Delhi, India

Thursday, May 9, 1929

Got up early to visit Kutb Minar, 13 miles south. Rode along a fine road past New Delhi, a beautiful new city of white buildings the English are building, to the Tomb of Safdar, a large, imposing place similar to the Mausoleum of Humayum. Continuing on, we finally reached Kutb Minar. A great mosque, the Kuwwat ul Islam Mosque, forms the center of things here. It was built in 1193 A.D. It is now in ruins, but still magnificent.

A visitor 150 years after its erection describes it as having no equal either in beauty or extent. It is still unrivaled for its grand screen of gigantic arches, and for the graceful beauty of the flowered tracery which covers its walls. The famous Iron Pillar stands in front of the opening of the mosque  proper. It is one of the most curious antiquities in India. It is a solid shaft of wrought iron, 16 inches in diameter and 23 feet 8 inches in length. The pillar originally stood on a mountain, according to the inscriptions places on it by Chandra, who is said to have conquered the Vanga Country (i.e., Bengal), and after crossing the seven tributaries of the Indus River, vanquished the Váhlikas. It was probably made about 400 A.D. According to tradition, it was Anang Pál, the founder of the Tomar Dynasty, who erected the pillar. It rested on the head of a great snake until the Raja unwisely moved it to see if this were so—an act which cost the Tomars their kingdom.

The Kutb Minar is a grand monument, a tower of victory. It is Muhammadan, standing 238 feet high, and having five storeys. It has some beautiful text inscriptions on the walls outside.

Spent some time drinking ice water at the DB before continuing on to the Mausoleum of Humayun, several miles away. Its plan is adopted after that of the Taj, but used here without the depth and poetry of that celebrated building. It is, however, a noble tomb and anywhere else must be considered a wonder. The recessed windows are of beautiful latticed designs in stone and marble.

Nearby is a ruined mosque with a tank. Men dive or jump into this tank for a rupee. They had it all framed and raised the price on us, so we didn’t have them jump. On the left side a covered passage leads to an inner gate and yet another which opens into the court where the tomb of the saint is, all of white marble, having some fine pierced screens and inlaid with semi-precious stones. Here they tried to make us give baksheesh to some beggars. We got hot and laid them out for cheapening and commercializing their religion and walked out. I have been feeling rotten about all day and here was on my last legs. However, these last legs got me 6 miles back to the hotel at 2PM. Things were all closed because of a solar eclipse, and throngs of people flocked toward the river for some ceremony. There were snake charmers and what-not. Slept till six, when we all rode down to the Chandri Chauk again and walked all around the bazaars and back streets. Again thought I would pass out, but didn’t. Got another pair of slippers and returned for dinner at nine.

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