Monday, March 31, 2014

Very Old Delhi

Another day we took the metro down to the Qutb Minar.  This is in the site of the first of the seven cities of Delhi, established in 1060.  The Qutb Minar itself is a red sandstone tower of Qutb Minar 72.5 m high, with alternating angular and rounded flutings.  It was built around 1200. The iron pillar in the mosque compound was brought from elsewhere in India. It bears a Sanskrit inscription from the 4th century AD describing the exploits of a ruler named Chandra, believed to be the Gupta King Chandragupta II (375-413). 

The Iron Pillar is built up of many hundreds of small wrought-iron blooms welded together and is the largest known composite iron object from so early a period. The remarkable lack of corrosion is attributable to the combination of several factors, among them the high corrosion-resistance of wrought iron, the climatic conditions in Delhi, and the likelihood that it was frequently anointed with ghee (melted butter). The deep cavity at the top suggests that it may at one time have been crowned by a Garuda image. 

We took the metro back to Chandni Chowk - one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi.  The name actually means "moonlight square" and it was named after the fact that a canal used to run the length of it that reflected the moonlight.  A very chaotic place now!

We walked to the Lahore Gate, the entry into the Red Fort.  The Red Fort Complex was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad – the new capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan.  Its name refers to the massive enclosing walls of red sandstone.  

The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht (Stream of Paradise). The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement.  The garden design strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra.

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