Special Six: Memories of Delhi

It was ten years ago that I first visited Delhi. The trip was a celebration of sorts for having survived a very stressful year. I had convinced my mother, who had also had an equally stressful year albeit for different reasons, to accompany me. Perhaps because this was the first multi-day holiday trip that my mother and I were taking without any other family members and perhaps because it really felt like we were celebrating overcoming adversity, this trip remains my favourite travel memory. We enjoyed doing all the touristy things that the first time visitor to north India, on a package tour, would do on their travel around the Golden Triangle. This is the first of a series of posts on my Golden Triangle trip memories, starting with my favourite six from our time in Delhi.

  1. Staying at Hotel Broadway

The tour operator had booked us at Hotel Broadway situated on a dusty and tired looking road close to Delhi gate. The hotel did not look promising on the outside but the room that we checked into turned out to be a delight. Room number 46, was decorated by Paris-based artist Catherine Lévy, and was such a fun, eclectic and quirky room to be in. A blue sofa with red and yellow birds stitched on it was placed at one end of the room, with a low table from a nursery serving as the coffee table. I enjoyed writing in my travel journal each morning at the writing desk, which was a table generally found in canteens, and sitting in a revolving chair that was probably from a barber’s shop. The small radio fitted into the wall above the writing desk had strobe lights fitted on. I also liked the bedside lamps, which were an optician’s rectangular eye testing lamps, with the alphabets on its screens. The bathroom had a travel theme and it was covered with blue tiles and each tile with a picture of a different place from around the world. My favourite though was the ceiling fan, which would measure your luck each time you switched off the fan. We loved staying in this room and were disappointed when we were not given the same room at the end of our tour as well.

Ceiling fan.JPG

2. The ‘do rupiah’ kahani/ story

My mother and I discovered that the Delhi gate bazaar was just next door on our first evening in the city and we decided to explore the maze of tiny crowded and colourful streets filled with bright-coloured clothes, sweet shops filled with fly-ridden sweets, food carts selling pani puri, odds and ends shops selling gifts and souvenirs etc. My mother asked me if I had any small change and I gave her the ten rupee note that I had on me.

When I gave her the ten rupee note, she was like a child with her first ten rupee note at her first carnival. She happily bought an incense stick box and a packet of chips and was left with a 2 rupee coin, which she was determined to spend at the bazaar. We were walking further down the bazaar, when we saw an apple cart and she decided to spend her 2 rupee coin buying an apple. The apple-seller said that one apple was 3 rupees and she said ‘nahi, do rupees’. She was looking at an apple, when she suddenly started rooting through the apples on one corner of the cart. I was getting a bit worried and embarrassed because the cart owner started grumbling about it. She finally exclaimed gleefully as she picked up her two rupee coin, which I then realized had fallen into the cart.

I have always marveled at my mother’s ability to tap into her inner child and experience the moment with a child’s carefree and happy attitude. Especially even amidst painful life experiences. Being of a more serious disposition, I didn’t always appreciate this attitude especially during my teen years. However, I have learnt to value and treasure such moments with my mother.

3. Visit to Raj Ghat

During our first morning in Delhi, the guide who was a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, discussed the suggested itinerary for the day with us and asked if we had specific places we wanted to visit. I expressed an interest in paying our respects at Raj Ghat so that is where we went first.

Gandhi's Samadhi.JPG

Flower seller.JPG

We bought some marigold flowers from the flower seller at the entrance and walked through the peaceful park to the memorial. The place where Mahatma Gandhi had been cremated, on 31st January 1948 on the banks of Yamuna river, had a marble platform and a burning lamp at one end.

As we drove away from Raj Ghat, I noticed the road was lined with memorials of cremation places of other Indian leaders like the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

4. A quick glimpse of India Gate

Having watched the republic day parades of India on TV, while living in Madras for a couple of years as a child, I had to stop by India Gate on our drive around Delhi.

Designed by Edwin Lutyens, India Gate is a war memorial to the 82,000 Indian soldiers who died during the first world war. The canopy behind India Gate once had the statue of King George V, but was subsequently removed.

IndiaGate.JPG

From India Gate, one could see Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s house, and the Parliament House. We were told that both the President’s palace and India Gate were built in perfect alignment and that they were of the same height of 42.5m. The Parliament house were two identical buildings on either side of the road leading to the President’s palace. I liked the symmetry of Lutyens’ design of the administrative centre of New Delhi.

5. Lotus Temple, the Baha’i house of worship

The Lotus temple was a pleasant surprise to my mother and I. What we liked most about the temple, considered the mother temple of those of Baha’i faith, was that not only was it open to people of all faiths, who were free to read scriptures of any faith within the temple, it was forbidden to have any sermons or ritualistic ceremonies within the temple. Everyone was asked to be silent within the temple premises. It made a huge impression on me.

Lotus temple.JPG

Lotus temple with Amma.jpg

6. Exploring Qutb Minar

Of all the ancient monuments and buildings we visited in Delhi on this trip, the one that made the most impression on me was the aesthetically pleasing Qutb Minar. It was simply a beautiful masterpiece. The Qutb Minar was built upon the ruins of the old city, with the foundation laid by Qutb al-din-Aibak, the founder of the Delhi sultanate in the 13th century. However, it was only completed by his successor after his death.

Alai Gate and Qutb Minar and Mosque.JPG

Alai Gate and Qutb Minar.JPG

Qutb Minar and the Alai Darwaza gate

Qutb Minar 4.JPG

Above the doorway.JPG

Ala-ud-din Khilji started the construction of the Alai Minar in early 14th century, as he wanted to build a monument that rivalled Qutb Minar. However, he died before the first storey was completed and work on the monument was discontinued.

Alai Minar.JPG

Alai Minar

The iron pillar with its Sanskrit inscriptions was brought from its original place to the site during the building of the Qutb Minar complex. Some of the translations indicate that the pillar was raised for Vishnu to celebrate the victory of a King in the 4th century.

The ancient pillar.JPG

Iron pillar

The UNESCO heritage site is impressive and it was interesting to see features of the older city peeping out of this ancient monument complex.

Qutb Minar pillars.jpg

Since that first visit to Delhi, I have visited a few times and explored the city more. While several of my Indian friends seem to prefer other Indian cities over Delhi, I continue to find the city fascinating.

I would highly recommend reading Khuswant Singh’s Delhi for those who have visited or are interested in visiting Delhi.

Have you visited Delhi? Which experience do you treasure most from your first visit to the capital of India?

[I am linking this post to Wanderful WednesdayFaraway Files #4Weekend Travel Inspiration and The Weekly Postcard]
Wanderful Wednesday

Untold Morsels
wkendtravelinspirationBadge.jpg
 Travel Notes & Beyond
Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Special Six: Memories of Delhi

  1. What lovely sentiments you express here about appreciating your mother. I think we can all know that as teens we don’t always realise how special our mothers are.
    The Lotus temple reminds me of the Kamppi Chapel we visited in Helsinki which was also free from proper religious ceremonies – a place for quiet contemplation. I liked that.
    #farawayfiles

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Trish. I have always been closest to my mother in my family and growing up, I have come to realize that she is not only very special to me but is a very inspiring person. Made a note of Kamppi chapel, a place I’d like to visit if I travel to Helsinki.

      Like

  2. Beautiful memories of time spent with your mother. These will stay with you always Ahila. I always think our travels are more meaningful when we share them with the people we care about the most – family and friends. Thanks for sharing your story on #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Qutb Minar complex is indeed beautiful and especially as the ancient mosques and minarets were built using materials of the destroyed much older city ruins. So, there is a fusion of styles especially in relation to carvings and stonework.

      Like

  3. I loved reading this, Ahila, particularly as you’ve highlighted most of the things I didn’t see in Delhi. I didn’t have the best time there when I was a backpacker – my strongest memory is of trying to sleep in a tiny room in a hostel with no windows and having to get up every few minutes to put a cold flannel on my face – it was so hot and airless. Now I’ll know what to look for when I return – loved the sound of your hotel! Thanks for linking up with #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear that your accommodation was not a comfortable one the first time you visited Delhi, and especially more so if you had visited in the summer months. Delhi without air conditioning or a window in summer would be hellish, I can imagine.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Ahila, I stayed at Hotel Broadway too, what a coincidence! I used to travel to Delhi for work in 2010-2011, but it was in June 2010 that I actually did the tourist sight-seeing except Qutub Minar for my friend and I were exhausted from the summer heat. It was 40 degrees at the time. Yes, Khuswant Singh is highly recommended – I love his books especially Train To Pakistan and Not A Very Nice Man 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a lovely coincidence, Kat. Did you get to stay in the room designed by Catherine Levy? And, didn’t you find the breakfast buffet laid on top of an old car lovely? Delhi, during summer, would be a city that I avoid as the temperatures get too high for comfort. Do visit Qutb Minar complex during your next visit, and early in the morning, as it is an open air complex which would not be fun under the noon sun. I have Train to Pakistan downloaded on my kindle, and plan to read it soon.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s