The First Few Days: Cultural Sites in Delhi

Written by JC Martel

Jet-lagged, we met at 7am to begin our first day of touring Delhi. Ajay (post-doc) had the brilliant idea to hire a private air-conditioned bus to take us to around the city.

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Valerie, Anu, Eric, Cheni, Kristin, Nicole, JC, Chen, Victor, and Ajay in front of the 73-foot Qutub Minah.

First, we stopped at the Lotus Temple where we had to take off our shoes and run across scolding hot pavement before entering the Temple. While inside we were silent as we meditatively digested the massive concrete inner walls of the lotus. The most amazing aspect of this experience was walking in a procession with people from so many different religions and backgrounds. The Lotus Temple is one of the most visited structures in the world, uniting people from all faiths.

Next, we went to Humanyan’s Tomb, which was constructed in the 1500s and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. By then it was getting hot so some stayed under a pleasantly cool breezeway while others explored the temple. Shocking to me were the unusual nearly vertical stairs leading to the upper platform of the mausoleum and the dangerously short railing around the upper story patio. The grounds were expansive with multiple old structures separated by beautiful green spaces. It is remarkable that the grounds were planned so well in that time period.

After the Tomb, we raced to meet John and Sheila from the USAID office at the Priya Plaza, an upscale shopping and dining complex. Afterward, we continued on to the Qutub Complex, another World Heritage Site. The Qutub Complex was originally Hindi but is now Islamic, and the tall Qutub Minar tower was built to mark the beginning of Islamic rule in the 1100s. Whereas the Lotus Temple represents the oneness of humankind, this site illustrates the religious conflict that has occurred in India over the centuries.

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