The tomb of Sikandar Lodi, the second ruler of the Lodi dynasty who reigned from 1489 to 1517. His elaborate tomb is situated in the Lodi Gardens in New Delhi, in an elaborate enclosure surrounded by high walls and several pavilions.
Quite befittingly, this "year of travels" ended on the same note with a tour to New Delhi, Agra, Ranthambhore and Jaipur in northern India. From Mowgli and Secret Garden to Midnight's Children, A Fine Balance, Half a Life and A Suitable Boy, (an imaginary) India has played a role in my favorite readings, and had an irresistible draw on me that screamed to be satisfied at some point. This Christmas season was the perfect time to finally fulfill that yearning.
Views of the battlements surrounding Sikandar Lodi's tomb. Walkways meander through the large park that includes several tombs and mosques from different historic eras. The chhatris (second picture above) and the interior of the tomb were originally decorated with intricate tiles with green and blue mineral pigments and incised plaster work, some of which still remain.
Back home since two days ago, I'm still amazed by how my expectations were such an exact fit with the actual experience. India was everything I had imagined: poor, dirty, miserable - with desperately needy families lining the busy streets, living in makeshift huts among their own trash. And at the same time, the country is filled with glorious historic buildings, magnificent landscapes, decorative arts and handicrafts painstakingly produced by highly skilled artisans, all which appeared even more heartbreakingly beautiful against the background of poverty and filth.
Wall mosques (second picture above) surround the octagonal tomb in the middle of the enclosure. Four pathways edged with (struggling) roses lead to east, west, south and north and large, old trees stand in the four corners.
Mother India is a strict mother, indeed. History, economical factors, traditions, social patterns - so many reasons I'm neither learned nor experienced enough to analyze why life still needs to be so unimaginably hard for so many in India today. The inequality of income and related lack of possibilities are both screamingly unfair towards those on the lowest steps of the social ladder. Where and to whom one is born rules how one's life unfold to an all too high degree. With over 1.2 billion inhabitants, all reforms must understandably be hard to carry through, but there are no excuses for not trying. Yes, I did enjoy the journey immensely, but as you see, not without apprehension. More coming soon.