by Emma. Cliquez ici pour l’article de Damien. Click here for pictures of there.
We leaned out of the door of our railway carriage to catch our very first glimpse of the Taj Mahal. Shrouded in morning mists, the Taj Mahal is beautiful. Breathtakingly so.
Yes, the Taj Mahal is undeniably one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Exquisite it may be. A monument to enduring love it may be. A mausoleum it is. The distraught Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned it upon the death of his (favourite) wife, Mumtaz Mahal and it is under the building’s marble floors that they are interred. For that reason, I get the heeby jeebies when I see all the smiling couples posing in front of it. Posing in front of a tomb? Why?! It has to be bad luck, no? The romance here is absolutely lost on me. To Damien’s (scientific) mind, it’s baffling but a cheesy photo of us in front of the Taj Mahal is just not going to happen. The building is beautiful but it’s also a little eery. This eeriness is only enhanced by the throngs of tourists clustering around it. The Taj Mahal is exquisite and I want to get away, happier viewing it as a curved silhouette in the skyline of Agra.
Surprisingly, my favourite place in Agra is actually Agra Fort, an immense complex of ramparts, gardens and palaces. No doubt, this place too has known death but, essentially, it has also known life. This was a shelter, a home and the atmosphere within the fort’s wall reflect that. The fort too is exquisite. Its interior palaces and gardens were also commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It was here he was imprisioned by his deposing son and from its windows that he watched the completion of the Taj Mahal, a monument he was never to visit alive. A tale imbued with life and death and a building that holds a living story.
Beyond the iconic Taj Mahal, Agra’s other little joys and curiosities include gorgeous mosaics, monkeys with the saddest expressions in the world, obvious scam attemps and easily sidestepped hustling, breathtaking views from crumbling rooftops, ladies rolling and drying cow pats destined for cooking fire fuel”, Bollywood filming in the crooked streets and clambering crowds, kite-flying and sleepy (and thus satisfying squishable .. I know, I’m a bad person…) mosquitoes. Agra is definitely worth a visit and will definitely elicit unexpected emotions.