One of the things I notice when travelling to India is how new everything is back home, relatively speaking. One of our oldest cities, Quebec City, celebrated its 400th anniversary when I was there in 2008. For many places in India, this is still “recent history”. There you get to walk around cities that are thousands of years old. In many cities, such as Delhi, there is history almost literally on every corner. It is not unusual for me to see a building with a small plaque outside that leads me down a rabbit hole of history. Take this monument in Mehrauli:
This is the tomb of Mohammad Quli Khan, brother of one of the Emperor Akbar’s generals. But more recently, in the 1800’s, it was turned in to a house by Sir Thomas Metcalfe. This seemed like such a barbaric and disrespectful thing to do that I ended up reading more about him in The Last Mughal. I won’t spoil the book but what I can say is that it was fascinating – and Metcalfe turned out to be even MORE of a monster than I thought.
After I walked in this part of Mehrauli, I headed over to the Qutb Minar complex. While I’ve visited Varanasi and there probably saw the oldest buildings I’ve ever seen, I don’t know the specific ages – but the city has been there for thousands of years. The Qutb Minar was built in 1193, though, and is one of the oldest things I’ve seen. Seeing something that old makes me feel a bit small and insignificant. We’re only here for the blink of an eye, after all.
Challenge via Nancy Merrill Photography.