Humayun Tomb Delhi
We started our Day 4 of Delhi Darshan with the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Humayun Tomb Delhi. It is in SE Delhi and was an easy 1 hr drive from Gurgaon. We got there around 11:30am and it wasn’t crowded at all. This time of the year, Delhi is cool and foggy (or smoggy?) in the mornings. It doesn’t really heat up a whole lot until later in the afternoon. So when we walked up to the entrance of the complex, it was very pleasant…
One thing about Delhi is that there’s sooo much green space everywhere (Mumbai doesn’t have half as much!). And it’s all so beautifully maintained. Here at the Humayun’s tomb complex too, there is a lot of greenery around the parking area as well as within the complex – it looked lovely. As we entered, Isa Khan’s (a noble in the Mughal court) tomb was on the right and that’s the first place we visited. The gateway arch to the tomb, itself, is very pretty. And the tomb, enclosed in a garden past this gateway, is just fantastic. It is octagonal in shape and has small chhatris (domes) around the central big dome, which looked spectacular. To the right of the tomb is a mosque. We sat within its stone arches, climbed on to its roof and loved the views from everywhere. Moreover, the whole atmosphere was serene and calm. It was really nice to linger a while and soak in everything. Apparently this tomb was built about 15 years before Humayun’s…
From here we walked through 2 more gateways to get to Humayun’s tomb. Along the way, the pathway has green lawns on either sides and these are well maintained too. We saw an information booth where there are pictures of the site before it was restored by the Archaeological Society of India. They have done such a good job! Before, the whole site was in ruins, with encroachment by slum dwellers, overgrown shrubs and broken structures. Now it’s completely restored to it’s original glory – very impressive!
Humayun’s tomb is much larger than I had anticipated it to be. Just like at the Taj Mahal, the pathway leading from the entry gateway to the tomb structure is surrounded by beautifully manicured lawns, narrow, crisscrossing canals and a fountain in the center. The tomb is raised on a huge, square-shaped platform, which itself houses over 100 graves. We climbed a few steep stairs to get to the top of the platform and view the actual tomb structure. The view from the top was lovely and the structure housing the tomb was spectacular. It wasn’t as engraved or decorated as the Taj Mahal but felt just as imposing. We could enter the burial chamber through a side entrance while the other entrances were all covered with stone lattice work. The tomb is placed on a raised marble platform in the center of the chamber. The chamber itself is pretty plain and austere. The dome that tops this chamber is supposed to be the first Indian structure to have a Persian-styled (more elongated) dome.
As we walked back out to the parking lot, it was almost 1:30pm and much warmer. We were hungry too, so we asked Anand (our driver) to drop us off at Connaught Place (aka CP). This was on our ‘places to visit in Delhi’ list and sis-in-law had mentioned that we would find a lot of eateries and shopping stalls here. Anand dropped us off at Rajiv Chowk, which is the center-point of CP, and drove off to find parking. CP is in the heart of New Delhi and is a huge, sprawling, bustling place. All these days we’ve been going to South Delhi where most of the embassies and government structures are housed. There the roads are shaded with large trees and look secluded and exclusive with hardly any pedestrian traffic. CP is a whole different ball-game; it is crowded with shopping arcades, street vendors (of food and garments) and tons of pedestrians. It felt just like the crowded streets of Mumbai. We walked around aimlessly not knowing which direction to go. I was worried that we won’t find the right place to eat. But we were destined for good food ‘coz we stumbled upon Rajdhani, which offers thalis of traditional Rajasthani food (see review below).
After lunch, we wandered some more, window-shopped and then decided to head back out to visit Purana Kila (Old Fort), which is also in New Delhi. However, en route we passed through the northern end of Janpath (it culminates at Rajiv Chowk), which was lined with handicrafts stores on the western side. We couldn’t leave without browsing through these stores, so we immediately asked Anand to drop us off out there for a few minutes. And it was a good move; the stores were very interesting with garments, furnishings, handicrafts and jewelry from all across the country. We loved browsing through them all. I bought a beautiful, stone necklace for sis-in-law, who is fond of such stuff. I was quoted Rs.250 for it but we easily bargained it down to Rs.200. In fact, it was a little too easy – I’m sure I could have got it for much lesser – oh well!
A few minutes of browsing turned into a full hour. By this time, our feet hurt and it was already 4:30pm. So we decided to skip Purana Kila for the day and head home instead. For once in our lives, we want to take things leisurely and not in the usual, hurried pace of our previous vacations. And to be able to do that – take things leisurely – is a great feeling. And to think that we will be able to do this for the next couple of years…
Review : Khandani Rajdhani
Connaught Place, New Delhi
This is an air-conditioned restaurant without any frills. As soon as we walked in, we were seated at a table that had 2 empty, steel thalis with 7 empty katoris (small bowls) waiting for us. No menu was offered. One of the staff members came by with a huge water jug and a copper basin for us to wash our hands in – just with this, I was thrilled. After that the food came in consistent torrents. First we were served with some green, spicy chutney and a sweet, red chutney, followed by appetizers – dhokla and pakoda, 4 sabzis – paneer, aloo, tindora and chana, a sweet, yogurt kadi, and 2 dals – a regular Toor dal and a thin, sweet dal. For carbs, we got wheat rotis and theplas (yummmmmmm). To drink, a wonderfully refreshing chaach (buttermilk) was served. The food was unlimited, so as we ate, they kept coming by to offer more. Madhu remarked that this is a vegetarian version of the Brazilian Churascaria . After rotis, they offered rice and khichdi. And at the end, for dessert, we were presented with a choice of Bengali sweets, Sooji Halwa or Basundi (sweetened, condensed milk with dry fruits). I opted for Halwa while Madhu chose Basundi. Both were DELICIOUS!! The whole meal was served by efficient and friendly staff. The cost was Rs.215 per thali plus taxes; extremely reasonable for such a high-quality meal.
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Bathroom, though only one, was clean too).