Travel: New Delhi


Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

After checking-in to our rooms, we took some time to scour off the travel grime, and prepare for our day. We arrived at the hotel around 7 AM, and had decided that taking a nap would basically just serve to encourage our jet lag.

New Delhi is the capital of India, and the seat of its executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Although the capitol was originally in Calcutta in the early 1900s, the British, formally decided to migrate the seat of their power to New Delhi in 1911.

It is not difficult to feel the british influence when one walks along the kingsway.


Master-planned by the architect Edwin Lutyens, New Delhi is centered around two central promenades call the Rajpath and the Janpath. The streets are wide and tree-lined, a design that was both ambitious and forward thinking in its hey-day.

imageOur first stop, was the India Gate. It sits along the eastern edge of the ‘ceremonial axis,’ and is a towering memorial that evokes an architectural style akin to the Arch of Constantine in Rome, or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.


It calls for the remembrance of the 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who lost there lives between 1914 and 1921 during the First World War and in the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

Below this towering structure, is an understated black marble plinth that bears a reversed rifled, capped by a war helmet, bound by four urns, each with a permanent jyoti (light) from flames. Inaugurated in 1972, this is the Amar Jawan Jyoti, India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

At the opposite end of the Rajpath, lies the secretariat, home to some of the most important ministries of the Cabinet of India. Much of the buildings of the North and South block are classic in style, but it is not difficult to see the Mughal or Rajastani motifs that have been incorporated.


They are visible in the form of the perforated screens which shield from both the scorching sund and the monsoon rains. Another feature is the dome-like Chatri, which provided shade to travelers in ancient times.


Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

Our last stop of the day was the Lotus Temple. This location serves as the Mother Temple of India. The Bahá’í Faith, has roots dating from 19th-century Persia, its founder, Bahá’u’lláh died a prisoner when he was exiled to the Ottoman Empire for his teachings.



Three core principles are emphasized in the Bahá’í religion: (1) The unity of god, (2)  The unity of religion, and (3) The unity of Humanity.


Credit: Nikhil Kulkarni

Inspired by the lotus flower, a symbol of purity, the Lotus Temple is composed of 27 free-standing marble clad “petals” that form nine sides of three clusters each. Each of its nine doors open into a central hall that is more than 40 meters high, and can hold a total capacity of 2,500 people.



The engineer in me was completely awe-inspired by this building. Not only is it remniscent of the Sydney Opera House in Australia, but its a challenge to grasp the depth of shell-stresses and structural analysis involved in the fabrication of each monstrosity of a petal.


imageWe finished our day by savoring a snack of Pao Bhaji (Bombay street food, very similar to the American Sloppy Joe, except vegetarian) and having Tea, before retiring to our rooms to pass out.



Travel: Piazza San Marco

Anticipating the crowds we would encounter, my friend and I opted to wake early so that we could avoid the lines. I’m quite impressed with ourselves as we made it to St. Mark’s Square around 8 AM when it was still peaceful and quiet, void of boisterous vendors and the hubbub of tourist groups.

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St. Mark’s Square is the principal public square in Venice. This sprawling open area formed the social, religious, and political centre of Venice.

A popular remark attributed to Napoleon termed this area as “the drawing-room of Europe.”

It is breathtaking to witness during tranquil moments, but also impressive as one of the few remaining great urban spaces in Europe where human voices prevail over the sounds of motorized traffic.

The Piazza is dominated by some landmark buildings:

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St Mark’s Basilica


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Torre dell’Orologio


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Museo Correr



Doge’s Palace:

The Doge’s Palace is built-in the Venetian Gothic style; it was the residence of the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice. He was the chief magistrate and leader of the Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. Doge’s were elected for life by the city-state’s aristocracy, and was commonly the shrewdest elder in the city. He was variously referred to as “My Lord the Doge”, “Most Serene Prince”, and “His Serenity.”

This institution originated around 700 replacing the  tribunes that formerly led the cluster of early settlements around the lagoon. The official elected was a the local representative of the Emperor of Constantinople, and regarded as the ecclesiastical, the civil and military leader, in a power structure named caesaropapism. His prerogatives were not defined with precision, and despite the position being entrusted to members of the inner circle of powerful families, a law was necessary to decree that no doge had the right to name his successor.

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In 1172 the election process was finally entrusted to a committee of forty, who were chosen by four men selected from the Great Council of Venice, an annually nominated group of twelve people. New regulations were then introduced in 1268 that remained effective until the end of the republic in 1797. The primary objective was to minimize the influence of great families by instituting a complex elective machinery.

The ceremonial formula before the doge took the oath of investiture was as follows. “This is your doge, if it please you.”

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