After a good night of sleep and breakfast at the hotel, we met our New Delhi tour guide Naveen for our first day of sightseeing in New Delhi. We had an air conditioned 10 seat van to drive us around New Delhi, Old Delhi, and Agra this week.
Our first stop was Qutab Minar. The entire Qutab Minar complext is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire site was started (but not finished) by the first Sultan of Delhi at the beginning of the 13th century. The Mamluk Dynasty was the first of the five dynasties of the Delhi Sultanate to rule India before the Mughals invaded and later ruled India in 1526,
I visited this site before in 2004, but it was self-guided walking around without context or information. It was much more enjoyable to learn the history of the site.
Next stop on the tour – the Lotus Temple. This is a house of worship in the Bahai faith built in 1986. It’s interesting. We went inside and meditated during one of the services. By this time, it was nearly 107 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and it was really hot. We got the kids some Limca (India soda) to cool down in the van, and then we were off to see Humayun’s Tomb.
Humayun’s Tomb is the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayun, who died in 1556. The tomb itself was built in 1571. We saw a number of buildings on the site. It’s impressive to find 400 year old structures from long-ago empires around New Delhi.
Afterwards, the tour bus took us to a very nice Indian restaurant for lunch.
It started raining during lunch, so our next stops on the tour were drive-bys of the Indian government buildings and a Sikh temple. The rain stopped briefly, so we stopped near India Gate. By the end of the day, no one else besides me wanted to get out and walk to see the India Gate, so I walked with the tour guide out to see it. The India Gate is near a large park where it seemed like thousands of people were out boating and hanging out and selling food and items.
While I didn’t find the India Gate all that interesting, I thought at this moment it was ironic that people travel to India, hire tour companies to shuttle themselves around to see old sites of long-gone empires. Yes, that’s interesting, but look at the crowd of people below. Look at the vendors. Look out the windows and you’ll see poor people camping out under tents around a fire. Or selling wares on a pushcart. Or one woman in pink standing amidst 30 men in grey, all waiting at a bus stop.
I wised at that moment that I had an opportunity to walk around a city like Delhi for 5 days. The real pictures were on the street where real life was happening.
Once we got back to the hotel, we freshened up, and went out to dinner at the Hong Kong Club to celebrate Anju’s birthday.