Monday, September 25, 2006

following the gods

Today was temple day -- we hired a driver to take us around today, which worked perfectly. Dalat took us where we asked to go, and he answered our questions along the way but didn't intrude. A requisite shot of the requisite cows, near the temple. Lots of holy cows just lying about in some parts of Delhi.

We started early, when it was still cool, and we were among the first visitors at Qutab Minar:

It's a World Heritage Monument, and I see why:

The minaret, it's 239ft tall.

The sections of the minaret are demarcated by this architectural ridge.
I think people used to be able to stand on these,
I think they're balconies around the column.

Standing on the ground near the column, looking up. It's tall.

Ruins on the enormous grounds. People have been building
religious structures on this site for centuries.

And some cool wildlife -- green birds and chiprats, and a show-off hawk
who kept circling and circling, as if he were posing for the camera.

And some guy's tomb -- I don't mean any disrespect,
I just have no idea whose tomb it is.

Finally, just before we left Qutab Minar for the next temple, I saw this woman in a beautiful orange sari, working with three men to maintain the lawn. They were mowing the grass, so she had the scarf around her head. The orange was so beautiful and striking against the grass.

Next we went to a Hindu temple -- Chatterpur Temple. Pictures are ok, but you'd have to be there to get the real feeling of it. There was loud clanging of bells and what sounded like banging on pots, and men chanting nonstop, and hordes of people who didn't seem to be too serious, for the most part. Lots of giggling kids, and Marc and I were the objects of lots of staring.

Marc stood nearby so it seemed I was taking a picture of him, but
we really wanted to get the staring. This was relatively mild;
nearly everyone we passed along the way turned their heads and
stared, children ran up to us and pointed. I was very aware of it.

The architectural style is called Punjabi Baroque, but I don't
think they mean it as a compliment when they say it.
It is elaborate.


The 92-foot monkey statue -- the reason we came

A little something for everyone: OM

A six-pointed star (although Dalat says it means good luck)

And a broken cross, AKA swastika

It was really kind of overwhelming, with all the noise and incense and staring, but it was also very cool. Such a different experience of reality, having that cosmology and aesthetic and life. It's one of the best reasons to travel to a new place, because it reminds me that there's more than one way to spend days and live a life.

After that we went to the ISCON Temple, which is the world headquarters of the Hare Krishnas. As we approached the temple, a man forced these two ropes of flowers into my hand. I didn't know and was afraid to do something wrong so I took them -- and then he said 50 rupees. So we paid, and walked in with them and had no idea what we were supposed to do with them. But they were beautiful and fresh:

The architecture here was also elaborate, although they weren't as fond of gold as the Hindus. Inside there was chanting and singing, and you walk around the temple in a clockwise direction because it's the appropriate way to relate to the gods. Around the perimeter were these little stages on which people were standing and acting out scenes (I think). There was a cluster of men in the middle with drums and microphones, and they were singing and chanting, and some men were dancing in an increasingly ecstatic way.

We left without ever knowing what to do with the flowers, so we draped them on a column base and left. Dalat made his one effort to take us shopping to a place we didn't want to go, then he dropped us off.

Going to breakfast, will catch up afterwards. Thanks for following this with us -- it's nice to know you're enjoying it too!


marn said...

:) that's my favorite place in dehli

C said...

I love the woman in the orange sari, too. You should get one for yourself (That was probably a very obnoxious Western thing to say...I just meant you'd look great in one!) Hope the cold doesn't blossom into something else!

I'm enjoying your trip, too. No schaudenfreude here.

LDH said...

C -- thanks for this note! I'm glad you're enjoying this, it's really wonderful. And I tried on a sari, it's the coolest most brilliant piece of clothing ever designed.

GGRN said...

Oh what wonderful pictures. I feel like I am there with you. Shea has a Sari and it is just beautiful........but we can't remember how to put it on and drape learn how to do that and you can teach us. Keep the photos coming. Can't wait for your next posting.