Thursday, January 31, 2013

Magnificent monuments of Delhi & Agra - By Nethianathan Krishna Kutty

Inner Engineering and Architectural Engineering

This time my journey is to the northern part of India, New Delhi. My purpose is to attend a 3 day 'Inner Engineering' program with Sadhguru in Delhi. The program is about creating inner well being as opposed to chasing for fulfillment externally. I would strongly recommend for people that wish to look at life at a different perspective.  Besides attending the program, I took this opportunity to visit nearby places. I covered Delhi and Agra. I was supposed to go to Rishikesh / Haridwar but plans changed along the way as Maha Kumbha Mela festival was scheduled to begin on 27th Jan 2013. The festival is expected to lure 85 million people!.. I changed the plan the moment in got the info.

As I was making transit in Chennai before flying to Delhi, I managed to squeeze some time to get Lord Balaji's darshan before the 'Chennai - Delhi' flight. This is my 3rd visit to Tirupathi and this was the longest wait to obtain His darshan. I waited in the queue for 7hrs despite paying INR300 for Special Darshan ticket. 15 seconds seeing Him was worth the wait!.

Inner Engineering with Sadhguru

Sadhguru , a realised master, mystic and yogi. Being in the same hall with this spiritual master is truly an awesome experience which cannot be explained by words. A realized Guru, full of compassion towards the well being of man kind. You have to experience it yourself.


India Gate

End of that week was India's Republic Day, so,  there were rehearsals going on near India Gate and it was closed. Somehow, we managed to get to the closest point to get a good glimpse and many clicks of India Gate. When I mentioned about the closest point, I'm talking about a good 9 to 10 km of walk from New Delhi metro station to get to the point. It was a tiring day indeed.

Rehearsal for Republic Day 

Qutub Minar

Took metro from New Delhi to Qutub Minar. At ticketing counter, I handed over INR500 for 2 person as tickets for foreigners is INR250 each. The ticketing officer inquired about our origin and recommended us to purchase the local tickets which cost INR10 each. Of course he made INR200 for himself but it was a win win situation. At the entrance, we told that we are from Chennai and we were good to go. Believe the builders had a quite an unusual desire to build the tallest minarets. There was an incomplete minaret that was supposedly be twice the size of Qutub Minar. It was deserted as the life of the aspirant fell short.

I would strongly recommend that anyone who plans to go around Delhi for sight seeing to NOT plan it on Monday! The Lotus temple was closed. Red Fort was closed. Hop On Hop Off was non operational on Mondays. Thanks to Fuji HS10 for its capability to zoom in, we manage to capture some images of the Lotus temple from outside of its compound! Reaching here was made convenient thanks to the metro which was nearly as good as the tubes in London. It was easy to get everywhere in Delhi this way.

Jama Mosque

Quite a big mosque, but architecture wise, nothing spectacular. We paid INR100 to go up the minaret to get a city view. We managed to take some close up pictures of the Red Fort from here as it was closed due to Republic Day. Entrance was free but INR300 for camera which was way too expensive. Around this place are slumps. Crowded, dirty, people living on pavements and lots of beggars.

Chandni Chowk

The rikshawalla brought us in through the aisles of shops. Its a narrow path, filled with people and yet the rikshawalla weather us through it. Though is was a dreadful moment, but definitely one to be remembered. Every possible area's are occupied as everyone is trying in every way to make a living. Chandni Chowk is an area surrounded with slums. Not a nice sight and certainly not a place to bring family.

Akshardam Temple

This was a magnificent temple. It was simply mind blowing. With musical fountains and fine architecture, this is a masterpiece an Indian craftsmen can be proud of. 80% marble stones inside the temple crafted to perfection. It's  very well managed and organized. They have canteen, shops selling books, posters and prayer items. You should be there around 4pm to appreciate the fine craftsmanship and be there till evening to witness the musical fountain and the incredible view of the temple when they turn on the lights! Unfortunately no camera's were allowed in, so we only managed to take pictures from outside. This picture was taken from metro station which was 1km away from the temple.


Agra Fort

Agra Fort is similar to Red Fort but far more smaller. This is the place where Shahjahan spent his last 7 years under house arrest by his son. Shah Jahan was held under house arrest when his son got to know that Shah Jahan has instructed to build the Black Taj, just opposite of Taj Mahal across Yamuna river. Shah Jahan spent close to 40mil rupees to build the Taj Mahal and this had a significant financial impact. It was said that duirng that time, with 1 rupee, you will be able to have a slave for a lifetime. Knowing that Shah Jahan is building the second Taj, the son decided that its time for him to put a stop.   Shah Jahan was said having poor eyesight and throughout the 7 years of house arrest, he had to see Taj Mahal via a mirror.. tragic!

Baby Taj

Taj Mahal

The grand Taj. We were hoping for a good weather so that we could take some nice photos of the Taj. We spend about 7 hours to cover the beauty of this grand monument. When we were about to leave the Taj, my buddy told me that even Shah Jahan wouldn't have spend 7 hours in a day admiring the Taj! We basically covered every inch of this magnificent Mughal architecture. No wonder it is known as one of the universally admired masterpieces in the world.

At Hotel Host, you can dine at the rooftop while watching the beautiful Taj.

Food was basically prata's n other breads. We ate at hotels, but we did try the ones by the roadside too. Somehow, we did not get any delhi belly. 

We did not shop much as there was nothing appealing to us.

Beware of scammers. There were people trying to sell us high priced tickets and such. We usually discuss on the fare before taking any cab ride.

Within Delhi : Metro - It was efficient. Clean and worth to take the metro to move around.
Delhi - Agra : Train - Prebooked tickets earlier. There were meals in the train. It was a smooth ride.

Thats all for this trip.

- Since my wife's travel map is dusty (as she was informed by Tripadvisor), I decided to save her blog from being dusty too - Nethianathan Krishna Kutty