Qutb Minar was our second WOW stop in Delhi. So far in the day, we were disappointed with Delhi’s sight seeing – maybe it was just the choices our guide made for us. But with Humayun’s tomb that was over. Qutb Minar is 72.5 meters tall, made of brick and construction started in 1193 – yes, nearly 900 years old. It is amazing how in those times, one could reach such an imposing height in building. After a stampede in the ’80s, climbing up the minarets is disallowed now. The huge courtyard is surrounded by structures from an earlier Hindu temple. It is unfortunate the the Muslim invaders built such architecturally imposing monuments at the expense of other religion. If you study the amount of destruction of Hindu temple and sites, one begins to wonder what sort of human beings these rulers were. An iron pillar, 7m tall, stands in the Qutb complex. It is 98% wrought iron and is a metallurgical wonder as it has withstood corrosion for more than 1600 years. Interestingly this iron pillar was erected by Chandragupta Vikramaditya. It was full day of sight seeing and we bode farewell to our guide and headed back to the hotel. The RedZen restaurant had some nice Indianized – chinese food. I first thought Rama and Vikas wouldn’t be happy with the choice, but the food and service turned out to be great and a fitting finale for a wonderful day in India.
The next day, without any guides, our driver suggested we stop at the Bahai Center first. This multi-cultural worship place is a modern architectural wonder having won numerous international award and in a way reminds one of Sydney’s landmark orchestra house. The gardens surrounding are extremely well maintained. But for the hot sun, the visit would have been more enjoyable. The huge hall inside has rows and rows of benches. Silence is the form of meditation. The few birds perched inside the hall wouldn’t care for silence, but everyone else did. With more than 50 million visitors, it is one of the most visited buildings in the world.
A visit to Indira Gandhi’s residence and memorial followed. The place where she was assassinated is now a sacred spot cordoned off to visitors. The huge residence and its huge garden in the midst of prime New Delhi gives a sense of the amount of power these politicians wielded. In contrast, you can sense the peace and calmness in Gandhiji’s residence. Maybe it is all about the messages posted on the walls – in Mrs. Gandhi’s case, all the accomplishments and in Gandhiji’s case, all his struggle for others. We loved both the visits, though. It was touching to be near the spot where Gandhiji was assassinated. The pathway is laid with mock steps, lining the path he used to get there from his room. The room itself has many memorabilia of him – his spectacles, walking stick, sandals, etc. It is a pity that a man of such sacrifice couldn’t find place in one man’s heart. Raj Ghat – where Gandhi was laid to rest, is a huge complex unline any other I have seen. The words ‘Hey Ram’ are inscribed on his memorial – the words he supposedly uttered after being shot.