Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

India Institute of Technology--Delhi

The Prime Minister of India and I both spoke on the campus of IIT-Delhi last Saturday. (The picture is the Prime Minister, not me, from an article about his visit.)He was addressing the Indian National Science Academy who were celebrating their 75th anniversary. I was teaching the first part of a graduate class on compact modeling.
Because the Prime Minister was coming, security was very high on campus. I arrived in a taxi. Security guards at the gate were inspecting every car inside and out. One guard had a mirror mounted on wheels with a long handle so he could roll it under the car to check for anything you might be hiding down there. Unlike the guards who use a similar mirror at the gate to the building where I work, this guy appeared to know what he was looking for. Most of the roads were blocked to traffic and we were directed where to park.
Since I was not going to hear the Prime Minister, I did not follow the crowd. I was headed of to where I thought the electrical engineering building was, when I encountered this peacock wandering a round the residential compound. (My host, Prof. Jagadesh Kumar told me that about 90% of the students and 95% of the faculty live on campus. They have banks, stores, etc. and it is a fairly self-sufficient community.) The peacock did not know where the electrical engineering building was (or just wouldn't tell me.) However someone else did point me in the right direction.
Now heading in the right direction, I was confronted by a soldier with an assault rifle who told me I could not go through there. I explained that I needed to get the electrical engineering building, but he said the entire academic area was sealed off until 10:30. By this time he was backed up by another soldier, holding a different type of automatic weapon, and glowering at me so I decided to take their advice & leave that area. However, my lecture was scheduled for 10:00, so I could not wait for 10:30. I called Jagadesh on from my mobile and he instructed me to find the SBI bank and wait from him there. I tried that, but a different soldier told me a could not wait there.
I wandered about in the general vicinity trying to look like I was going somewhere until Jagadesh got there and called me to see where I was. He escorted me to the lecture hall by a more round-about route.
Actually on this trip I was not able to take time for any sight seeing, but I have been to IIT-Delhi before and these picture are from a previous trip when I visited the Qutb Minar world heritage site. The first two are of the minar itself. Minar means tower and Qutb or Qutub is derived from the name Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the muslim ruler who initiated construction in 1193AD. The top story was not completed until 1386AD. It was built to commemorate the victory over the Hindu dynasty which had ruled here previously. This is the tallest brick minaret in the world at 72 meters (238 feet)

The final picture is of a much older monument. It is an iron pillar about 7 meters tall and weighing more than 6 tons, erected about 400AD as part of a Jain temple. The guide books emphasize that it has stood all this time without any rust, although it appears to me to have surface rust in various places. Still it has stood through 1600 monsoon seasons and is structurally as sound as ever. There is a tradition which says that you will get good luck (or as the Indians say "It is auspicious") if you can stand with your back to the pillar, reach around it and touch your hands on the other side. There is a fence around the pillar to discourage people from trying to do so.


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