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New Delhi – Day 2

Following yesterday’s visit to old Delhi, today (Sunday) I ventured through the newer areas of the city. Generally speaking, my touring was focused on tombs of dead people … some of whom were the greatest conquerors to rule Delhi.  In addition to great military prowess, these rulers had a knack for grand architecture.  Delhi is littered with monuments erected by various rulers, typically in recognition of various accomplishments.  My objective today was to visit some of the sites.

First stop was Qutb complex, an array of monuments and other buildings, which next to Taj Mahal, is the second most visited site in India.  Having previously visited Taj in August this year, spending a few hours at Qutb made for a great comparison.  Haven fallen victim to conquests of Afghanistan and later Great Britain, the structural casualties throughout the grounds are many.  Despite the wreckage, the area is very cool. DSCF0794Pictured above is the tower Minar, which happens to be the tallest brick minaret in the world.  Constructed in 1192AD as a monument celebrating the victory of Mohammed Ghori over the Rajput king, its construction also marked the beginning of Muslim rule in India.  To this day, the Qutb remains one of the most important “Towers of Victory” in the Islamic world.

Mohammad clearly had a keen eye for detail.  Ornate carvings and other finish details are abundant, and in some ways, Qutb is more impressive than Taj Mahal.DSCF0795 DSCF0797 Sufficiently wowed by the tower, I walked across the grounds to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.  Built to honor the strength of Islam, it was the first mosque in Delhi following the Islamic conquest.  Construction of this Jami Masjid (Friday Mosque), started in 1193AD.  According to a Persian inscription still on the inner eastern gateway, the mosque was built using recycled materials from twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples.

The centuries have not been kind to the mosque and I can only imagine how beautiful it must have been in its prime.  No matter, despite being in a ruin site, numerous times I stood in awe absorbing its beauty.DSCF0802 DSCF0805 DSCF0798 DSCF0816 DSCF0824 DSCF0826 DSCF0812 DSCF0810 DSCF0815 The next stop on my list was Humayun’s Tomb, but not before first stopping for a quick visit to the Lotus Temple, a Bahai house of worship. DSCF0827 Unlike most of the places I visited over the weekend, the temple is newly built, completed in 1986 and now serving as the Mother Temple for all subcontinental Bahai meditation temples.  According to my coworkers, the interior is simple, but stunning.  Sadly, the entrance line was queued for blocks, so I snapped a quick picture and moved onwards.

But not before encountering this trio. DSCF0834

So it turns out just past the snake charmer and through a modest entrance gate sits one hell of a sight – tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun.DSCF0837

The first garden-tomb in India and also the first structure to use red sandstone to such scale, the tomb represented a leap in Mughul architecture, setting precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture, including the Taj Mahal. DSCF0847 DSCF0848 DSCF0856 Rounding out the trifecta of tombs I wanted to visit was that belonging to Afghani noble Isa Khan, who died at age 95.  Khan, leader of the Baro Bhuiyans, and a nobleman in the courts of Sher Shah Sur, was laid to rest in a magnificent tomb he ordered built for himself.  Both the octagonal tomb and neighboring mosque are located at the center of the complex and are surrounded by a sunken garden, the first of its kind in India. DSCF0868 DSCF0859 DSCF0862 Sooner than I would have liked, the day began to fade and I was forced to begin moving back towards my hotel, but not before making a quick detour to the Parliament.  Pictured below is Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace. DSCF0874 I’m really happy with my decision to allot a weekend for touristy-type activities.  I’m already thinking that my next visit should include a couple of vacation days so that I can travel a few hours northeast and see the Himalayas.

A Random Saturday Afternoon In Old Delhi

Still in the midst of a Delhi-based work project, I find myself once again in half-way across the planet, this being my third trip since August.  Throughout the project, colleagues here have continually encouraged me to arrive with sufficient time to wander the city.  While it would be easy to feel overwhelmed they warned, I was assured that any uncertainties would quickly cease I as made my way throughout this 5000 year old wonderland.

I’ve been anxious to spend dedicated time exploring India’s capital city, so when planning this trip I made sure to schedule a full weekend, allowing an opportunity to view more than my office, the hotel, and airport.

Having arrived late Friday night, Saturday I hired a driver and set out to explore three areas on my list – a combination of touristy and local attractions.

My first stop was Raj Ghat, a memorial to India’s famed Mahatma Gandhi.  Set amongst the center of a giant grassy park, Raj Ghat marks the site of Gandhi’s cremation the day following his assassination in January 1948.  Upon entering, visitors remove their shoes before navigating a series of footpaths leading to a giant marble platform, adjacent eternal flame.

Surrounded by acres of finely manicured lawns and giant sandstone enclosures, the area feels calm and serene.  It is easy forget about the incessant hustle and bustle outside these cozy confines.

Raj Ghat - site of Gahndi's cremation

Raj Ghat – site of Gandhi’s cremation

Vistors paying their respects at the memorial

visitors paying their respects at the memorial

From Raj Ghat, the driver brought me to Old Delhi, the symbolic heart of this metro area.  Mixed amongst elegant mosques and gardens, Old Delhi was once home to luxurious mansions of the Mughal dynasty elite.  These days, the area is extremely crowded and dilapidated, but very much still a center for commerce and fine street cuisine.

Because traffic in Old Delhi is a nightmare, I hired a rickshaw driver to take me to Red Fort.  An iconic symbol of India, the site holds deep historical significance and national pride.  Tradition dictates that every year on Independence Day (Aug-15), the Prime Minister hoist the national flag prior to addressing the nation from high atop the walled ramparts.

Red Fort

Red Fort

Red Fort

Red Fort

Colonnade surrounding Red Fort

Colonnade surrounding Red Fort

The grounds are massive and ornately detailed.  Impressive, really impressive.

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From Red Fort, I took another rickshaw to the far end of Old Delhi, where much of the street commerce is located.  If you are ever in Delhi, be sure to visit the old city.  I’ve never seen anything in America like it.

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Visiting The Sierra Nevada Mountains

Over the years I have heard countless praise for the Eastern Sierras, but have never had a good opportunity to visit.  Specifically, I’ve been itching to spend time wandering the highly acclaimed Hwy 395 (California) corridor, which travels from suburban Los Angeles northbound through Oregon before terminating at the US-Canada border.   Over a distance roughly 560 miles, this scenic  byway boasts some of the most beautiful mountains in the west.

On the heels of a stay in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, our first stop was the popular Oh Ridge Campground, a national forest campground adjacent to June Lake.

Descending Tioga Pass

Descending Tioga Pass

I’d heard that the descent out of Yosemite along Tioga Pass can be a bit harrowing in tow.  As this was my first big mountain decent with the Airstream, 12 miles of mostly shoulder-less, steep grade with just enough sharp turns included had me sufficiently stressed out.  In end, the descent wasn’t too bad, but I was plenty happy to have that portion of the trip behind me.

Tioga Pass road officially ends at Hwy 395, but on a strong recommendation from my neighbor, we stopped a bit short of its termination point in order to spent a few hours hiking through Lee Vining Canyon.

Winding next to a small creek, the canyon trail connects a number of wonderful forest service campgrounds.  Primitive, quiet, solar-friendly, and offering cheap prices (especially if you have an interagency pass), these campgrounds are a jewel.  Given their close proximity to Yosemite’s east entrance, coupled with a fraction of the crowds, you can bet I’ll likely stay at one of these sites when I next visit Yosemite.

Lee Vining Canyon

Lee Vining Canyon

Lee Vining Canyon

Lee Vining Canyon

Lee Vining Canyon

Lee Vining Canyon

Brother-in-law Chris, Kelly, and Dave

Brother-in-law Chris, Kelly, and Dave

Arrival to Oh Ridge was about as easy as I could hope.  The park was nearly empty and excluding the handful of direct waterfront sites, we had our pick of the campground.  Oh Ridge is lovely and I’d highly recommend it as a “home base” for many excursions.  Within an hour’s drive to the north or south, many day hiking options are available across a wide variety of terrain.

Our Oh Ridge Campsite

Our Oh Ridge Campsite

Playing with Lilly in June Lake

Playing with Lilly in June Lake

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes

Brodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town

Brodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town

Brodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town

Having concluded a few nights at Oh Ridge, it was time to push about 1.5hrs south to our boondocking site north of Bishop. Using social media insights from other bloggers, we narrowed into a section of BLM land and snagged a great site about 15 minutes north of town.

Bishop Boondocking Site

Bishop Boondocking Site

Bishop Boondocking Site

Bishop Boondocking Site

I’d heard a lot of good feedback regarding the town of Bishop, but I’m still not sure if I can give a strong endorsement.  That said, the surrounding area is A+ and for that reason, I’d highly recommend Bishop, less for the town, but more because of the abundant surrounding outdoor playland.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Tyee Lakes Trail

Also, there is a Ford dealer in Bishop, which provided me an opportunity to test-drive a new truck.  I was very pleasantly surprised with the ride quality of the new diesel-powered F-250, which now has me thinking upgrade …

Glen Aulin High Sierra Trail

The Glen Aulin trail leads to one of five High Sierra Campgrounds in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park.  Starting  from the east end of Tuolumne Meadows the trail follows the Tuolumne River downstream to the Glen Aulin campsite.

Just over 13 miles round-trip, the path starts next to small, colorful pools known as Soda Springs, before winding through rolling woodlands as the Tuolumne River winds across meadows, providing spectacular high country views.  Quickly, the trail transforms to a boulder-strewn granite slope, forming river falls, cascades and deep, clear pools, as the terrain on most sides becomes steep and mountainous.

The views are awesome.

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