The Anna Hazare movement was going strong when we were in New Delhi. He was onto his 8th day or so of his hunger strike. There was support for him throughout India and the media coverage was 24×7. The media has grown so much in India compared to fifteen years back that this institution of democracy was what was missing in enforcing people’s rights so far. Compared to China, the free hand that the Indian media has will make a key difference in the future of these two countries.
Our next stop was India Gate. Built in 1931, it commemorates the soldiers of the British Indian Army who lost their lives in World War 1 and other wars. Anna activists were on a procession by its side and we stopped for a few minutes for photos. The India Gate is the center piece for many national functions such as Republic Day and Independence Day parades. An eternal flame is burning inside the memorial since 1971.
Being the birth day of Lord Krishna (Krishna-janmashtami), many public offices and monuments were closed. We drove past the impeccable Rastrapathi Bhavan (The President’s home). It is the largest residence of any chief of state in the world.
The Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is the most famous Gurudwara in Delhi. It was built in 1783. The pool inside the complex is considered sacred by Sikhs. Anyone of any religion can enter the Gurudwara. Now reading the Wiki on this makes me feel I didn’t get to know much about the place from our guide.
We had lunch at a restaurant that the guide took us to. These guides work off commissions that the trip generates business for e.g., food at restaurants, purchases at shops they take us to, etc. The guide in turn gets free lunch and the commission. Not knowing this, we offered to pay for him and we were presented with his bill too which we ended up paying.
Humayun’s tomb was our first WOW stop in Delhi. This is the basis for Shahjahan’s Taj Mahal. The building was started in 1562. It is declared a world heritage site and aptly maintained better than many other historical buildings. Islamic architecture is as grandiose as their dreams to capture the world in the past. The scale of the monument is astounding for a 16th century construction. Interestingly, Hamida Banu Begum, the wife of Humayun constructed the tomb for his memory while Shahjahan constructed the Taj Mahal for his wife.