Saturday, June 4, 2011

Trip through Lotus Temple in New Delhi

One of the most interesting buildings that we visit on our trip to New Delhi was the Lotus Temple, the Bahai House of Worship. The temple, whose majestic structure has been compared to the Sydney Opera House, has become one of the most picturesque tourist attractions of the Indian capital. The truth is that there is no doubt about it. Surprisingly, since its opening it has become one of the most visited monuments in India, surpassing in number of annual visitors to the Taj Mahal itself.

Lotus Temple in Delhi

Day 1 in New Delhi

The train trip to Delhi was much heavier than the other way around. Among other things because the train was going the other way! It started moving and the seats are now in the opposite direction. So we were seeing everything from behind. In this train they did not serve food or anything. It was that only one coach with air conditioning.

Although they did not serve food every few minutes the vendors move selling water, juices, chips, cookies and at normal street prices. So we keep munching something or the other and at the end of the trip we had almost eaten everything. The trip lasted almost 10 hours because the train was late.

The guy sitting beside me share his stories, who was a engineer and worked in a MNC and was going to Holland. He talked a lot, about everything he had seen on the trip, about life outside India and the Punjabis. He has his brother in Canada and showed us pictures of his travels. It made the journey a little more entertaining.

Arriving in Delhi, we did not really want anything. The guy invited us to dinner at the fast- food outlet near the station. So we enjoyed dinner and we taste the naan with methi chicken! Already tired we said goodbye to him, and wish him good luck with his company. We reach the hotel. The rooms are perfect. The bathroom is luxurious and so we fall down after looking out the window and see some lights that flicker around.

Lotus Temple in Delhi

Day 2 in New Delhi

The alarm clock sounded at 6.30. We have a shower and go up to the breakfast room of the hotel where we tried chole bhature. We like them and it charge us with energy. After half an hour we go down in search of our car to go to the Lotus temple. From the car we see a Delhi without so much chaos as we expected.

We reach after a long time, because it is far away and the traffic is heavy. The Lotus temple is near an area called Kailash Hills in the middle of a park called the Astha Kunj Park. Well it really is not a temple, but a Bahai prayer house. It's in the new part of Delhi and is totally different.

Actually the temple is very beautiful, especially seen from the gardens where it truly resembles a Lotus flower. The really incredible must be the aerial view of the place, although I'm afraid we'll stay with the desire.

There are skyscrapers, and office buildings in the backdrop. The girls are dressed in a European way, without saris. Some even wear shorts and we see many luxury cars. I had never heard of the Bahai religion. The good thing about the temple is that they are open to all religions. One can pray in any language and be of any religion that you.

One can also meditate or do nothing, but just relax because the only thing one cannot do is talk inside. We enter the park, which is impeccable, and totally clean, with the grass cut. There is neither a piece of paper, nor garbage. It does not look like the India I see everyday. In the middle of the park is the impressive lotus-shaped temple with nine sides surrounded by nine pools. And the pools are blue with clean blue water.

We went up some stairs. They gave us a bag for our shoes and waited a bit in a row to enter. A girl told us that any religion is welcome and that inside we could not talk to respect whoever was praying or meditating. Inside the temple there is only a large marble and wooden dome and benches to sit and no pictures or anything.

For whatever it is when I sit down and close my eyes I feel super relaxed. So we sit for a while relaxed because inside we can stay as long as we want. It's weird because it really did not sound at all, nor was anyone playing any instrument because one cannot play music or sing.

Upon leaving we deduce that the way in which it is built and the dome making that om sound cannot be heard but can be felt and that relaxes us. I liked the experience and the temple is very cool. Upon leaving we approach another temple that is very close to the Shri Kalkaji and then to another bigger temple, the Bhagwan Shri Kalki Mandir. I do not want to see any more temples as I'm tired.

When we finished seeing temples we were on our way to the hotel. Suddenly we saw a place with all the fast-food cartels we can imagine like Dunkin Donuts, KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks. There has been a unanimous cry in the car and there we go.

So we eat fried chicken and smoothies. We also pay a tribute at Starbucks with chocolate frappe and chips and even red velvet cake. In all the restaurants the people are in expensive jeans and mobiles. This is definitely another India. From here we go to the hotel in Delhi to rest for a while and at about 6 we left, this time with no one to take us, to Main Bazar.

Here we discover a Delhi with more people, more chaotic, more noisy, but not at all overwhelming as we imagined. We are going to dine at the restaurant recommended in the India travel guide at the end of Main Bazar. There we ate a butter naan, malai kofta and a beer. From here we return to the hotel and wrapping us again in this chaos that we are so fond of. Tomorrow we leave Delhi.

Day 3 in New Delhi

It was still too early to go to the airport, since our flight did not leave until 1 o'clock in the afternoon. To make matters worse, our driver told us if he could leave us at the airport at 6 because he could catch the 8 o'clock bus to go to Jodhpur and be with his family.

At first we felt a bit emotional blackmail and did not want to spend more than seven hours at the airport, but finally, seeing that we did not know what to do either, we told him to take us there. And there we went, carrying our suitcases to face the long wait with all the patience of the world.

However, the security at the entrance doors did not want to let us pass because theoretically we cannot enter the terminal until two hours before the flight. Then I displayed all my charm and then they let us pass. Up to two hours before leaving the flight they would not let us check in and the waiting area of ​​the Delhi airport does not have much entertainment.

At 10:30 we were able to check in and enter the boarding area, where there are a lot of shops and restaurants. For the last meal here I wanted to try the McDonald's vegetarian menu, but we could not because they did not accept a credit card. So we ended up in a restaurant eating a club sandwich and we ended our vegetarian days.

As a final culmination, we decided to give a massage in a spa, where there was a gentleman playing a traditional Indian instrument. In the end we had to run after the massage because when we finished passengers were already embarking. It was the final touch to a trip full of contrasts of wonderful things and slaps of raw reality.

After returning home Delhi has made me see how different things can be. Today I do not think the same as when I arrived in this city. I neither love nor hate her, because just like what happened to me in Delhi, I will have to return to see it with different eyes.

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Kalyan Panja
Kalyan Panja is a photographer and a travel writer sharing stories and experiences through photographs and words