Lucknow Travelogue

Lucknow Part 3 – Qutub Minar

After our leader arrived in the next train, we stepped outside the station and were mobbed by auto drivers. The Qutub Minar was a 15 minute walk from the station but since we were short of time we decided to take a share auto.
“Go to market first and then Qutub Minar,” the first driver said.
“No market. Only Qutub Minar,” we insisted.
“Market Rs. 10 else Rs. 20”
After all of us insisting that we didn’t want to go to the market the guy conceded. We fit ourselves into 3 autos – 3 people sitting in the back and 1 sitting along with the driver.
The drivers mentioning ‘market’ reminded me of our trip to Thailand where drivers would want to take us to the market – the shopkeepers paid the drivers to bring customers and I guess it was a similar setup here as well.

All of us had experienced rash auto driving but this was at a different level; the auto just got off the starting block and hadn’t picked up speed – there was barely any space on the right side of the auto in front but the driver made a sharp right, managed to get it somehow at a tilted angle so that he could go beside the other auto and then cut back wildly to the left to complete the overtaking maneuver; and all that effort to get ahead even when he knew that after overtaking he would come to a standstill due to the traffic on the main road! We witnessed a few occasions where you thought there would definitely be some impact – but they never even scraped another vehicle; was it skill or was it just pure luck multiple times?

The queues at the Qutub Minar for getting the entry ticket moved really slow; the card machines didn’t work; people were trying multiple cards and finally had to pay in cash. And the staff at the counter went through this process with every person even though the card machine didn’t work for anyone!
“That’s cashless India!”
After ages we got the ticket and dropped our bags in the luggage room.
I usually like audio tours and at the entrance there was a board saying a mobile app audio tour was available for free; we downloaded it on Rohan’s mobile but he was put off when the app asked for access to contacts, videos and files.
“Why does it want all that? I’m uninstalling it.”
In the end we just went around the place unassisted.

Greenery around the ruins
The Qutub complex

The minar (tower) was quite a sight but the entire complex that comprised of ruins was also a sight to behold; the complex we later found is classified as a World Heritage site. We stood for a few minutes in awe near the tower as we strained our necks to see its top – from a distance you don’t appreciate the magnitude of the effort that must have gone into building this tower in the 12th century. There have been a few tragedies in the tower (the last incident being a stampede that claimed lives) and that’s led to closure of the pathway leading to the top. But viewing it from below is still quite a sight.

There are plenty of photography spots within the Qutub complex and Aaron (our photographer) was making the best use of his newly bought smartphone; aiding him was Arpit who recommended angles and positions – they both would have spent the whole day in this place while our leader, Rijesh, and a couple of others were ready to leave after 10 minutes in the complex. The rest of us spent a little while longer walking around the ruins before joining our leader. Sometimes you can apply pressure on people without saying a word!

We had to do some bargaining to get our return ride on the share autos; once again they wanted to take us to the market! Perhaps if we had the luxury of time we might have checked out the market. It was 1:45pm and we were quite hungry; but we wanted to do lunch in Chandni Chowk and so we took the long metro ride to the heart of the city. Swami’s metro card didn’t work in the Qutub minar metro station – he tried it on multiple turnstiles but they wouldn’t budge. To his rescue came the same metro lady who had fined a person earlier. She was also puzzled, tried a couple of times, looked up the system and then escorted him past the turnstile. It was enough material for us to keeping puling his leg through the entire return journey!

The Qutub Minar

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