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Published: March 12th 2010
"If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India!"
~~~ Romaine Rolland
We departed our early morning train in the city of Agra and was met by our Tony Orlando look alike guide Paddy.
We enjoyed the morning at the Red Fort of Agra. The fort was at one time one of the most important strategic forts during the Mughal time. It was originally constructed by Akbar the Great but was added to by so many others after him including Shah Jahn of the Taj that the guide gives each building an emperor/ commissioner. It was here that we caught our first glimpse of the Taj Mahal in the distance. Like a star rising in the sky it beckoned us. The Fort has many beautiful carvings and inlays in marble and really seemed just another precursor to the Taj.
In the afternoon we finally went to the almighty monument to love. The Taj was commissioned by Shah Jahn ,by request of his wife that he build her a beautiful incomparable monument
over her grave as a token of their worldly love. Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth of her 14th child. Her remains waited for her temple in temporary housing on the banks of the River Jamuna.
The Taj is one of the most photogenic buildings in the world. As the sun sets, the marble can change color and give off sparkle in the dark. From strategic points you can photograph reflections, illusions and your standard tourist shot. It was in this quest for many of these perfect photos that I had a special experience. As we headed towards the tomb, Frank went to the top of the stairs ahead of me so I could shoot from the bottom. A group of elderly ladies in beautiful colorful saris approached me and made a motion for me to take their photo. I expected to be handed a camera and was quite willing to oblige. But they had no camera they wanted me to photograph them on my digital film for my own enjoyment, and in return they wanted to have a look in my tiny little screen in the back of the camera to which they whooped in joy and held their hands
up to mine in a sort of high five. As they posed for more and more photos one would motion, “ now me” and as I peeked thru my viewfinder to set up the frame a few more people would appear. I was surrounded by a group of 20 or so women and men in traditional dress and a stranger approached and said “ these are the real people of India” Although I didn’t need his insight to know that I was having a special experience Frank was at the top sneaking a quick video clip of my newfound celebrity status before being caught by the guards. We ended our day in Agra over a vegetarian meal ( you really don’t miss the meat!) sharing stories and photos of this spectacular town with our tour mates.
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