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Delhi – Hanouz Dehli dour ast

Delhi, also known as Dilli and officially called National Capital Territory of Delhi is the capital of India.  The city with its historical past and vibrant present is built on the banks of Yamuna river. Many a times this city was built, destroyed and rebuilt. It has and still been a seat of power of many rulers and empires for millennia.

We reached Delhi early morning and had two days to discover the treasures the city had in store for us.  We first began with the famous Baha’i Temple also known as Lotus Temple.

BAHA’I TEMPLE : The lotus temple is a Baha’i house of worship open to all, regardless of any religion.  All Baha’i Houses of Worship share certain similarities in architecture.  Abdu’l-Baha, son of the founder of the religion stipulated that an essential architectural character of the House of Worship is nine sided circular shape.  Baha’i scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images should be displayed in the house of worship and no altars or pulpits should be incorporated in the architectural feature.  The design of this house of worship in Delhi is inspired by Lotus flower. Lotus is the symbol of love and purity. As the lotus accommodates many petals without any discrimination, Baha’i religion brings all the people together irrespective of any religion.  The architecture has 27 petals in the cluster of 3 to form 9 sides. The temple has 9 doors that open to the center hall.  People are expected to maintain silence once they are inside the house of worship.  No photographs were allowed inside the temple.  People didn’t mind to stand in queue for a long time in spite of Delhi’s scorching heat. Neither did I! Although before going inside, the authorities were continuously warning the crowd to be quiet, but that didn’t bother me. I had already become speechless few moments back admiring the simplicity in this architectural wonder!

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Queue in front of Bahai Temple

HUMAYUN’S TOMB : Almost all the early mughal rulers except Aurangzeb had great taste in architecture and art.  Indian Architecture was deeply influenced by Persian style of architecture and this can be seen in most of the buildings built during Mughal age.  There are certain similarities and patterns in most of the architectural designs like huge domes, minarets, large halls and flowery patterns or designs drawn on the monuments.  Similar to Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun built by his wife Bega Begum.  The complex houses graves of his wife, many other nobles in his court and also his favorite barber(Nai ka Gumbad).  The tomb is built of red standstone and white marble.  Beneath the white dome is the burial chamber of Humayun.  The real burial chamber is however even beneath that which is not accessible to the public.  The main tomb is also placed in the center of Char Bagh Garden.  Char Bagh Garden is divided into four gardens as per Persian style of design with two bisecting central water channels.  The water channels seem to go inside the tomb and then reappear from the other side symbolically suggesting Jannat, rivers flowing beneath the Garden of Paradise.  When we visited the place, we were welcomed by a unexpected and severe hail storm.  Large pieces of ice chunks hit us and we had to take shelter beside the main tomb.  The dead and the nearly dead stood there waiting for the storm to finish.  Luckily it lasted only for few minutes and we continued our sight seeing with bruised heads!

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INDIA GATE : India Gate is a war memorial to 82000 soldiers of Indian Army who died in the First World War. A black marble plinth with reversed rifle and a war helmet on the top  is surrounded by four eternal flames.  This structure is called Amar Jyoti or the flame of the Immortal Soldier and it has served as India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier since 1971. The message and tribute to the Indian Soldiers is inscribed on the structure.  An integral part of Republic Day is when prime minister along with the heads of armed forces visit India Gate and place a wreath over the tomb. The parade starts from Rashtrapati Bhavan and passes through the India Gate to reach the Red Fort. 3 Flags representing Army, Navy and Air force and a member of each force guards the gate 24 hours.

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JAMA MASJID : Jama Masjid was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who also built Taj Mahal in Agra and Red Fort in Delhi.  Red Sandstone and white marble in the architectural design indicates similarities in Mughal Architectures. When you enter the holy shrine you are taken aback with a surprise with the sheer space inside the Masjid. This huge sprawling rectangular area can accommodate around 25000 visitors in the courtyard. There are two towering minarets on both sides of the dome.  The place is located in Old Delhi and opposite to the famous Red Fort.  In Delhi you can witness two worlds at a time, Old and New Delhi.  Old Delhi which is just a stone’s throw away from the modern New Delhi is the most historic part with its origins dating back  to the time with Mughals.  Today there is a huge contrast in both these parts.  When you look at New Delhi, you see large spaces, modern buildings, lush trees overshadowed by government buildings, wide lanes, great flyovers, huge shopping malls and so on. The area just smells of power and wealth. Old Delhi on the other hand still has the essence of culture, tradition and authenticity.  Today the lanes are narrower with crumbling houses with hustle bustle in this part of the walled city. The most authentic, delicious and traditional delicacies of Indian food can be found in this part of the land.

Entrance to MasjidFrom the topJama Masjid

QUTUB MINAR : Qutub Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the tallest brick minaret in the world.  Qutub-ud-Din-Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate started the construction of this Minar and later it was accomplished by his son-in-law Illutmish.  There are in total 5 levels and one can notice Islamic calligraphy inscribed on each tower.  The minaret is actually inclined over 65 cm from the vertical.  There is an iron pillar with Brahmic inscriptions beside it.  The beauty of this iron pillar is that it is rust proof, probably the quality of iron or amalgamation of iron with metals.  A traditional belief about this iron pillar is that if one encircles the entire column with his arm then his wish would be fulfilled.  Today there is a barricade across the iron pillar as the only wish the government has is to protect the pillar from any further damages.

RAJGHAT : Rajghat is located on the banks of the river Yamuna and it is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation. There are two memorials of Mahatma Gandhi. Rajghat is the place where Gandhi was cremated. You can notice a black marble glowing with eternal flame on one side and letters “He Ram” inscribed on the side which were supposedly his last words.

GANDHI SMRITI : Gandhi Smriti is the second memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.  This is the place where Gandhi was shot.  It is now a national museum which has Gandhi’s teachings and messages. Gandhi Smriti was formerly known as Birla House.  Gandhi was shot during his prayers at the place where the present Martyr’s Column now stands. They have raised footsteps which lead to the exact spot where he was assassinated.

BIRLA MANDIR : Birla Mandir also referred as LaxmiNarayan Temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. It was built by B.R. Birla and Vijay Tyagi. This temple is one of the major attractions of this city.

CHATRAPUR TEMPLE : One thing which is unique about Chatrapur Temple is that it is a mixture of North Indian and South Indian style design.  The temple is dedicated to Goddess Katyayani. It is one of the biggest temples in India.

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RASHTRAPATI BHAVAN : During our visit to India Gate, we passed Rashtrapati Bhavan which is the official home of President of India. Well, it sure didn’t look like a home, it was a mansion.  The building was so huge that I could not fit it in one single frame.  Looked like a panoramic shot to me.  Even the most visited White House in DC was unmatched to this breathtaking mansion.  Clearly this is one place which is so underrated!

DELHI METRO : My visit to Delhi would be incomplete without trying the Delhi Metro.  I just wanted an air conditioned mode of transportation to beat the scorching heat of Delhi.  We then headed towards Chandni Chowk to savor on traditional Indian delicacies like gol gappa, aloo tikki, chats and various kebabs.  Amazing Paranthas in Paranthe wali galli is a must have before you leave the place.  We stayed at Hotel Omni at Karol Baug during our visit to Delhi.  Our two days trip to Delhi, also lovingly called as Dilwalon ki Dilli came to an end here. Though I am not sure how the term “Dilwale” (daring) is associated to Delhi people but they sure come across as audacious.  Sheer arrogance of power and status with pompous gestures is reflected even in simple day to day conversations.  But to argue that each community has their own pride building exercise.  They also come across as open hearted, full of life who wears one’s heart on sleeves and enjoys each and every moment of one’s life! I packed my bags and headed for home thinking about my next travel destination.  My journey to travel the whole world is yet far from completion (Abhi Dilli door hai)!

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Copyright ©2009, Lakshmi Nair . This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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