(An aside: My absence from blog world for the past 3 weeks does not mean I had nothing to say – blame it on year-end blues, and ofcourse, travel and its associated sins of gluttony and sloth :D. I promise to be back with vengeance whether you like it or not :p)
A hard-core Delhi-ite that I am, it had been a while since I rediscovered the historic grandeur that define the very character of this capital city of India. Thus, fulfilling my long pending promise to Vish to take him sight-seeing, I fell in love with Delhi all over again.
The fuzzy sun rays through the wintery misty on most of the days kept us motivated for our touristy visits!
The Red Fort or Lal Quila was our first stop-over. Dad sportingly took leave from work and drove us around.
The drive through the old “walled” city – areas of Daryaganj, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk - reminded me why my visits to these places were so infrequent. The narrow streets, crowded with teeming millions, is not exactly my idea of a vacation.
However, the warm welcome by this much celebrated red sandstone monument made all the en-route traffic worthwhile.
The buildings and structures within the fort are reminiscent of an eclectic fusion of Persian, European and Indian art forms.
Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience…
Diwan-i-Khaas or the Hall of Private Audience…
The two Zenanas (women’s quarters) - Rang Mahal and Mumtaz Mahal boast of splendid architecture in marble.
Moti Masjid, also known as the pearl mosque – This was Aurangzeb’s personal mosque…
Finally, the Hayat Baksh Bagh (Life Bestowing Garden) with the Jal Mahal in the foreground and the British quarters on the extreme left in the background.
Right opposite the Lahori (the main visitor’s gate) gate of Red Fort lies the paradise of Chandni Chowk. If you are willing to excuse the pedestrians who elbow their way literally through you and the constant shouts of shopkeepers, step into the haven for good food and a one-of-it’s kind shopping experience.
Epicurean specialties of this place include paranthas – all kinds of imaginable and unimaginable varieties (lemon, mint, cashew, chilli, etc etc) deep fried in pure desi ghee; chaat items like dahi bhalla, aloo tikki; and Indian desserts, my personal favorite being rabdi ki khurchan!
(Some sound advice: Ignore the run down appearance of the place, forget hygiene and don’t count calories!)
We wrapped off Day 1 of our city tour with a quick visit to Raj Ghat and India Gate.
Raj Ghat – This is the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi
India Gate – The national monument of India that commemorates the Indian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti (flame of the eternal soldier) at the India Gate renders a very solemn air to the place.
The other must-see places on Vish’s list were Qutb Minar and Lotus Temple.
Qutb Minar is the world’s tallest brick minaret and is most prominent for its Indo-Islamic architecture.
The ruins in the Qutb complex are evocative of a tremendously regal era gone by.
Some pictures for you to enjoy…
The Lotus Temple is the Bahá'í House of Worship. The dense fog didn’t help us as far as photography was concerned…
Vish has still a long list to go - But like they say, there's always a next time!