The Marvels of Architecture
One of the prime reasons which, from as long as I can remember, always got me excited about visiting Delhi were these! The Architectural marvels of Delhi.
Spread across the city, the monuments had decorated the pages of numerous history books I’ve read as a child and something I still find appealing. Delhi has traditionally been the “favorite” capital city of most of the kingdoms which ruled the Northern part of our country.
An early-morning-start believing that I’ll try to cover most, if not all, of the monuments which Delhi had to offer.
The Qutub Complex
The magnificent stone tower looming out from a distance is a marvelous sight as you walk inside the complex. A cloudy wintery Delhi day in the midst of this monumental complex, which comprises of the Qutub Minar, Quwattul Islam Mosque, Khilji gate, and Iltutmish tomb standing adjacent create a historical retreat for anyone walking in.
From the Great Khilji to Qutub, and even Iltutmish, the individual contributions are evident in the architecture as they stand bearing testimony. It took almost 500 years for them to perfect the shape of the “Dome” or Ulti katori as they used to refer the dome as.
This wasn’t written anywhere but heard it from a really cute history teacher, who was explaining this to her students. Not to mention, I was one of them.
Beyond Qutub, there is the Humayun’s tomb. The Mughal architecture in their trademark style is beautifully captured. Built in the memory of Humayun and countless other Mughals, the tomb has earned the designation of being referred as a “tomb gallery” of sorts. Close to 160 Mughal royals have been buried here.
The tomb complex has 4 smaller tomb-like structures, with a gate used for shipments and labor from Persia in those times. Humayun’s tomb was built by Hamida Banu Begum. It also remains the first garden tomb monument in the Indian Subcontinent. The Char Baagh concept of gardens remains essential to the Persian architecture style as always. In my Jaipur travelogue, you can also see something similar.
There are mosques and smaller tomb-like structures inside the complex along with attached gardens. The entire complex is nothing but an ensemble of other smaller monuments.
Red Fort is huge. The Mughals were very detailed when it came to monuments and the interiors of the fort bring out this distinctiveness. Be it the numerous diwans or the hamams, or the even the Sheesh mahal, bears testimony to the royal life that was lived.
The Zeenat mahal has now been turned into a mini-museum, which displays letters (farman) and clothes, to even utensils used during the period to artillery.
Jama Masjid area is always bursting with people. A fine exhibit of overpopulated of this old city. The Mosque has been reduced to one exhibit of this problem. The lane opposite to the Mosque is lined with eateries, kashmiri clothes merchants, and hordes of small shops and vendors.
The architecture of Jama Masjid, like other Indian Monuments, is entrenched into the heads and apart from the security entrance and the gareebi around, remains the giant mosque as I had pictured. Ended up offering my Namaz and then headed off for food.
I had my breakfast and also experienced something wonderful- a small eatery distributing free food to the homeless. Not just in the one I was eating, but across the lane in many of the eating joints. There’s so much of visible poverty which disturbs you with their plight. And a multitude of similar stories visible in the vicinity of Red Fort and Jama Masjid area.
I also went to India Gate and even though it is not architecturally satiating, it is a symbolically to what is referred to as ‘New Delhi’. The thing that excited me here were these carts put up by differently-abled people.
They had these mechanical ovens from which all sorts of puffs and buns were served. It is great to see them empowered.
Masjid Khairul Manzil
On my way to the Humayun’s Tomb, it was time for Zohar prayers and hence I stopped here at this mosque. The picture is intriguing, right? This is one old mosque which hasn’t been revamped or any attention paid to it.
The Wazu-khana, where an elderly gentleman is making wazu doesn’t have water and one needs to draw it from the nearby well. The look and smile on the few present inside the mosque made me realize they knew I’m from somewhere else. Strange how looks can speak.
This prayer timing board hanging outside on the tree was an adorable sight.
Khairul Islam mosque was commissioned by Maham Anga. She was the foster mother of Akbar when Humayun (his father) was in exile along with his mother.
The interiors of the mosque are not in the best of condition than the famished look of the building outside.
There was renovation work underway in the adjacent complex and I do hope certain care is taken for this as well. It was built in 1561!
I covered all of it in just one day and definitely could have spent a lot of time around, especially in the Qutub Complex and Humayun’s Tomb. There’s so much to learn and refresh what you’ve learned in history books.
I’ve always been intrigued by the Mughal architecture and Delhi is one of the best showcases of that heritage.