Sunday, December 3, 2017

Paying Our Respects to Gandhi. Raj Ghat.


Original Post Date: June 20, 2017.

After spending much of the morning in Old Delhi, we made our way by car to Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Unofficially known as the Father of the nation, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific term, Mahatma, (Sanskrit: "high-souled", "venerable") was first applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa and is now used worldwide.

Raj Ghat is the name of a historic ghat of Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) on the banks of Yamuna river.  The Raj Ghat Gate opened to the river at this point.  Today, the area is home to not only Gandhi's memorial but also those of many other important figures in India's history including Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son, Rajiv Gandhi, all of whom served as Prime Minister of India.

Our driver dropped us off near the entrance to Raj Ghat.  We crossed paths with an elephant.  There aren't too many places in the world that you will see an elephant on your way to a major landmark! This one was having a snack of tree leaves.


His mahout was sitting quietly atop this creature who was so gentle that he didn't mind a few pats from Chantale.


In no time, she was feeding....picking up small branches on the ground and letting him take them from her.




From what I could gather, this man and his elephant were there to offer rides to passersby....for a fee of course.  When he found out that we weren't interested in a ride, we just wanted to pet the elephant, he was none too happy.  We moved on.


More selfies!

The path to the memorial is quite lovely.  Takes you through a very nice bit of greenspace which is very refreshing considering the congested streets we had just left behind.  If the weather wasn't so miserably hot and humid, this would be a nice place for a long stroll and maybe even a picnic lunch.


At then entrance to Raj Ghat, stand two descriptive plaques - one in Hindi and the other in English. 


What really struck me though was the simple line drawing at the top.  Even without words, if you had asked me to guess who the line drawing represented, I would've said Gandhi.  No denying that his bald head and round glasses were hallmarks of his physical appearance.


From the entrance, the walkway led to an underground space where we had to leave our shoes behind before we could proceed any further.



Passing through the undergound pass, we entered into the memorial area.  We walked that path laid out by the green mat which was not all that comfortable to walk on because it was scratchy plastic but much better than walking on the bare stone which no doubt was blisteringly hot from the heat of the sun. 




There were quite a few people here, all Indians.  Even though it was not crowded, we did have to wait our turn to get up to the barrier so we could see the actual memorial, a black marble platform that marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation on January 31, 1948.  Housed inside a lamp, that stands behind the platform, is an eternal flame.


After we spent a few minutes admiring the memorial and realizing there wasn't anything else to look at, we retraced our steps back to the underpass and retrieved our shoes.



We still have lunch plus a couple more places to visit before we can could call it a day.  By now, I also realized that we would not have time to get to Qutub Minar so I quickly emailed Moin to inquire about extending our tour by a day.  He was quick to reply back and told me there was no problem with adding on an extra day which was the response I was expecting.  We're traveling in low season so there's no difficulty finding someone to take you around on a tour.  Incredibly though, he only charged us 1200 rupees for the additional day for all three of us....that's less than $20 for guide, driver and car!  Now you can understand why I was balking (inside) at having to pay 1500 rupees for two cycle rickshaws and drivers to ferry us around Old Delhi for two hours!

Next stop.....Humayun's Tomb.  Time to delve into Mughal architecture at one of my favorite historic landmarks in Delhi.