Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 1. Delhi, India.

Me, standing in front of Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, India

Before I left for this trip, I had arranged to go on a tour of the city - covering all the major highlights, including Humayun's Tomb. The plan was for me to meet with the tour guide at 9am in the lobby of the hotel. Well, my watch was incorrectly set an hour behind and the guide was 20 minutes early so my 1st day in India started off with a mad dash out of bed, in/out of the bathroom and down to the lobby. No time even for quick breakfast! There, the guide introduced himself as ??? - with his multi-syllable name masked by a thick Indian accent, I, for the life of me could not catch his name so he told me to just call him "J", which I gratefully did for the rest of the day.

We headed out of the hotel where we met up with our driver. It was then that I realized that I was going to have my own guide for the day. Wooohoo!!
It was pretty overcast this morning which I was grateful for because it meant that the weather was easily tolerable and there was no need to don a hat.


Our first destination point was Qutub Minar which was about a half hour drive from the city. Q'tub Minar is distinguished by its cylindrical tower - each section of cylindrical columns is actually of a different shape and design and the sandstone that is used to construct the tower as well as many of the other structures within the Qutub Minar compound, is various shades of red and brown.


Close up of the stone.

The Qutub Minar compound is primarily dominated by a mosque built by the Mughals when they reigned supreme starting in 1526 with the invasion of this land by the great Mughal Emperor, Babur.


The carved pillars of the mosque were actually removed from a Hindu temple but the carvings were defaced to remove facial features of the Hindu gods and goddesses as well as animals so they're not as ornate as they would have been had they not been touched. Such a shame.

Close up picture of a carved pillar.
Picture of J standing in front of a pillar. J's in quite a few of my pictures - not a camera shy guy!
While wandering the grounds, I also caught sight of a small group of green parrots. I quickly snapped a photo thinking that was going to be the last that I would see of them but they turned out to be everywhere on the compound. They're the green flecks in the photo below.
















 After Qutub Minar, our next stop was the Bahá'í Temple which is more commonly known as the Lotus Temple, in reference to the shape of the building.

We entered the grounds of the temple at one end of a long garden walkway and towards the end, we had to remove our shoes and then proceed up some stairs to the entrance of the temple. There we were given instructions to turn off all cellphones and cameras and to stand in queue to enter. We entered into a large domed space that was surrounded on all sides by glass windows. Wooden benches with stone seats were lined up in rows facing a podium. J and I sat down for a few minutes and then left.




Though the Lotus Temple was a very serene place and the building itself is an eye catching example of modern architecture, I somehow did not feel very comfortable being there. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I associate Bahá'í with being a cult and I think that that unnerved me a bit. However, that didn't stop me from going to their learning center which was informative but did not do much to quell my fears. After a few minutes inside the learning center, J and I retraced our steps back to the car where I driver was patiently waiting for us.


View of Humayun's Tomb as you enter the grounds.


Next stop. Humayun's Tomb. Humayun, son of Babur, was the 2nd of the Great Mughal Emperors of India. He died unexpected at an early age and it was one of his windows that had the tomb constructed for him. It is a large building and houses not only Humayun's tomb but those of his family members as well. My first impression when I saw Humayun's Tomb was that it reminded me of pictures of the Taj Mahal. It is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture.





View of the entrance as you stand with Humayun's Tomb behind you.




From the grounds, you can walk up some tall, steep steps to a wide portico which goes all the way around the building. From there, you can have a closer look at the building itself and have a good vantage point of the grounds and ancillary tombs and buildings that surround Humayun's Tomb.







Left: One of the four corner entrances into the Tomb.
Below: View of the entrance from the portico.


















By now, small drops of rain had started to fall. I quickly made my way around the portico and then retraced my steps to meet back up with J at the appointed spot. Our next destination was a place to grab lunch. More on what I saw the rest of my 1st day in Delhi in the next blog posting. For now, it's off to bed. It's been a really long day and I have another one ahead of me tomorrow!!