Our Last Day in India
Delhi was our last stop in India, and we kind of had to race around it in half a day, so I’m sure we missed all kinds of exciting things. But we did get to see at least two very cool things, so the racing around was definitely worth it!
First we spent the morning on the bus, getting to Delhi from Jaipur, which was a loooooong drive.
Then, after lunch at the hotel, we charged off to the Jama Masjid, which is not only the main mosque in Delhi, it’s also the BIGGEST MOSQUE in all of Asia, says Wikipedia.
A sentinel at the gate decides whether you’re dressed appropriately or not, and woe betide the inappropriately attired traveler, who must then put on a perfectly ridiculous long flowery sack (for the ladies) or a long colorful skirt to hide one’s shorts (for the guys). We also had to take off our shoes, but luckily socks are allowed so you don’t have to be barefoot amongst the pigeons.
So you walk through the gate into this ENORMOUS courtyard with the towering mosque on one side. The other three sides have arched colonnades with a gate in the middle of each one.
The courtyard is full of fluttering wings and jewel-toned saris, with a pool in the center. It’s totally beautiful.
What I love most about this photo is the adorable munchkins in it. The place was full of families with adorable children in bright colors.
Eventually we got back on the bus and tried to get out of Old Delhi, which, unlike New Delhi, is a madcap maze of narrow, crowded streets with an absolutely INSANE mess of wires and cables cobwebbed across the front of all the buildings. Seriously, check it out:
Our guide told us that it is said that Old Delhi must be protected by gods, because there has never been a fire there despite the crazy electric situation (and the open markets of fried foods and roasting goat heads right below all those wires).
New Delhi, on the other hand, is all big open tree-lined avenues and parks and roundabouts and huge columned gates and embassies that reminded me a little of Paraguay. It was pretty cool to see the two different cities, side by side like that.
Anyway, once we finally got through there, we finished the India part of our trip with a visit to one of the coolest things ever: the Qutb Minar!
The Qutb Minar was built over 900 years ago. One theory is that it was built to represent the Muslim victory over the Hindus, so they used parts of Hindu temples to build the complex.
But Islam doesn’t allow art that represents living things, like animals or people, so they covered up all the carvings on the temple columns with plaster.
But now it’s been 900 years, so a lot of the plaster has fallen away, and all the original carvings have come to light again.
And it’s really staggeringly cool. You walk through this door and suddenly you’re surrounded by beautiful and surprising carvings in every direction, with glorious arches on one side and this enormous tower soaring over it all.
It’s hard to describe how unexpected the sight of all these carved columns is…it felt kind of like suddenly walking into a crowd of dragons. In the sense of being extremely super-cool and surprising, that is, not in the sense of feeling like you’re about to get eaten.
There’s a famous iron pillar in front of the arch that hasn’t rusted in 500 years (!!!).
Apparently if you can reach all the way around it with your arms, that’s good luck. Although it looks like a few too many folks have tried this, as now there’s a fence up to discourage pillar-hugging. But when my dad was in India many moons ago, he got to hug the pillar, which clearly explains all the fabulous luck he’s had since then (splendid wife, glamorous daughters, positively perfect grand-dog, etc.). 😉
And then, of course, there’s the giant tower itself, which is virtually impossible to capture photographically.
That’s me and Dad all miniscule at the base of the Qutb Minar, and my mom was like a mile away from us and still couldn’t fit in the top of the tower. Crazy tall! We were all SO disappointed we couldn’t climb it, of course. ;-)
Apparently there are steps inside, although I don’t actually know if they let people climb it. But I’ve climbed plenty of ridiculously tall things with stairs already (the Leaning Tower of Pisa, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Statue of Liberty, the big temple in Chiang Mai, that crazy mountain next to Machu Picchu), so no worries, I’m all set.
Bye, Qutb Minar! Bye, Delhi! Bye, India! You were wicked awesome!
And we were off to Nepal! We’ll get to those photos soon…don’t worry, there’s only a few (million). 😉
In the meanwhile, I hope you’re all watching America’s Best Dance Crew, because there are SUCH AMAZING crews this season! For instance, CRAZY-AMAZING CLOGGERS! Plus a few kids from So You Think You Can Dance, like Hok and Dominic (and Brandon Norris, one of the crazy-amazing cloggers, who didn’t get past the SYTYCD auditions but did come back to clog for the finale, and who absolutely blows my mind). I wish I could embed a video, but I can’t find a legal way to do that, so just go look for the show online (or it repeats on MTV all the time, so look there!). Worth it! Extreme super-awesomeness!
All right, that’s all for today…more next week! :-)
Quote of the Day:
George: What beautiful flowers!
Gracie: Aren’t they lovely? And if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have them!
George: Me? What did I have to do with it?
Gracie: Well, it was your idea. You said when I went to visit Clara Bagley I should take her flowers…so when she wasn’t looking, I did!
— The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show