Thursday, 2 October 2014

New Delhi: Part 2

Click here to read Part 1 of this post if you haven't already.

From Lodi Gardens we went to Gandhi Smriti, the house where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life, and where he was assassinated in 1948.
These footsteps trace Gandhi's journey to a prayer meeting before being shot in the chest at point-blank range.
Next we were off to the Lotus Temple, a house of worship for people of the Baha'i faith. We had to walk through this park in order to reach it. Somewhere along the way I tried to take a picture of a monkey. It responded by running at me, screeching and bearing its teeth. Luckily I got away unscathed. I guess next time I'll ask politely before I try to take a monkey's portrait.
Goats on the streets near the Lotus Temple.
This place kind of reminded me of Disney World's Epcot. It looked like a futuristic, alien tractor beam. 
In case you're unfamiliar with the Baha'i faith, it's a religion that originated in Iran in the nineteenth century, and emphasises the equality and value of all the major religions, as well as the unity of humankind. According to Baha'i teaching, religious history unfolded through a series of divine messengers, including Abraham, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, and Krishna, each of them establishing a religion that was suited to the needs of the people at that time. All of the religions, therefore, have valuable lessons to offer humankind in its search for peace, justice and happiness on a global scale. I'll never be an especially religious person myself, but it's hard not to admire such an open-minded, harmonious ideal as this one.
It was pretty quiet inside the temple.
Now it was reminding me of Sydney Opera House.
As if we hadn't seen enough temples for one day, now we were off to nearby ISKCOM, a Hare Krishna temple.
On the floor by the temple were these symbols that spiralled inward towards a shrine.
Slowly walking step-by-step around the spiral.
Inside the temple.

Getting some kebabs again for lunch.
Enough with the temples. The girls needed their shopping fix. So we went to Dilli Haat, an open-air bazaar selling an assortment of clothes, crafts and food.

Next we went to the Garden of the Five Senses. To be honest, I found this place a bit of a disappointment. It's supposed to be a park based on the five different senses, which made me imagine an array of multicoloured shrubs in one section, sweet-smelling flower buds in another, a herb garden where you can taste things, etc. But whoever made this place didn't really do justice to the interesting concept, as it was a mostly generic park dotted with some half-decent sculptures. Nice enough, but not as unique as I was hoping for, unfortunately.

The last stop on our massive sightseeing tour of Delhi was Qutab Minar, one of the tallest minarets in the world.
At the base of the minaret.
Photos don't really do justice to how impressively huge this tower is. It must have seemed like a skyscraper back in 1368 when its construction was completed. Unfortunately, tourists are no longer allowed to climb up the tower, following an electricity failure in 1981 that led to a stampede inside the tower, which killed around 45 people, most of them school children.
I don't think I've mentioned yet how much we feel like celebrities in India. So many local Indians, especially at tourist sights, will ask us to take their picture with us. Usually, the women will ask Angela to take a picture, while men will ask me. We'd both experienced this phenomenon in China, but it's honestly ten times worse here. Sometimes our jaws will start to ache from having to smile for so many pictures!
Admiring the minaret some more.
The tower is built with red sandstone and marble, and inscribed with Arabic prayers. I'm no architecture buff but it was hard not to fall in love with this building's strange geometric shapes and angles.
There are also a bunch of cool ruins surrounding the tower.

I like to imagine that this is the base of an even taller minaret that once stood here, reaching into the clouds and beyond.
We said our goodbyes to Sylvia, and returned to the more contemporary architecture of Connaught Place.
Having some butter chicken and paneer tikka for dinner.

That concluded our final day in Delhi, which has been a crazy but fun introduction to India. We'd be returning here at the end of our time in this country, but for now it was time to move on to someplace different. Coming up next: the pink city of Jaipur.

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