I have never visited Delhi. Obviously, I have been to Delhi many times but only in transit, on my way somewhere else. The first time I was in transit when I was 15 years old or so, my aunt took us to see India Gate and the Red Fort. Memory for those are, at best, sketchy. Subsequently, I never saw anything much in Delhi, just moving from one aunt’s home to another uncle’s home and then to a cousin’s home. When my sister and I visited Delhi, on our way to a Himalaya Winter Trek in December- January of 2011, our cousins took us to Chandini Chowk. That was when I tasted Delhi’s famed food-scene! But when it was time for us to go see the Qutub Minar, my sister and I were, shamefully, way laid by a mall that was inviting respite from the bitter cold outside. And that was the end of Delhi tourism. Considering that I loved medieval Indian history with its Sultanates and Mughals and considering that Akbar was one of my favourite monarchs, it was absolutely inexplicable that I hadn’t seen anything of worth in Delhi.
So this time, while I stopped over in Delhi, before embarking on my Vipassana course in Dharamshala, I decided that the weather was nice enough for me to go check out the Qutub Minar. A short Metro ride on the Yellow Line, takes you from Sikanderpur Station to Qutub Minar Station. When there, I took an autorickshaw ride to traverse the 2 KM to the monument. It was a weekday and I hoped there wouldn’t be too many people. I guess there weren’t, relative to the weekends, but it was quite crowded, all the same.
After buying myself a ticket, I decided to buy an audio guide, apprehensively, if I may add. It proved to be a great decision. It was like a radio play with local little girl Maya meeting all the patron monarchs as we moved from one structure to the other.Some of the numbering wasn’t very clear. Here are some glimpses. See if you can spot the Hindu elements in these predominantly islamic structures.