New Delhi, as most of the city in India, has a peculiarity; traffic is very intense and horning seems to be the favourite activity of the drivers.
No matter where you are and at what time of the day or the night: you will hear horns!
The program of the day in Delhi was really intense: visit to several historical and “must to see” places and a stroll on one of the bike-riksciò.
First stop at Birla Mandir temple. This is our first temple in India and here we learned to remove our shoes and leave them oustide. First time might be a real shock, especially beacuse you leave your shoes among hundreds pairs and the hope is, when returning, to find them again.
Birla Mandir, is one of Delhi’s major temples and a major tourist attraction. Built by the industrialst G.D. Birla in 1938, this beautiful temple is located in the west of Connaught Place.
The temple is dedicated to Laxmi (the goddess of prosperity) and Narayana (The preserver). The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the condition that people of all castes will be allowed to enter the temple.
Jama Masjid is the biggest mosque in India and second in the world, after the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
It has a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees. It was begun in 1644 and ended up being the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan.
This highly decorative mosque has three great gates, four towers and two 40 meters high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble.
Walking barefoot in the big courtyard is a true experience; walking between the believers praying by themselves is really emotional.
After the visit at the mosque, a bike-riksciò is waiting to bring us among the narrow street of old Delhi.
It’s a real experience as we can see the market along the streets, the small shops, barbers cutting hairs in oper-air saloon, young children selling fans e several other things that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
During our ride we also met a cow; in India cows are holy animals and can walk everywhere and are fed by everybody.
When we finish the ride, we head towards the Red Fort.
The red sandstone walls of the massive Red Fort rise 33 meters above the clamour of Old Delhi as a reminder of the magnificent power and pomp of the Mughal emperors. The walls, built in 1638, were designed to keep out invaders.
Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, at Raj Ghat, deservs a visit, even a quick one.
We stopped here for few minutes and we realize how much this big man is still loved and admired by many people.
Not far from there there is the India Gate, very similar to Arc de Triomphe, it commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I.
In front of that we had the chance to see the Parliament House, with its rounded shape and the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official home of the President of India. A peculiarity of the gate of this house: it’s a copy of the gate of Buckingham Palace in London.
After a nice indian lunch, with vegetables, cottage cheese and chicken, we visited Qutab Minar, a 73 meters high victory tower built in 1193 after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom.
Walking around the site on a hot afternoon was really terrible; we were roaming here and there to find some nice shadow where to stand while listening to our guide explaining the history and the architecture of the buildings.
The tower has five distinct storeys: the first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone.
At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. An inscription over its eastern gate provocatively informs that it was built with material obtained from demolishing ’27 Hindu temples’.
The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer.
We closed our day at the Bahai Temple, called Lotus Temple due to its shape.
This temple, standing in the middle on lush green gardens with nice fountains and water pools, was completed in 1986. It is made of pure white marble and adherents of any faith and religion are free to visit the temple and pray their own gods.
This is a peaceful place, where tolerance and coexistence is the main criterion, a good place to end the day, indeed!