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Old 3rd February 2010, 02:07   #61
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Anyway, I make my way to Karims. Itís in a small galli which is very easy to miss. And donít believe the clichťd types who tell you that you can smell the aroma, etcÖetcÖ Load of horseshit. There is no smell as such to guide you. It is just what some travel writers make up when they feel the need to embellish their reports.

Anyway, I reach Karims around 3:30 pm and it is quite crowded! There is no place to sit. Since Iím alone, I donít get a table for myself. The atmosphere is very casual, loud and noisy. Couples end up sharing tables with absolute strangers. I for one am sharing my table with a couple of American girls and a middle aged couple.

This is a place which I like a lot! It doesnít try to be fancy or anything. You donít go here for the atmosphere, for hanging out with friends or to meet up with people. You go here to EAT. Pure and simple. No strings attached.

The waiter comes and gives me a menu card. It is totally pointless. I donít really need it. I call him and ask him which are his most popular dishes. Dry and gravy. He recommends the mutton burra. I order a plate of that. Then he asks what I want for the main course. I again ask him his recommendation. He says the Chicken Jehangiri is good. I say bring me one portion of that. He raises his eyebrows and asks ďpoora plate?Ē I almost burst out laughing. I want to tell him that this order is for now. If I am not full, Iíll order even more!

The mutton burra arrives soon enough. By the time it arrives, two American girls have taken the two seats opposite me. They are totally clueless as to what to order. They order a chicken dish which is actually a dry dish and they have asked for some butter kulchas. Once the food arrives, they realise that they have made a mistake and then order for some dal.

I, on the other hand, am stuffing my face as quickly as I can! Iím starving and the mutton burra is unlike anything Iíve ever had. I usually donít have mutton dishes when I go to an Indian restaurant. This mutton burra is out of the world! Mutton is usually quite tough but this is so soft, I canít believe it is mutton! It is so good, Iím tempted to order another plate, but thankfully (for my stomach), the main course arrives. I now understand why the waiter raised an eyebrow when I was ordering.

The serving is generous and I have just asked for their normal roti. This is not normal by any stretch of imagination. It is unlike any roti Iíve had. Itís not made of wheat like a normal Tandoori Roti, but it isnít like a Kulcha or naan either. It is just unbelievably soft and tasty! I can actually eat a lot of these rotis plain, without any curry.

However, I do have some yummy Chicken Jehangiri and my head is exploding with the messages my taste buds are delivering every nano-second. I was actually a little worried that Karims wouldnít live up to the hype and I might be disappointed, but thankfully, that isnít the case. There is no replay of the Gali Paranthe Wali from 2 days ago.

I frankly do not remember how many rotis I had. Letís just say that it was a lot and filled my stomach completely! I get to my feet and stagger out of the hotel after paying an obscenely big amount for a single personís meal in Old Delhi. Iím so full I canít think of doing anything. My plan is to go the Red Fort now. It is already close to 4:30 and the Red Fort closes at 6:00 pm. The Red Fort is at least a kilometre away. I decide the walk will do me good if I plan on fitting into my existing clothes!

I walk to the Red Fort and buy a ticket to enter. It is really cheap. Juts 15/-. Itís actually 10/- for the entry and another 5/- for the entry to the Indian War Museum. They do not allow you to carry your bags or anything inside so I check in my bag at the cloak room. I ask for a locker and am allotted one.

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I carry only my camera inside the Red Fort. The security is quite lax. Iím a single guy and normally, I would have expected to be subjected to a little more than just a glance. Maybe the guards can see the innocence on my face! However, I do worry. I think if someone wanted to do some damage, they could have done it easily. But on the other hand, Iím not an intelligence official and so maybe they know better. However, history tells us otherwise.

I enter through the Lahore Gate. This is the gate through which all visitors enter the Red Fort. This is the gate facing Chandni Chowk and above which the Prime Minister gives his yearly address on 15th August. The Delhi Gate is closed for visitors. However, when the PM arrives for his speech, he and the other VIPs enter through Delhi Gate. As you enter through the Lahori Gate, you come across the Chatta Chowk. This is a small passage in which there are provisions for various shops and stalls. During the reign of the Mughal kings, there were a lot of different vendors here selling everything from clothes to jewellery. Today, you find a lot of stalls selling you artefacts made from marble and other knick knacks.

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The worst part about visiting such places in India is that you never get good guides. I got one guide who just gave me the usual story about the Red Fort. I am not the typical visitor and I do know all the basic facts. It is really pissing off to face this problem. Iíve always faced this problem in India. It is almost impossible to get a guide who knows more than the usual facts. I could have got these facts and figures off wiki (in fact, I actually did).
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Old 3rd February 2010, 10:03   #62
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A beautifully written and photographed thread, took us through lanes, food, auto expo......history and culture, I liked the Karim's food narrative and and made the whole 5 pages very interesting.
Vote the model by the Camaro as the best, didn't know which model to look at the car or the...
Regards and thanks for sharing.

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Old 3rd February 2010, 12:14   #63
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Wonderful write-up.

I enjoyed the food part and I believe you when you say the waiter was stunned. Anyone would be stunned by the way you eat :-) . I thought I was a big-eater, but I'm an ant compared to you :-)

Waiting for more, if there is any. Also waiting for the next place that you'll take us to for good food.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 12:42   #64
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This thread is informative and equally humourous. Makes an exciting read.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 14:57   #65
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Mmm, nice work with the photos and also the narrations especially at Karims, looking out for more
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Old 3rd February 2010, 17:41   #66
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Excellent naration Nikhil. The earnestness in the posts feels good, and damn i am hungry ... Five stars
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Old 3rd February 2010, 23:42   #67
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Thank God Karim's lived upto the hype atleast on Food. And glad to know Metro was the saviour in Auto Expo's terrific traffic.

Aurganzeb's death was a result of the letter by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in Persian titled 'Zafarnama' meaning Letter of Victory reminding Aurangzed of how he and his associates broke their Oaths taken on the Holy Scripture 'The Quran'. This letter had a demoralising impact on Aurangzeb and consequently a feeling of guilt gripped him. This is what led to his end.

Poor tourists, they had a tough time with their first dish. And what was this Chicken Jehangiri, I've heard of Chicken Chenghizi but not this.
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Old 5th February 2010, 11:27   #68
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The red Mustang and the classic Jaguar are something to die for.

I loved the white XK and the golden SLS AMG as well. Oh God!
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Old 6th February 2010, 15:04   #69
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Food and Cars !
Fantastic combo and wonderfully written
Hats off !
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Old 6th February 2010, 17:39   #70
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Hi Nikhil,
After going through the entire thread, all I can say is that it felt as if I visited the Auto Expo in person.

Great review buddy.

I couldnt eat the food. Thats all.

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Old 7th February 2010, 02:14   #71
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Almost everyone knows the usual story of the Red Fort. It was built over a period of ten years by Shah Jahan, one of the greatest builders in the world (letís not get into the technicalities that he didnít build it and just spent money like water, etc..). This was the centre of Shahjahanabad. The city of Shah Jahan. It was built pretty much in the centre of the walled city of Old Delhi. Unlike some other Mughal forts like the Agra Fort and the Lahore Fort, this Lal qila was built from scratch. There was no fort or structure here when Shah Jahan decided to build the Red Fort. This entire area was a jungle. Once it was completed, the royal family lived in the fort. Delhi became the capital of the Mughal Empire. Until Shah Jahan became the shahenshah, the seat of Mughal power was at Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. Shah Jahan also built many buildings inside the Red Fort. The famous ones are:

1). Naqqar khana or Naubat khana Ė This was the drum house. This is the building through which you enter. Today, the Indian war museum is housed in this building.

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2). Diwan-i-am - This is the large pavilion for public imperial audiences with an ornate throne-balcony (jharokha) for the emperor. The columns were painted in gold and there was a gold and silver railing separating the throne from the public. The marble pedestal that you see at the bottom was where the Prime Minister used to sit and pass on the complaints of the subjects to the King. The marble carvings are absolutely beautiful. Today, it is plain and bare of everything, even paint. But at the height of the Mughal period, it was said to be inlaid with gold, silver and precious gems.

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Old 7th February 2010, 02:21   #72
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3). Diwan-i-khas Ė

Agar firdaus bar rue zamin ast
Hamin ast o hamin ast o hamin ast.

(If there is paradise on earth
It is this, it is this, it is this)

The Diwan-i-Khas is a pavilion clad completely in marble, the pillars decorated with floral carvings and inlay work with semi-precious stones. This was used by the king when he wanted to hold an audience with his courtiers and ministers. It was also used to receive other dignitaries from outside the country or from other kingdoms. This is where the famous Peacock throne rested before it was stolen by Nadir Shah. The ceiling of the Diwan-i-khas had elaborate gold decorations. The Diwan-i-Khas is one of the few Mughal buildings in the country today where you can almost see how beautiful it once was. It is actually hard to believe that there was enough gold and precious jewels in the entire world to decorate all these Mughal buildings. What Iím seeing is just one of these: The Diwan-i-Khas. The Taj Mahal is also rumoured to have had elaborate embellishments of precious stones. Whatever little colour you see in the Diwan-i-Khas you see today is what has been restored. It is too expensive and painstaking to restore the entire hall, so our government agency (the ASI) has just repainted a few tiles to give you an idea of how it once was.

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Old 7th February 2010, 02:33   #73
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4). Rang Mahal Ė This is literally, the House of Colour. This was where the courtesans performed for the king. There was a small pool of water in the centre of the hall. The sides of this building were the apartments of the women. Many of these apartments had ceilings covered with mirrors and this gave rise to the name, Shish Mahal. The water used to flow throughout these buildings. This was a natural air conditioner during the Mughal period. In the Rang Mahal, the water used to fall at the front to collect at the pool. Behind the water, in those small cavities that you see, candles of different colours used to be placed. The water flowing in front of these candles gave a shimmering effect to the entire evening performance. Can you just imagine how beautiful it must have looked?

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Before I go further, let me explain how the water was channelled through the buildings of the Red Fort. The water was pumped from the Yamuna River which was right below the Red Fort. Where you have the Ring Road today, there was a small tributary of the Yamuna. There is a series of channels running through most of the buildings. The hamam (the royal bath), the Rang Mahal and the apartments of the king(the Khas Mahal). This used to naturally cool the place down during the scorching hot summer months. Itís marvellous to see how the architects of 400 years ago thought of such ingenious ways to cool their buildings down.

This is a pic of a channel. This particular section of the channel is exposed as it flows between the Khas Mahal and the Rang Mahal.

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Wikipedia explains it quite nicely:
The pavilions are connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht, or the "Stream of Paradise", that runs through the centre of each pavilion. The water is drawn from the river Yamuna, from a tower, the Shah Burj, at the north-eastern corner of the fort
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A poor display of how the ceiling would have looked covered with tiny mirrors.

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This was a small fountain inside the rang mahal. This also shows part of the channel which used to carry the flowing water through the entire complex of buildings.

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Old 7th February 2010, 02:52   #74
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5).Khas Mahal – This was the royal apartments of the King.

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This was a passage below the living quarters. In an emergency, the king could escape via a boat on the other side of the fort.

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6).Hamam – This was the royal bath. The King used to have his bath here.

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Last edited by Nikhilb2008 : 7th February 2010 at 02:53.
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Old 7th February 2010, 03:05   #75
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7). Moti Masjid Ė The Pearl Mosque. This was built by the ultra-religious Aurangzeb as his private mosque. It is sealed off today and the public isnt allowed to enter. However, you can try to see through the lattice work.

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8). Hayat Bakhsh Bagh - The Hayat Bakhsh Bagh, or "Life-Bestowing Garden", is cut through by two bisecting channels of water. A pavilion stands at either end of the north-south channel, and a third, built in 1842 by the last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, stands at the centre of the pool where the two channels meet. The two pavilions which are at either end of the channel are called Saawan and Bhaadon. These were pavilions which are completely open. They just have a roof on top, but no doors or windows. The Royal family used to sit here during the rains and enjoy the cool weather which was usually preceded by months of scorching heat. Another red sandstone pavilion was built in between these two pavilions by Bahadur shah Zafar, the last Mughal of India and this is called Zafar Mahal.

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This is Saawan.

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This pic shows Zafar Mahal and Bhaadon

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The sad part of these gardens is that they were completely demolished during the 1857 war of Independence. What I see now is just some plain lawns. This is nothing like what the Mughals actually designed and built.

9). Mumtaz Mahal Ė This was a building built by Shah Jahan mainly for his daughter. Today, a museum is housed in this building. This museum is absolutely brilliant! It has the actual relics from the Mughal era. It has Bahadur Shah Zafarís clothes, the velvet cushions he used, etcÖ For someone like me, it was exactly what I wanted to see!

There were thousands of people living within the Red Fort at one point of time. However, once the first war of Indian Independence ended with the victory of the British over the disorganised and badly led Indians, the British destroyed huge sections of the Red Fort. There were many more palaces which were scattered around the Fort. All of these were destroyed to make way for ugly big British buildings. These newer British buildings were used as barracks, offices and other purposes by the British. Some of these buildings overlooking the gardens look especially ugly. I think itís high time we demolished these reminders of British stupidity.

This is what you can see if you hold your camera to a broken window and click with the flash ON. It's pitch dark inside and you cant see a thing.

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Not only did the British destroy many of the buildings, they also stole most of the precious gems and metals used in the decoration of the buildings like the Diwan-i-Khas and Rang Mahal. Of course, a lot had already been stolen by the time the British got their grubby hands on it. Nadir Shah had come and raped the Red Fort. The Sikhs too had had their fill of the treasures of the Mughals.

The Red Fort today is a very tragic reminder of the Mughal Era. A dynasty which ruled over the richest and most prosperous region in the world finally came to an end in a very humiliating manner. For someone who loves history and has read a little more than the usual 10th standard history textbook, visiting the Red Fort is very special.

I spend just about 1 hour at the Red Fort. I havenít even seen the Mumtaz Mahal museum. I plan to come back another day. For today, I will satisfy myself by viewing the sound and light show in English which starts at 7:30 pm. I buy the ticket and leave the Red Fort at 6:00pm. I just decide to sit outside and wait for 7:30.
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