It was Tuesday morning, while most people shove their head back in their pillows (second day of the week, you know the urge for extra sleep, don’t you?), I, for a change got up early, got dressed all Indian in a red long skirt and a black top, wore my earrings and bangles, applied mascara, brushed my hair and waited. Waited for my phone to buzz with a text message or a call or any notification indicating a green chit. A green chit? Yes, a green chit. A green chit signalling that the date is on. Yes, I was going on a date. No, it was not a date with any guy (sigh). Instead, I was going to meet the Delhi monuments, to fall in love with them. While the people of our age usually choose air conditioned malls and cafes, I chose Qutub Minar and the Lal Quila (Red Fort).
To be honest? Due to my other commitments, I never really thought of them, let alone visit them. It was they who approached me via UNESCO and my dear friend, Priya Chaudhary. It was she who asked me to accompany her and I said “Yeah! Let’s do it!!”. I am glad I agreed.
Priya and I met at the metro station around 10 am and we were set to go. She was looking perfect as always in a blue top, a wrap around skirt, a red, oxidised neck piece and long earrings. I guess it was more of a double date we had with the monuments. Lol.
After an approx 1.5 hours metro ride, we got off at Qutub Minar metro station and searched for an auto. The auto driver told us that if we agreed, he would first take us to Mahalakshmi Central Cottage Industries (which is is the leading source for Indian handicrafts created by skilled Indian Artists & Masters of Crafts) and then to Qutub Minar in Rs 60. We thought for a while and later, agreed.
First stop : Mahalakshmi Central Cottage Industries, Ladosarai
It was like any other shopping mart divided into 3 sections – Jewelry, Garments, Home decor & furnishing. We were greeted there by a guide (whose name I don’t remember). He lead us to the garments department and showed us different types of printed kurtis. The interesting fact was that no machinery and artificial colors were used in manufacturing the garments. It was all handmade, techniques like block painting and natural colors were used to make them. The price range was satisfactory. It started from Rs 250 and the designer garments were maximum for Rs 1500 or so. We bought a kurti from there and then proceeded to the jewelry section. (Because, OXIDISED ARTIFICIAL JEWELRY!!) However, the price range was a bit high considering the fact that the same design and style of jewelry is available in other markets of Delhi at relatively cheap rates. After a mere half an hour stoppage, we finally headed towards Qutub Minar. 🙂
Second stop : Qutub Minar
As we entered Qutub Minar, Priya took out her camera to capture the entrance of the Minar. And later, she directed me to certain spots where she asked me to pose so that she could click my photos. (Yes, I’ve got such caring personal photographers in my life.) As I was posing and she was clicking, a tourist came and asked me if I could pose for her camera as well. She told me and Priya that we looked beautiful in our attires and wanted to get our snaps. (YES, THAT HAPPENED!!!)
Here’s the proof, bro.
After the unexpected ‘photoshoot’, I asked her from where she was and she told us that she is from Korea. With all the *I want to travel too* starry eyes, I asked her if she’s a traveller, and she said “yes, I am.” How cool!!!
Yes, this incident made me go straight to cloud 9. Later, when I got back down to Earth, we proceeded.
A few more poses and clicks, we finally decided to capture the famous minar as well. The minar is very high in stature. With fences around it so that no one can climb it. The lush green gardens and long happy trees with the brown and magnificently old minar and its area went perfectly together.
Priya, clicking photos for her UNESCO article and gig. Pretty cool!
We wandered a little more here and there, seeing tourists pouring in in large number with Indian tour guides going about the place.
We finally stopped at a place to get few more clicks. (We got no control)
Just a few seconds after this click, the guard blew off his whistle and asked me to get down. (Embarassing enough but worth it.)
We also came across this cute little tourist named Rohan who was too restless to get a stable photo!
His mom is beautiful. Isn’t she?
After a while, as Priya wandered a little more to get some perfect shots, I sat down for a minute to make a checklist in my pocket journal.
Qutub Minar was commisioned by Qutub al-Din Aibak, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate in 1199 AD. (Source: a little self knowledge and the information given there on rock pillars.) The sun shone above the Minar giving it a silhouette look. The heat was starting to become strong, however the breeze helped a little.
After a final click of us together which, by the way, was not a selfie, we checked Qutub Minar off the list and headed to The Red Fort.
To be treated like a tourist on mother land is one thing which would of course hurt the sentiments. But then, to be with the tourists belonging to different part of the world at one place, smiling and enjoying ourselves with them is something else- maybe, a sense of brotherhood and a ray of hope for global peace.
Bye bye, Qutub Minar. Yes, we loved you. 🙂
Third stop : Lal Quila (Red Fort)
After our date with Qutub Minar, we went to see the Red Fort. For Red Fort, we took the metro and got off at Chandni Chowk metro station. Thr moment we stepped out of the station, a gust of warm air messed up our hair. And in that moment, we knew that yes, it’s going to be ridiculously hot, especially because it’s noon time. But still, too determined to complete the UNESCO task and of course, to meet the Red Fort, we proceeded. We took a rickshaw for reaching the fort. The route went from the middle of the main Chandni Chowk market and all I could think of was – “This is the main Delhi. Shahjahanabad. These crowded streets are of so much historic significance.” And lost in such thoughts, I spotted the Red Fort in the distance.
As we reached there, we took the ticket and went in.
It was the first time I saw the fort from the inside. And it was beautiful. Large, wide, quiet and beautiful. On the entrance, the Indian Flag was dancing in the wind in all its splendid grandeur. A feeling of patriotism and goose bumps got me.
As we went inside, we came across a mini market of around 39-35 stalls selling handicrafts, garments, jewelry etc. The items which one will not find in markets of Lajpath Nagar or Sarojini Nagar like the over embroidered purses and bags, souvenirs to take home, organic perfumes and cologne etc. The jwelery there were at reasonable prices and had a large variety. At last, Priya and I gave in and ended up buying a great deal of earrings. 😛 Priya also bought a beaded mirror and bangles. (Because, as I said, no control.)
Later, after crossing the mini market, we saw different direction boards and maps of different forts, tombs and mahals. Priya took out her camera again and there she went, *clicks and snaps and clicks*.
The Red Fort from the inside is huuuge. With a lot of empty and green space. I wonder what made the Mughals build such a huge fort which requires a great deal of walking. Anyway, it was as pretty as a picture.
We also went to see the museum. It had many objects from the past displayed there-The kingly swords, memoirs, decorative tiles, the holy Quran, the letters and the prints, the paintings of the Mughals, their garments and clothing, marble statues etc. One interesting thing I saw was..
After the museum, we strolled a little more here and there. The silence around and the sun above filled us with fatigue (Finally). However, the fatigue was somehow peaceful while we were inside the fort. The contrast between the two sides of the Red Fort made the difference maybe. The calm and noiseless environment with birds flying around under the clear sky on one side and the noisy, polluted streets of Chandni Chowk on the other side of fort changed our moods. Although fatigued, we were somehow undisturbed inside the fort but the moment we stepped out of it, we lost our chill.
One last click of the fort and an adieu to the fort, we left for home.
Overall, the date I and Priya had with the monuments was good and a memorable one. I’d like to thank UNESCO for fixing it for us. We got to experience a lot of new things and know a little more about our heritage and culture.
Until next time.