India is hurtling headlong from third world to the first as one of the fastest growing countries in the world.
When I was last here in 2009, the throng of hawkers, beggars, cacophonous crowds, and tuk tuk drivers unfailingly met visitors on arrival. Today the new Indira Gandhi international airport presents a modern marvel and a serene point of entry. Today’s Delhi is cleaner and greener than ever. While traffic is still chaotic, a massive new metro system and underground parking garages will help to divert people and cars from the roads. The wide, leafy boulevards will then seem luxurious. Shanty towns have been disassembled, covered with dirt, trees and flowers planted; the transformation in such a short time is amazing.
While India, with its new Prime Minister, is riding into a glimmering future, there are still 800 years of history seeping from its pores. The ancient minaret of Qutub Minar celebrates the country’s past. A World Heritage Site the structure is 235 foot tall, with 5 stories, with detailed Persian and Nagari inscriptions. It was erected by India’s first conqueror in 1199. From the top you can see the whole city (if you were allowed to climb it), now you just have to believe the guidebook.
Tomorrow we will continue to explore india’s past as we venture into the Land of the Kings, Rajasthan.