Everywhere there is evidence of cultures living side-by-side or perpetually conquering one another. Below are our photos from the Islamic Monument Qutb Minar, constructed by the first Delhi Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak in 1193, with stones pillaged from the 30 Hindu temples within 1000 km of Delhi.
While the men have predominantly adopted the drab garb of westerners, the great majority of women have retained the brilliantly colored sarees or Punjabi dress, and people (or attire) watching has proved even more interesting than the variegated architecture. Apparently we as white tourists prove equally interesting to them. I caught the man in the far right photo above taking photos of me, and in show of acceptance showed him all the photos I took of his people, after which we took a photo together. I couldn’t tell if he thought it as funny as I did; he seemed somewhat nervous.
Next we stopped by Humayun’s tomb, a beautiful structure built to honor this second mogul emporer by his wife. This tomb included an entire mausoleum for the barber. The structure is surrounded by a lovely park where people enjoy the ample, lush surroundings with friends and family. It is surprising after all the warnings of crowdedness to visit the many peaceful and spacious parks.
The carpets are amazing, and learning about them makes me wonder why it never crossed my mind that the exquisite detail relates stories and symbols of the families and places from which they come. All of the carpets are hand-knotted on a loom, according to codes which are sung as they weave to indicate how many threads to include in each knot and which color thread. To one merchant’s great surprise, after half an hour of him picking out carpets to show us, I asked about a gold and black carpet across the room, which proved to be one of the most intricate, overwhelming pieces of art I have seen in person, an undertaking so grand that, we were told, only 5 families in the state of Kashmir are capable of such a feat.
Other sites included Hindu and Bahai temples across the street from one another, where the people waited two hours to pray in each institution.
Finally, our tour guide took us to a government-subsidised shopping center where we got ripped off, as we thought and as our driver later confirmed. Still, we paid lower-than-american-prices for kashmir silks.