Because of an issue I mentioned before, I had to look for another tours service. I found Driver India Private Tours also on TripAdvisor. They too have a high number of excellent rating. I contacted them before we went to the mall. Response was also fast, yet are more accommodating to our requests.
They have several day tour choices that I hoped we could do all, but we had to prioritize given the limited stay. So, for the first day, we agreed on the Delhi Temples Sightseeing Tour.
Delhi Temples Sightseeing Tour
The tour package . , should there be any, . The tour duration is 10 to 12 hours. The suggested start time is 8AM, but may be changed to the tourist’s preference. We asked to be picked up at 9AM for enough time to eat breakfast and get ready.
The itinerary may also be modified. I actually didn’t keep track of the temples listed in their website, but the driver did show us more than expected. Appropriate attire is required btw during the temple tours. Tops must cover shoulders, chest, navel, and upper arms while bottoms must be below knee-length or just pants. Also, all temples do not allow footwear inside.
The tour is 2650INR per person on double occupancy as stated in their website. Sounds like a room price. LOL! So I asked for a quotation for three persons and an Innova. They offered us . Not a bad deal imo. 🙂
The driver, whose name is Jeetu, did arrive on time to pick us up, but we were a little late to meet him because I didn’t know where he was. Lels~ I forgot how I survived meeting friends back when mobile phones weren’t the thing yet. Thankfully, the slight delay didn’t ruin our schedule.
We first passed by Laxminarayan Mandir. Also known as Birla Mandir, it is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu and Lakshmi. Vishnu is one of the Hindu triumvirate or Trimurti that is the preserver of the universe. Lakshmi is goddess of good fortune, wealth, and prosperity. She is also (and one of) the wife of Vishnu.
The temple covers 7.5 acres of land with shrines, fountains, and a large garden. I had no idea it’s a huge temple because we didn’t go in.
Our first _actual_ stop is at the Swaminarayan Akshardham. The biggest Hindu temple I’ve ever seen. They’re also the strictest. Security is as tight as an airport’s. They have x-ray and baggage scanners. Gadgets, cameras, toys, and pets among others aren’t allowed inside, so we left most of our stuff in the car.
Disappointing that I couldn’t get to take photos or videos, but I got to enjoy more the sight of the beautiful Akshardham with birds soaring on the path to the temple’s entrance. I was overwhelmed and felt immense appreciation for that moment. I guess that is one reason why cameras are prohibited. 🙂
Shoes aren’t allowed in the temple, so they had to be surrendered at the shoe counter. I had socks on, but my Mom and bro would have had to go barefoot on very warm ground if it weren’t for the white floor tiles. Visitors are advised to walk on the white tiles especially during the warm season because they do not absorb heat. They’re little cold to the touch; very comfortable to walk on that warm day.
Inside Swaminarayan Akshardham are:
- Visitor Center — For general information about Swaminarayan Akshardham. Guides, which come in different languages, can also be purchased here.
- Mandir — An ornate temple that has 20,000 statues of India’s Hinduism’s spiritual personalities
- Exhibits — There are three exhibits that includes a boat ride. I wish I got to experience that. 🙁
- Abhishek Mandap — Ritual bathing of a deity over prayers and chants.
- Water Show
I highly recommend visiting Swaminarayan Akshardham. Check Google Images for endless photos of the place. Of course, there is the official website too for more details. Admission is free in Swaminarayan Akshardham except the exhibits and Water Show.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a spiritual institution founded by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in July 1966. The temple is dedicated to Krishna and Radha and to practice/learn Bhakti Yoga; Bhakti means “love of God” or “pure devotional service to God.” Practicing Bhakti can awaken the love for Krishna (or God) through acts of love.
Krishna is one of the incarnations of Vishnu; widely revered major Hindu deity. Radha is the goddess for kindness, beauty, and humanity; almost always depicted with Krishna. In Bhakti traditions in Hinduism, Radha is the manifestation of “feeling of love for Krishna.”
The Hare Krishna mantra is often chanted in the temple. They were chanting when we were there. The chant is the easiest method to reach spiritual realization in this age they say.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
I don’t know if the tiles placement was on purpose or a mistake.
Narasimha is the fourth of the 10 avatars of Hindu God Vishnu.
I (awkwardly) took photos and videos in the temple when a girl near me wanted to picture her parents with the Narasimha. The father was like ‘Is this allowed?’ and one of the caretakers, I guess that’s what they’re called, shook his head at the girl. Pasaway!
ISKCON Temple offers training programs for youth and prison inmates, food distribution, and spiritual discourses among others. They also have a museum and library with over 2000 books. Entrance is free at ISKCON Temple.
The only temple I’m familiar with is the Lotus Temple among the Delhi temples. I couldn’t believe I saw it ‘for realz.’ 😀
Also known as Bahai House of Worship, the temple was completed in 1986. It is formed by 27 petal-shaped marble in three clusters. The central prayer hall has a capacity of 2500, which doesn’t seem that way when you see the temple from the outside.
The Bahai faith believes in “Oneness of God, the Oneness of Religions, and the Oneness of Mankind.” The temple is open to all religions, but no rituals or sermons are allowed inside.
It doesn’t seem like they let people stay near the ponds. They wanted us remove our shoes and enter the temple, when we didn’t want to because we were told that there was only a prayer hall inside and nothing much to take photos of. The staff we came upon had limited knowledge of English and couldn’t understand that we wanted to leave. Thankfully, we were able to leave right away with no problems.
Lotus Temple is open 9AM to 7PM during summer and 9AM to 5:30PM during winter from Tuesdays to Sundays. Entrance is free.
Since the tour’s itinerary is flexible, we got to decide what time and where to eat. I didn’t want to get hungry while in a temple, so I asked have lunch before heading to the next temple. Our only request to Mr. Jeetu was a restaurant with an AC. 😀
He brought us to Suribachi that offer Asian and Continental food of mostly vegetarian, seafood, chicken, and lamb. Since I miss Middle Eastern food, I ordered falafel. My Mom had curry and the brother had pasta.
I was disappointed with the small falafel, but I underestimated it. I was already full after the third falafel. 😀
95% of the diners were tourists. I don’t mind if the driver or tour providers get commission from them because the food was generally okay, but could be better for the price. Also, I noticed how less accommodating the manager was after we paid for our food.
Thereafter lunch, we went to a temple I didn’t get the name of. This was located in a busy area and seems to be included in a temple complex. If someone could identify the temple, please let me know by leaving a comment below. 🙂
The entrance to the temple is free. Please take note though, if you will be visiting the temple, it’s not the cleanest. Wear socks or bring wet tissues.
After that (currently) unidentifiable temple, Mr. Jeetu drove us to Chhatarpur Temple. It may not look like in the photo, but Chhatarpur Temple is the second largest temple in India. Its primary deity is the goddess Katyayini–The 6th form in the Navadurga (nine forms) of Parvati.
The temple complex was considered the largest at 24.3ha before construction of Akshardham Temple. The complex includes about 20 small and large temples and a huge Hanuman statue. Hanuman is a devotee of Rama (seventh avatar of Vishnu) while some texts say he is an incarnation of Shiva.
The Chhatarpur Temple is open everyday with free entrance. We didn’t go inside anymore because the family were already exhausted or sleepy. 🙂
The last in the temples tour is Qutb Minar, which is located at Mehrauli, New Delhi. It’s not a temple, but the tallest brick minaret in the world at 240ft. It is part of Qutb Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with other ancient significant monuments. The exterior decorations of the tower are iron carvings and verses of the Qur’an.
Mr. Jeetu told us that people were allowed to climb the tower years ago, but eventually closed because of an incident that killed 45 people.
Before we returned to the hotel, Mr. Jeetu brought us to a souvenir shop, which I forgot the name of. The shop has two levels. The first has a vast selection of accessories such as bracelets and necklaces made of stone or wood and intricate carvings of India’s sacred animals (they have mostly elephants). They’re all expensive! I almost splurged on a Himalaya/s bracelet because I’m a sucker for odd-looking accessories. But it really was too pricey. I’m sort of relieved I didn’t get that because I found something else that’s more to my liking in the lower level of the shop. 🙂 In that level are some musical instruments, Saree blouses, and lots and lots of Pashmina shawls.
So that concludes our temples sightseeing tour. 🙂 We’ve seen more than what I listed. Everything, I hope, will be in the video. We were fortunate we didn’t encounter heavy traffic and, should we have perused each temple, the 10-12 hours wouldn’t be enough even though I know our tour went even less.
To cap the day, I had cocktails at Tamra Restaurant.
I had some fish fillet, chicken, and potato salad. Yeah, I think that’s potato salad in the bowl. 😛 I had another serving of that with coffee and two servings of wine.
Previous post in this series: The flight to and first day in India
Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hyukta/albums/72157674190426672