We finally had a day to go sightseeing in Delhi. We got around the city on a luxury coach bus. Our first stop was at Qutb Minar. Qutb Minar is a 237 feet tall tower built as a cultural site. It is one of the best early examples of Indo-Islamic architecture.
Many ancient mosques and structures, better known as Qutb complex, surround it. It is accessible via metro, and can be printed on the metro cards. It is made of sandstone and is the tallest tower in India. It has a diameter of 14 meters on the bottom and 2 meters on the top. It was built about 900 years ago and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our second stop was to the Lotus Temple. As with all Baha’i Houses of Worship, it’s open to people from all walks of life. There are 27 petals on the roof of the building and at its highest point, it is 40 meters tall. The main hall is capable of holding 2,500 people. On Hindu days of worship, some 150,000 people visit it. It is the most visited tourist attraction in India, surpassing the Taj Mahal.
Our third stop was to Humayun’s Tomb. Humayun was a Mughal emperor. The complex was completed in 1571. Made of marble and sandstone, there has been an ongoing restoration process at the site.
Later on, we went to the National Museum. It was about an hour drive to the museum located near the Supreme Court, where Hillary Clinton was meeting with officials about the Mumbai blasts that happened last week.
The museum, which is the largest in India, was a very large typical museum-like building. It holds variety of articles ranging from pre-historic era to modern works of art. It had over 200,000 pieces of art and artifacts representing 5,000 years of Indian heritage and culture. We were rushed through the exhibits over the course of an hour. At the end, we watched three boring movies about theories of evolution of mankind. I had fallen asleep during the movie and was woken up by one of the students.
The day had finally come, what would probably be the highlight of my trip; visiting the Taj Mahal.
We left for the Taj Mahal from the school in a luxury coach at 7:30 a.m. The bus ride was about 4.5 hours and there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic. Rural India from Delhi to Agra is quite comparable to rural Bangladesh, except for the fact that there is a lot more of Hindu things.
We stopped at a McDonald’s near a gas field. Based on the Spicy McPaneer’s lack of dynamic taste; I decide to have a McChicken, French fries and a cold coffee. Once we arrived at the Taj Mahal complex, we had to load up into small battery-powered buses. I was shocked because it was quite eco-friendly.
There were also rickshaws, camel carts and horse carts to get people from the parking lot to the entrance. After that, we had to go through security, which was separated, by Indian Women, Foreign Women and Men. The security was as thorough as airport security, however, they did not spot that I had a roll of toilet paper under my shorts.
At first glance at the Taj Mahal, I was amazed by the grandness of it and the intricate details. It was also an ideal location for it to be built because of the Yamuna [Jamuna] river that gently flows behind it. We stuck around for about 2 hours. We took pictures and checked out the inside.
The next day, we went to Amity University in Noida. Noida is a newly developing suburb of Delhi; just like Gurgaon, Faridabad and other places. Amity University is run under the same administration as all of the branches of Amity International Schools.
While there, we heard a speech from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (provost) of the campus; give a tour of the campus. We had lunch at Domino’s Pizza. Amity University is a private university with campuses in Noida, Lucknow, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Gwalior as well as foreign campuses in Dubai and Mauritius. Volunteers for the 2010 Commonwealth Games were trained at Amity University’s various campuses. Amity Noida is an urban campus. Its infrastructure is impressive with amphitheater style air-conditioned classrooms, a library with over 100,000 books and hi-tech labs.
Hang on tight. This is to be continued.