Trying out the Metro, exploring the Mehrauli Archaeological Park and the adjacent Qutb Minar complex, to the south of Delhi. Qutb Minar is the world’s highest brick minaret, built in the 12th Century.
Today we ventured out on the Delhi Metro, to the Qutb Minar complex a few miles south of the centre. For anyone who has used metro systems in other cities around the world, the Delhi Metro will feel very familiar. All passengers and luggage are scanned airport-style at the entrance to stations, then having bought a token for your journey from either a counter or a machine, you proceed through automatic barriers to the station. Rolling stock is very modern (made by Bombardier, based in Derby!), and the stations clean and comfortable. Much as you might find on the London Underground, crowd numbers vary from intense near Delhi centre to more bearable in the suburbs. And just like other metros, everyone tries to avoid eye contact by fiddling with their phones.
Arriving at Qutb Minar station we were faced with a barrage of young men touting for autorickshaw business or showing us to a nearby market. Once again, a few firm “No thank you”s and we were past them and onto the main road. First stop on our visit was the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, about a one mile walk away from the station. Several acres of wooded parkland, containing a handful of ancient tombs, mosques and two step wells to explore. Admission is free, and it’s clearly a very popular spot both for locals and for school day trips.
The Qutb Minar complex is immediately next door to the Mehrauli Park, and is a little busier at the entrance with touts, rickshaw drivers, and street vendors all pushing for your business. Construction of the minaret was started at the end of the 12th century under the reign of Qutbuddin Aibak, and completed by later muslim sultans. At 73 metres high and 379 steps, it claims to be the highest tower in India.
Cash Crisis: We know we need to visit an ATM every day to maximise on our daily withdrawal limit opportunity. With no certainty about the continued availability of cash in our nearby ATMs, and no advance knowledge of the ATM situation at the next cities on our list, we decided to use more than one card per day. My debit card attracts no additional service charges (thank you, Nationwide!), but I know the credit card will incur an exchange fee and also daily interest on the cash advance. Still, needs must! This nets us a further 20,000 rupees, or approx £240 today.
Tomorrow, Temples and Tombs!