Monday, January 18, 2010

Delhi: City of conquests - Travel - NZ Herald News

The stately Tomb of Humayun. Photo / Jim Eagles
    • It's an irony I'm sure is not lost on many Indians that in a country which is 75 per cent Hindu the most impressive sights in the capital city of Delhi have virtually all been provided by Muslim or Christian invaders.
    • But almost all the places to which tourists are taken so they can marvel at the wonders of this ancient land were actually created by the Muslim invaders from central Asia who conquered the country 900 years ago.

      Even the impressive seat of the Indian Government, New Delhi, was the work of the British, who succeeded the Muslims as overlords around 1800.

    • Just to underline the message, next to it the new dynasty also built the first mosque in India, Quwwat-ul-Islam, the Might of Islam, on a site originally occupied by several Hindu and Jain temples (an inscription over one of the gates proclaims that the mosque incorporated material from "27 idolatrous temples").
    • Most of Delhi's Muslim rulers seem to have been driven by the same desire to demonstrate their greatness in brick and marble and many managed to last long enough to see their projects through to completion.

      The result was a city of extraordinary magnificence. The extent and grandeur of the ruins which dot the area today are impressive enough. But they only give an inkling of just how impressive Delhi was at the height of Mughal power.

    • The Lahore Gate, which once quite literally excluded Hindu Indians from the seat of power, is the spot chosen successive Indian leaders from Jawaharlal Nehru to Manmohan Singh to deliver important speeches and it is where they come every August 15 to celebrate Independence Day.

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