I had been to Agra once before but that was in third grade. All I remember of it was the hotel bathroom phone that miraculously did not have any wires. But this time I don’t know, I was mesmerized more by the piece of art or the sheer hard work and labor of the artist that went behind the masterpiece. The workers had put 22 small domes on the entry gate to the tomb, showcasing the number of years it took. But the city doesn’t have seemed to age a day. The same roads and aimlessly moving cattle and no signage to help travelers to know where to go and its only saving grace being the structures erected by the Mughals.
And as I always feel, sometimes its the road that does the magic more than the destination itself. The Yamuna Express Highway. We traversed its entire length for the first time since its opening and realised that it was perfection at its best. Albeit it is India, it reminds you of the Florida Highways and one might actually fear going into a trance by looking at the sheer brilliance of the designer that can only be matched by those of the Taj. No cattle to come into your way for miles, fastest emergency response team I have ever seen, and as we say in India for the movies that blockbusters and this road will probably be the only road for which this phrase will be used, the road is for sure “Paisa wasool” (Worth the money). The biggest breakthrough being not allowing small restaurants to come up along side the road. But Indians will be Indians. While coming back to Delhi, people were doing push-ups on the road, PUSH-UPS! And any one of them would be as much as hurt, who would be responsible? And the driver would never touch the driving wheel for the rest of his life, unfortunately due to the speed I did not get a shot of the idiots. Oweing to a last minute decision, Oberoi and Taj hotels were booked to capacity, we had to settle for a 3 star. It was good, especially the food but small glitches couldn’t be avoided.
The next morning we made the trip or rather pilgrimage to the Mecca, Vatican and Char Dham of the lovers: The Taj Mahal. It took me a few minutes to come to terms with its grandiose beauty and ofcourse the intelligent architecture. The minarets are tilted by 1.5 so that if an earthquake manage to penetrate its foundation that is built on some 80 wells and a specific wood that is not effected by water to provide a path to the earthquake for its movement, the minarets will fall outwards sparing the main building. And we also saw a tunnel that could take you to the Agra Fort from the Taj.
Then the Agra Fort was on our agenda. Another herculean effort. The fort took 95 years to complete over four Mughal rulers, each one adding his own touch to it. It houses about 435 years old painting. Delhi also has a similar Red Fort, and the Agra Red Fort had a tunnel leading to Delhi about 250 km from it. What could say about its construction more than the fact that Indian Army still uses it.
Last but not the least, the Agra fort provides a wonderful and intriguing view to the Taj Mahal. An amazing optical illusion that you will see in the photographs. These have been taken from two corners of the balcony that provides the fantastic view. The architects played with angles to provide such a view that the Taj Mahal looks to be higher than it is and much much larger.