Friday, November 19, 2004

Wandering in Delhi

I've taken a bus sight seeing trip around Delhi, but as the traffic is jammed pack I saw more of the inside of the bus than Delhi itself. Still it was a useful whirlwind tour around some of the popular sights.
First stop was the Birla temple a Hindu place of worship. As the majority of the tourists on the bus were Hindu they was a lot of praying go on when I visited. I just try and keep out of the way but you can see in people faces wondering why I was there!

On route we stopped at the Parliament buildings all though you are not allowed too close for security measures. Next was India Gate as large arc with long straight pedestrainised roads passing through it and surrounded by large green parks. Soldiers were present here and it looked like there we might be in time for a parade, but it seemed they were just practising. The sergeant was running around adjusting people hands and feet to the correct alignment.

Next stop was Qutb Minar, a 70m tower built in the 13th century. According to some guide that latched himself on to me, the tower was used as a giant sundial. Also present in the site was a mysterious 7m iron pillar, made from extremely pure iron which should not of been possible at the time of inception over 1600 years ago.
Also there were many carved pillars of which no two are the same, each with intricate details.

We stopped off at a Indira Gandhi house which is now transformed into a museum. Outside a comerative plane of glass marks the spot where she was assinated. This was all lapped up by the Indian tourists as her family seemed to have entered into the Indian psyche. In the paper today was a tribute on the anniversary of her death.

Next a monument at Rajghat to another Indian icon, Mahatma Gandhi, where an eternal flame burns. His legacy still lives on even though he was murdered back in 1948.

Finally we circled past the Red Fort, again security was priority and no parking was allowed. Although by this time it was dark however the fort was at least illuminated. Soon I was dropped off and making my way back to the hotel, glad to be of the bus and stretch my legs. It's always a lot hard to find your way after dark as familar land marks can be easily missed, however I made it back without getting lost once, a new record!

I have somehow contrived to catch a cold in this 30C+ weather. As such I couldn't really be bothered doing much the next few days. I popped into the Museum of Modern Art which wasn't quite what I was expecting. The curators have a different idea of "modern" from the British museums. There was 18th century drawings and a lot of paintings from unknown artists. Still there was some more modern paintings which weren't bad, as well as the usual dross of a few strokes of a brush declared as a painting.

Today I went for a fancy lunch to a restaurant called Parikrama for a bit of Chicken Tikka Masala. The restaurant sits 24 floors above Delhi and rotates to give you good views. However as is usually the case in Delhi it is shrouded in haze, probably from the exhaust fumes of all these auto-rickshaws.

Yesterday I went to a cafe and peered down into the Main Bazaar. Complete with cat on a hot tin roof and ramshackle housing.
Down at street level things are just as chaotic, especially the wiring!
I got this map of Delhi and realised it was no wonder I was always getting lost.

Tommorow I leave for Agra, famous for the Taj Mahal and persistent touts!

Just a final word about the unashamed dual pricing system in operation in India, the Qutb Minar cost 5rps for Indians, 250rps for Johnny Foreigners. Similarly, the Taj Mahal is 20rps vs 750rps. I'll need to get a better tan and brush up on my Hindi!

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