India Delhi 2001.12.14 - 12.17

Seeing Lakshmana

Wes' former colleague in Singapore said he would be in Delhi visiting family at the same time we were in India. Delighted, we arranged to meet.

Forewarned by tourists and locals alike that Delhi is terribly polluted, we expected the worst. Sure enough, the city smog is dense enough to see within a 5-meter distance. Never had we seen air pollution this bad, even compared to Bangkok at its worst in 1997. Remarkably however, the streets, especially in Connaught Circus, were cleaner than in Varanasi, Agra, or Jaipur. For the first time in India, we enjoyed a walk in a city.

Two highlights around Connaught Circus are worth mentioning. One is the South Indian vegetarian restaurant at the Madras Hotel (address: P-23 Connaught Circus, tel: 336-3652, open Mon-Sat 08:00-20:45). Full meals cost between 35~45 INR. Locals consider this to be one of the best restaurants in town. The other highlight is the State Emporiums where each Indian state government sells unique quality handicrafts from their state.

Lakshmana and his father-in-law drove into Delhi to pick us up. Back at the Rao residence, we received royal treatment. We would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Rao, Lakshmana, his wife Tanuja, and sons Nihit and Mahit for home-cooked Indian meals, a tour to some fabulous monuments, conversation on Indian culture, and warm hospitality. On tour, we visited the Red Fort and the Qutab Minar. There isn't much to say about the Red Fort. Qutab Minar on the other hand is a well-restored uniquely-shaped tower with intricately carved Sanskrit covering the exterior. Unfortunately, the city pollution partially obscured the view of the tower, even when standing at its base!

Qutab Minar in South Delhi, standing 73 meters tall, is the highest tower in India. The unique shape and ornate Arabic carvings are interesting to gaze at. At the base of Qutab Minar is an iron pillar that inexplicitly stays rust-free for the past 2000 years.

The detailed carvings covering the entire red sandstone Qutab Minar exterior are gradually restored to keep the tower's beauty intact.

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