat from which the Emperor received public petitions - currently surrounded by bird netting:
Much of the stonework inside has intricate marble inlay:
Here are some of the pavilions used by the King and his consorts (the basin around the red pavilion was filled with water back in the day):
One other notable thing about Red Fort is the large number of fairly heavily armed guards around. This is likely due to the terrorist attack on the fort in 2000. I did not set out to take their pictures (I could imagine that might make them nervous) but I happened to get a picture of one while taking a picture of this gate:
For my little dog Hank, here is a squirrel that I'm sure he'd love to chase:
In another tree, a shrine to a local god:
Finally, on the way back to the hotel, we passed an elephant, so I had the cab driver stop for a second so I could snap a photo:
I came back a little earlier than anticipated - jetlag is hitting more than I expected - but I'll get out and about and see more tomorrow.
My impressions of Delhi are mixed - it has fantastic sights, sounds, and smells(good and bad) - but the contrasts between rich and poor are heart-wrenching - and I am sure I did not even begin to see what the truly poor live like.