Agra: Walking Through History

Do you know that the place you are standing, sitting, or lying at right now is alive?
It is alive, maybe not as much as it used to. Possibly it has a higher burden to carry or less. Perhaps it breathes slower. But it breathes.
It has a history. It has subsisted there before you, and it will presumably continue to do so after you.

We live on a planet that has endured billions of years, in countries that have undergone millions of years of weather.
Can you imagine the enormity of our surrounding!! It often goes unrecognised.
However, from time to time, we explore our history in places celebrated and preserved in whichever way possible.

There are countless people travelling within and outside their homelands to visit such places at least once in their life. It must be something they find worth their while, whereas there are others who couldn’t care less. Well, we have a large spectrum of people.

There are great old monuments screaming out their stories, proudly portraying the evidence of the dense history we have only read in our history books. But of course, tampered by time and humans.
History is a gift that we often have right in front of us and yet very few express their gratitude towards it.

So, our latest stop was Agra and there were only 2 reasons for it – Fatehpur Sikri and Taj Mahal.
The monuments which still hold millions of people captive of their beauty.

Fatehpur Sikri – The Red Sandstone Palaces.

Around 35 km away from Agra, this cluster of palaces is something quite heard of. It was time to see what it holds.

The way to Fatehpur Sikri is quite peaceful with some people working in the fields, while the wind blew lightly and the sun shined brightly. The constant view of the fields on both the sides of the road, far and wide, gleaming yellow and green in the sun; it all spoke magic and mimicked melted gold

There is a kind of peace in this wideness which is hard to touch or even witness in the narrow streets of the cities, where even your personal bubble is busted from time to time.

The history of Sikri carries a lot of ups and downs. This city was built as a celebration of a yearning fulfilled and the glory of the Mughal Emporer Akbar.

The quiet walls of this palace complex silently tell the story of how it was loved, for here was where King Akbar was blessed by Salim Chishti to have a son. It was the place named the “City of Victory” for the battles was won by Akbar there. And it was this place that was suddenly abandoned in a short period of almost a decade. The reason? Not clear.

But yet the beauty of this deserted complex, where the architecture of different cultures was merged with respect, pulls thousands of tourists to it.
In this decade, Fatehpur Sikri saw the music of Tansen and also the prayers of Akbar’s Rajput wife Jodha Bai, who went on to give him his first son, Jahangir.

Warning

But every sweetness carries a little bitterness in the backdrop.
Ours were – Guides! Unauthorized Guides.
So I would say Beware.
They are the one thing that can ruin your trip to this historical place. They start preying on the potential tourist and then stick to you like a leech! We caught their sight on the way itself! A guide saw us when we were merely halfway towards Fatehpur Sikri and tried to lure us by the attractive inexpensive offer.

In mere 100/- he would guide us through the whole palace and no tickets needed! But this was not it. Later we met another one, a kid, who wanted to be a guide in 50/-!! there was something not trustworthy about this!!
We went on to the entrance where a nice policeman informed us that these so-called guides only took the tourists to the Dargah and not the rest of the places. We were told not to give them any money and go directly to the ticket counter.

And then it was Taj time.

 

Taj Mahal – The White Marvel

Taj Mahal

Taj is a totally different experience from that of Fatehpur Sikri, which makes sense because it hasn’t been voted one of the 7 wonders of the world for nothing.
A beauty indeed. It is strange that thousands of people visit Agra every day to see a mausoleum! But yes it does have an enchanting view, from all sides. I would just say that Shah Jahan went on to make exactly what he intended to make – a monument of love that will live on; even though it is a tomb, it still is seen as a reminder of love.

The story of Taj Mahal is beautiful and astounding at the same time. Shah Jahan with his incredible talent of architecture still manages to surprise the tourist with its facts.

Taj Mahal is not just a monument of sheer grief of losing a loving wife, but also all the side stories that go with it.
For example, the myth of a black replica of Taj Mahal that was never built has no evidence but still makes us look at the other side of the Yamuna river with a certain kind of wonder, as we imagine how outstanding it would be to see a black shadow of the white shimmering Taj Mahal.

Also, think of all the hard work and intelligence spent to make this masterpiece stand on the soft land of a river bank!

 

This amazingly symmetrical monument has only one asymmetrical point, that is the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. While Mumtaz, the beloved of Shah Jahan, lies at the centre of the tomb, Shah Jahan lies to her left side as we enter to see the cenotaph. Apparently, this was an unplanned burial which resulted after Shah Jahan died in the captivity in the Agra fort imposed by their own son, Aurangzeb, due to his extravagant grief.

Entrance of Taj mahal

Sadly, I cannot share the picture as photography is prohibited inside.
But here is a link I found with some clear pictures.

The beauty of this place did hold me still at one place staring at it for a long time. I wonder how it would affect you…

A Tone of Sadness

Even these well-secured places have not been saved from the meddlesome lovebirds who came forward to write their names on the walls of history. I wonder how many of them are still together because I guess they were trying to make their relationships immortal by scratching on the wall. I wonder which places they roam as they insult the ideas and the hard work of all the workers who spent days and nights to build those walls.
How many of their “true love” is history itself and how many of them realize that they have historically made fun of themselves as people laugh at their immaturity

Even these well-secured places have not been saved from the meddlesome lovebirds who came forward to write their names on the walls of history. I wonder how many of them are still together because I guess they were trying to make their relationships immortal by scratching on the wall. I wonder which places they roam as they insult the ideas and the hard work of all the workers who spent days and nights to build those walls.
How many of their “true love” is history itself and how many of them realize that they have historically made fun of themselves as people laugh at their immaturity

History has called on us a million times. History of you and me has been there, hidden, invisible to the naked eyes.

There are people who would just sit at one place and stare at these walls of history, gazing at it as if it has come to life, telling its tale, trying to survive in a world of rushing cars and smoking air. There is a world within a world and within them yet another one.

Will we ever be able to see through the pollution that has blinded us and made our lives a mere existence in a rat race. You might say you are not a part of the race, but you are, everyone is, was and probably will be. What remains are these old bodies of works and these graves watching us as we come and leave, revealing how they used to be wide spaces and not narrow streets. How they have been walked on by millions of footsteps. They speak of the Royal extravaganza and also the artisans which gave away much of their lives to it. It speaks of those who came and wrote on its wall about their love. They have seen it all.

What would they say to you? What would they teach and what would they learn from you, if only they could speak your language…

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