Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Day 2 - Sightseeing in New Delhi

Let’s see New Delhi!

We had a pretty early start today, it was our first day of sightseeing and we had a lot of places to see. We got ready and ate breakfast and were off. Breakfast consisted of some orange juice, toast, and Nutella and it was delicious. We had 3 spots we were going to hit today: Q’utub Minar, the Lotus Temple, and Humayun’s tomb. There was no guide or anything like that but the same driver that picked us all up from the airport would be taking us to these places and we would be able to do whatever we like once we got there.
Qut'b Minar. It is probably one of the most massive and most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. It is basically a huge tower built from red sandstone from the Mughal days (Muslim conquerors of India from the 1100s-1700s I believe). It was a watchtower for the Delhi Sultans who needed to keep an eye on possible threats to the kingdom. It is covered in Arabic script and the color of the stone combined with the sheer magnitude of the tower is absolutely breathtaking. 

 There is a mosque and some other structures around the Minar in a large complex. I guess it was the site of some old Hindu temples and the Mughals broke some the temple structures down to make room for the mosque, but you can still see some remnants of the old Hindu temples.

Under the Banyan tree, Tim made some friends!
          Next up was the Lotus Temple, it is one the main sites of worship of the Ba’hai faith. I don’t know too much about the Ba’hai faith but I do know they have some universalist philosophies and their followers are spread out all over the world. The Lotus Temple was set in  a park so we were dropped off at the gates and made our way over to the Temple. There was a long line of people waiting to get in and everyone had to take their shoes off. This was a little tricky since the pavement was blistering hot and the burlap sack path that had been laid out from the grass to the entrance of the Temple could only hold so many people. The inside of the Temple was very simple, but elegant. It consisted of seating around the entire circumference except for the small stage on one side. It was a place to simply reflect and think, more than worship, per se. Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside but I got some good snaps of the outside. 
So many people and so hot, but what a beautiful structure!

           The last stop of the day was Humayun’s Tomb. Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor of India. I think this was my favorite site today, partially because we could be inside in the cool shade for a lot of it, and partially because of the beautiful Mughal architecture of all the buildings and gardens in the complex. Everything was so intricate yet done on such a large scale; it blows my mind how these ancient civilizations could construct these beautiful structures without any modern technology. 

The big man himself, Humayun.

           We got back to Anantha’s late in the afternoon, extremely sweaty and tired but excited by the amazing sites we had seen that day. It was great being back in the cool apartment and just hanging out for a while after such an exhausting day. Everyone had warned me that Delhi heat is almost unbearable during the summer and I had thought “pish posh”, but I understood what they meant now. I think I sweated through my clothes a few times and drank probably 2 or 3 bottles of water in the span of just a few hours. Our car was air-conditioned and everything too! It was just the few times we were in the direct sun. In the end, it was worth it because I know I will never forget the amazing things I had seen.

Travel tip # 1: when travelling to Delhi during the summer, carry plenty of water bottles, a BIG HAT, and handcloth for sweat removal purposes.


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