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hieronyma Delhi - A travel report by Christl
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Delhi,  India - flag India -  Delhi
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hieronyma's travel reports

Delhi, the City of History

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The Indian Union represents itself as a Third World country but develops step by step into a modern democratic state, not loosing its foundation of Hinduism resp. Islam. Poverty is incredible, people are fighting for their life with dignity and energy.

This city of Delhi has very different faces. All those invaders from the Northwest, aiming to conquer Hindustan and finally India, made the West site of the Yamuna River their basis, each building his own settlement or fort. It became a Muslim city since the Mughals established their power, starting in the 11th century wars against the Hindu rulers, reaching its peak in the 16th /17th centuries, declining until 1858, when the British Government took over, who finally had to leave in 1947, when India became independent, partition took place, and Delhi went from being a Muslim city to being a Hindu city again. So Babur from the Fergana valley (Uzbekistan) left the Delhi sultanate to his son Humayun, not as capable as himself. But Akbar, the grandson, a man of culture, ruled with wisdom, integrating the Hindus in his empire, a tolerance his grandson Shah Jahan abadonned. He is the founder of Shajanabad (Old City), the builder of the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid Mosque. His son Aurangzeb, puritanical as he was, destroyed Hindu temples and built mosques on their site. Under his rule the empire eroded. His followers never achieved the old glory, until in 1858 after the Indian Uprising in 1857 the administration was handed over by the British East India Company to the British Government. 1877 Queen Victoria was proclaimed Emperess of India. The new capital New Dehli was built as if British rule would last forever, shattered soon by the demand for independence. Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi are to be remembered. During partition millions of Muslims fled to newly created Pakistan while Hindus fled to the Hindu dominated India. Delhi became a basically Hindu Punjabis city. Indira Gandhi’s son, heir presumtive, was assassinated, his widow Sonja heads the Congress Party, tries to maintain the postulate Nehru’s of a secular state, challenged unsuccessfully in 1998 by the Bharatiya Janata Party. But the standpoint of Muslims and Hindus in the Indian Union is not solved.

Favourite spots:
In a narrow street in an incredible dirty and poor area you enter the Nizam-du-din Shrine (14th c.), follow the winding lane, where on the marble floor beggars and cripples sleep. At the small sqare the Shrine of the Saint is circled by praying men, scattering rose leaves, joss sticks and grain. Going back the beggars expect your small coins. Quiet and silent in the morning in a formal garden on a high rerrace stands Safdarjang’s Tomb, topped by a dome, built of red sandstone and marble in 1753/54, the last extant example of a late Mughal-style garden-tomb. High above the hustle and bustle of the Old City with its shops and stalls selling clothes, ivory, antics etc. and its narrow streets stands the Jama Masjid Mosque (17th). The inner courtyard is surrounded by arcades interrupted by three gates, the East Gate decorated with a small balcony for the emperor faces the mosque, an impressive, harmonious building. The view of the Red Fort and the Old City is breathtaking.

What's really great:
The grounds of Humayun’s tomb with gardens, mosques, sepulchres from different times are integrated in a walled-in room, a world of quietude and beauty. Behind the entrance gate leave Bu Halima’s Garden for the enclosure with Isa Khan’s Tomb, a portly, thickset structure of red sandstone. A mosque at the Western edge disturbes the balanced place. In the enchanted, overgrown garden of the Arab Serail time stands still. At the entrance the Afsarawala Mosque and Tomb was built by Asfar to be remembered, but nobody knows who he was. The West Gate opens to the formal garden, divided by watercourses into 32 small squares around the main platform of Humayun’s Tomb, built by Haji Begum, Humayun’s senior wife. On a red sandstone platform with arched openings rises the tomb, the walls inlaid with black and white marble, crowned by a bulbous dome, flanked by small half domes. It is of great simplicity. The central chamber contains the tombstone of Humayun, but the tomb is on the lower level.

Take a Delhi Tour and see: Birla Mandir Lakshmi Narayan Temple (1930s), dedicated to Narayan, Vishnu, the preserver, and Lakshmi, his wife, the godess of prosperity and good fortune, built by a rich man, BD Birla, impressive, but not very refined; Qutub Minar, an enchanted place. In an old garden in the midst of the ruins of temples looking very Greek, stands the sixty metres high tower (13th c.), beautifully carved and decorated. Be there in the morning or in the evening when it is not so crowded; Bahai Place of Worship, built in the form of a lotus flower, a quiet place in an open landscape with a wide view; Indira Gandhi Museum, informative. A lot of pictures, photos, newspaper clippings depict a remarkable woman; Rashtrapati Bhavan, Gandhi Museum, Raj Ghat, Shakti Sthal, Shanti Vana, Vijay Ghat; Red Fort, more than neglected, but it is easily to imagine what beauty it pos-sessed; New Delhi’s the imperialistic government sector; India Gate, the war memorial; Connaught Place.

As it was a family stay, organised by the Experiment in International Living I can’t tell anything about accommodation.

I was in one or two restaurants but forget to keep the names.

Other recommendations:
Tibet House
Museum of Modern Art, mainly Indian paintings (19th, 20th centuries), influenced by British and French art, the new ones are independent.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, seat of the Archbishop
Doll’s Museum, 6000 dolls from all over the world, partly precious and old, but poorly captioned
Crafts Museum, this is beautiful, the place itself and the exhibits
Don`t forget to visit the Lodi Gardens, wonderful set up for all who want to get in shape or to talk shop, sepulchres and an impressive mosque are to be seen

Published on Wednesday March 22th, 2006

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Fri, Feb 23 2007 - 02:51 PM rating by travler

This report was so much better than mine I know what you saw so you get top billing for it.

Wed, Feb 07 2007 - 02:39 PM rating by adisidh

nice report. keep posting.

Sun, Jan 28 2007 - 03:00 PM rating by mrscanada

This is a well written report that doesn't need pictures.

Tue, Mar 28 2006 - 03:34 PM rating by mistybleu

A very informative report.

Thu, Mar 23 2006 - 11:09 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Anyway, no pictures but this report deserves a 5 stars

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 11:47 PM rating by eirekay

Christl thank you for including some wonderful details! I will be going there in August and this was really helpful! I would love to here more about your family stay!

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 02:29 PM rating by rangutan

Great! Well written reports do not necessary need pictures. This is far better than the over-rated Delhi reports from 'edbrodie' and 'meghan'.

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 02:03 PM rating by marianne

Makes me realise that I should visit north India. (we have just returned from south India). Some photos would be very nice so that we can see what it looks like.

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 01:29 PM rating by davidx

Good to see another fine report from you.

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 12:14 PM rating by gloriajames

hiya christl
a nice introduction guide to the capital city.
how about adding some pics?

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 11:32 AM rating by st.vincent

A nice insight into the history of Delhi - thanks

Wed, Mar 22 2006 - 10:25 AM rating by sajjanka

photos should be add in this report so 3* i award u

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