Friday, January 18, 2008

Another Delhi Day

Hi everyone. Amy and Kristin are still keeping me very busy in Delhi!

On Wednesday Kristin and Amy asked our guide Satyender to take us to more of Delhi's famous places. We started the day at "Humayun's Tomb."

Kristin says this building was built for the Emperor Humayun after he died in 1556. This is a HUGE building surrounded by a large garden.

Here you can see the tomb of Emperor Humayun and some of his family members. It was really dark inside this room. The only light in the room came from windows like the one is this photos. But these windows do not have glass like the ones on my house in Muscatine.

Here you can see Kristin near the tomb.

Right after we arrived at the tomb, a HUGE group of school children showed up. They must have been on a field trip. I sure don't get to take field trips to places like this when I am in school! The school children were really LOUD! They screamed and shouted most of the time we were near the tomb. I know my teacher would not let me behave that way if I was on a field trip. I really think they should have behaved better. Kristin thanked me for being on my best behavior. :)

While we were walking around I noticed a man cleaning one side of the tomb.

Kristin says Humayun's Tomb is something she calls a "World Heritage Site." I had no idea! She says that means it is one of the world's most important buildings, just like Giza Pyramids in Egypt and Angor Wat in Cambodia. Kristin says it takes a lot of work to maintain Humayun's Tomb and other World Heritage Sites.

There is a mosque near Humayun's Tomb. Here are some of the photos Kristin took of the mosque and the buildings around it.

Our next stop of the day was a place called the "Lotus Temple." Kristin says it is called this because it is supposed to look like a lotus flower. I'm not sure this building looks like a flower but I wasn't going to argue with Kristin on this.

Kristin told me the Lotus Temple was finished in 1986. That makes it one of the newest buildings I have seen during my entire trip to Delhi. She also says it is a temple for people who follow the Bahai Faith. I think this means it is like a mosque or church.

It was getting warm standing outside in the sun, so we decided to inside the temple. But first Kristin and Amy had to take their shoes off. Then the temple guide told us we had to be very quiet while we were inside the temple. In fact, she said we could not even talk or whisper! It was nice and cool inside the building and it was REALLY quiet. Man, it is REALLY hard to be quiet for 10 minutes! I was really glad when we were back outside.

Our final stop of the day was a place called the "Qutb Minar Complex." The main feature of this complex is this really tall tower. The tower itself is called the Qutb Minar (or Qutub Minar).

This tower is almost 240 feet tall. WOW! That is really tall! Kristin says it is made mostly of red sandstone, the same kind of stone I saw at the Red Fort on Tuesday.

Here's a picture of the very top of the tower. Our guide says people used to be able to climb to the top of the tower, but they don't allow tourists to do that anymore. Whew! I was worried for a minute that Kristin was going to have to walk up more dark stairs to the top of the Qutb Minar.

As we were walking around the tower, I noticed that it is full of really interesting carvings. Our guide told us that the tower is inscribed with the words of the Quran (or Koran), the religious text of the Islamic faith. I was confused about this until Kristin explained that my faith has the holy book of the Bible and the Islamic faith has the Koran. Very interesting. Here you can see some of the carvings up close.

Kristin says the Qutb Minar is the most famous part of this complex. I can see why. It is hard to miss the really tall tower. But our guide told us the rest of the complex is also very important. (Click on the Qutb Minar Complex colored link above to learn more).

As we were walking around, I told Kristin I thought some of the complex ruins reminded me of the Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt. I'll have to remember to ask Aunt Lynn if she notices the same thing when she sees the photo below.

Just like at Humayun's Tomb, there were people working on projects at the complex. I couldn't really tell what this woman was doing, but she was pounding the stone with a very heavy hammer.

These men were digging in a ditch with small shovels and picks.

As soon as they had dug up enough dirt, the men would load the dirt in large silver bowls. Then they would put the big bowls full of dirt on top of a woman's head. Can you believe it?!

These women must have really strong heads!

I asked Kristin why the workers didn't have wheel barrows and other tools like we do in the United States. Kristin says she wasn't sure why the workers at the complex were using the large bowls to move the dirt. She says sometimes workers can't use big equipment at historical sites. I guess this makes sense. But Kristin also pointed out that we've seen many places in India where people don't have nice tools. She says that's because many people can't afford them. I thought everyone had a wheelbarrow.

I also noticed a number of small children with old clothes playing near the spot where the men and women were working.

These children didn't have any toys to play with either. One girl was playing with a pair of sunglasses and another baby was playing with an old film container. This made me very sad. I could also tell Kristin was very sad. She was also worried because we didn't see any adults with the children and they were all much younger than I am. Kristin told me she hopes the children belong to the men and women working in the ditch.

Here's s photo of Kristin near the Qutb Minar. She looks pretty small next to that tall tower!

Just as we were getting ready to leave the complex, another large group of LOUD school children came into the complex. They were wearing red uniforms and they all wanted to talk to Kristin and Amy. Kristin managed to make her way through the crowd while I hid in her purse. But the kids swarmed around Amy and it seemed like every one of them wanted to say hello to her!
Whew...that's the end of another long day here in Delhi! Kristin tells me we are going to see even better places in the next few days. I will keep you posted when I can (and when Kristin's computer is working).

Bye for now...

Delhi Update

Hi there. I bet you thought I was lost in India!

Kristin and Amy have been so busy that I haven't had time to update you on my trip. Plus, Kristin has been having computer problems. She calls it "the blue screen of death." I have no idea what she is talking about, but I do know it is NOT good.

Right now Kristin's computer is here it goes.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived in Delhi is the traffic. It is CRAZY! The roads are jammed full of cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles.

The streets are also packed with these funny looking green and yellow three-wheel things.

Kristin says these are called "auto-rickshaws" and they are basically a motorcycle in the front with seats in the back. I really wanted to ride in one but Kristin has rented a car and driver for our entire trip. :(

On Tuesday, Kristin also hired a guide to help guide us around Delhi. His name is Satyender and he is very nice. He told us about 16 million people live in Delhi. Did you know that more than 1 BILLION people live in India? I had no idea. That's a lot of people!

We spent most of the day on Tuesday in a portion of the city called "Old Delhi." Our first stop was a place called "Jama Masjid." Our guide says it is the largest mosque in India.

Our guide told us so many things about the mosque that I knew I would forget most of it. So Kristin helped me find Web links that tell you more about the mosque and all of the other places we've visited. Just click on the colored words in this post to learn more.

Everyone has to take their shoes off before they can go into the mosque. Kristin has had to do this before. She also thought she might have to wear a headscarf like she did in Egypt and Indonesia, but our guide told her and Amy they didn't need one.

The mosque is big and it is surrounded by tall red, arched walls.

The walls surround a huge courtyard. There were many people visiting the mosque when we were there. But there were hundreds (if not thousands) of birds also "visiting" the mosque. Here you can see some boys feeding a group of pigeons.

Sometimes people would get too close to the pigeons and they would all fly away really quickly. It is a good thing I have a safe place to hide inside Kristin's bag. I was afraid the pigeons would grab me! Kristin snapped this cool photo of the birds flying around us (and yes...I was hiding at this point!).

While we were walking around the courtyard I noticed a number of kids my age wearing old clothes. They would walk up to people and ask for money.

I was shocked at how the kids were dressed and that they were asking for money. Kristin says that many families in India are very poor....some don't even have houses. This makes me sad. Kristin reminded me that I should be grateful for my toys and my house. She is right.

Kristin and Amy walked around the courtyard and took photos for awhile and then our guide took them up a flight of stairs so we could get a closer look at one of the tall mosque towers. Our guide told Kristin and Amy they could climb to the top of the tower and take photos of the city. Kristin decided to walk to the top of the tower and Amy stayed behind. She took this photo of the tower while Kristin and I were climbing to the top.

I think Amy was smart to stay behind. Climbing to the top of the tower was REALLY scary. First, it was pitch black inside. Second, the stairs were so narrow that people walking down the stairs had to squeeze by Kristin. It is a good thing I am flat. I'm not sure I would have made it up the stairs if I wasn't! Kristin took this photo of the stairs. You can see them only because of the flash on her camera.

Kristin was REALLY glad when we made it to the top because she was out of breath! But, I think it was worth climbing the dark stairs. Here are some of the photos Kristin took at the top of the tower.

Here's a close-up of the buildings near the mosque.

And this is just one of the jammed-packed streets next to the mosque.

Kristin carefully walked down the stairs and breathed a sigh of relief when she made it to the bottom again. Whew!

After we left the mosque, our guide suggested we take a rickshaw ride. He told us it was the best way to see the huge market surrounding the mosque. I was SO excited. But we didn't take an auto-rickshaw. We took a bicycle one like this one.

I had SO much fun riding on the rickshaw.

It's a good thing we didn't take the car for this part of the trip. The market was very crowded and the streets were full of people and rickshaws. There was even a cow on one of the tiny streets!

Here are a few photos Kristin took during our rickshaw ride.

As soon as we left the market area, the rickshaw took us to a place called "The Red Fort" or "Lal Qila."

The outside walls of the Fort are made with red sandstone. I guess that's why it is called the "Red Fort." But some of the buildings inside the tall walls are made of white marble.

There are many different buildings inside the Red Fort. Here are some of the photos Kristin took during our visit.

I have noticed since we arrived in India that many women wear the brightly colored outfits like the ones the women are wearing in the above photo. Kristin says this is a traditional outfit called a "sari." Who knew? She says most of the bright fabric we saw on our rickshaw drive through the market area are for saris. I asked Kristin if she has worn one. She says she hasn't. She says the sari is one long piece of fabric and it has to be wrapped in a certain way....and she is certain that she doesn't know how to wrap it correctly.

After we left the Red Fort, our driver and guide took us back to the section of town called "New Delhi." I think it is strange that there is an "Old Delhi" and a "New Delhi." Kristin says "New Delhi" is the part of town where most of the Indian government buildings are located. She says it is also "new" because much of this section of town was built in the past 100 years. I had no idea!

This is a view of the Parliament in New Delhi. Kristin says the Parliament is where the people who help run India's government meet. I think this is similar to the Congress in the United States.

And this is the President's house. It is located behind a tall gate. Kristin had to take this photo from the gate. The security guards wouldn't let us get any closer.

On our way back to the hotel we saw something called the "India Gate."

Kristin the India Gate is a memorial for British soldiers who died in World War I and other wars. Kristin wanted to get closer to the gate to take a better photo, but there were lots of security guards and yellow gates along the street. Our guide told us "Republic Day" is January 26. It is a large military parade and that's why there is so much security in the area right now.

Whew! We've had a very busy day. I am tired and hungry. So I am going to have dinner and go to bed.

More later