Delhi (Day 30) – Old Delhi, Mosques, & Memorials 20 July 2009

This last day of our trip we spent touring more of Delhi. jantarmantarActually, when we arrived in Delhi (and before my pedicure), we walked around the area of the Imperial Hotel to Connaught Place, and found only a long block away from the hotel the compound where Lester lived during his last year of high school. Right across the street from there is one of his favorite places, Jantar Mantar (left) – an astronomical observatory built in the early 1700s.

Today was a very full day visiting three of the eight Cities of Delhi, starting with a beautiful mosque, Jawa Masjid, in the 7th City “Old Delhi” near the Red Fort. olddelhiIt is an active and sacred mosque, made also of redstone and white marble, and used to serve residents of the fort, including Shah Jahan when he was in Delhi. (Western female visitors must now don a Ëśrented” robe when entering the mosque, as I did, due to a recent incident where a young female tourist showed too much skin; I think it is an appropriate response by the imam.) Just outside the mosque, we took a 30-minute bicycle rickshaw ride through the tiny streets of Old Delhi (right) where Lester used to explore. I loved it, and would have like to go back again and spend more time.

gandhiFrom there we visited Gandhi’s Memorial, lit by eternal flames and decorated with orange marigolds in a large, simple and respectful garden area with pilgrims and visitors of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life constantly streaming by in bare feet.

qutubOur next stop was Humayan’s Tomb, designed by his wife after his death, and believed to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. We then visited another of my favorite places, the Qutub Minar mosque in the 1st city (the oldest) of Delhi. The complex, no longer in use, is constructed of many, many varied colors of stone, most engraved, and the huge, leaning minar is so intricate! Walking here felt like going back in time.

One other aspect of Delhi I want to mention is that about 10 years ago, the city required ALL pedicabs (now called autos), taxis and limos to switch to compressed natural gas (CNG), and during all our hours in Delhi, driving AND walking, I never noticed any smog. It has had a tremendous positive effect on the city. Our guides and driver also pointed out that their clothes now stay clean instead of becoming gray by the end of the day!