India Day 7 (16 Jun 11) – Around Delhi in Metro: A trip to India Gate, Purana Qila, Humanyun’s Tomb and the Lotus Temple

The Solemn India Gate

Started the day with a walk to the metro station. One of the reasons I chose to stay in this hotel is its proximity to the metro. To be frank I am quite sick of being a live target to the auto rickshaw drivers to be ripped off. I decided to minimise the need to use private transport and go with public transport instead. The metro station seemed nearby the hotel I am putting up on the map. However the walk proved that distance on the map is a delusion. Moreover walking in this hot weather is a killer. I was perspiring profusely while walking to the metro station. Entering the metro station was a life saver for me. The air conditioning in the metro station cooled me down in no time. Got a multi trip ticket at 100 Rupee and off I go in the metro to my first destination – India Gate. I would say the metro in Delhi is very clean and efficient and it was a good way of traveling around away from the heat. The air con in the metro train was also very powerful, making me forget how hot it is on the surface. I reached my station in no time and as I walked out of the metro station, surprising the usual congregation of touts are nowhere visible. Well I am not complaining about it, though the weather was as hot as ever, I was enjoying my quiet morning walk towards the India Gate. To get to the India Gate, I have to walk through this boulevard that leads towards the Gate. At the start of the boulevard, it is not difficult to spot the India Gate. It was standing there solemnly mourning for the demise of the Indian soldiers it was purposed for. As I was walking down the boulevard, I began to perspire profusely again. Damn after being in India for about 1 week, I am still not getting use to the heat. I was so tempted to hit the greeneries by the side of the boulevard where it was decorated with trees, and where most of the locals hang out to cool themselves off the summer heat. However I persisted on walking under the ever merciless sun towards my destination. As I was about to reach my destination, an auto rickshaw pulled up and asked if I am going towards the India Gate. At this point I was about to give up, however with no intention of hopping on. I nodded to the driver and asked how much would he charged me for the very near trip. Before stating the price, the driver asked where I am going next after the India Gate. Guess he did not think I will spend the whole day there. I told him I am going to Purana QIla. He then quoted me 50 Rupees. I counter offered him 30 rupees, and he agreed. Without much hesitation I hopped onto the auto rickshaw as I thought I would need get an auto rickshaw to Purana Qila anyways.

The metro station in Delhi
Map of the Metro line
Parliament House in Delhi

We reached India Gate shortly (it was really close where I boarded the auto rickshaw. I got off the vehicle and told the driver I will only take 5 mins tops and headed over to the India Gate. It looked solemn standing there like a soldier, mourning for the lost lives who fought for the Brits during World War I. It is similar to the “Arc de Triomphe” of Paris, but looked slimmer and one cannot climb up to this gate unlike the Arc. Well it does serve its purpose of remembrance. On the main beam, carved the word “India” and below it the words “To the dead of the Indian Armies who fell and are honoured in France and Flanders Mesopotamia and Persia East Africa Gallipoli and elsewhere the near and the far east and in sacred memory also of those whose names are here and who fell in India or the north-west frontier and during the Third Afghan War”. On the walls of the gate, both inside and outside are carved the names of those who perished during the war. There was four drums at the bottom of the gate, but strange enough, only one was burning. Too bad the gate was cordoned off, I guess to prevent people from vandalising it. I walked a few circles around the gate, took a few more pictures before heading back to look for the auto rickshaw which brought me to my next destination.

India Gate
Me in India Gate
Around the India Gate
India Gate
One of the sculptures around India Gate

The Ancient Old Fort – Purana Qila

The next destination is about 5 minutes ride from the India Gate. Purana Qila, or Old Fort which it was commonly known as to the locals, was next to the zoo. The Old Fort, which predates Red Fort, was the oldest fort in Delhi. The main fort gate was Persian and Muslim influenced in its design and having 2 cylindrical tower beside it. The walls of this fort looked rather ruined from the other side, once I have passed the gate. I could see ruins along the wall. Passing the gate was a huge garden. I read from the guide book that this fort now functioned as a garden, where the locals hang out. True enough, it has became a popular spot for lovers whom come here for their dates. Across the gardens, I can see a building with a dome on top of it. Instead of heading that way, I headed for the right gate. The way to the right gate was decorated with coconut trees. From far, I can see a gate like structure with 2 pavilions on top of it. Walked towards it and snapped some pictures of it. Other then looking ruined and the 2 distinctive pavilions, there was nothing really much about this gate. There seemed to be some restorations going on, which prohibits me from going under the gate to see what’s on the other side. Turning back, I headed towards this lone building in the fort. This octagonal lone building served as a library and the first observatory in Delhi. However it was sealed and there was no way of gaining access to the inside of this building, thus I headed towards the building next to it. Not far from the library was a mosque. This suggested that India was heavily influenced by Muslims in its earlier days. This is perhaps one of the most well preserved building in Old Fort as it has not lose its grandeur. The red building seemed to be partly built of white marble, has some Islamic or perhaps Arabic inscripted on the walls. The arches, however has some lotus buds carved onto it. Looked like a Hinduism and Muslim has well been integrated into the design of this mosque. I headed inside the mosque and saw the main praying wall was made of white marble. The walls near the dome has some Persian looking designs on it. This mosque certainly has not lost its characteristics all these centuries. Exiting the mosque, I went to the Gate to the left of the main gate. This gate was similar to the other gate opposite it, but has only 1 pavilion instead of 2. It seemed like the restoration works never took place for these 2 gates. As the rest of the Old Fort has been converted into a garden, there is really nothing much to see here. I headed to my next destination.

Entrance to Purana Qila
Me at Purana Qila
Gardens in Purana Qila
Inside Purana Qila
Purana Qila up close
Sher Mandal, Believed to be a library inside Purana Qila
Part of Purana Qila walls in ruins
Qala-i-Kuhna Masjid – Mosque inside Purana Qila
Qala-i-Kuhna Masjid Up close
Inside Qala-i-Kuhna Masjid
Inside Qala-i-Kuhna Masjid
Inside Qala-i-Kuhna Masjid
Talaaqi Darwaza

The Magnificent Humayun’s Tomb

My next destination was Humayun’s Tomb. Humayun was a Mughal Emperor and this tomb was certainly befitting of an emperor. After getting the tickets, instead of heading straight for the tomb, I took a right turn and went to the side garden instead. Through the side gate was 2 buildings next to each other.  The smaller squarish building was a tomb, whereas the larger rectangular building was a mosque. This little corner seemed to be masked by Humayun’s Tomb, as no one was passing through this quiet area when I was there. I took some pictures and headed out from another gate. The main entrance gate to Humayun’s tomb was immediate after this side gate. Even the main gate to the emperor’s tomb looked grand. The white coloured building, brimmed with red sand stones has 3 faces to it and 2 pavilions on top of them. The architecture of this gate was heavily influence by Islamism. Passing through the main gate was the Tomb! Man, it really looked huge. From far, it looked like a large scale mosque. its construction was pretty similar to that of Taj Mahal. Before the tomb was a garden, and this was believed to be the first garden tomb in India! Till today, the garden was well taken care off by the staffs in this tomb. I walked towards the tomb building, and it was magnificent! The main tomb building has a huge white dome and 4 smaller pavilion looking structures beside it. The red tomb was brimmed with white marbles, a stark contrast from its main gate. Once up on the main platform where the emperor’s tomb sits, there seemed to be more tombs on the platform. Wonder who’s tombs are those. The main entrance into the tomb was very Persian in style, reminded me of the Imam mosque In Isfahan I saw in Iran some months back. Even the interior of the gate was nicely carved and decorated, which looked very much like the mosques in Iran. The white marble emperor’s tomb sits right in the centre of the tomb for centuries. The interior looked like it was built of white marble, very similar to that of Taj Mahal, except that there was no flower carvings on its interior walls. I went around the tomb building and spotted more tombs in the smaller rooms within the same building, some are in pairs, while others are in threes. Really wonder who would be honored enough to be buried next to the emperor. Exiting the tomb building, I walked around the tomb admiring the gardens where this building sits. After taking some pictures, I exited the compound and headed towards my next destination by auto rickshaw.

Gate guarding Humayun’s Tomb
Afsarwala (Officer) Tomb

 

Afsarwala Tomb up close
Afsarwala Tomb and Mosque
Humayun’s Tomb
Me at Humayun’s Tomb
Cenotaphs of the royal family
Main building of Humayun’s Tomb
Carvings on the ceiling in Humayun’s Tomb
Humayun’s Tomb itself
Humayun’s Tomb
Humayun’s Tomb

A Place for All Religions – The Lotus Temple

The Lotus Temple (which was locally known) was a fair distance from Humayun’s Tomb. Once arriving, there is not mistake that I have reached my destination. Often known as the Sydney Opera house in India, the Lotus Temple was constructed to resemble a lotus. The white building was definitely a feat of architecture. I followed the crowd into the temple. As the temple is of Bahai origins, it welcomed anyone of any religion to enter its premises to pray to their god. It really symbolises harmony of all religions. Once inside the temple, I can’t help but admire the architecture and the difficulty in the design and construction of this temple. At the very centre of the temple was a motif, can’t really figure out what it is (I have been staring at it the moment I entered the inside the temple). The interior of the temple was very serene, and the sunlight only managed to peek through the top part of the temple where the opening of the lotus flower was at. I took 1 minute to walk around the interior of this temple before heading back out. I headed towards the metro station next. The Lotus Temple was about 5 mins away from the nearest metro station. The entrance of every metro station (and shopping malls too) was guarded by some security personnel, and everyone has to go through the metal detectors and subjected to body checks. My bag has gone through countless X-ray machines in India whenever I enter a shopping mall or the metro station.

Lotus Temple – it welcomes devotees of all religions to conduct their respective prayers here
Lotus Temple up close
Lotus Temple
Me at Lotus Temple
Taking the Metro back to the hotel

Took the metro back to the hotel to rest for the day. As the hotel has a small kitchenette, I went to the nearby supermarket in the mall to get some instant noodles and microwavable chicken nuggets, intending to have a simple lunch before heading to Hard Rock Cafe nearby for dinner in the evening. However I was too lazy to head towards Hard Rock Cafe (plus I was rather full towards the end of the day), I simply went over the food court to pack some Indian food back to the hotel (so I can watch one of the 2 TVs in the room while eating). After dinner I hit the bed as I was dog tired. 

Simple Lunch
Dinner Time

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