I’m sitting on a plane heading from Delhi to Varanasi, India. It’s actually almost a zen experience after the sights and sounds assaulting us for two days in Delhi. Talk about sensory overload. The guide books all talk about the visual explosion, constant cacophony, mysterious smells and experiences one has in India. Adjectives can’t describe .
The last two two days were packed with sight seeing and trying to understand why I am so intrigued with this country of 1.2 billion people, all who seem to be going a different direction at once. The diverse mix of cultures, religions, snake charmers and street life have some kind of mysterious pull on my psyche.
Immediate impressions of Delhi and Old Delhi are that this ancient city is one I can never really know. Clear influences are long and pervasive dedication to Hindu religion, the advent of Islam and, of course, the 100 year rule of the British. I am learning there is much that is beautiful behind the decaying walls and barbed wire, dust and pollution.
The art and architecture of the Hindus and Islam are reflected in one of our early morning stops–Qutb Minar, a World Heritage Site commemorating a military victory in the 1100s. There we could see the mix of the two styles–Hindu with its intricate over all patterns and figures of gods. Islam with the removal of faces and bulbous domes.
Delhi has ruins and relics from the seven cities that were settled there over it’s long history. During our drives around the city we saw evidence of old walls and forts, structures from ages long ago.
We spent some time at the Arts and Crafts Museum, enjoying examples of the folk arts from all over India. Of particular interest to me was the village on the grounds, with replicas of housing thorough out India. Think Greenfield Village or Williamsburg without the finesse and fine detail. Interesting none- the -less.
I found the special exhibit to be an interesting and appropriate topic. “The Camel in Crafts.”
I felt the sensory overload the most when we took a rickshaw ride through the old part of the city and along a busy thoroughfare, sharing the space with oxen pulled carts, many green and yellow three wheeled taxis, bicycle driven rickshaws like ours, huge tourist buses, motorcycles and people driving goats through the town.
Probably what I enjoyed the most were seeing the women dressed in beautiful saris, going about daily life. Their femininity is integral to everything they do. Truly an expression of beauty and grace.
Our guide told us more and more women are adopting Western dress. I am sorry to hear that. The colorful saris, worn in different ways in different parts of the country are amazingly beautiful.