Dallying in Delhi
After a lifetime of reading about India, admiring its history and art and culture and food, wondering how I’d like it if I actually ever physically visited, and generally allowing my imagination to linger long and often on this corner of the world which has been birthplace to many great religions, cradle of many important cultures and historical developments, and so on…well, smw, slt is simply delighted to announce we’ve made it to India and shall be showing you some of our impressions of this subcontinent in the coming months, if all goes as hoped & planned. At the moment we happen to be hanging out in Delhi waiting for the right moment to travel onward to Manipur, where we expect to be working for the next period of time; were you to chance a quick search through Reuters or BBC News online with “Manipur” as your search word, you might get some idea of events that might be extending my chance to tour Delhi a bit. We shall see. In the meantime, I have tried to make something of time in Delhi, as the photos below (classically touristic i.e. without too many real people, for which I apologize; but I’ve not yet had time to get a sense of do’s and dont’s for photographers in India) will attest. Enjoy. And be well, and enjoy the last of northern summer, or the waning southern winter, as may be the case.
…yes, we complain about how much text you write, Paul…but still, what’s with the minimalism? Will you tell us what we’re seeing, I hear you asking. Very well, I will tell you: above and below, (too many, no doubt) shots in and around the complex of Humayun’s Tomb. Humayun, I think, was the father of the guy who built Taj Mahal; several other folks (including, apparently, his favorite barber) are buried with him in the complex, the impetus for building which came, one understands, from his main wife. I admit up front that I’ve been too lazy to really read up on the history, but you can search Wikipedia on your own for more info; pretty much all the stuff I’m showing you here is Mughal-era and colonial-era, i.e. not at all the oldest of stuff, but from some of the cultural and historical golden ages here. As you scan further down, a section introduced by an angular photo of a tall and lovely column shows you many views of Qutb Minar and the complex around it, which also includes a tall iron column which is much older and a good example of the heights to which pre-Mughal metalwork has climbed in India. It was once topped by an image of Garuda, Vishnu’s carrier, and faced a temple to Vishnu. In this part of the world, they often re-purpose art and architecture from earlier eras, rather than painting over, melting down, or otherwise destroying it. (For more examples, refer my 2007 entries from Cambodia and Sri Lanka.)
These are all shots from Qutb Minar and the complex around it. Next down, after one final shot of the two tall columns (Qutb Minar and the tall iron column together in one shot), is a small array of photos taken around India Gate (built as a monument to Indians killed in WWI but now, I believe, representing those lost in later wars as well; like the American tomb of the unknowns, India Gate includes an eternal flame which is present but hard to make out in these photos), and around the government secretariats – ministry buildings and the President’s palace, all built between WWI and WWII and designed by Luttyens, who was trying to merge best elements of British and Indian architecture. After that, shots taken in, around and from the top of Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India and the last great architectural gem built by Shah Jahan (one of the Mughal greats, and perhaps [?] the man behind Taj Mahal — I’ve only been here five days and busy with other things, give me some time!), as well as the Red Fort, another imposing and impressive historic building that dominates old-town Delhi. Finally, two shots from the modern Lotus Temple, a 1980-81 Bahai’i construction that is certainly impressive.
The intricacy of some of the stonework on these monuments and buildings is really wonderful.