The magnificent Qutub Minar

I am back in India again and so of course, visiting some of the historical sites in Delhi was on the cards. A few days back, I went to Qutub Minar. It is strange the number of times I have passed this monument on the way to numerous places in Delhi, and become so used to its presence, never considering that it might be a structure worth visiting and admiring. However, with my relatively recent photography bug and the desire to enjoy some sun in this chilly winter, Qutub Minar was chosen as a good destination.

There is much more to Qutub Minar than just a minaret. While the minaret, tallest of its kind in India, is of course magnificent, there are a number of beautiful corridors and arches surrounding the Minar. If visited during the early hours of the day, it is a lovely sight to behold. Near the Minar is also the famous Iron Pillar, a pillar whose metal composition has somehow not rusted since its time of construction! Rightfully so, the Qutub Minar has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I took few photographs – going in the middle of the day offered plenty of sunshine but limited photo ops due to the multitude of tourists at the location.

Qutub Minar close up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inscriptions on Qutub Minar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qutub Minar

A visit to Old Delhi

It’s been an eventful trip to India. First year of MBA just got over and I am back in India for a bit to visit family and friends after one whole year. Much has happened…things have changed, people have changed, I have changed. New perspectives have been gained. A chapter in life has ended and a new chapter has begun. Life can indeed take unexpected turns.

Having spent most of my vacation coming to terms with this realization, I finally went out to do what I knew I loved – photography. It’s a shame that despite being brought up in Delhi for the most part, I’ve hardly seen any monuments in this historically rich city. And so I decided to pay Old Delhi a visit.

The Metro of course made the trip so much more delightful than it would have been earlier. I personally love taking the metro (I’m only 4 trips old though :)), and reached Chandini Chowk in air-conditioned bliss :). The stark contrast as one comes out of the metro station is perhaps something unique to India – from the clean, cool, and modern environ of the metro station, one enters the chaos of Chandini Chowk. As I threaded my way towards Jama Masjid, I passed a trash yard, a Nirulas cart, a ‘thela’ selling masalas, and rickshaws that would not stop even if you were standing right in front of them.

But, despite its quirks, contrasts, heat and sheer number of people, I still love India. Or maybe that is what I love? 🙂 I miss India there, and cannot wait to get back here, soon.

I did not really take many shots. The heat eventually did get to me, and maybe I was too lost in just looking around to bother much with taking photographs. Even so, I am sharing some of the better photographs I took. The monuments are Jama Masjid and Red Fort.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

5 steps to conquering the Inca trail…and enjoying it!

The Inca trail is one of the most popular treks in Peru. Starting from Chillca, it ends in Machu Pacchu, the lost city of the Incas. The Inca trail is however a moderately difficult trek, and preparing well for the trek would help in making the hike that much more easier and fun! 🙂 Here are 5 steps to ensuring that you’re well prepared –

1. Plan your itinerary and book in advance– the hike to Machu Picchu can be done in as few as two days, to five days. We did a four day variant, covering about 45kms over four days. The distance covered and level of difficulty varies with the option you choose (the five day hike is easier but also longer, although it goes up till a higher altitude). Due to the hike being above 10,000 ft for the most part, it is also important to factor in a few days at Cusco to help the body acclimatize. Two – three days are usually enough for most people. Make sure you book well in advance as only 500 passes to the trail are released each day, and they tend to get over pretty quickly.

2. Health check and Diamox – make sure you get a health check up done. Get the necessary shots, and also a prescription for Diamox (helps you deal with altitude sickness). It is debatable whether you would need Diamox or not as different people react differently to the altitude, but unless you’ve done high altitude treks before, best you’re well prepared. Be warned though – Diamox has side effects such as tingling.

3. Get the right gear – although you don’t really need anything special for the trek, having a shell jacket and shell trousers can be very useful, especially if you go in the rainy season. Hiking poles, sleeping bags, gaiters are again useful to have. Three things that I found super helpful – hand sanitizers, baby wipes, and a headlamp!

4. Train! – While you’ll be able to do the hike even if you’re not the fittest person ever, a little bit of training before the hike can go a long way in helping you manage the trek and enjoy it while it lasts. At high altitudes, your fitness levels can definitely make a difference in terms of how quickly you get tired or exhausted. The second day of the hike in particular is fairly hard as it has a long and steady ascent to the highest point in the trek (Dead woman’s pass). Just half an hour of jogging a few weeks before the hike should do! 🙂

5. Do your research – Make sure you do some preliminary research on Cusco, Machu Picchu and the trail in general before you go. This is an area rich in history, and having some background beforehand would really help you appreciate the beauty of the place.

Sounds hard? Here are some pictures that will hopefully motivate you. The effort is well worth it! 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Philadelphia – First impressions part I

It’s been two and half days since I moved to Philadelphia, US. Only a single day now remains, before a new chapter in life begins – an MBA program at Wharton. My first few days have gone in shopping for furniture at IKEA and assembling it. I thought it would be extremely hard but it turned out to be quite a lot of fun! 🙂

As the anxiety and excitement builds up, I finally got the time today to go out into the city and explore a little bit. I was confused between simply “looking” and taking photographs but ended up taking some shots anyway, while taking mental notes for what to capture later 😀

The thing which has struck me the most about Philly the most so far is how this city has so much history visible all around. There are beautiful, old buildings sprinkled all over, lending a lovely mood to the city.

Finding an old building such as this church, amidst newer ones, is a common sight

There are houses, shops and restaurants located in many of these buildings. It looks quite wonderful.

Would be amazing to have such a pretty entrance to your house!

An Irish pub looks much more interesting given its location

Buildings are adorned with a lot of detail and craftsmanship

Of course there are some of the more modern looking cafes such as this. I’ve always been a fan of street side cafes, if only the Indian weather could allow them:(

Shot on Walnut Street

I saw a lot of places that offered to do psychic readings or tarot readings or some astrological stuff. That was interesting!

This one is in fact very close to my building, perhaps only one or two blocks away

A different way of attracting customers, this. I’m sure it works! 🙂

On 19th Street

Another street side cafe –

Street side cafes dot the sidewalks. Pedestrians walk past

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful music played by street musicians lends a very romantic mood to the city.

This gentleman played amazing mouth organ. It's sad to see such talent go waste.

Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur

The Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur is really quite a structure. Like the name, the Gol Gumbaz is a very imposing structure, exuding power and dominance. While the Taj Mahal looks feminine and graceful, the Gol Gumbaz looks quite masculine and powerful 😀

The Gol Gumbaz is one of the largest domed structures in the world. It also boasts of a Whispering Gallery with fantastic accoustics. The king and queen stood on opposite ends of the dome and communicated in this way 🙂