Delhi is a city made up of two parts: old and new. In India, the city is commonly referred to as Delhi, as opposed to New Delhi. Old and New are used to described neighborhoods of the massive city. Old Delhi is the ancient district with the oldest historical sites, still active markets, but fewer inhabitants than in the past; New Delhi is the geometrically gridded, tree-lined district with the ministerial buildings created in British times.
We started our tour in Old Delhi at Jama Mosque. This is one of the largest mosque in India and can hold 25,000 people. It was built from 1644 to 1656, by slaves. It is made out of red sandstone and white marble.
The mosque has two tall towers, and we walked to the top of one. It is 130 steps in a very narrow spiral. From the top we took in the spectacular views of all of Old Delhi. Old Delhi is the walled part of the city which was formed in 1639. It used to be filled with mansions and nobles, although now it is crowded and dilapidated. It is mainly inhabited by Muslims. The shorter minarets are topped with lotus flowers.
The next stop was on the outskirts of Old Delhi, Raj Ghat. This is the site of Gandhi’s cremation. It was explained to us that this is a site of pilgrimage for many citizens, and most indian school children come to the site as a field trip. There is a beautiful black marble platform, always covered in flowers, to mark the spot of his cremation.
In New Delhi, India Gate is a well-known monument to memorialize the citizens of India who died in World War I, The Third Anglo-Afghan War, and The Pakistan War. About 2km away from the gate is the President’s residence, parliament and other government buildings. The buildings were quite impressive when standing among them.
We visited the lotus temple. It is one of the central places of worship of the Baha’i faith.
Our final stop for the day was Qutb Complex. This is a huge UNESCO World Heritage site, and the second most visited site in India. It is a large site with numerous important sites inside of it including a mosque.
The Qutab Minar is a large tower that is made of red sandstone and white marble. It was built in the 12th century and stands 239.5 feet tall. It is quite astonishing to consider a free standing tower built in the 12th century is still standing today.
Christopher had been looking forward to seeing the iron pillar of Delhi. This is a pillar that is remarkable in the fact that it hasn’t rusted despite being outside for centuries; it is unknown how it was made thus, given the available technology at the time. It stands 23 feet high. Our guide told us that, if you stand with your back to the pillar and can wrap your arms around the pillar so that your arms touch you would have power of a god. We did not get a chance to try as the pillar is barricaded off now.
We ended the day with Alai Darwaza which is a main gate in the Qutb Complex. This has the most detail part of the complex and Megan’s favorite thing of the day. It was built in 1311 AD. The stone work was intricate and impressive.
A later ruler wanted to build a tower twice as high, but died after the first floor was completed; noone continued the work.
A number of people have asked to take selfies with us, especially with Meg.
We caught a glimpse of the Akshardham Temple. It is a new, immense Hindu temple. It wasn’t on our tour.