Thursday, March 25, 2010

Delhi as the Accidental Tourist Destination

Thanks to the one perk we have on the job, Leave Travel Concession,
here we are in Delhi to visit family, and also, as tourists. Yes, it is a fabulous
tourist destination, provided you have a comfortable family pad to return to. Or of course you have lots of money to afford hotel accomodation, which comes in all varieties. Tourism is rendered much more effective thanks to the metro which now reaches many destinations, or at any rate always reaches Connaught Place where the metro stop is called Rajiv Chowk. We visited Qutb Minar, and I learnt that the oldest mosque in the sub-continent due to Alauddin Khalji (I remember spelling it Khilji in all school examinations, but political correctness must have taken over) is in the same complex, Humayun's tomb and Lodhi gardens Tuesday. The city is really and I kid you not, full of history in every corner and every pore. We were clearly not the only ones to think of tourism as we ran into Raghu Rangarajan and extended family at Humayun's tomb! Today was the day for the Jama Masjid which is impressive for its sheer size. We walked up to the top of one of the minars, about 130 steps, not counting the 60 or so you have to climb up before you get to the minar, up a narrow spiral staircase, to reach the top from where you have a view of Shahjahanabad. Then a short rickshaw ride to the Red Fort which is also magnificent. There are actully three museums in there, and the entrance to all these costing virtually nothing. Then on to the National Museum just off India Gate on Janpath which is as good a museum as any in the world. But one was already too tired to enjoy these. The trick is not to pack too many things into the same day. And of course, you want to pick the time of the year when the weather is pleasant. Although today was alright, in general it has been 7 degrees hotter than `normal'. Good luck to all of you who want to visit the City of Djinns. And I have not included in this so many other sights such as the Lotus Temple, Birla Mandir, Malai Mandir, National Gallery of Modern Art, Purana Qila, the zoo... (OLO, have I left anything out?).


Rahul Basu said...

At long last the HS returns to educate itself....

Indeed there is much to see though you seem to have done a comprehensive survey. You have missed all of Lutyen's Delhi (?) -- the majestic rise of Raisina Hill culminating in North and South Block and the Presidential Palace, Parliament House and the wide tree lined avenues of Delhi Babudom regrettably, India Gate and Raj Path and Janpath (the 'street where I lived').

I didn't see any mention of Chandni Chowk though I guess if you visited Jama Masjid you must have seen some of it. Another site is the Hauz at Hauz Khas - the enormous water body or tank after which Hauz Khas is named. (There are a bunch of small art galleries there you could check out).

Would you also not like to see St. Stephen's College the place that has nurtured the likes of Amitav Ghosh, the redoubtable Shashi Tharoor, Ram Guha, to say nothing of Zia-ul Haq and OLO himself. And where Deenbandhu C. F. Andrews used to teach.

Anant said...

OLO: thank you for the comment. We need something to look forward to for our next visit after all. It was terribly hot and so there was only this much we could do. We should try and visit in November or February next time, I suppose. Debchou sent me a mail with many more suggestions which reads:

You missed the oldest extant ruins (or at least oldest
historically verified one), namely the city of the
Tomars/Chauhans, the largest fort (Tughlakabad),
the Siri ruins, Hauz Khas, Salimgarh (next to Lal Qila),
Safdarjung's Tomb (admittedly not as impressive as
Humayun's), the many interesting places hidden away
in the nooks of Shahjehanabad,.... Add to it many places
of worship (of various denominations) and the gastronomic
temples !

Rahul Basu said...

Debchou will of course be 'different' but I agree that Tughlaqabad fort is not always on people's itinerary and is worth visiting. However some of the others like Prithviraj Chauhan's city is in bad shape and its historical provenance is not quite clear.

About gastronomical places I did not say anything since that was not the point of the post. However, I would strongly recommend the Chana-Kulcha at Bengali Market (Nathu Sweets) -- it's unlike anything you have ever had and I have spent years unsuccessfully trying to reproduce their taste. There are numerous other places but not necessarily for good Tambram vegetarians like you. (though I still think that Madras hotel on the outer circle of CP (does it exis?) does a better job with idlis and dosas than local restaurants here in Chennai though I believe I am now teetering close to blasphemy...)

And while I am about it, please correct Lutyen's to Lutyens' in my earlier comment.