Last day in India :(
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 31 of 32 › view all entries
The news here is full of stories about the "extreme cold temperatures" this week. They actually closed school for Delhi schoolkids for the week because it was supposed to get as low as zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). I don't think they would ever have school if they followed those guidelines in Minnesota.
I went to the Qutb complex this morning which has Qutub Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world at 239 feet. You can't go up inside it anymore because 25 kids were crushed to death inside during a stampede to get out during a power outage in 1998 and people liked to commit suicide by jumping from the top. My favorite thing about this place is that it was built from "27 idolatrous temples" and you can see elements from Jain and Hindu temples in the Islamic structures that were built from them. It also has an iron pillar stolen from one of these temples that is so pure that it has never rusted in the 1600 years its been standing. Supposedly if you stand with your back to the pillar and touch your hands behind you your wish will come true, but you can't do that anymore because there's a fence around it.
There were a number of large groups of schoolkids there when I was walking around. As I was leaving I walked by a girl's school of about 250 girls who decided they all had to say hello and shake my hand as they walked by. I was using two hands and still couldn't shake them all. One girl even asked if she could kiss me on the cheek. It was very cute.
Next it was off to Sulabh International Museum of Toilets which was one of my favorite museums of the trip and a lot of fun. The curator of the museum began my tour and took my picture (I was the only one there all day), but his assistant took over after a bit. They both had a great sense of humor but clearly knew everything you'd want to know about toilets. You can see for yourself at their website: http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org/
Sulabh is also a large school designed to help teach Dalits (Untouchables) who used to have to clean up human waste by hand, other more sanitary techniques and to research new technologies. As I was leaving I saw a sign that read "Human excreta biodiesel fueled kitchen". I'd have taken a picture, but there were many people eating in there and watching me. One of the best stories was about an elephant reserve in Thailand where they wanted to prevent all the elephant feces that tourists were stepping in, so they trained the elephants to use toilets.
Next it was off to the National Train Museum where there was a festival going on, which meant the actual museum was closed. But they had all these outdoor models of trains that you could ride and even rafting in the little pond so it was fun.
I caught Jantar Mantar just before it closed which is an astronomical observatory started in 1724. It consists of these large instruments that measure the time of day and predict movements of the planets. The structures look very strange and it's hard to understand exactly how they worked, especially since it was cloudy when I was there.