Delhi Through The Eyes Of A Mumbaikar Part I
If you were a regular reader of this blog, I’m pretty sure you must be wondering where I’d disappeared off to.
No, I didn’t give up on this blog and did something that strictly stuck to the status quo that most of my classmates are wont to do.
No, I didn’t elope with some Roadside Romeo
And no, I most certainly did not get abducted by aliens.
I shifted this July to Delhi NCR.
Why? Because right after I graduated this year, I went for a fellowship programme to explore the world out there and get out of the monotony of the commerce field.
Aaand the experience has been mind-blowing so far! I’m getting to do so many different courses across varied fields, meet people from so many diverse backgrounds and getting to absorb a hell lot of new knowledge! Plus –
Okay, more on the fellowship gushing later. Now onto the main focus: I shifted.
Yes, I shifted from the comforting environs of my home in Bombay to a university in North India, which is really close to Delhi. I gave up the grudging mollycoddling of my family to relish the joys of living all alone.
All alone with the fears of getting mugged, looted or accidentally falling sick!
Since I live pretty close to Delhi now, I do get a chance to visit some of the fascinating monuments and places in the city. And the thing about this city is, there are all these monuments at every other nook and corner. When you look at them, you get hit by this sudden wave of realization that goes, “Damn, this is where this incident happened and it shaped the country into the nation it is now!”
Moreover, when you look at the architecture, it’s like you get transported to some different era altogether. From the Slave Dynasty to the Mughal Empire to the British era and to today, it’s really mesmerizing to walk around Delhi and soak in the grandeur of it all.
Because of this, with this post and the succeeding blogposts, I would like you, dear reader, to also get a glimpse of what I felt when I travelled to some of Delhi’s famous monuments last month.
Red Fort – now known as the place where the Prime Minister gives speeches for important National Days.
But once upon a time, it was one of the prized structures of the Mughal Empire. It wasn’t just a red-bricked building that was a stone’s throw away from Chandni Chowk Metro Station. It was where a rich Persian market thrived, it was where the subjects met the king, it was where the travellers from afar were treated with utmost hospitality, hospitality that could put Ritz Carlton to shame.
It was where the heart of the Mughal Empire lay during Shah Jahan’s times.
When you enter the Red Fort, you normally arrive through the gate which leads to the podium where the PM gives his speech.
From there, you enter the market area. This was where, once upon a time, Persians used to sell their goods. Now-a-days, it’s just local knock-offs and statues.
Once you walk straight through the market, you come across the area where once the local people used to meet the emperor. There, the emperor used to sit on a super majestic throne and listen to people’s grievances. This throne had a dome made by artisans from Bengal and if I remember correctly, it was constructed in pure marble (do check this info!) and there were actual gems embedded on it.
Now, unfortunately, it’s encased within really low quality glass (or is it plastic?).
Then, as you get out of that space, you see an expanse of area crafted exclusively from pure marble – this is for the nobility and the international visitors, who the emperor would treat with utmost hospitality. Behind that, is the bathing chamber.
As you amble along, you see neatly cut gardens. This was a genius move by Jahanara, the daughter of Shah Jahan. She, like her father, had a really strong aesthetics game. In fact, she was a gardening enthusiast as well and brought about irrigation around the Red Fort area!
Yet, as you move along, you see the British barracks, which totally destroy the beauty of the Mughalai architecture. Their barracks, lemme tell you, is nothing like the Gothic architecture you see in Mumbai and Calcutta. It’s a garish, crass insult to the beauty of the Red Fort.
Ah, this has to be one of my favourite pieces of architecture in the whole world!
Humayun’s Tomb, as the name evidently suggests, is the tomb of Babur’s son Humayun, who died after accidentally tumbling down the stairs. But what people don’t know about this place is that it’s also the tomb of a lot of other key figures in the Mughal era.
Yep, the upraised little seating areas that you sit on to pose for pictures at the Tomb? Chances are, you’re sitting on a dead body!
Anyway, gory details aside.
I’ve been to the tomb a couple of visits before – once, when I was around five and the second, when I was seventeen and I was a part of this South Asian youth camp. And this time, I went with my friends.
But somehow, each time I visit this place, I’m honestly blown away.
First of all, it’s insanely huge. Secondly, it’s quite colourful and though it’s a tomb, I’ve never, ever felt sad while coming here. I don’t know why, but it always gives out such positive vibes, it’s incredible!
And thirdly, it has such a complex history. It’s not just a tomb, but a symbol of so many things! It’s a symbol of Humayun’s wife’s love for him. It’s a symbol of a subtle ‘F**k you!’ from Humayun’s son to the ruler who forced Humayun to flee. It’s also a symbol – that Mughal’s are here to stay, they aren’t backing off.
I found that to be utterly fascinating and till this date, I wonder why the Humayun’s Tomb isn’t one of the Wonders of the World. I mean, freaking Taj Mahal is inspired by this monument! This is the granddad of all the Mughal architecture! It has to gain some recognition!
Lotus Temple is the place of Bahai faith’s worship. Bahai, in simple terms, is the faith which considers itself to be a confluence of all religions and for it, harmony is the top priority!
Which could be evidenced easily, when my friends and I went to the temple. It’s (as the name so clearly suggests), a uniquely lotus shaped temple surrounded by small pools.
After climbing up the hot marble-esque stairs, we were led to the prayer room. It was a huge room with a uniquely shaped dome and wooden benches. Once we were seated, we were told to stay silent as the prayers were about to start.
And then… they began.
I closed my eyes as the announcer recited the prayers in multiple languages. And as he recited, I was feeling really, really peaceful from deep within. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this calm or relaxed in a place of worship before, except maybe Bangla Sahib!
And, I think that’s it for today, folks! I’ll be describing more of Delhi in the coming months and I will also discuss about my (mis)adventures as a young 21-year-old living alone for the first time in her sheltered, pampered life!
I hope you guys loved reading it! Please do suggest some other places if you know Delhi well! 😊
Stay awesome as ever,