Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lutyen's New Delhi and Qutab Minar

The HQ of the Ministry of External Affairs, the Prime Minister's Office and the Defence Ministry designed by eminent British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, form part of an impressive and lasting legacy left to New Delhi by Lutyens. During the 1920s and 1930s he was responsible for much of the architectural design when India was part of the British Empire.
India Gate commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during World War l.
Rashtrapati Bhavan the residence of the President of India formally the Viceroy's House
images courtesy of wiki
Built as a Victory Tower in 1192, the Qutab Minar is the tallest minaret in the world. It was inspired by the minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, and is an important example of Afghan architecture which later evolved into Indo-Islamic Architecture. It is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the surrounding buildings and monuments.
The bands of intricate carving are in the Kufic style of Islamic calligraphy
A further tower was planned known as the Alai Minar. It was conceived to be twice as high as the Victory Tower, but the construction was abandoned. However, it is interesting to see the remains of the giant rubble masonry core that still stands today. It would have been covered with dressed stone on completion
Carved stone cloister columns to the entrance and inside the Quwwatul-Islam Mosque which sits at the centre of the complex
Built in 1193 and although now lying in ruins it is still possible to appreciate and see the Mosques indigenous corbelled arches, motifs and geometric patterns amongst the Islamic architectural structures.
image courtesy wiki
A 23ft iron pillar, weighing 6.5 tons, and dating back to 375 stands within the ruins of the mosque. It is an enigma being made of 98 percent wrought iron which has stood for over 1,600 years without rusting or decomposing. The indentation on the pillar is the result of a cannonball fired at close range during Nadir Shah's invasion of Delhi in 1739.
Close to the Victory Tower lies the tomb of Imam Zamin - a sufi saint who came to India in 1500 from Turkestan. He lived in the complex during the reign of Sikandar Lodi. He built his own mausoleum here and died in 1539. Inside the sides are carved with perforated 'Jali' screens characteristic of the Lodi Period
It is time to head off back to the hotel, have our supper, get an early night,

and be ready to board the early morning Shatabdi Express train from Delhi to Agra where we have a date with two iconic Indian monuments

50 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, All of these scenes are magnificent, but my favorite here is the iron column, made of a material I find endlessly fascinating. I don't know whether the cannonball story is apocryphal or not, but it is appalling how much damage to ancient monuments, that one might assume to be the natural decay of centuries, turns out to be deliberate and often rather recent.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - your comment makes me think of the terrible destruction that is being carried out at this very moment. I watched a programme about funding for ISIS and much of the money is coming from both the looting and destruction of priceless antiquities in Iraq and Syria dating back from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires.

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  2. Dear Rosemary, You are the best travel guide. Your photographs and retelling of history has made me want to travel to India. A place I have always found fascinating but have shied away from. The one place I really want to see is Agra. So I am looking forward to seeing your pictures. You keep telling us about your "simple little camera". That little camera takes fantastic photographs. But of course, the photographer has a lot to do with the quality and choice of photos taken.

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    1. Dear Gina - I have promised myself a new camera for my birthday this year. It is kind of you to say my simple little camera takes fantastic photos but that is mainly because the subjects and light were so good. On my last few trips I have realised the limitations of it - the zoom is hopelessly inadequate. I shall still get another 'little' camera as I like something that will fit in my pocket, but with a superior zoom.
      When you see the posts on Agra I hope that it may encourage you even more to make that visit.

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  3. Hello Rosemary,
    The columns are intriguing as are the towers. Photos are lovely as usual..
    Regards,
    Margaret

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    1. I liked the calligraphy detail in the tower and it looked especially lovely against the bright blue sky

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  4. Fantastic architecture and the light is beautiful.

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    1. I think that we happened to pick a good time of year to visit. I wasn't sure when would be best but certainly didn't want to be there in a monsoon.

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  5. I'm really enjoying your pictures, usually all one sees are pictures of the Taj Mahal and the Ganges.

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    1. There will be a post on the splendid Taj Mahal but hopefully you might see it in a different light as I have endeavoured to show it in relation to its situation within the gardens and in relation to the other buildings around it. Before visiting I didn't realise myself how much this alters your whole perception of the setting.

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  6. Really lucky to have experienced a colorful and amazing stay in India. Impressive buildings so distant from what we are used to see in Europe. How enriched I feel looking at your splendid photos and learning history Rosemary!

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    1. Thank you Olympia - India was a continual eye opener - most of the places we visited were UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and I am ashamed to admit that many of them were completely unknown to me beforehand.

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  7. Spectacular buildings, old and new. The workmanship that has gone into those carved stone columns.

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    1. I think that I have now fallen in love with India architecture Jessica

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  8. Dear Rosemary,

    I like the way Lutyens adapted his designs to Indian styles, and my goodness, the President's house looks as though it would engulf Buckingham Palace. I am completely enamored of all the intricate incising that you've been seeing; it's almost as if lace were draped over the buildings!

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    1. Dear Mark - what a very apt description for the intricate incising work. I loved the different styles used for the 'jali' screens and could see them still having a function today for loggias and verandas in hot countries.

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  9. Fascinating buildings. I almost prefer the slightly ramshackle ones to the overpowering imperial architecture. Alai Minar particularly intrigues me.

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    1. Alai Minar is interesting because it reveals the building process used for the other tower. It would have been absolutely enormous if it had been completed. The stump that is there is 80ft high and would have represented only the first floor.

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  10. Again you have amazed us with the architectural marvels of India, all previously unknown to me, Rosemary. Lutyens grand works are astonishing, particularly the former Viceroy's house - thinking of the Governor General's house in Canberra, so tiny by comparison. The mosque architecture is exquisite, but I am really fascinated by the iron pillar from 375. I know mankind had well reached the iron age, but for some reason did not know such a feat of engineering was achieved so early. Wonderful photos - keep 'em coming :)

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    1. The British were supported in India by the Hindu elite which helped give legitimacy to the empire. For them, British rule was a welcome break from a long period of oppression under Islamic rule and also provided a chance to reform Indian society.
      We wondered why they do not dislike us, but a man we spoke to on a train journey informed us that many Indians look back to the time of the British Raj with nostalgia as being a time when both law and order and education came to their country.
      Many things today still operate along the lines of the British system - their Civil Service, the railways, education, law - they even drive on the same side of the road as us, it is very surprising.
      India was a voyage of discovery in many ways.

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  11. Amazing architecture. The fact that India used to be part of the British Empire always intrigues me.

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    1. The British Raj has left a large legacy in India which is still prevalent today - they even drive on the same side of the road as us.

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  12. Amazing the work of art that Victory Tower is. beautiful sights.....Looking forward to more.

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    1. I could not believe my eyes when they first fell upon the Victory Tower

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  13. There's so much power in the architecture you've photographed; the height and weight, the attention to detail, as well as the significance of each design. We just don't build like this anymore.

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    1. The architecture and its people are the standout moments that I shall always remember.

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  14. All that intricate stonework! Thanks for sharing these photos, looking into another aspect of Indian culture and life.
    Ms Soup

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    1. Thank you, I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it.

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  15. Impressive monuments, such amazing details and carvings, a beauty you will never surely never forget !

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    1. I have only seen the tip of the iceberg in India, it makes me want to return.

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  16. You have seen some really wonderful architecture there. That minaret is so beautiful carved.

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    1. The architecture was far more impressive than I had imagined.

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  17. Hello Rosemary
    A wonderful interesting post. I am fasciated by the iron pillar and how sturdy iron is.
    Thanks again for such beautiful images
    Helen xx

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    1. Hello Helen - your comments are always so generous and encouraging -thank you

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  18. Although I am a huge fan of Lutyen, I prefer the architecture from the other eras of Indian history. Despite the passage of time they seem much more 'alive'. I'm really enjoying seeing the country through your eyes.

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    1. I am also a fan of Lutyens and had long wanted to see his scheme for New Delhi. However, it is no surprise that 32 of Indian's buildings and complexes have a UNESCO World Heritage Listing.

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  19. Dear Rosemary,

    I see I missed several of your posts. What a joy to have visited India. I have never been there myself, but I heard many stories of how special it is.

    You visited some impressive places. It must have have been special to see/learn more of your nations history abroad. Such an interesting period!

    Wishing you a good new week!

    Madelief x

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    1. Thank you Madelief - although we are so recently return it is already beginning to feel like a dream

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  20. Marvellous architecture - so much to see and learn over there.

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    1. The trip has definitely opened our eyes

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  21. Wauw, what a monument. Hope to see a lot more of India on your blog.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  22. Your images are stunnning as always and it is such a joy to be able to be able to see these Indian treasures with you as our guide. The architecture is so lovely the first picture was my favourite until I read about the tower. Sarah x

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    1. Thank you Sarah - the tower is certainly a tour de force which I loved it.

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  23. Such wonders of architecture and design that it's difficult to pick out what moved me most, Rosemary. I love the intricate Jali screens and the beautiful carved cloister columns, but to be honest I find New Delhi's civic architecture impressive but somehow impersonal.

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    1. I think that you are right Perpetua - Indian architecture suits India better than British

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