Taking the Long Way travel blog

Hindu temple



Parliment House

India Gate


All the other Indians were posing like this in front of India...

Gandhi Smitri

Ghandi's room left as it was the day he was killed

In the Gandhi museum




Following Gandhi's last steps

the spot gandhi was killed, where the eternal flame now burns

The prayer garden

The path where Indira Gandhi was shot

Humayans Tomb

Given my change of itinerary for this last month I only had 2 full days in Delhi so I really had to make them count. After a day of shopping the next day was set aside for some hard core sightseeing. Kirsti and I hired a driver for the day to maximise our time and set off at 9.30am armed with a list of places to see. It seemed however that our driver had other ideas, but as he spoke virtually no English we were at his mercy and he proceeded to take us where HE wanted. So I ended up seeing a few places I had already been to when I was in Delhi last time and not many new ones.

My first stop situated in the heart of New Delhi, was the 42-metre tall India Gate; one of the largest war memorials in India. Originally known as All India War Memorial, it is a prominent landmark in Delhi and commemorates the 90,000 soldiers of the erstwhile British Indian Army who lost their lives fighting for the Indian Empire in World War I and the Afghan Wars.

From there I arrived unexpectedly at Ghandi Smriti but it turned out to be the best part of the day. Mohandas K. Gandhi, better known as Mahatma (Great Soul), lived a life of voluntary poverty, but he did it in some attractive places. It was in this huge colonial bungalow, owned by Indian industrialist G. D. R. Birla, that Gandhi was staying as a guest when he was assassinated in the back garden on his way to a prayer meeting. Gandhi's bedroom is just as he left it, with his "worldly remains" (only 11 items, including his glasses and a walking stick) mounted on the wall. Pictures, text and intriguing exhibits tell the story of Gandhi's life and the Independence movement. It is by far one of the most interesting, technologically advanced and interactive museums I have ever been in, I could have stayed all day! After exploring inside I left the main building and by following a path marked with Gandhi’s last steps I reached the rear prayer garden. I had to take off my shoes (and very nearly scorched my soles off in the searing heat) before entering the somber prayer ground in back; where an eternal flame marks the very spot where Gandhi expired.

In keeping with India's violent history I then went to the Indira Gandhi Museum. On October 31, 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot outside her home by two of her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation for her suppression of a violent Sikh independence movement in Punjab. The simple white bungalow in which Mrs. Gandhi lived from the 1960s to 1980s is now a small museum with endless photographs, quotations, and newspaper articles, plus a few rooms preserved as they were used. Displays included the sari, handbag, and shoes Mrs. Gandhi was wearing when she was killed, and the sneakers her son Rajiv was wearing during his even more grisly demise at the hands of a female suicide bomber some years later. Outside, the spot where Indira fell is marked and preserved under clear Perspex. The museum is ridiculously popular with Indian tourists; meaning it was very very crowded and it almost too hot and claustrophobic to stand inside.

I had a brief stop at the Humayun Tomb; built in the middle of the 16th century by the widow of the Moghul emperor Humayun. Resting on an immense two-story platform, the tomb structure of red sandstone and white marble is a dome within a dome style on which the Taj Mahal was later fashioned. It was a 300 rupee fee to go inside and by this stage I was over the sightseeing and the soaring temperature and didn’t bother going inside.

i also stopped in at the Laxmi Naryan Temple, a large, red-and-yellow temple (known as Birla Mandir) west of Connaught Place which was built in 1938 by Indian industrialist G. D. R. Birla—the same man whose house is now the Gandhi Smriti—as a nondenominational temple. (The sign outside welcomes all "Hindus," including Jains and Sikhs.) The temple is colorful and ornate and outside but overall it's relatively subdued.

The lack of communication, combined with the 43C heat was very tiring so in the afternoon we ended up getting the driver to take us back to the shopping centre we found the day before to sit in airconditioned comfort.

Tomorrow I'm off to Cairo, via Bahrain :)

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