During January, my girlfriend Danielle joined me for a couple of weeks in India. As part of this, she got to see four candidate Wonders: the Lotus Temple, Akshardham, the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort. Under only a little duress, she wrote a little about each, and answered a few questions. In this second of four "Danielle Corners", she writes about Akshardham in Delhi.
Note: As a lawyer, Danielle is occasionally partial to a bit of "legalese". Also, she erroneously calls me "Niall" for some reason...
The Second Wonder on the India hit list, the first that I would deem grand, beautiful and complicated enough to merit Wonder status. And a Wonder at the entrance of which I had my first taste of the local (non-alcoholic) brew: Masala tea. After a bit of surprisingly organised queuing, and after dress alteration (in my Defence, albeit conservatively dressed in an on-the-knee and demure dress with scarf, I was denied entry in accordance with the rules, as ladies wear had to be below the knee. I did try to stretch my dress and gain a few extra inches but it was all in vain until the Dress police felt pity for a stupid tourist, stripping me of my scarf, adding it to the bottom of my dress in a very unsexy David Beckham Sarong Get-Up which met the guidelines - however a sore sight for all eyes) I was finally deemed untarty enough to be permitted entry.
The place itself was absolutely beautiful, really detailed with a calm feeling despite the swarms of people there. Rumour has it that each stone was all hand-crafted however always the sceptic, I had to be evil and investigate whether the ornate décor was perfect and hence machine-assisted or whether a few imperfections were visible to the contact-lensed eye. After intense scrutiny, my own amateur conclusion was indeed that the books and internet had not been telling porky pies, that the rows and rows of stones although of identical initial appearance had the teeniest of imperfections that would point the finger to proper hard, hand-crafted graft.
I'll leave the history to Niall and move on to the important part, the coffee situation. Whilst there was a canteen, school dinner-esque place for mini-munches or larger portions, the place lacked a proper coffee shop or even coffee stand which would have given scenic views of the Wondrous grounds for coffee addicts.
Then it was on to the night time Akshardam entertainment - the light display which was appreciated just as much by the adults as the children attendees. A very nice, first class, atmospheric and sunset backdropped way to end the evening.
Had you heard of Akshardham before travelling?
No. Well from you, but it doesn't really count, does it?
What were your expectations?
High. [Why?] I thought it would be really pretty, spiritual, and tranquil.
What was your first impression?
It was a potential World Wonder compared to the Lotus Temple.
What did you like most about Akshardham?
What didn't you like about Akshardham?
The fact that the floors were freezing. [Danielle had bare feet and it was winter in Delhi - not a good combination]
Would you regard Akshardham as a World Wonder?
Well, not in the Seven World Wonders. I think it could be a world wonder for someone of that religion, it would mean more to them.