Today did not quite go as planned, but for all the right reasons. I had always planned to visit Humayun’s Tomb and Safdarjung’s Tomb in the morning, do lunch at Khan Market, then hit the National Museum in the afternoon. The latter being an after thought to fill the day as the first two sites were only expected to take me an 60-90 minutes and 30-60 minutes respectively.
Humayun’s Tomb is a large and spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site which predates the Taj Mahal, but is similar in architectural style plus in the fact is was built in memory, on this occasion the widower rather than a widow. The main path from the entrance takes you through several gates then in to the main gardens with the main tomb straight ahead of you, however there are other paths and buildings leading off to the side (mainly on the south). Not all of these were open or even accessible as the whole site is undergoing a very extensive (and expensive) restoration. Unfortunately Isa Khan’s hexagonal tomb appeared to be one of those (else I just plain manged to miss it while walking all the way round), however I think I saw everything else I wanted to, I certainly spent longer than I expected, resulting in it taking me right up to lunch.
One thing about most World Heritage Sites is that they are very popular and become very busy very quickly. I got to Humayun’s Tomb around 10:00 so not long after opening, and as a result my loaned driver had no problems parking and it was nice and peaceful. When I went to leave coach parties were arriving in numbers and we did have to wait for several buses to move out of the way before being able to leave.
With it now being past midday it was time for a change in schedule and lunch so I headed over to Khan Market to go to the famous Khan Chacha for one of chicken tika roti rolls. Cheap and superb were the results, I should have grabbed a second as they aren’t that large, but I’ll survive 😉 Post lunch I went for a wander round as on the previous quick occasion most places were closed. Aside from lots of food places and grocery shops, much of the rest there are high end living shops (sunglasses, higher end clothing, cameras, etc).
It was now getting on for two and the need for a decission. For the National Museum the guides recommend half a day, so heading straight there would be fine, however I still wanted to do Safdarjung’s Tomb so that was where I went next.
Safdarjung’s Tomb was the one of the last pieces of Mughal archiecture in the area. As it’s not a World Heritage site it does not attract the crowds, however it’s also the base for the Dehli circle of the Archeological Survey of India, meaning a number of the famous pavilions are actually offices for them and despite being a tranquil place there are cars parked inside outside their main building, making for a slightly odd environment. Added to this is the fact that maintenance and restoration of the tomb do not appear to be high on the list of priorities, so while from afar the main building looks interesting, close up it looks tatty with signs of delapidation. Perhaps once much of the work on Humayun’s Tomb is complete some of the artisans may be moved here.
By the time I had finished it was ~14:30 and I was left with a dilema. Head to the National Museum now and I might not get the car back in time for Ruth to collect Tom from school. Get a motorised rickshaw to the museum was an option, but then by the time I would have got there I would only have managed a couple of hours before it closed – potentially not enough. Thus I decided to leave the museum to another day and to head back and relax.