Oh, Delhi. What can I say of its iconic beauty but also its flagrant poverty? What do I remember more, the majestic Jama Masjid or the constant sense of unease while walking around the city as a woman? Honestly, I remember my apprehension and sense of disquiet more. After discussing our travels through India with other women, I know I am not alone. Although Northern India elicited more anxiety than many places I’ve visited, it doesn’t discount the sheer beauty of the country as a whole.
We only spent two days in Delhi, but we did see two of the main highlights of the capital. First, we toured the Jama Masjid with its magnificent domes and minarets. Its full name is Masjid-i Jahān-Numā, meaning the “world reflecting mosque.” This colossal structure was built between 1644 and 1656 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It is one of the largest mosques in India, constructed with red sandstone and white marble.
We also toured the vast Red Fort. The Red Fort was built in 1639 by the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the palace of the then capital Shahjahanabad. The structure includes large walls of red sandstone, extensive gardens, and a variety of buildings within the enclosure. The Red Fort served as the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years.
The rest of our time in Delhi was spent strolling the streets of Old Delhi, eating our weight in vegetable masala, and devouring every street cart samosa we found. We attempted to visit Humayun’s tomb and unfortunately ended up with a scammer of a tuk-tuk driver who tried to take us elsewhere. After about an hour of chastising him and aggressively yelling, he finally brought us back to our hotel. At that point, we were so fed up with the audacious men cat-calling and following us, and decided to spend the afternoon relaxing at the hotel rather than exploring the city. Clearly I still have mixed feelings about Delhi. I’m grateful for the chance to visit this historical city, but it is not a place I ever wish to return to.