Thursday, 2 October 2014

New Delhi: Part 1

After leaving the grime and chaos of Old Delhi behind us, Angela, Sylvia and I moved on to New Delhi, the modern heart of the capital territory. While it is not without its own share of noise and hustle-bustle, it certainly feels like a much cleaner, more developed place, with newly-paved roads, clean-cut grass and contemporary-looking buildings. Walking around New Delhi, you almost feel like you're in a fully-developed, first-world city.

One of the most striking things about the major sights of this city are just how multi-religious they are. As well as the Muslim sanctuary of Jama Masjid that we visited in Old Delhi, we also visited a Sikh temple, a Hindu temple, a Baha'i temple, and a Hare Krishna temple, along with several ancient tombs and ruins. It's been a long time since we've done this much sightseeing in one city, and we were all three of us exhausted by the end of those three days.

On our way to a Sikh temple near Connaught Place, we passed Jantar Mantar, a collection of 15 gigantic astronomical instruments. We decided not to enter the park since we'd be visiting a bigger one of these astronomical parks in Jaipur.
We removed our shoes and wore head-coverings (provided by the temple) as we entered Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, a prominent Sikh house of worship. The people here were very friendly and welcoming, and unlike at Jama Masjid, we didn't need to argue in order to enter.
Angela and Sylvia stand before the golden domes of the temple.
This large pool, called a Sarovar, rests before the temple, giving the complex a cool, watery ambience that seems the polar opposite of Jama Masjid's fiery sandstone bricks. Much as we liked Jama Masjid, this place had such an infectiously calm, chilled out vibe that made it much more pleasant to explore. Plus, it always helps when the soles of your feet aren't on fire (the marble floor in Bangla Sahib stays relatively cool despite the sun).

Touching the holy waters, or Amrit.

Our favourite temple in Delhi!

Inside the gurdwara.

From the temple we headed to the metro, passing newly planted trees, part of an effort at making Delhi greener.
Angela and I went to Central Secretariat and walked along the Rajpath towards India Gate. It was quite a long walk, but relatively peaceful as the sun began to set over the city.
Looking back towards Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India.
While Angela poses for a photo, a lady tries to sell her some bead necklaces.

After leaving India Gate, we had kebabs for dinner.
The next morning, we met up with Sylvia and headed for Akshardham, a massive temple complex opened in 2005.
In order to enter, we had to go through several security checks, surrendering most of our possessions, including my camera. A "complex entry" indeed! Since I couldn't take pictures, I lifted the next three photos from Akshardham's official website.
It was a very majestic, intricately carved temple, and we couldn't help but admire the sheer time and attention to detail that went into it. However, the whole complex felt a little too polished and artificial for our liking. It almost felt like we were wandering around a theme park, like if Disney World had a "Magical India" area.
Still...gotta admire that intricacy.

Moving on, we went to Humayun's Tomb, a complex housing the remains of the Mughal Emperor Humayun.

This mausoleum was apparently the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. Whereas the Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his wife, Humayun's tomb was ordered by the wife of Emperor Humayun to house his remains.

Humayun's tomb.

The tomb of a nobleman.
A light lunch of falafal and hummus.
Our next destination was Lodi Gardens, located close to Humayun's Tomb. This park contains numerous tombs and mausoleums, providing a pleasant green space to escape the concrete chaos of the city.

There were lots of wild chipmunks scurrying around the grass and trees.

Kissing in front of Sheesh Gumbad, which contains the tombs of an unknown noble family.

Click here to continue the adventure in Part 2!

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