Ladakh trip Day 1: 10th July – (Mumbai – Delhi)

This is a brief account of my vacation. By blogging about this I hope to archive my experiences for informative purposes. I also intend to add some reflections, if my mind is able to get rid of unwanted junk.

We catch an early morning flight from Mumbai and arrive at Delhi by 8:15am. The agenda for today is to explore Delhi in a touristy manner and visit places that we never got a chance to see. After grabbing a lazy breakfast from the airport we set off to our first destination of the day – ‘Qutub Minar’. On one hand while we can wonder at the tallest structure made out of brick minarets, I realized that not every person would be sensitive to its rich history. From the continuous attempt of three different Muslim emperors to complete the structure, to the constant struggle of establishing the supremacy of monotheistic religions over the rich Hindu culture of India – Qutub stands as a rich depository of information for historians and architecture enthusiasts. I also got to learn about Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, a Sufi mystic who preached equality and brotherhood. Thus opening up a crucial sense of understanding of Islam in that period. One of the most superb things to do while visiting these heritage sites is to listen to the audio guide. The current version of audio guide at Qutub has a well narrated script that warmly captures the interactions between a little girl, the kings and the saint.

Our second destination happens to be the Lotus Temple – the Bahai house of worship. I like the way how they call it as ‘house of worship’ – distinctly separating the residential and the reveration aspect of the Almighty within the context of a sacred space. We reached this place by mid-afternoon and were indeed lucky to witness a prayer. Like most of the religious monuments in India, one is expected to remove their shoes and enter the temple even in the scorching heat. And once you enter the temple – apart from the architectural marvel that it is only one thing captures your attention : silence. I have always found it fascinating to observe the uncomfortable feeling that human beings exhibit when it comes to being silent. Amongst the hundreds of people that accompanied us into the temple, most of them were restlessly searching in vain for a ‘wonder-object’ that would be visible inside. Few of us coughed restlessly and others simply couldn’t resist the temptation of speaking. Needless to say, not many people are able to spend more than 10 minutes inside the temple. They enter and leave this space with clockwork precision, simply because the no divine object meets the naked eye and silence is not necessarily a vitue we would like to cherish. I personally spent a good thirty minutes inside the temple in total silence. I was lucky to be part of the afternoon worship. The lay leaders came in front of the podium and recited portions from the Bhagwad Gita, Bible, Quran, Guru Granth Sahib and other sacred texts. The grammar of belief propogated by all these texts forces an individual to look at the Bahai religion with a renowned sense of respect and admiration. Sight seeing and little bit of soul searching – my day was made!

Then we did the usual ‘Dilli Darshan’ by visiting India Gate, Rashtrapathi Bhavan,etc. We also did some shopping (‘we’ strictly implies the woman). In between all this we even managed to eat from a ‘wannabe-fancy’ restaurant that had 32 footballs hanging from the ceiling. I think they could have also put some efforts in making their average food taste better! Anyways… we reached Janpath to board our bus to Manali.

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~ by rb on July 26, 2010.

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