Travel: New Delhi

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Travel: Dom Luis Bridge, Oporto

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve managed to haul my ass out of bed this early in the morning. Oporto is a 2-hour drive from my prior location of Fatima, and I wanted to get the sites in before retiring early for the night due to an early AM flight. Yes, Alas, the time has come for me to bid adieu to my short time in Portugal and move on to the next destination on my European Adventure.

Once again, the weather is not being agreeable, in the sunlight you could no doubt see the old world charm of this century old city. However, amidst the gray skies, damp air, and churning brown waters, the city itself seemed to be sighing in sorrow. Fortunately, for the most part, the skies were generous enough to withhold a downpour of rain, and we merely had to deal with the pitter-patter of irregular drizzling.

2013-04-10 05.32.04My first official view of Porto happened while I was still in a dreary state, our bus was crossing a bridge parallel to a well-known sign of the city. It was in this fuzzy mindset that I first witnessed the historic Dom Luis Bridge.

You’ll understand my fascination with this span when you consider my background (see About Me). I was just enthralled by the structure, and it was difficult to withhold the continuous stream of design considerations and analysis methods required from zip-lining through my head.

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The arched form of the bridge results in a degree of non-linearity when considering how the structural elements resist the applied loads. This is difficult to describe in a non-technical sense, but it simply means that as the structure deforms  (changes shape) the strength and capacity of the bridge actually increases, as opposed to the logical assumption that it’s carrying capacity would decrease.

For a brief historic background: The government held a competition for the design of this land connection between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia that would span the Douro river. Téophile Seyrig claimed this honor, and construction began in 1881, and the bridge officially opened in 1886. At the time, it was the longest bridge of its type at a span of 172 m.