Exploring Delhi

Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
Trip End Jul 20, 2008

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

We had a long day of site seeing today.

We visited Humayun Tomb which is the burial spot for Mughal King Humayan.  It was very beautiful.  I am impressed at the architectural and mathematical feats involved with these Indian structures.  It was amazing how the opening of gates align with all other gates throughout the grounds.

Humayun's tomb
is a complex of buildings of Mughal architecture located in Nizamuddin east, New Delhi. In time of Slave Dynasty this land was under the KiloKheri Fort which was capital of Sultan Kequbad son of Nasiruddin(1268-1287). It encompasses the main tomb of the Emperor Humayun as well as numerous others. The complex is a World Heritage Site and the first example of this type of Mughal architecture in India. This style of mausoleum was the same that created the Taj Mahal in Agra.  The tomb of Humayun was built by the orders of Hamida Banu Begum, Humayun's widow starting in 1562. The architect of the edifice was reportedly Sayyed Muhammad ibn Mirak Ghiyathuddin and his father Mirak Ghiyathuddin who were brought in from Herat. It took 8 years to build and had a Chahr Bagh Garden style in its design, the first of its kind in the region.

Next we took a stop at The India Gate which is a war memorial in New Delhi commemorating the Indian dead of the First World War. The India Gate today also houses the Indian Army's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Amar Jawan Jyoti.

We then walked over to the presidential house.  Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, is located at the west end of the 2 1/2km long Rajpath (King's path), a tree-lined avenue flanked by lawns with orderly flowerbeds and clipped hedges, with the India gate at the opposite end. Designed by Sir Edwin L. Lutyens and completed in 1929, this palatial building on the Raisina hill was formerly the Viceregal Lodge (Viceroy's House), during the British rule.

Later we went to The Red Fort.  Yesterday in Agra we visited a Red Fort, but here was an entirely different one in Delhi.
The Red Fort and the city of Shahjahanabad was constructed by the Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639 A.D.  The fortress palace is an important focal point of the medieval city of Shahjahanabad. The planning and aesthetics of the Red Fort represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which prevailed during the reign of Emperor Shahjahan. This Fort has had many developments added on after its construction by Emperor Shahjahan. The significant phases of development were under Aurangzeb and later Mughal rulers. Important physical changes were carried out in the overall settings of the site after the First War of Independence during British Rule in 1857. After Independence, the site experienced a few changes in terms of addition/alteration to the structures. During the British period the Fort was mainly used as a cantonment and even after Independence, a significant part of the Fort remained under the control of the Army till the year 2003.
The Red Fort was the palace for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's new capital, Shahjahanabad, the seventh Muslim city in the Delhi site. He moved his capital from Agra in a move designed to bring prestige to his reign, and to provide ample opportunity to apply his ambitious building schemes and interests.

Next we visited Jama Masjid which is the largest and principal mosque of Old Delhi in India. It was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, and completed in the year 1656 AD, it is one of the largest and best-known mosques in India.

Later we visited Qutub Minar (Hindi : क़ुतुब मीनार Urdu: قطب منار).  It has the tallest brick minaret in the world, and an important example of Indo-Islamic Architecture. The tower is in the Qutb complex at Mehrauli in South Delhi, India. The Qutub Minar and its monuments are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Qutub Minar is 72 meters high (237.8 ft) with 399 steps leading to the top. The tower is now unfortunately once again closed to visitors. This is because in 1980s 25 children were crushed inside the tower when an electrical failure inside the tower caused a stampede. The diameter of the base is 14.3 meters wide while the top floor measures 2.75 meters in diameter.  Surrounding the building are many fine examples of Indian artwork from the time it was built in 1193. A second tower was in construction and planned to be taller than the Qutub Minar itself. Its construction ended when it was about forty feet tall.  Inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and wishing to surpass it, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced construction of the Qutub Minar in 1193, but could only complete its basement. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more storeys and, in 1368, Firuz Shah Tughluq constructed the fifth and the last storey. 

Then we went to Raj Ghat which is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.  He is not actually buried here, but this is where he was cremated before having his ashes spread in the river.  It is a simple black marble platform that marks the spot of his cremation on 31 January 1948. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns perpetually at one end. It is located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi, India. A stone footpath flanked by lawns leads to the walled enclosure that houses the memorial. Two museums dedicated to Gandhi are located near by. The memorial has the epitaph Hē Ram, (literally 'O' Ram', but also translated to 'O God'), believed to be the last words uttered by Gandhi.

The last stop was at the National Museum.  Unfortunately there was no air inside and the artifacts were not displayed in such a way that you could tell where each thing fits in with its place in history.  However, I still enjoyed the pieces that i saw here.  There were numerous religious sculptures.  On another level we also viewed coins throughout the history of India.

My final impresions of India still include maniacal driving.  In addition, the population is out of control.  India has the world's second largest population with over one billion peope, but it is expected to overcome Chinba as the largest population since China has banned more than one child per household.  There are just people everywhere.  As you drive down the road there are thousands of people going in every direction taking part in all kinds of things.  I have never seen so many people.  At one point we passed a corner with 6 Indians and when we pased by later each one of them had given birth and of the four new ones each of them had had kids too!  So many people!!!!!

The poverty here is so sad too.  There are just people lying around and constant begging.  There are large puddles of stagnant water that must be festering with disease and scum.

Also it is almost like a war zone in the fact that ll buildings look like they had ben exploded and then the people live in the ruins.  But that is not the real case, but just the way it looks.  Demolished concrete blocks and sand are everywhere.

One US dollar equals 42 Indian rupees.

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