Delhi: Tombs, Temples, & Tenebrosity

Lodi gardens in the smog

Last weekend, as a present to myself for my 35th birthday, I gave myself a holiday to Delhi and Agra.

Lodi Gardens

I arrived in Delhi on Friday and Ubered to my AirBnb accommodation, a local family. I was warmly welcomed, fed, then after a quick discussion I was packed up and sent off to Lodi Gardens. The gardens are beautiful, well maintained, and I wandered around until it got dark. Originally the gardens were landscaped and originally named after Lady Willingdon, in 1936. Scattered throughout the park are tombs and temples that were built in the 1400’s. I love how people picnic among the past, games of cricket energetically contended next to history, and how they seem to exist inside this huge noisy city peacefully, remaining unyielding and constant in the flux.
Delhi tourist attractions bara gumbad tomb from front
Bara-Gumbad tombs, built in 1490
Lodi gardens tomb in Delhi
Bara-Gumbad tombs, built in 1490, the detail is incredible
Delhi tourist attractions in Lodi Gardens
Tomb interior
Delhi tourist attractions in Lodi Garden
Shish-Gumbad tomb, built around 1489 and 1517

Dinner was with Atul, has wife Marina, and their two delightful children, Nikita and Prithviraj. Marina cooked a fantastic meal of an amazing mutton & potato curry, various vegetables, roti… I ate until I couldn’t force any more in. Loved staying with a family, in the midst of the normal family chaos and routine. I then visited a modern shopping area called Khan Market. Everything is vastly overpriced and it caters to tourists and after a pleasant time meandering around I was happy to leave with my wallet intact.

On my return trip through Delhi, I unfortunately had a migraine and didn’t have the ability to go shopping for spices with Marina and then make my own chai as we’d planned. VERY sad about that! I did go to visit¬†Humayun’s Tomb en route to the airport though.

Humayun’s Tomb

Delhi tourist attractions
Humanyun’s Tomb – Stunning
Delhi tourist attractions ceiling tomb
Ceiling detail of Humanyun’s Tomb

Humayun’s tomb was built in 1569 for the Murghal Emperor, Humanyun. As well as the major tomb, there are a few other monuments as you approach it- even one that is twenty years old than this main tomb.

Humayan died in 1556 but was originally buried in his palace. His wife demanded the tomb be built, and cost 1.5 million rupees- a substantial amount of money at the time. This site was made a world heritage site in 1993 which hastened its renovation.

Delhi is extremely polluted

The one negative thing that really influenced everything I did in Delhi, was the smog. The pollution levels were among the highest ever on the days I was there. It was so bad that schools were closed for three days, and all construction works were halted for ten days. The causes of the smog ranged from the fireworks from Diwali, the number of vehicles on the road, crop burning from neighbouring farm areas, and industrial waste. Likely also the weather contributed- days with no rain, or wind. It was horrific. Visibility was poor. The smog burns your throat, and the black dust coats everything. Nothing is clean in Delhi for long. When you blow your nose, the contents of the tissue are black. It’s unpleasant, uncomfortable, and I don’t know how anyone can live in that for any period of time.

India, you really need to get your act together and fix this, because of the impact this has on your citizens. It’s so much bigger than the smog though, I know this. It’s the rubbish in your streets, the open sewage drains. It’s overwhelming and I know that there are many other things that are important too, but if you can’t provide healthy cities for people to live in, then there’s no point trying to resolve other issues.

My only regret was I didn’t stay longer. I wanted to visit Old Delhi, and a few¬†other local monuments, and try the street food that Delhi is famous for… next time! I was told many dire things about Delhi, and I think for the India-uninitiated it could be hazardous! I think by staying a little bit out of town in the South and with such an amazing family, I was never exposed to the less than savoury elements I had been warned of.

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