Growing up in Canada I have always felt that we are lacking on the history part. Sure we are all immigrants (apart from the First Nations ) but for the most part Canada’s real history is only a couple hundred years old. I think that this may be the reason why I am so amazed to see other countries that have and celebrate vast histories that have spanned not only decades but centuries.
India, of course, did not disappoint. We visited 6 different cities in the course of 15 days and every one of them was filled with so much history that we were barely able to get it all in.
|Humayun’s Tomb – Delhi|
Most of the architecture that we saw was built in the 16th century by two men. Two great Mughal kings.
My husband was most interested on where the building materials came from, how they were designed and how all the elaborate stonework was executed. I, on the other hand, was interested in the people behind the buildings. Why they would build these amazing forts and palaces and wondered what they looked like in their glory days.
|Me at the Taj|
You would think that going to India that my favourite monument would be the Taj Mahal, but you would be wrong. I do think that it is a marvel, and a wonderful thing that should be seen if you decide to go to that part of the world. Beautiful white columns, symmetry, inlaid art like you have never seen before, and a serenity that washes over you in a city of millions of people. One thing that I found to surprise me about the Taj is that I always knew that it was a mausoleum dedicated to a kings wife; but i never realized that it was a Muslim monument. I mean, looking at it now, obviously it is. It looks just like the palace from Aladdin! What I learned on this trip is that all that beautiful black scroll work on the face of the Taj are all scriptures from the Quran. This is a significant thing, as Hindus and Muslims do not typically agree on most things – but they tolerate each other. And the fact that a country that is mostly Hindu has a Muslim monument as their #1 visited tourist destination shows you just how proud Indians are of their shared heritage.
|The Muslim Wife’s Celing|
My most favourite historical site that we visited was Fatehpur Sikri which is just outside of Agra. The reason behind this was because the king that built this palace was a very political king. Our guide told us that he had three wives to make the people happy. A Hindu wife from Jaipur (arranged marriage), a “Christian” wife to show how progressive he was to the British (Christian is in quotations as it is believed that she was actually a Muslim) and a Muslim wife. I asked our guide which of the three wives was his favourite (you know, the one who got the most attention). Our guide laughed and said that I was the first one to ask him this, and that many people believed that it was the Hindu wife as she had the biggest palace. (The king and queens all had separate “palaces” within the compound.) The Hindu queen’s palace was three stories and had it’s own temple. It was twice as big as the Christian wife’s and three times as big as the Muslim wife’s. However, our guide asked us to look closely at each palace and to notice the differences. All three were very spectacular, but the one room Muslim queens was the MOST spectacularly carved and decorated. It was also the one closest to the King’s bedroom…coincidence? I think not!
|Ghandi’s Cremation Site|
If I was to take away one thing from visiting all of these heritage sites it would be that I do not know enough world history. We also visited the house that Mahatma Ghandi lived in, and we saw where he was cremated. But until I went to India this time I had no real understanding of why he was who he was. I mean, I knew that he was an important figure and someone to be admired, but I did not know the whole story. I am going to make sure that I learn more and teach my kids more in years to come.
The most interesting part about seeing the historical side of India was that as a tourist, the history is all that people want you to see. We saw fort after fort, palace after palace and memorial after memorial. We saw “old” India and if we had not visited Delhi we would have thought that India was the same as it was years ago, slowly moving forward…however, we visited a mall on the last day and it was EXACTLY like a North American mall. EXACTLY. Even the same stores.
|New Delhi Mall|
In another post I am going to touch on the political and social climate that we witnessed which also touches on this phenomena.
I could honestly write four more posts on the history as it is so rich and vibrant, but it really is something that you have to experience for yourself.