In a four-fold piece of paper, New Delhi should be jotted around the first folded part. It was day 7 or 8 of our 25-day peregrination around India when we arrived at this capital city. Still reeling from a hangover of amazement developed by our feasting of the eyes over the sight of Taj Mahal in Agra, I expect to be taken aback by New Delhi the same way Kolkata blew me away with its tremendous amount of street activities and noise.
The first place we visited in New Delhi after the market and the food stalls near Moustache Hostel was Qutb Minar. A place circled in the map handed to us by a staff of the hostel. We thought it was an interesting place to see and since it was less than 100 Rupees away by tuk-tuk, we decided to take a sidetrip there the next day. Much to my surprise we were greeted by this soaring tower that boasts of a UNESCO World Heritage Site distinction. A recognition that in my book, suggests a stamp of a 'must-see'.
The 73 meter high Minar is packed with a rich history and add the surrounding equally historic ancient and medieval ruins, the Qutb compound screams of a #throwback vibe that would please every tomb raider, history and archaeological junkies alike . Originally built as an Islamic monument in 1194 by Qutab-ud-din-Aibak in the immediate aftermath of the debacle that befell Delhi's last Hindu Kingdom, it is now considered as one of the finest monuments in India.
The circling patterns dominating the minar is decorated with intricate sculptures and verses from the Qur'an. The five storey that comprises the Minar from the ground up is divided by its unique construction materials with the first three being made of red sandstone while marble and red sandstone fills the fourth and fifth levels.
The place was teeming by mostly local visitors who are friendly to the obvious foreign travelers. They would always flash a smile following the trademark Indian head-bobble nod each time I catch them eye to eye. The cloudy skies over New Delhi that time and the flocks of birds flying overhead against the Minar tower made up for an eerie but majestic scenery. Nevertheless, everything seems to appear photogenic around you, especially the women adorned in their colorful traditional garbs.
Much has been said about the primary symbolism of the Minar. According to the New Delhi Tourism website "The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer."
An afternoon spent here gives visitors a truly solid experience. There are also other monuments and tombs located inside the Qutb complex which will spawn one's interest. The size of the compound is bigger than I expected, as I found myself charting my own space away from the crowds at one of the ruin structures inside, while Aileen as usual was somewhere else snapping impressive photographs. We always lose each other during our Fort and other landmark incursions in India.
Over-all the sidetrip to Qutb Minar far exceeded my expectation. I have never heard nor read about it before and what was supposed to be a time filler before we met Prachi in a nearby artist's village - turned out a far better experience and a chance for me to cross out another UNESCO World Heritage Site from my list.
After satisfying my self from what I've seen and the new information I read, I sat at one of the benches where funnily, a trio of squirrels are fighting over a nut just behind my feet. It's my first time to see squirrels in real life at Varanasi and Agra before that, ordinarily I would let out a 'wow' and instantly try to capture it on camera for a close up shot, but this is India I muttered to myself, I better be prepared to be 'wowed' all the time.
Absolutely and most definitely I did. And at day 7 or was it day 8 of a total 25 days around India, I remember just sitting there and looking forward with so much gleeful excitement over the coming days. Oh, how I wish I could go back to that time and relive the whole India experience once again. But hey, I can always go back and bring my girlfriend next time.