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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 02 - Delhi

Today we will start with New Delhi again, but actually, today’s Delhi is the result of a union of 7 cities and 25 villages. The part visited first in the morning belongs to the Imperial City, one of the oldest 4 situated in the South, and it is called Qutab Minar.

1. Qutab Minar
2. Koran engravings on the minaret
3. Minaret’s sculptures
4. Detail of old wall on temple ruins

Qutab Minar _MG_0516_F

Qutab Minar IMG_0339_F

The Qutab Minar refers to the 73 meter-high minaret itself, but in fact it is a complex of ruins of ancient temples of the first Muslim’s domination. The place provides nice pictures from different angles, and again, the sandstone with high rates of iron metal gives the colorful contrast amongst the blue sky, the stones and the people and the birds.

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Qutab Minar IMG_0298_F

It is not difficult to spot the parakeets hanging on the tall walls remaining from the destroyed buildings. The strong green tones of the parakeet are almost hypnotic when it rests against the reddish patterns of sandstone. The monuments and the minaret present lots of mosaics and Koran’s writings carved in the stone, covering almost 100% of the surface. A really stunning piece of architecture.

5. Parakeet hanging
6. Parakeet on ruins walls

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Qutab Minar IMG_0368_F

There is also an iron pillar made of iron but that have never got rusted despite its age of 1600 years. This is explained by the fact that the pillar has a rate of 98% of iron in its composition. The pillar is the single remaining artifact of the original Hindi temples that existed at that place before the Muslim invasion – all the Hindi temples have been destroyed to give place to mosques and the minaret.

7. Qutab Minar ruins and the Iron Pillar
8. The Iron Pillar

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From there we just passed by the Lotus Temple. A Hindi temple with the format of a lotus flower. It was really crowded since it was Sunday, and then we just stopped for a quick look before continuing the guided tour.

9. The Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple _MG_0572_F

From there we went to the Humayun’s Tomb, is a mausoleum built in a style very similar to the Taj Mahal. The gardens are beautiful, with the water channels, typically noticed in the Persian garden style.

10. Humayoun’s Tomb entrance view
11. The Humayun’s Tomb with the fountains at the garden
12. Gurdwara (Sikh Temple)
13. Tomb’s side view from the garden

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Humayun's Tomb _MG_0648_F

The monument is very photogenic, due to the gardens and the stone colors. The area is surrounded by other monuments, as this Sikh Temple (Gurdwara, or “Home of the Guru”).

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Humayun's Tomb _MG_0602_F

This was our last point to visit in Delhi. We went to Connaught Place again to go the the Veda’s Restaurant, where we had a very spicy vegetable tandoori plate (“tandoori” means grilled), and where we said goodbye to our guide.
14. Sweeper woman at the Humayun’s gardens
15. Squirrel at the gardens

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Qutab Minar IMG_0331_F

Johnson drove us back to the Lutyen’s Bungalows to pick up our luggage and go straight to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station where we were supposed to take our first train leg in this trip. Gondwana Express, departing at 15:25. Destination: Katni, the closest village to the Bandhavgarh National Park.

16. Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station
17. Waiting for the train departure to Katni

Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station IMG_5133_F

We were in Johnson’s hands to find the right platform and the wagon designated in our tickets. The train station is a real mess. We couldn’t make it without his help – the boarding procedure became more familiar along the journey, but for this first time his help was simply essential.


Then we have got our places in a private cabinet (first class berths) and a 14 hour long journey to Katni. I cannot complain of the 1st class berths, but you have to open your mind and allow adjustments to your concepts of cleanness and comfort. Fair enough!

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