Delhi sightseeing adventure
Saturday, March 6
We had been in India already a week, and we had already seen the Taj Mahal. I didn’t think much could top the amazing sites and experiences we had seen so far. But Delhi definitely delivered some incredible attractions of its own! We had our first full day to enjoy the sites of Delhi and first off was Qutub Minar. At 72.5 meters, this tower is the world’s tallest brick minaret. It stands among ruins of ancient Hindu and Jain temples, whose stones were used to build the minaret and surrounding complex. With the combination of styles across the centuries and with various rulers’ and architects’ influences, one can see from the Qutub Minar’s Indo-Islamic architecture why this Indian version of the Tower of Pisa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi.
Next stop was a Bahai Temple aptly named the Lotus Temple. Amidst the bustling city of Delhi was a clear open space crowned by one of the most delicate and serene compositions that seemed to blossom out of nowhere. There was a meditative quiet that hung in the air as people took the pilgrimage-like walk across the grounds up to the temple. We were greeted by a handful of volunteers who blessed us as we approached and told us of the Bahai credo of oneness of all religions and mankind. Not knowing much about the Bahai faith, I was struck by the peaceful tranquility that the Lotus Temple and its surroundings exuded. No cameras were allowed inside so as to protect the silence and inner sanctity of the space—something I appreciated as I sat in wonder staring at the ceiling and enjoying how the simple lotus structure seemed to envelop me as I sat alone with my thoughts in the pews. It made me want to learn more about the Bahai fath—after all, what’s not to appreciate about a religion that believes in the equality and oneness of all people?
As the sun began to set, we ended up at Humayun’s Tomb—a complex of buildings built as the Mughal Emperor Humayun’s Tomb in 1562 CE. A beautiful mausoleum that was apparently the model for the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb is one of the first structures to use red sandstone at such a scale. The giant red building houses the tombs of Humayun and his wife as well as several other subsequent Mughals. I could definitely see where the Taj Mahal got its inspiration, and while this complex was not quite as spectacular, it definitely held its own.