The historic cities of Agra, Jaipur and Delhi form a ‘Golden Triangle’ of major Indian tourist attractions. My earlier travelogues covered the first two and it is appropriate that I complete the triangle with a photo album of the third, the nation’s capital and one of the world’s largest and most ancient metropolises.
Since my first visit in 1963, I have visited Delhi innumerable times and seen most of its major attractions. Practically all these visits were on official work, related to my employment with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), whose headquarters is located in a sprawling campus adjacent to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in posh south Delhi. I have seen the transformation of a metropolis into a megapolis during this period. Even after retirement from my service in the year 2000, I have visited the nation’s capital many times and all the photographs presented in this album were taken after 2005 with several digital cameras. These photographs naturally represent only a very small and rather ill organized cross section of my collection.
[All pictures in my posts can be blown up to their full size by clicking on a picture and opening it in a separate window]
Where else to begin my photo album than at the magnificent Rashtrapathi Bhavan and the nearby central government secretariat, perhaps the most visible handiwork of the legendary British architect Edwin Lutyens, located on Raisina Hill? Here are two photographs symbolic of Lutyens’ Delhi. Only a part of the north block of the secretariat is seen in the second photograph.
The India Gate at the other end of the famous Rajpath starting from the Rashtrapathi Bhavan is as symbolic of Delhi as is the Gateway of India in Mumbai, the financial capital of the nation. Here are two pictures showing the famous monument and its surroundings, the focus of special attention at the Republic day parade on January 26 every year:
The Jantar Mantar in Delhi, located close to the busy and buzzing Connaught Circus, is a smaller version of the one in Jaipur built by the famous astronomer-king Maharaja Jaisingh II in early eighteenth century. The complex itself is relatively quiet, well maintained and has an impressive collection of brick buildings and a variety of yantras (measuring instruments). Here is a view of the complex showing some of the red brick structures:
The Teen Murti Bhavan is a great building dedicated to the memory of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. It houses a museum and a planetarium within a large and serene complex. The entrance to the complex shown in the following picture has an impressive monument built as a war memorial.
The Lotus Temple
After the Taj Mahal in Agra, I rate the Baha’i House of Worship, appropriately called the Lotus Temple, as the greatest architectural marvel in the country. Being the most visited sight in the capital, it appears to have attracted even more visitors than the Taj Mahal. Shaped like a lotus flower, with beautifully symmetrical petals made of pure white marble, it is a breathtakingly beautiful sight from any vantage point, particularly from any aircraft flying overhead as I discovered several times. It is located in a vast tract of greenery which in itself is a nature lover’s delight. Here are three views of the structure in two of which I have tried to capture the surroundings as much as the structure itself.
President Barak Obama of the USA is one of the very few high level foreign heads of state to have visited India without also having visited the Taj Mahal at Agra. He sought to make up for the lapse by visiting what has been touted as Delhi’s equivalent of the famed monument, Humayun’s tomb. Though the comparison is rather overstretched, Delhi’s monument is very impressive in its own right and one of several UNESCO designated world heritage sites in the city. Unlike the Taj which is built from pure white marble, it is constructed mostly from red bricks. It seems inappropriate that it was built in memory of someone like Humayun rather than his more illustrious predecessor Babar or successor Akbar. Here are three pictures of it from my collection:
The Qutab Minar
The Qutab Minar in south Delhi is the world’s tallest brick minaret, standing 72.5 metres tall. It is one of the earliest and most notable examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. The minaret is part of a complex, housing several ancient and medieval structures and ruins. Here are two pictures showing the Qutab Minar:
The Red Fort
Located in old Delhi close to Chandni Chowk, one of the busiest places in the country, the Red Fort (Lal Qila) is another great landmark in the city. As a very popular tourist attraction it springs into special prominence once every year when the Indian Prime Minister hoists the national flag and makes a speech from the ramparts of the fort to mark the nation’s Independence Day on August 15. Here is the famous red brick facade of the fort:
Inside the Red Fort complex there are a number of buildings and structures, the most attractive of which is probably Diwan-i-Aam, much like its counterpart in the Agra fort. Here is a picture showing the ornate inlay work and intricate carvings on its walls:
The Laxminarayan Temple, popularly known as the Birla Mandir, is a wonderful example of Indian temple architecture seen in many parts of northern India. Here is a frontal view of it:
Located on the banks of river Yamuna, Raj Ghat marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation in 1948 on a black marble platform which is left uncovered. It is a great place, befitting the memory of the father of the nation and superbly maintained. Here are two pictures I took with the memorial seen behind each of two different trees which I found fabulously attractive and particularly appropriate to the situation.
Down Memory Lane
I round off my last blog post of this year with a picture that touches a personal chord. Whenever I visited Delhi on official work I used to stay in one of the guest houses inside the NCERT campus in which the most attractive building is the Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET), one of the institutions forming part of the NCERT. It is a superb red brick building, apparently inspired by many of the red brick structures, old and new, dotting the city. The best part of it however is the greenery surrounding it and the serene atmosphere it creates, something that I have always valued.