Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Mughal Raj!


My first trip to Delhi and I was extremely excited. It may seem a little strange to all of you out there that living in India I had not yet seen Delhi, yet had travelled abroad. Well, such was the case. Hence my excitement! And to add the cherry on the icing, it was to be a family trip, after four long years. My sister had planned every tour to the minute, refusing to let us change or remove any item from the list of places to visit. Sighing, I realized that the next three days would be extremely hectic, in spite of the blistering heat.
The flight was uneventful. We landed safe and sound and got into a taxi that drove us to our hotel in Karol Bagh. At first, as we approached the district, I was a little taken aback. The car slowly edged into the narrow streets flanked by numerous lodges, boarding house and hotels. Some of the buildings seemed downright dingy and sinister. Afraid that we had made a mistake in our online booking of the hotel, I sat up and paid attention to the route taken by the driver. Luckily our hotel was on a quiet street in a residential area. After checking in and freshening up in our rooms, we left for the tours of the day.
The next couple of days were chaotic as we tried to balance non-stop sightseeing with some spontaneous shopping. A step into the yesteryears, we got a brief glimpse of the classic and the golden period of the Mughal empire. Let me share with you some of my favourite sights…

Our first stop, the national monument: India Gate… Seemingly very plain and Spartan, it still commemorates the 90,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who lost their lives fighting for the British Raj during the World War I. 



The handsome guards at India Gate… Don’t they get bored watching us?
Dignity… Respect… Peace…

Home of the President: Rashtrapati Bhavan… The guard there gave us a short 5 minutes course in History. It was very enlightening to see his ready knowledge.

The wide roads of Delhi… The sense of space and majesty is rare anywhere else in India…

The famous Red fort… It was the first time that I have seen beauty and ruggedness combined to perfection…



The stage for the light and sound show… Unfortunately, though the setting was picturesque, the show was boring beyond imagination…

Purana Killa… It really looked very old and was in places quite decrepit… Yet the old world charm was ever present…

A panoramic view to give you a sense of suppressed splendour…

The bird’s eye view… the tower of hope intertwined with despair…

The magnificent gate from which Emperor Humayun triumphantly rode out or galloped in…

Humayun’s Tomb: Beauty in intricacy…

Lovely miniature… A showcased sample of the excellence of the architects of those yesteryears…

A leisurely stroll in the gardens… A laid-back afternoon under the trees… Time to contemplate in peace… Miss one’s lover… The tranquil gardens around Humayun’s Tomb seemed to bring peace to our restless souls…

At first glance I thought, what a waste of space! How many homes can be built here. And then I realized that in the late 1500s AD, the concept of flats was non-existent and unimaginable. There was no dearth of space and this large courtyard was just the norm… 

At last a decade’s dream came true… It took me a couple of seconds… I froze… Then finally it dawned on me that I was actually seeing the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Although people have said that the reality does not live up to the hype, I felt the goose bumps of my arm. It was truly a magnificent work of art…


Optical illusion on one of the pillars… In those days, it must have been an exceptional feat…

The last look over our shoulders… A reluctant good-bye…

The Agra Fort… Grandiose… Majestic and extremely awe-inspiring…

As I stood right there, looking out, I felt as if an age-old mantel fell over my shoulders… I imagined… An empress surveying her lands, day after day, as she was aided by her ladies-in-waiting to dress for the day’s events



A favourite corner of the princesses and their entourage, as they giggled and long for their star-crossed lovers….

The view that Shah Jahan had of the Taj Mahal, when he was imprisoned in the fort… Even now, I can almost feel his sense of helplessness and profound sadness…

Fateh-Pur-Sikri… The famous abode of Emperor Akbar and his first wife, who was Hindu, Jodha Bai. Of all the forts and fortresses, I like this one the most…



The human chess board… Emperor Akbar played the game with his servants as pawns…

A five storey construction… a marvel in those days… From the top, Emperor Akbar had a perfect watch over the towns below…

A beautiful courtyard… A tiny pond.. In the center Tansen used to practice his music… And often Emperor Akbar sat right on top (right corner in pic 2) listening keenly…


The royal basin for hand-wash before the royal feast… Wasn’t it a trifle small? :P

Another marvel… Emperor Akbar’s bed, where he used to sleep with his scores of concubines…

From there we entered into the realm of his favoured queen, for whom he had built a separate palace. Jodha Bai’s summer and winter homes… Two twin structures on opposite ends. These had been built keeping in mind the wind directions, so that the rooms were always airy and cool.

Jodha Bai’s Hindu temple in the midst of a Muslim empire… Folklore has it that she kept idols of most of the Hindu gods in this temple…


The Durgah of the saint after whom the fort was named… My first experience and the pure serene atmosphere was almost palpable…

An unexpected last glimpse… On our way back to the Agra Cantt station, we caught sight of the Taj in the dying light of the sunset…


And then came the final day… On our hurried southward journey to the airport, we rushed through another two famous tourist points.
Bahai Place of Worship: Built in the shape of a lotus, the Bahai Temple professes oneness of religion, of mankind and God.

Oh how I wished I could take a quick dip in this inviting pool… At least it would have warded off the scorching heat for a few precious moments… Notwithstanding the uproar it would have created in the minds of the other tourists… LOL!

The much talked about tallest minaret in India – Qutub Minar…


I could not resist adding this photo… it reminded me of one of my favourite scenes in the movie called “Cheeni Kum” (I believe it was shot here), where Mr. Amitabh Bachchan tries to wound his arms around the pillar from behind, as his 85 year old mother stood by and encouraged him…

Finally, the magical 72 hours of the Mughal Raj came to an end. With a heavy heart we wove our way through the crowded Delhi Airport to the waiting area near the departure gate. Stretching out in a lounge chair, I closed my eyes with a happy sigh.
The highlight of this trip, for me, was seeing the Taj Mahal. As we followed the queue into the plane, the image that truly symbolised the era of the Mughal rule, lingered in the back of my mind... Unforgettable… Indestructible… Eternal… A priceless homage to true love!

2 comments:

suruchi said...

Walking through 2 memory lanes simultaneously - one that of the moghul period and two that of 1998, when i visited these sites and what sights!!

thanks for the experience..:-)

Midhun said...

Very nice pictures and description. can feel the peace and quiet of the places