Agra | India

A MYRIAD TALES 

It is a land, a place on earth, not described but experienced. Everyone has his own India and within that India, there are countless Indias, countless tales.

A land where the unwavering link between love and hate shines through ones emotions. In literally one second, the pendulum of feelings can swing entirely. A land of extremes, a land of vast wealth, a land of tremendous poverty. A land of incomparable spirituality and a land of vast dishonesty.

During one year, I travelled in many countries; from the end of the world in South America to the peaks of Bolivia and the Caribbean Sea. In Asia; through the ancient land of Myanmar, in the many islands of the Philippines and the mystic land of Nepal. In all that time, I have been ripped off four times (not counting the time my credit card got copied in Buenos Aires…). I’ve been overcharged countless times but ripped off four times. Three of which in New Delhi…the starting place for many journeys to the Taj Mahal.

Arriving in Agra by bus, you can sense the magnetic pull of the Taj Mahal as all heads turn to the window and peek at the infamous white marble structure. It looks smaller then you had imagined. Once again, the trick of the mind played by expectations. But the staggering beauty is revealed as you get up close in its embracing gardens.

In Agra sits three great sites and a reminder to the vast disparities in wealth. The history of all three sites are linked by blood, a story of love, family feud and jealousy. 

The Itimad-ud-Daulah, or so-called ‘baby Taj’, in reality more the grandfather, was built prior to the Taj Mahal and was a certain source of inspiration. Perhaps its beauty and grandiose details were even a source of jealousy for the emperor Shâh Jahân, he had to outdo his father. Out of great despair and in remembrance of his favorite wife, the emperor commissioned the construction which took two decades to finish. Some say the unfortunate builder were then amputated to preserve the uniqueness of the structure, the one and only to see the light of day in the whole world.

The same emperor found an unfortunate end when is son overthrew him and locked him up in the Agra Fort. How ironic that emperor Shâh Jahân ended his days in a white marble room within the red stone walled fort, with a balcony looking over the plain of what once was his and the site of the resting ground of his beloved wife.

Such precious gem are always shredded with clouds of mystery; out of tales told ear to ear, legends are born. Perhaps some true, probably some not. However it may be, the presence of the great tomb is felt, you feel its attraction, you feel the that it looks at you, stares you down. As you turn your back on it, its presence grows, you cannot help but peek over your shoulder. It still stands there testimony of a great History, withstanding the passing of time, the ferocious elements of nature and the greed of mankind. 

Perhaps the most recognisable building in the world still holds incredible power over those fortunate enough to come in its presence. India the mystic land of wonder,

awe and extreme emotions.

Images provided by Jeremy Perret. All rights reserved.