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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In the Capital City

The first location in my tour plan was Delhi. I weighed on the possible means of  roaming around here. The best option available  was a one day sight seeing package from a private tour operator. My friend, Vinod had also agreed to accompany me till noon.

Qutub Minar

 The tour started around 9 o'clock from Karol Bagh. The first destination was Qutub Minar. It took around one hour to reach there. We could see many tourists there since it was a Sunday morning. Apart from the minar, there are some ruins around it known as Qutub complex. The minar together with the ruins around is a good sight seeing location.

Iron Pillar near Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar
  Qutub Minar is the world's tallest brick minar at 72 m. It is constructed by Qutb-ud-din Aibak in the 12th century and was completed in the 13th century by his successors. One part of the minar is constructed in Muslim architecture, while the other part is in Hindu architecture. There is a watch tower on top of the minar, but entry is not allowed now. 

 Another interesting thing is the Iron Pillar in the Qutub complex. It is a wonder that, this pillar has not corroded for centuries. Nobody has ever found out the exact
composition of the material used for this pillar. It is believed to be 99.9% iron and 0.1% some other material. This secret material is not known yet.  The belief is that, anyone who can encircle the pillar using his hands, with his back towards the pillar can get his wishes granted. But now there is a fence around the it, so you cannot try it.

 We have spent around 45 minute there. But if you want to spend quality time here, you should have at least 2 hours. Me and my friend were one of the last people to reach bus, the other two being a honeymoon couple . Then we proceeded towards Lotus temple.

Lotus Temple

 Lotus Temple is  a place of worship for the Bahai religion. It is an attractive building set in the shape of a lotus flower, with 27 marble petals arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides.  It is supposed to be a gathering place of all people who worship god, without any denominational restrictions. You can feel absolute silence inside the temple. Spending around five minutes inside this will be an incredible experience.

Lotus Temple

India Gate

It was around noon and we could feel the Summer coming. We reached India Gate at around 1:30 pm. I had heard that evening is the best time to visit this place. But even at scorching heat, we could admire the place which attracts thousands of tourists everyday. It is built in the memory of over 90,000 soldiers of British Indian Army, who had lost their lives in Word War I and Afghan Wars. After India's independence, India Gate became the site of the Indian Army's Tomb of Unknown Soldier, known as the Amar Jawan Jyoti. We can see the flame which marks the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at the center of this monument.

India Gate
Rashtrapati Bhavan

Then we were dropped in  a garden next to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliamentary Building ,and were told that 10 minutes were allotted for the sightseeing there. In such a short span of time, the only feasible thing to do was taking some snaps of both buildings.

Rashtrapati Bhavan

Parliament building seen from outside

Indira Museum and Teen Murthy Bhavan
After lunch at Tamil Nadu Bhavan, we had visited Indira Museum and Teen Murthy Bhavan(Nehru Museum).
Indira museum was the residence of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi where she was assassinated by her body guards. Her personal belongings and photos are kept in this memorial. We can see the saree she was wearing when she was assassinated. Even the blood stains are visible in that cloth. We can also see the the burnt clothes that her son Rajiv Gandhi was wearing when he was killed by a bomb blast.

Teen Murthy Bhavan was the residence of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Now it is converted to a museum for him. It is very well maintained and a large number of tourists visit this everyday.

The saree Indira was wearing when she was assassinated.

Teen Murthy Bhavan
Red Fort
 The next destination was Red Fort. It is one of main of the main tourist attraction in Delhi. Red Fort or Lal Quila is a fort complex built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan. Now about 95% of the fort is occupied by Indian army, only 5% is open for public. The main attraction of this fort is the thick redstone walls which extends over a length of 2 km and rises to height of about 33m. The main entrance of the Fort is Lahore Gate which leads to a small market inside, known as Chhatta Chowk. There are three more entrances, but they are closed now. Beyond Chhatta chowk we can see plenty of open space and some buildings. Some of the important buildings are Diwan -i- Am which is the hall of public audience, Diwan-i-Khas which is for selective audience , Moti masjid etc. 

 The guide told that this place is a very dangerous one and we should be very careful about our belongings. The pick pocketers are known to be the best in business. But anyway I didn't  face any problem and I roamed around here for some time.

Red Fort

Inside Red Fort

Then I decided to skip the next part of the tour package as I had to see a friend.  I met him inside Red Fort and we went to Chandni Chowk which is very nearby It is a very crowded market place best known for its street food. It is one of the must visit places in Delhi. Anyway I didn't try any food from here as it is only the start of the long tour. I didn't want to risk my stomach.
 But the best thing I found in Delhi is the Metro service. I am quite  surprised to see the efficiency with which the whole thing is handled. I liked it more than all tourist places in Delhi. This  metro service saves  a lot of time and energy (to argue with autowalas) for the commutation.  

 The full set of photos are shared here.

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