Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The city of Delhi has been around for 5000 (or might be as young as 2500) years. Beginning in 1912, the British created New Delhi within the metropolis. There is thus an Old Delhi and a New Delhi. The total city has 10 million people, while New Delhi has around a third of a million. All the terms are interchangeable in terms of international travel. The problem with population and India is that the numbers depend on the source. For example, Mongabay.com has Mumbai (once known as Bombay) at 20 million, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) 15 million, and Delhi 18 million. I was surprised to learn that only about 10% of the people of Delhi speak English. Hindi is spoken by all, but there are 425 languages in the country.
India itself is known to have had human habitation for 9000 years. No one is sure when their primary religion, Hindu, started, but, certainly more than 1000 years before Christianity. Anyway, India remained Hindu (97%) until just before 1200 when the Muslims conquered the country. Hindu is a peaceful religion, so the takeover was with ease. Genghis Khan probably never invaded India, but his grandson, Babur, began the Mughal Empire (still Muslim) in 1526, which lasted until 1857 when the the British came. At this point, the country had dropped to 84% Hindu (today, it is 81%). After nearly a millennium of occupation, India finally gained independence in 1947, to an important degree inspired by Mahatma Ghandi, who was assassinated in 1948.
My city tour today covered the three World Heritage sites and attractions such as India Gate (left) in Delhi.
To the right is the Qutub Minar tower, built in 1199. It survived the 2001 7.9 earthquake near Delhi.
Below is Humayon's Tomb, which served as a model for the Taj Mahal, built a century or so later.
The final stop was Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Interestingly enough, his ashes were spread over several rivers throughout India, the Indian Ocean and South Africa, where he practiced law. At Raj Ghat, heads of state visit the site and plant a tree, sometimes bringing seedlings from their respective countries. Thus, while I unknowingly began Pearl's tribute of ash scattering and tree planting only because it seemed right, my India stop served to validate the reason.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is surging, up 150 to 10,058, with the Japan Nikkei advancing to 10,008! World markets also increased. Something about hope for Greece. Gold jumped $14/toz to $1078, but crude oil dropped a bit to $73/barrel.
Tropical Cyclone Pat, way northeast of New Zealand, is up to 75 MPH, but not threatening anyone.