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Published: March 17th 2013
This front of a haveli (merchant's house) gives you an idea of how beautiful the building must once have been.
On Thursday afternoon, we arrived in Mandawa. The town in the north of Rajasthan is not as touristy as many cities in the South and East of the province yet, which I quite liked. A tour guide took us to some of the havelis (merchants' houses) there. They are 100 to 120 years old and used to be beautifully painted and decorated. However, they are not well-maintained and thus rapidly declining. But still you get an idea of the beauty of the buildings and the wealth of their owners.
The next day, we spent six hours on the road again to get back to Delhi. So in the afternoon, we were more than happy to walk a little bit. We caught the Metro to Connaught Place, which is arranged radially around a circular garden. The arcaded buildings there contain fancy and very expensive shops. When we got hungry, we found ourselves another roof top restaurant in Paharganj, the Delhi backpacker "ghetto". The food was very good, and we got a kind of bird show for free: on a nearby building, there was a man who had trained a group of pigeons to follow his commands while flying. Pretty amazing! After
dinner, we took a walk through the bazar in Paharganj and then caught a motor rickshaw back to our hotel.
The next morning, Singh picked us up for our big Delhi tour. We started with Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, a temple dedicated to Lakshmi, the godess of well-being where many Hindus go in the morning to pray for a good day. After that, we looked at the government buildings that house Parliament, the Home and Finance Ministeries as well as the Ministery of Foreign Affairs. Then we walked around India Gate, a war memorial that commemorates the 70,000 Indian and British soldiers that died in the First World War and during the 1919 Afghan and 1971 Indo-Pakistan Wars. The area is very clean and superbly maintained, a pleasant surprise. Just as well kept are the Memorial Ghats along the river Yamuna, including the one for Mahatma Gandhi.
Next, we went to the Red Fort, built by Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor who had also built the Taj Mahal, in the 17th century. This fort is more a palace than a castle, with a wonderful park in which there are many pavilions and little buildings containing mosques, the halls of
Here you can see very well the decline of the once more than beautiful buildings.
public and private audience, the royal apartments, and so on. From there, a cycle rickshaw took us to the Chandni Chowk, which used to be the principal street in Shah Jahan's new capital (at the time called Shahjahanabad). Today it is a maze of shops and workshops. The nearby Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) was closed, unfortunately, because we came around noon, so we could only get an impression of it by looking at it from the outside.
After lunch, we visited Humayun's tomb, a complex of buildings constructed by Humayun, the second Mughal emperor, in the 16th century. This tomb is World Heritage and another example of a well-maintained place. We continued to a modern building: the Lotus Temple. It is a nine-sided building that reminds me of the Sydney Opera House and was built in 1980 by the Baha'i, followers of the Persian religion founder Baha'u'llah. The last thing we could fit into the day was a visit to the Qutb Minar Complex, a cluster of minarets, mosques, and tombs built in the 12th and 13th century. We watched our last sunset for this holiday there.
We arrived at the airport and said goodbye to Singh, our
The Lakshmi Temple.
driver, who had done a great job. If anyone is looking for a driver who knows Rajasthan very well, let me know, I've got his contact data and can really recommend him as a driver!
It was only eight in the evening when we got to the airport, and our flight did not leave until three in the morning, but fortunately, time passed quickly, and I must say that Indira Gandhi is really one of the nicer ones I have seen so far.
We left Delhi at a temperature of around 30°C, and our extremely bumpy flight took us to Frankfurt, where the temperature was around zero and where it was snowing heavily so that our plane to Hamburg had to be de-iced before we could take off. Hamburg greeted us with the same temperature, but at least some sun and a blue sky. Doesn't matter. We built up some resources of sun, blue sky and warm temperatures during the last two and a half weeks!
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