Delhi for me has always defined “home” – a place that remained constant while growing up in 6 countries across two continents! Summer always meant going to Delhi for a couple of months to be with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins; lots of food, playing made-up games on the terrace, spending late nights chatting about the year’s events and of course shopping (and lots of it)!
But exploring the Mughal sites of Delhi and Agra never quite made the list… In our defence, we’d been to several museums (A/C indoors providing a respite from the summer heat), parks (great picnic spot for late-evening family gatherings including of course the mid-night-ice cream-run!!) and temples (always a festival around the corner); we just never got around to visiting the historical sites of Old Delhi!
Battling crowds at the Mughal ruins in sweltering summer heat was somehow akin to picking the short straw, and (un)surprisingly nobody ever volunteered! 🙂
So with that realization in mind, our visits to India NOW (in a grown up state) do, in fact, cover some historical site! Sadly, Agra shall have to wait for next time
We hired a private taxi for a day and charted out the sites with our driver. Our Itinerary: Rashtrapati Bhavan –> Red Fort –> Humayun Tomb –> Lotus Temple –> ISKCON Temple (yeah! good luck with traffic)
1. Rashtrapati Bhavan: This refers to the 320 acres of presidential estate that comprises of the president’s official residence, halls, guest rooms and offices including the large Mughal gardens, employee/staff quarters etc.
2. With some happy faces and full of energy, we moved towards Old Delhi to make our next stop – Red Fort! The Red Fort was the residence of the Mughal emperors for 200 years until 1857. This is also the spot where the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag on Aug 15th (Independence Day) and delivers a nationally broadcasted speech. This took us a good couple of hours and we were still not able to see all of it!
A colorful little bazaar once you enter the gates of Red Fort
The sprawling estate with the elaborate halls, living quarters (for the Mughals and more modern additions to accommodate the British) and mosques. Also note the peacock throne where the emperor would hold court
Thoroughly exhausted (what?!) we walked out of the gates into the chaotic streets of Old Delhi (and Chandni Chowk) to grab an “auto-rickshaw” that would
fit take all 6 of us to the southern gate (our car would’ve taken 45 min to get to us – did I mention bad traffic?)
3. A quick stop for lunch and we were off to Humayun’s Tomb. This is the tomb of one of the Mughal emperor Humayun built-in the persian style, and considered the first garden-tomb of its kind on the Indian sub-continent.
The tomb was not crowded at lunch time and we got some great shots!
4. We reached the Bahai lotus temple right at sunset, a peaceful transition after the chaotic streets of Old Delhi. Walking through the vast gardens filled with trees full of orange blossoming flowers, with the sight of the lotus temple ahead of us, surrounded by blue pools of water was simply beautiful and had a real calming energy…
The day almost over, and the thoroughly happy faces now changed into flushed and exhausted faces – we crossed the street to have the good ‘ol Banta (aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!). We decided to skip the ISKCON temple (group consensus) as we could barely walk anymore, and the ride home was a likely another 1.5 hours (Oh, did I mention the traffic?!)…
5. And, just to finish my post of historical sites; here are some great pics of the Qutab Minar (from a previous trip).
Hope you enjoyed reading!