Let me just say this – there are a lot of things that are unreliable in India. A lot of things. Like the internet. Okay, fair enough. And electricity. It goes out at least once a day but more often in summer and some neighbourhoods have power only part time. And, among still other things, water. Water. That’s right, you heard me. Water. Had no way of showering or doing much of anything yesterday. You don’t realize how much water you consume in a day until you have NONE. More on that in another post though…
Today’s post is all about Lodi Park in Delhi and public displays of affection. That’s right, some good old PDA.
Lodi Park is 9 acres of lush gardens, lawns, and a pond with Mughal ruins sprinkled liberally all over the site in what I would refer to as downtown Delhi. It’s gorgeous! I could have easily wandered around Lodi for an entire day.
The park is free to enter and it seems to be very popular with tourists and locals alike. The lawns were covered in families picnicking, groups of friends playing ball games and even groups of school children doing what reminded me of the Participaction games/Duke of Edinburgh awards we used to have to partake in, in elementary school. It was also full of couples enjoying lots and lots of PDA.
I mentioned in my last post that I think my very Asian mother-in-law would have a coronary watching all of the couples canoodling under the trees, in every nook and cranny you could find. Apparently Lodi Park is the place for this in Delhi. I’m guessing that since I did not see it anywhere else. She wouldn’t have a coronary because she found it upsetting. She has a wicked sense of humour about stereotypes and that includes the no-PDA in Asia stereotype. She would have enjoyed a good, long, raucous laugh that would have gone on so long in Lodi Park that it brought on a coronary. There were couples all cozy at the bases of date palms, nested in the trunks of banyan trees, tucked into little alcoves in the ruins and on and under the little bridge that goes over the pond. There were also many couples out in the open holding hands, hugging and laying together on the lawns. The PDA was tame compared to what you sometimes see after bar close in the Americas but it was all over the place. Good on each of those couples for challenging a ridiculous stereotype.
Lodi Park was a challenge to capture pictures that would leave the couples their ‘privacy’ and would focus on the ruins rather than the crowds of people. Mind you, that is slightly easier to do when you have 9 acres of parklands to play with. So, you know, tuck behind some trees here, a bush there, some well placed palms there and you have the pictures in this post. I’m really happy with them.
Lodi Park is full of Mughal era ruins. There is a mosque, a walled tomb and several other buildings that are just there, not restored but protected in some sense and people climb all over them. Given that Delhi couldn’t possible preserve and restore every historical structure to museum quality and still have any money left over to do things like manage water, power, landfills, transportation and education… this is a great alternative. It’s also a greater way, I think of engaging people with the history of the place they are in. They can touch it, feel it with their hands, sit on the stairs and balconies and floors while enjoying the sunshine in a peaceful, beautiful park setting. The park also provides employment for groundskeepers and security while being one of the only areas in Delhi where the hawkers are noticeably absent. Just a few street food vendors outside the entrance of the park. Awesome.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a notebook with me and Day 3, as you might be able to tell was really full of things to do. So, I have forgotten the name of the mosque, the tomb, the other buildings… and I have had no idea until just now (when I looked it up) that the tomb you see is Sikander Lodi’s tomb and Lodi Park (as I have been referring to it is actually Lodi Gardens). So there you go, a lesson learned – bring a notebook or something to record these things with. Delhi has very few pamphlets aimed at tourists at these sites and who wants to carry around a guidebook? Not me, thanks.
The big domed building that you see in the pictures on the left is a mosque, or was. It has been abandoned. The domed part of the building is the entry way, while the smaller structure with three domes on top is the mosque itself, including the prayer hall.
The large dome is the first structure you see as you enter the park and is a really impressive sight. Families were picnicking all over the grounds and the large domed part of the structure. It was really nice to watch so many people enjoying the space.
Following the mosque in the pictures is the wall surrounding Sikunder Lodi’s tomb. The wall is fairly simple by Mughal standards and made of red sandstone with some local sandstone mixed in. At one time, the small structures you see in the wall were tiled with green, blue, turquoise and yellow tile, some remnants of those are still there. It would have been quite a sight, I think, when the tiles were all intact.
Coming around the first corner of the wall, you see a beautiful pond with an arched bridge over the far end of it. Here is where I met Delhi’s birds. Not that birds aren’t omnipresent in Delhi but here they are just more so. Geese, swans, doves, sparrows, green parrots, pigeons, several species of hawk… all of them enjoying Lodi Gardens. There is even a bird that looks a lot like a common crow except it’s head feathers are silver/dark grey. Except for one elusive bird that I’ve been hoping to see – the peacocks were nowhere to be found. I have a lot longer there though, so I’m not giving up hope yet. Maybe in Amritsar, or Chandigarh, or Patiala, or Pune… they can’t hide forever.
Tangent alert: While I was enjoying Lodi Gardens, my driver went to have his lunch. I told him that I would probably be a few hours in the park so he was free to go off and do whatever he liked. Besides, I sort of felt guilty that I was enjoying all of these great places while he sat outside and waited for me. I ended up being just a few minutes less than a few hours, so when I got back to the entrance, I found his vehicle but not him. I sat and waited for him on a low wall that encircles the parking area. Oh holy man, the stares. Wow. Just wow. From everyone – the food vendors, other drivers, tuk tuk drivers and their customers, people waiting at a nearby bus stop. It was like an alien had just landed among the crowd. But not an intimidating alien type who would draw screams and send the crowd running, but more of an E.T. type – what the heck is that thing alien. Yeap. That’s exactly how I felt with hundreds of eyes on me.
Poor Shiv. When he returned he was full of “were you waiting long? I’m sorry. I went to eat. Please excuse me.” What?!? Oh my little dude, you are allowed to eat. Seriously. I sent you off and showed up earlier than expected and you’re apologizing to me. And here they say that Canadians are too polite. Wow. I could tell he was concerned with the attention I was drawing but I wasn’t. Big, open area with tons of people going in and out of the park. I was fine but Shiv was so concerned for me that I thought I should talk to him about why. More on that in another post. Yeah, I just did that. Suck it up, I’m telling this story lol.
I’ve mentioned before how green Delhi is. There was an amazing variety of trees and other plant life in the gardens. I was able to identify a few as date palm, tamarind, cashew, lemon, lime and jasmine (oh my does Lodi Gardens smell good) but I don’t recall seeing some of the trees before. I’ve took a shot of one of the more lush and interesting ones. It sort of looks like a tamarind to me but the leaves are wrong. I’ll collect pics over time and see if any of you aspiring botanists out there can help me out. For you aspiring biologists, I’ll post some of the birds and other creatures I have no idea about for your enjoyment and my edification.
For the bird lovers – some bird wakes me up every morning around 3:30 a.m. with a call that sounds just like a common whistle. You know the kind that people blow in the movies? Yeah, that one. Imagine waking to that sound every morning… For the first few days I thought it was some ass waking up the colony with his whistle but it is actually a bird. A greyish bird who sits high in a tree outside my back window and won’t show it’s little face. If I get a picture of the little bugger, I’ll post it but frankly I’m kind of hoping a hawk gets it first.
Okay, so next post will be the last post from Delhi for a while. I know, I know, but we have to move on at some point and Amritsar is a pretty amazing place to move on to. I’ll be back in Delhi at the end of the journey though… when it starts getting hot there.
The next post will cover the highlights of the National Museum and what shall we talk about besides that? … Oh I know, let’s talk about a squat toilet. No, wait. I’ve used a latrine or three in my lifetime, so let me be clear – Indian toilets of every design including the very confusing until you think it through, squat toilet. Yeah, we’ll just get that one out of the way as quickly as we can.
|This looks like the same picture of Lodi’s Tomb as the one
above, right? Wrong. Cleverly, I waited a moment between
shots you see… note the man in the first pic is replaced by a
woman in the second pic. Changes the whole shot really 😉