Delhi is and has always been my first love. It’s food, architecture and the fact that it is a motley of so many cultures from round the world makes it hard to forget. I had gone to a summit organised by CBSE last year. On the second day they took us on a tour of four places around Delhi or should I say New Delhi. These four were, the Humayun Tomb, Qutub Minar, Indira Gandhi Memorial and Lotus Temple. It was a day of sheer fun. My history teacher also accompanied me so she told us about things that we couldn’t have normally noticed about these places. So here is how it went:
HUMAYUN’S TOMB: This was my most favourite place of the four. The place has about 105 tombs, I mean I could actually dedicate a post to that monument but due to shortage of time, we only went to the main imposing structure of the Humayun’s Tomb. The place has a certain sense of tranquility about it, you know just sitting there makes your senses calm and cool. The main structure is just as imposing as the Taj Mahal, you can easily see the reason why it could have been the predecessor of it. The same dome shape and the basic structure of the tomb are almost identical, just that it is made in red sandstone, the favourite construction material of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, the third Mogul ruler who got the tomb constructed for his father and the Taj is built with Makrana Marble, a favorite of Shah Jahan. ASI has developed the entrance chamber into a room filled with information about the tomb also explaining why most Mogul structures have designs like the web of a spider on the windows. Legend has it that when emperor Humayun was escaping from the men of Sher Shah, he hid in a ruinous building that had a lot of spider webs on the entrance door. The raiders came behind them into the building and felt that the people were not there, seeing the webs, they left it and moved on. Since that day, they believed that the spider webs lend a sort of protective cover and so any of the windows of the main chambers of any Mogul building always has these designs made on them.. The photo here is my favorite of all those I have ever clicked, from a side bench near the tomb. The fountain also lends an aesthetic effect.
Qutub Minar: The tallest brick Minaret in the world, the Qutub Minar. I have no idea how high it is , but most probably it is 950 m. Built over 5 generations with each generation adding a new floor, the best part is that you can still see the inscriptions that prove that it was built using pieces of destroyed Hindu Temple, on second thoughts, not so best part :P. I went around looking astonished that it’s builders did not even make the slightest efforts to hide these marks. There is also a small marble tomb for a Sufi saint. The famous iron pillar, that is the epitome of metallurgy, both old and modern, because it has not rusted since the day it was made. They have built fence around it now, because people used to try and put their hands around it because of a saying that if you could put you hands around it facing the opposite direction as that of the pillar, your wish would come true. I had tried it once when I was a kid, then there wasn’t any fence, believe me easier said than done ;). It is pretty well maintained, so it is great to take a stroll in and around it. Again since the stampede, the main minaret has been cordoned off.
Indira Gandhi’s Memorial: The place was actually the residence of the former PM of India when she was in office. She was killed in office by her body guards. The place has some seriously great stuff to see. Her rooms, clothes etc are all preserved in a pristine manner. They have also kept her bloodied sari, shoes, purse that she was carrying the day she was shot. Many states of the US presented her with the key to the city usually kept with the mayor. They have also placed the various gifts given to her by people. My most favourite was the carpet that had her face woven into it. But being a small space, if there are many people, you have to be in line and wait for it to move along.
Lotus Temple: The symbol of the Baha’i faith, the lotus temple is an architectural marvel, mimicking the exact shape of the lotus leaves, it leaves you mesmerized. You cannot go to the grass patches, just for show :(. They take you in groups and tell you about the faith and the temple itself, interesting it is. Below the main temple are small pools which are totally in contrast to the well maintained grounds of the temple. But you cannot blame them , Indians seriously can’t respect anything, they put their dirty feet into the water making it murky. Also don’t go during the after noon, the runup to the temple gets hot and really unbearable to walk on.