Monday, March 16, 2009 (Evening)
I just finished my first full day in India. After resting in the morning, the delegation went on an excursion in Delhi to see Qutb Minar and Humayan’s Tomb. On our way to Qutb Minar we traveled by parliament and the president’s house. Qutb Minar is a five storied tower started by Qutbuddin Aibak in 1193 to announce the advent of the Muslim sultans. He also built the adjoining mosque. Qutb Minar is made of Hindu panels salvaged from razed temples around the site. The tower was finished by Iltutmish, Qutbuddin Aibak’s successor. A 4th century pillar made in Vishnu’s honor is an amazing bronze pillar and a testament to ancient Indian metallurgy. I’ve included a picture of the Alai Darwaza, the gateway to the Qutb complex and erected in 1311 by Alauddin Khilji, in front of the Qutb Minar.
We then ventured off to a shop that sells carpets, pashminas, sandalwood carvings, and Indian clothing. The hand knotted carpets were impressive – both wool and silk – but too expensive for me as were the beautiful silk and wool tailored women’s jackets.
Our last stop was at Humayan’s Tomb. Humayan was the second Mughal emperor and reigned in the 1500’s. The tomb was commissioned by his “senior” wife and it contained the graves of Humayan as well as his wives. The structure is perfectly symmetrical and inspired the Taj Mahal. It contains incredible stone trellis work and stone floor tiles. The delegation can be seen standing in front of the tomb.
The day ended with a short lecture about Indian Higher Education and a dinner reception at the Fulbright complex. We met Adam Grotsky, Executive Director of USIEF, and Prof. Sudha Rao, who will be our official expert as we go to different institutions of higher education. I met many different higher education administrators from the Delhi area. But, most surprising is that I met a couple who know a long-time IWU administrator in financial aid! It is, indeed, a small world.