New Delhi (cont'd)

Toured the city.  Walked out of my hotel and a block down the road where the Lodi Gardens, with tombs and mausoleums built some five hundred years ago.

Hired a taxi for half a day for a little over ten dollars and visited the Red Fort, four hundred years old...the front of the fort is the Lahore Gate (so called because it faces Lahore, Pakistan), huge and red and intimidating.  Inside the fort is the palace of the Mughal emperors, which is a series of buildings, going from north to south.

First the Shahi Burj, the emperor's study.  Second the Royal Hamman, a series of baths (the baths had colored glass on the rooftops, that filled the rooms with a rainbow light; the bathhouse also used to have a fountain that sprayed scented rosewater).

Third was the Diwan-i-Kas, the Hall of Private Audiences, made of white marble with a roof of inlaid silver, on the center of which sat the Peacock Throne--a giant fifteen-foot throne made of solid gold that took seven years to make.  The back of the throne had peacocks, the feathers made of sapphires, rubies, pearls and other precious stones, and a parrot carved from a single emerald.  One of the stones used to decorate the throne was the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, the largest in the world.

Well...actually, I WOULD have seen the throne, if it actually sat there.  It had been broken up hundreds of years ago, and the Koh-i-Noor Diamond taken to form part of the Crown Jewels of England.  All that's left of the throne here is the marble pedestal it sat on.  And once inscribed on the walls (in gold) were these words that Shah Jahan's wazir once said: "if there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this" (tap your ruby slippers three times, make a wish...).

South of this is the emperor's private residence; then the chief wife's, then the favorite daughter's (complete with a fountain made out of ivory).  Through all these buildings, from the emperor's study to his favorite daughter's palace ran the Nar-i-Bhisht, the Stream of Paradise, a water channel that would work the fountains, fill the baths, and cool the buildings in the heat of summer (central airconditioning, four hundred years early...).

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