Crash Tour : Delhi : Day II

If you have read my previous post on Crash Course : Delhi : Day I, then you must have realised that by the end of my first day, I was already quite impressed by Delhi. I had good food, saw interesting places and had a lot of fun.

But Day II is the day when I fall utterly in love with the art and architecture of Delhi and get amazed by the beauty of the city.

Let’s have a round around Delhi, shall we?


Morning time, nice breakfast, good tea. A good start to the day. And it was going to get better. The first monument of the day took my breath away in a go. It was exquisite work of pure art, architecture and engineering. This monument that I so quickly fell in love with, is the tomb of the great Mughal Emperor Humayun. Humayun’s Tomb was a sight to behold.

Commissioned by his wife, I hear. No wonder the Taj Mahal has been modelled on this gorgeous structure. It is no less a symbol of romance than the great Taj. ❤

Entrance to main building  of Humayun's Tomb
Entrance to main building of Humayun’s Tomb
Humayun's Tomb
Humayun’s Tomb

Why this monument is special, is because it represented a leap in Mughal architecture, and together with its accomplished Charbagh garden, typical of Persian gardens, but never seen before in India, it set a precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture.

A paradise garden to lie in for the rest of your death. Sounds nice, right? 😛

_MG_3375
One of the beautiful simplistic style galleries.

But wait till you hear about how awesome and ultra-cool the restoration story of this place is!

Pre 1999: Vandalism and illegal encroachments were rampant at the site of the tomb. Dingy stalls and illegally parked heavy vehicles polluted the entrance. Slum dwellers outside premises. In short, the holy place of rest of the mighty Mughal Emperor had become a messy cesspool.

In comes Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) + Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). With a mighty fund of $650,000 ( thanks to Oberoi Hotels), these people set out to do what was the need of the hour.

Lawns : Replanted. Water channels : Relaid. Rainwater harvesting : Check. Re-vitalising old wells : Done. Removal of 40 cm of cement from the roof : Done. Painting, mending, cutting, cleaning, and hell lot of other jobs. All Done.

And if you wanna know the difference, check out the pre restoration pictures of Humayun’s Tomb on Google. You’ll be surprised, I’m sure.

_MG_5034
Tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi

Several monuments dot the pathway leading up to the tomb enclosure from the main entrance. Prominent among them is the tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble in Sher Shah Suri’s court of the Suri dynasty, as the information board outside states. He fought against the Mughals.

Brave soul, I must say.

The tomb is about 20 years predated to the Humayun’s Tomb. The octagonal tomb bears a striking resemblance to other tombs of the Sur dynasty monuments in the Lodhi Gardens, which is where we were to visit soon. The architecture of Humayun’s tomb seems to use a little direction from here as well, like it being situated in a walled enclosure.

_MG_3512
Architecture in the tomb complex of Isa Khan Niyazi

Next on our list, the National Museum impressed me with its vastness. The collection was amazing! Things old and new, from cultures ours and other’s; it literally is like walking through history of art. I hear that the museum has around 200,000 works of art, covering over 5,000 years. Right from archaeology to anthropology, from ancient manuscripts to decorative art, from jewellery to paintings and photographs and what not. This place has it all.

National Museum, India
National Museum, India

Spread over three floors, this place will overwhelm the art, history and not surprisingly, architecture lovers alike. The place is again, octagonal in shape and built with fine detail and planning. I give it a thumbs-up! 🙂

Exhibits in National Museum
Exhibits in National Museum

Due to time constraints, we could only cover the ground floor of the National Museum and moved to our next place on the list : Lodhi Gardens. I never knew it was called ‘Lady Willingdon Park’ during the British Raj XD

Anyways, the current hotspot of morning walkers and lovers of Delhi alike; the Lodhi gardens contain, Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sikander Lodi’s Tomb, Sheesh Gumbad and Bara Gumbad, architectural works of the 15th century by Lodhis, an Afghan dynasty, that ruled from 1451 to 1526. As there is little architecture from these two periods remaining in India, Lodhi Gardens is an important place of preservation.

Lodhi Gardens,  Sheesh Gumbad
Lodhi Gardens, Sheesh Gumbad

Also I must add this little bit : The Bonsai garden there is actually quite a sad place to be, if honest truth be spoken. The plants look like they’re there for just a formality. :/

So next, we enter the complex of Qutub Minar. It soars 73 meters above us all, so tall, you can’t follow the beautiful inscriptions on the structures up to the top as they become indistinctly small for the eye. The tower was to serve the purpose of a minaret from where the adhan (call for worship in Islam) could be issued. The red sandstone of the minar shines beautifully by the setting sun and the blue of the sky adds to its grace. It is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the holy Qur’an.

Standing tall, the Qutub Minar
Standing tall, the Qutub Minar
Qutub and its surrounding architecture.
Qutub and its surrounding architecture.

The nearby standing Iron Pillar, 7 meters in height, is notable for the rust-resistant composition of the metals used in its construction. There is a popular tradition that it was considered good luck if one could stand with one’s back to the pillar and make one’s hands meet behind it. Sadly, good luck be damned. The pillar’s not liking your tradition. Due to the wear and dis-coloration caused by people, it now stands inside a fence.

The Iron Pillar
The Iron Pillar

The oldest inscription on the pillar is in Sanskrit, written in Gupta-period Brahmi script. And it’s much older that the Qutub Minar. I wonder what really is the true history of this pillar and how it ends up standing in a Mughal compound. Hmm.. Interesting.

Lotus Temple
Lotus Temple

Next and the last of the monuments I grace with my presence ( Just Kidding :P), is the Bahai house of worship, the Lotus Temple. Not a misnomer, the temple is literally in the shape of a lotus flower! It also is, a multiple architecture award winning temple. It is also one of the most visited building in the world. Sweet! 😀

The sun setting right behind the centre of the temple made a beautiful halo around the place, giving that spiritual feel to it.


And that brings me to the end of my journey, my crash tour of the city of hearts, Delhi. I hope to visit it again, soon. I’ll check out some new places, eat more and of course, write more 🙂 Farewell, fellow explorer, until next time. :*

BONUS!

Some extra visual treat 😀

Notice how the architecture of ancient Delhi had changed over time:

Qutub Minar 1193. Red Fort 1648. Humayun’s Tomb 1572. National Museum 1960.

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