Today was our first full day in India. I continue to be impressed by the tour company we have used (Swastik India Journeys), as we met up with our guide for the day (Shiva) and our driver whilst in Delhi (Vejay) – both very efficient and punctual.
After fighting our way through the Delhi traffic, even busier than yesterday, we arrived at our first destination which was Jama Mosque.
This is a beautiful Moghul period mosque, built from the usual red sandstone and adorned with white marble.
Unlike some countries we have visited, even as a non-muslim, we were allowed inside the mosque – shoes needed removing of course, and Ruth needed to borrow a long dress (free of charge) – no covering of heads was required, apparently normal practice in India, so we didn’t need the headscarves we had brought.
We were able to walk up to the top of the largest minaret, where all of Delhi could be seen.
Next we visited Raj Ghat, which was where Mahatama Gandhi was cremated after his assassination. The eternal flame lit in his memory was in an unusually tranquil place for Delhi. As well as being free to enter, interestingly tipping was not allowed, and you were not allowed to take food, or anything else you did not need into the site…only water, out of respect. Cameras are apparently considered a necessity fortunately…!
We were unable to get close to the India Gate, due to the preparations for Republic Day, but we were still close enough to see it, so we went up to the presidential palace where there was some fine British architecture, and good views of the gate itself.
The highlight of the day was up next, the Tomb of the great Moghul Emperor Humayun.
There were a number of smaller tombs on site, which we saw before visiting the main tomb – a massive structure, set in peaceful gardens.
After lunch we visited Qutub Minar, one of the tallest in the world, and an example of the architecture the Mamluks brought to India after their conquest. There were also desecrated Hindu temples on the site, some converted to Mosques, and some dating as far back as the Vedic Indian period.
Finally, there was an uncompleted minar, started by Alauddin Khilji, subject of a film we watched recently – the amazing Padmavat.
After the obligatory retail therapy, a feature of any tour with a guide (and honestly, a good chance to get a cuppa and a toilet break), it was time to head back to the hotel.
We managed to find our way to the roof of the hotel, just in time to photograph a suitable picture to celebrate the sunset of our time in Delhi (complete with train for Ruth).
Tomorrow morning, we head for Agra…the Taj Mahal awaits!