In a complete break with all my previous (and as it turned out, subsequent) train journeys in India, the one from Bhopal to Delhi included free food. The train left just before 3pm and arrived close to midnight, closer than advertised certainly. During that time they served us five meals (well, they weren’t all full meals, let’s call them dietary interventions) of various sizes and types. By the time I got to my rather nice hotel I was stuffed and had pockets full of packaged snacks that kept me going for days.
That trip to the hotel involved joining the
scrum queue at the pre-paid Police taxi booth in the station car park, finding a driver who was prepared to actually take the voucher without the promise of an extra substantial ‘tip’ and then scarpering with my backpack when we finally found the hotel, with the cry “more money” ringing in my ears. Delhi taxi drivers are rapacious.
In addition to the general attraction of being Delhi, the city has three world heritage sites, my first visit being to this one, a few kilometers south of the centre via the terrific metro (where they frisk and bag scan everyone on entry – imagine that on the Tube!) and a slightly too long walk.
Qutb Minar is a 72m high red sandstone minaret from the early thirteenth century, with later alterations to the top, which also lost its crowning cupola in an earthquake. The surrounding monuments include the remains of two mosques, one built using stone pillars from demolished Hindu temples.
The site is further garnished with some ornate tombs, a 7m tall iron pillar renowned for its un-corroded state (due to serendipitous metallurgy and environment, not magic, religion or aliens) and the huge base of the unfinished Alai Minar, intended to be twice the height of Qutb.
Finally, there is a marble-inlaid entrance gate called the Alai Darwaza, which I chose for my Lego model.
My dome is a little too small, but otherwise, I felt this one turned out not too badly.
To the south is a scrubby wooded Archeological Park dotted with a large number of ruins from various periods. I explored them on the way back to a different (but equally inconveniently located) metro station. My favourite was this deep step well and surrounding building.
This photograph shows what is just over the lip in the foreground of the picture above.