Friday, November 16, 2007

Delhi, India

I arrived in Delhi late last night after a 14-hour trip from Chicago, during which we flew over Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Moscow, the Aral Sea, Kabul, and the Himalayas. It was dark most of the time so I saw very little of it.

I'm staying at the Radisson Hotel near Indira Ghandi International Airport (you can find it on the map here). It's a fairly nice hotel, very American in flavor. As with everybody I have met in India, the staff are very friendly.

The first overwhelming impression I got of Delhi was smoke - as soon as the plane touched down, a smell of woodsmoke entered, and it has not let up (I'm somewhat used to it by now, but if I think about it, I can still smell it). Here is what I found out my window this morning (the haze is smoke, not fog):
I'm told that this is leftover smoke from Diwali, which is a festival of light / fire. After breakfast, I took a cab, and went shopping for gifts for various people back home. I then had them take me to Red Fort, the past seat of the Mughal Empire. The cab took me as close as it could, then I took a rickshaw from the parking area to the fort. Here is an exterior view - the flag rises above the Lahore Gate:

The red stone comes from Agra, I was told. Much of it is carved decoratively:

Here is an exterior short of some marble building inside the fort. These are the baths (on the left) and the Emperor's audience hall (on the right):

This is looking into the Emperor's residence. The depression in the center was filled with water when this was a working Palace - in fact, the Palace was full of water from the nearby river:

This is the seat from which the Emperor received public petitions - currently surrounded by bird netting:

Much of the stonework inside has intricate marble inlay:

Here are some of the pavilions used by the King and his consorts (the basin around the red pavilion was filled with water back in the day):

One other notable thing about Red Fort is the large number of fairly heavily armed guards around. This is likely due to the terrorist attack on the fort in 2000. I did not set out to take their pictures (I could imagine that might make them nervous) but I happened to get a picture of one while taking a picture of this gate:

For my little dog Hank, here is a squirrel that I'm sure he'd love to chase:

In another tree, a shrine to a local god:

Finally, on the way back to the hotel, we passed an elephant, so I had the cab driver stop for a second so I could snap a photo:

I came back a little earlier than anticipated - jetlag is hitting more than I expected - but I'll get out and about and see more tomorrow.

My impressions of Delhi are mixed - it has fantastic sights, sounds, and smells(good and bad) - but the contrasts between rich and poor are heart-wrenching - and I am sure I did not even begin to see what the truly poor live like.


Roy said...

Hi my Son,

Wonderful pictures and a marvelous adventure. The palace is (or seems to be) familiar from the Rudyard Kipling books.

Love, Mom and Dad

Ross Cunniff said...

Thanks, Mom & Dad! It's good to hear from you. I'll see if I can get any more info on my travels up in the next couple days (I'm in Pune now, and have to work most of the time, which is why I'm here of course).

Love, Ross