Even after ten days of visiting Mogul architecture, we wanted more of it. So on our first morning we headed for Humayun’s Tomb. Once inside we understood why the Farsi word for this place is heaven. Built in the mid 16th century by his widow, this Mausoleum brought Persian architecture to Delhi. Majestically it rests on a platform, overlooking the huge walled-in garden. In the midst of Delhi’s traffic jam, an oasis of green and tranquility. It was so tempting to stay, away from the heat and hassle of Delhi’s street… We were already dead tired after wondering around this huge complex.
But there was so much else we wanted to see! And Hazrat Nizam-ud-din-Dargah was worth the effort. Once we dove into the small alleys leading up to this hidden treasure, we were full of energy again, all eager to explore. A maze of little stalls, all selling devotional objects, ends at the tomb of Sufi Saint Nizam-ud-din Chishti. Once you shopped rosebuds (on strings or in little bowls), white kernel and small blankets, you are ready to enter the tomb. Heidi, although wearing a headscarf, was not allowed inside, so it was down to Gilles, wearing a borrowed Muslim head cover, to spread the rose petals over the tomb, and leave the other offerings, plus some money. The sum was neatly noted down in a big book and we just hoped that it was spent on the free medication that was also handed out in this place by some Muslim charity.
The atmosphere was very relaxed, musicians with a weird looking accordion were entertaining the crowd, young students arrived for lectures (all girls without scarf) and there was a constant coming and going of large families. We even found a great souvenir, a hand painted Sura from the Koran written in a snail-like spiral. All we worried about was finding again the shop where we had left our shoes…
Gandhi Smriti is the memorial where Mahatma Ghandi was assassinated in 1948. His last footsteps were meticulously reconstructed and a shrine erected on the very spot where he was killed in the garden. Inside the museum is almost an archive of anything regarding India’s colonial history and Ghandi’s life, the life of his family, every single known quote, photos… very interesting but a bit overwhelming.
Most impressive was the interactive museum upstairs, the most sophisticated we have ever seen. It is so very well done, full of hands-on that Heidi wished her students to experience to this great way of learning history. A young guide offered his assistance and noticing our frail state, he concentrated on the most important displays. Definitely a place to come back to!
We had so many recommendations of places to eat, but were too tired to stray too far from where we were. One was Nizam’s, a great place for lunch, full of Indian office workers.
Despite our exhaustion, there was a bit of strength left for some clothes shopping. Fabindia has excellent, but expensive stuff. Actually Heidi was much happier with the clothes she bought in a tiny shops for a fraction of the price.