On July 15, while Lesa was at work and the kids were at school, Jon, Chauhan, and I got an early start and went to visit three sites in South Delhi: The Lotus Temple, The Kalka Mandir, and Qutb Minar.
First we stopped at the Lotus Temple, one of the newer structures. It is an impressive temple for the Baha’i faith, a religion that I have only recently begun to learn about. Sujal and I have some Baha’i friends, so it was particularly interesting to learn more about the faith and to visit this special site.
We could not take photos inside, so I only have a few shots from the outside. Obviously, it is an architecturally unique building. The inside is rather stark compared to Hindu temples. Jonathan observed that is feels more like a western church (or perhaps a New England church), because it is simply plain on the inside, which provides for a different type of beauty. One thing I really like about the Baha’i faith is how inclusive it is, not merely of people from other faiths, but of women. There does not seem to be the significant hierarchical nature when it comes to gender as there is in most religions. Perhaps I am wrong, but that is what it seemed like in their education section.
Next we went to the Kalka Mandir, a temple to Kali. For those of you who read my earlier post on a failed attempt to visit a Kali temple, you know how important Kali is to me. Visiting this temple was an experieince like no other. For the most part, Hindu temples have been busy but relatively peaceful places. To say this place was very busy might be a serious understatement.
We first had to walk through an older “village” within the city, through narrow roads and a market. Several stall owners were excited to have their picture taken.
Stall owners closest to the temple sold prasad (sweets for offerings) and other offerings for the temple. I also thought this elderly woman was particularly beautiful.
Side note: Taking photos of people caused me some mixed feelings. Most people seemed fine with it so long as one asks first and then shows the photo after. I feel like there is a fine line between respect and insulting people. I, personally, tend to not mind so much so long as people ask first. And I am in a number of photo albums after this trip to India.
We could not bring in a camera, so here is a photo of the temple from the outside:
Note how crowded it is on the outside. As we waited in line, some police (or guards?) came and moved us to the front of the line, claiming they were concerned about pickpockets. We were shoved into a wall of humans swarming the temple priest, quickly giving their offering and receiving their blessings. We each received a fistful of prasad. I wasn’t 100% sure of what to do with it, take it or offer it. I knew to offer some and take some, but I did not realize just how many alters there would be. Each alter was very crowded, and I would not describe this temple as peaceful, as it was very loud with lots of pushing. Yet at the same time, I loved it. When I got to an outer part of the temple, brahmins tied red threads around my left wrist at three different alters. Finally, there was a place for the faithful to tie a red thread and make a wish, which I did. We finally left and had to return through the marketplace barefoot to retrieve our shoes.
Then we headed to Qutb Minar, another Mughal complex built during Mughal rule. It is also a World Heritage site. The Minar itself is an extraordinarily high tower, given the time it was buitl. It has beautiful shades of sandstone and intricate carvings.
Here are Jon and Chauhan:
It is a large complex that has the remains of a former university.
I loved the intricate carvings.
The next emporor wanted to build a much larger minar, one architects hailed as unreasonable (and like untenable). It was begun but never finished.
There was also this “marvel” — and iron post that has not rusted for almost two thousand years.
Finally, we also saw this tomb in the complex.
A few other miscellaneous photos there:
I took these last two of dogs, because feral dogs are everywhere. Note all the dogs sleeping under shrubs. I love to pet dogs, but sadly, I could not pet these, because they are not used to humans and may bite. They are also dirty and likely disease-ridden. Everywhere you go, there are dogs — on the streets, in world heritage sites, you name it!