Delhi – First Impressions

Went to Delhi last week. It was an official trip. The work was boring but very satisfying in the end. This was only my second visit to Delhi. The first time was a short, one day, airport to work to airport trip. And that was before I fell in love with the city after ‘The Last Mughal’, Dev D and Delhi 6. This time I got two days to roam around and inspite of the scorching heat, made full use of it . Travelled mostly by the metro. It’s beautifully efficent and convenient, a jewel in the crown for Delhi. But the autowallahs dont go by the meter. You have to bargain and haggle and its not a pleasant experience.

This post is an (attempted) travelogue of my trip.

I love history. And Delhi is soaked in history. So many emperors have ruled India from Delhi and each of them has left a mark on it.

Red Fort. One of the wonderful contributions of Shah Jahan to Delhi. I strongly reccomend everyone to read ‘The Last Mughal’ before going to the fort. The red fort was the focal point of the 1857 sepoy mutiny and it is vivdly described in the book. The buildings and gardens in the fort will have an added allure once you know their historical significance and vice versa. I was trying to go back in time and be at the diwan-e-am where the emperor used to conduct his durbar and the gardens where the sepoys let their horses graze while waiting for the emperor’s accent to be their leader….

Jama Masjid. Huge imposing building. Wanted to go there after watching Delhi 6. You are allowed to climb atop one of the towers along long spiral stairs. Do not miss the view from the top. You will not get a better view of Old Delhi anywhere else.

from masjid tower

India Gate. I went there on saturday evening and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of people on the lawns on either side of Rajpath leading to the gate. Entire familes had come, spread their blankets and were having a good time. Some were even having dinner. And there were the balloonwallahs and ppl selling the small illuminated parachute like toys that can be sent high up in the air using a catapult. Delhi’s way of coping with not having a beach I guess. I too lay down on the lawns by the monument, built in memory of Indian soldiers who fought for the British in World War I, and gazed at the stars for sometime.

india gate

Qutb Minar. Built by the Khilji dynasty in 1100 AD. The Qutb complex also has one of the oldest mosques in India. The mosque has been made from the rubble of temples destroyed by muslim invaders. Thats why some of the pillars of the structures in the complex have patterns found in hindu temples in south India. The fact that there are no modern buildings close to the complex adds to the mystique of the place. The Siri Fort built by the same rulers is nearby. But it is in ruins and very little is left of the fort. Had a hard time finding the remains because even the locals didnt know that such a fort existed. It didnt help that an auditorium is named after the fort and everyone was guiding us to the auditorium. “yehi hei siri fort”!

qutb minar

Akshardham Temple. Built on the banks of the river Yamuna by the swaminarayan sect in the 20th century. Supposed to be the biggest hindu temple in the world. Its beatifully built with intricate carvings and life -size scultures of elephants depicting various scenes from the epics. Nice place for some soul therapy.

Akshardham

I fell in love with the city – the planned elegance of new delhi –  the chaos of old delhi – the metro – everything. Would like to spend some years in the city.

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