My India – 7 of 7

An optimized route meant we were able to see everything we wanted today. We started with Qutb Minar, the tallest minaret in the world: all built in masonry, its sheer size tells you what the use of steel has done to the art of tall buildings. And – talking of which – check out the pictures of the Iron Pillar, which stands rustless since centuries, and the stump that was supposed to become a minaret twice as tall as the one you see, had it not been for the death of its sponsor.

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We then moved to the Lotus Temple, built by the followers of the Bahá’ì faith:

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And to the Tomb of Humayun, a mausoleum built by a mourning Queen for the death of her husband. Not quite as extreme as the Taj Mahal, built later, the inspiration is however similar, the love of symmetry absolutely evident. It is obvious that other well-off (but not quite as well-off as an Emperor) attached their own, smaller mausoleums to that of the royalties, while other had their sepulchres added in teh chambers of the main mausoleum which in fact is called the City of the Moghuls because of its over 100 dignitaries’ tombs it contains.

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Last stop of our visit was the Jama Masjid mosque – built by the same Emperor who also built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, Shah Jahan, the mosque is immense, although not at all the largest in the world. However I must confess that its main attraction for me was the sprawling bazaar at its foot, a close cousin of which no doubt must have inspired the Merchants in the Temple episode in the Gospels.

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We concluded our day at the huge Connaught Place market, where we bought a bunch of nice presents. This was a particularly instructive stop, because as we were looking for stuff, two times youngsters offered direction to this or that without any evident form of retribution; perhaps they were scouts from stores, but they both were a little too well dressed for this.

Anyway, the second one pointed us to the Nirula Handicrafts Bazar, a five story handicraft market located at 1, Doctor’s Lane, Gole Market, (5 minutes tutktuk ride from Connaught Place) which I highly recommend for everything from jewellery, carpets, silk and pashmina shawls, wood or silver carvings – you name it they have it.

It may sound intimidating to enter such a labirynthic complex on your own, but is was not at all – we bought what we wanted, got sold something else, said no to something else, but always in a good-natured way: a carpet merchant invited us to visit his store and when I said no, he asked if I was having a good time. I said yes and asked about him; he humorously replied his day would have been better if I had visited his shop.


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