Three Hours in Delhi- What to do?

Had some work this morning in Delhi, and had to wait for three hours. How could I not go place hopping?

My place was Lajpat nagar, and a quick view at google told me that there were things nearby to visit, and I took an auto, for my first destination- Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, where lies the safu saint. The dargah has a crowded neighborhood, and as I proceeded to the shrine, I was stopped by many, and coaxed for buying something. The narrow road leads to the shrine, which is visited by many across the country. There was little security, no frisking. As I entered the complex, the first thing to catch my eyes was the grave of Amir Khusro, a famous poet. Then, as there was a big line to enter Khwaja saheb’s grave, I did a round from outside, and sat there. The place was similar to Haji Ali or Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s Dargah. Sufis believe in God, as a friend, a lover, and to love any other human is loving ‘him’. The lyrics of Arziyaan- a song from Delhi-6 sum up the philosophy. Quawwals were singing, and after some while, I left, and walked to the world heritage site nearby- Humayun’s Tomb.

Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor of India. Under him, the Mughal Rule took strong roots and spread in the Indian Sub-Continent. After being defeated at the battle of Kannauj, by Sher Shah Suri, he took refuge in Iran, and then returned via Herat and Kandhar.

When he died after a fall from his library at Purana Quila, his Begum, or the queen, wished to build a mausoleum in his memory. Akbar became the next Ruler of India, and work was started for a magnificent tomb to be built on the banks of Yamuna, near the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin. The Tomb was built in 8 years and is the first example of Mughal Architecture in India. The complex also has graves of many mughals, most of them unknown. The place has beautiful gardens and is being restored, in collaboration with Aga Khan Trust. It is well maintained but less visited. Here, I was seriously delighted to see how our monuments were being restored, and specially in Delhi, you can still find all the cities that existed, in continuation for past 1800 years. The ruins still adorn the corners, roads and jungles of this city, which is our capital.  Also, I thought about the destruction of standing Buddhist statues in Bamian by Taliban. What a waste of precious history, by fanatics.

Yamuna must’ve been very dear to the Mughals, as they built many cities on its banks. Also, I was pleased to know about the tombs of Mughals.

Babar – Lahore- A simple tomb without a ceiling, with white marble frames.

Humayun- Delhi- Humayun’s Tomb is a world heritage site.

Akbar – Sikandara- Agra- his tomb is also magnificent.

Jahangir- In Lahore, without a ceiling, but impressive.

Shah Jahan- Taj Mahal houses him, alongside his wife.

Aurangzeb- The simplest, in Khuldabad, Aurangabad. Built with 26 rupees that he earned by weaving caps. No ceiling, no walls. An ordinary grave.

The later Mughals are buried in Delhi, many of them in Himayun’s Tomb. The last Mughal- Bahadur Shah Zafar could not die in his homeland, and is buried near his prison in Mandalay, Myanmar.

India has preserved its history well. From pre-historic caves in Bhimbetka, the Harappan sites in Dholavira and kalibangan, various ancient temples, to the palaces and relics, of both Hindu and Muslim rulers, and even the structures made by British- all can be found here, co-existing with the high rises, and the slums- and there is no better place in India than Delhi if a single city has to be chosen.

Amidst all these thoughts, I left the complex, after taking a round around it. In the central sanctum, was the grave of Humayun. There was peace, and when one visits these places, the realization comes, that it does not matter who you are, you are not greater than TIME.

Also, just one more Mughal Tomb to be visited in India- Sikandara, where, I’ll meet Akbar.

Next Stop- National Science Centre- I did not realize but I was very near the Purana Quila, but today, my destination was the National Science Centre, located opposite to the Zoological Garden, in Pragati Maidan Complex.

There were hardly 45 min before I had to be back, but still, I gave it a try, and got entry into the science centre. The attempt to bring science to the common man, especially children, is an honest one, but little has been done to take it forward. Set up during Rajiv Gandhi’s time, this place attracts many children, and their parents, and at times, people like me, but the displays here were the same 20 years back- most of them. Science is an ever changing field, and needs innovations every day. The place has a huge potential, and as it was a Sunday, it was crowded by its patrons.

I took a round, and realized that it was not possible to come out without having a look at the whole place. Very good idea.

I loved this idea, and took a round of the place, and by the time I came down, it was already late, and I rushed to Lajpat Nagar, and then, back to the station to catch a train.

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