This morning, we have to leave the hotel at 5am (oh my god) to catch the early train heading back to Delhi. It’s definitely hit or miss with train departures in India but this train is on time! It has comfy seats, so I manage to sleep for half the ride. The rest of the ride I spend looking at the sights out the window.
You can see all of the shacks that are setup close to the tracks and it doesn’t look like the best living conditions. And the garbage everywhere. It’s just gross, and I wonder if they don’t have a better place to put garbage? Or they just don’t care?
But actually, in some places the garbage is colorful and looks oddly pretty. We arrive back at Hotel Perfect and have a quick lunch before heading out to explore one more important site in Delhi. The five of us hire a driver from the hotel and the traffic is so insane. And we’re in a non air conditioned van. In hindsight, we should have taken the metro.
We pull up to Qutb Minar and it is nothing short of spectacular. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (so many here in India!) The Alai Darwaza is the southern gate into the ruins.
It’s a pretty dome made of red sandstone (of course) and marble with inscriptions inside on the walls. Just to the left of the gate is Qutb Minar, a red sandstone and marble minaret standing at 240 feet tall with 5 tapering storeys. It soars upwards into the Delhi sky. It was built around 1192, and is one of the oldest complexes in all of India. This minaret has survived a lightning strike and a few earthquakes and it sits on a slight tilt which is safe for now but it is monitored.
If you study the outside of the minaret closely you’ll see many inscriptions, calligraphy, designs. No one is allowed to enter the minaret due to an accident in the early 80’s. Carrying on through the ruins, the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque sits beside the minaret.
It was the first mosque built in Delhi after the Islamic conquest. What’s left is some domes, pillars and old walls.
There are many other notable attractions in the complex.
The tomb of Aluaddin Khilji rests in a large brick ruin. He is considered to be one of the most powerful rulers in Indian history. The Alai Minar is an unfinished minaret; all that stands is its rubble masonry core.
It was meant to be two times higher than Qutb, but Aluaddin died and no one else took the task of finishing it. Lazy bastards! And finally the beautiful tomb of Iltutmish. The inside has many intricate carvings, and the colors seem to change depending on the light.
The white marble cenotaph is on a raised platform in the center of the chamber. The actual burial vault is down some steps into the ground. Overall, I love walking around the ruins and exploring…so much history dating back to the 1100’s. One of my favorite sites in India!
Now we have to find our driver to get back to the hotel. Well, he finds us because we stand out..haha. But there is some kind of mix-up, and we end up walking to another van that’s 15 min away. The ride home is torture…not enough room in the van, so we are squished in. And it is ridiculously hot. And it takes an hour and a half to get back to the hotel with the traffic. Ugh. We make it back in time for our last group dinner at a place down the street with a cowboy standing outside. Looks kind of like a saloon. And the group has one last round of beers on the rooftop terrace of the hotel. Perfect way to end this leg of my journey, and I’m so grateful to have met this funky bunch- Tessa,Teresa, Cassie, Liv’a, Arnaud, Sarah, Luke, Patrick, Sarah, Josh, Rebecca, Alex, John, Sophie and Ethienne. Xoxoxo.