Taj Mahal & Agra: so many faces

Early in the morning I get on a tour to Agra, where the Taj Mahal is situated, 3 hours away from Delhi. I only see Agra through the car, so my impressions are not complete...

I find that there are more cows on the streets than in Delhi. There are more barracks and nylon shelters. There is a hair-dresser by the street: a chair in the middle of the mud with a mirror in front & a sign "hair-dresser".

We reach Taj Mahal, there is a huge amount of people, camels, horses in front. Everything is organized separately for Indian passport holders and foreigners. Indians pay 20R, foreigners 750R. This is totally fine by me, as I think that nationals of any country should have the right to visit their national monuments at low cost. There are different queues, the one for foreigners goes much faster, as we are much less. We go through scanning again....and here we are in front of the Taj Mahal. I am suffering a bit as I can understand 1 of 5 words of what our guide is saying and I am missing most of the interesting facts.

The most fascinating thing for me, which I luckily understood, was the symbolic combination of the flowers planted and engraved all around the Taj Mahal - Lotus (symbol of Hinduism), Jasmine (symbol of Islam) & Roses (symbol of love). The whole story behind the Taj Mahal is really romantic. It has been built in 17th century over a 20-year period of time by emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite of three wives Mumtaz Mahal - in symbol of his great love for her and promise that he will never forget her and will never marry again. The building does have feminine shapes, it lays graciously among numerous gardens, lakes, flowers, all white and eternalizing love.

We move to Agra fort - this time I don't get a word of what the guide is saying, I sometimes wonder whether he is speaking English or Hindi...I just take a rest and watch the Taj Mahal, which is calmly sitting on the other side of the river, stronger than the time and untouched by the obstacles around it.

We eat in a "nice" Indian restaurant, (which I will later regret), we visit a number of craft shops in Agra where among the barracks, paradoxically they sell precious and semi-precious stones, beautifully carved by local people.

On the way back to Delhi I am lost in contemplation, which I fear I will never get out from. Why there is so much misery all around? The beauty of this country, its beautiful monuments, and unique treasures, its warm and welcoming people make the contrast even more striking, even more scary...there is just too much suffering and misery on the streets. I start thinking that through suffering is how we human beings find the truth and I do believe that we have to be content with everything we have and should not desire for more. However, I find myself absolutely perplexed, as I somehow feel these people laying on the streets with no purpose, the kids sleeping on the streets crawled over by flies, the beggers, the sick people...they have accepted their destiny that in this life they will be poor and this is their karma, so they would adapt to that, they would live in unthinkable conditions and wait to see what destiny will bring them next, but I SO MUCH fear this thought. I actually feel they accept their situation simply because they don't know any better...

I have not seen enough of India, I need to get back as I am sure there are so many more faces to discover...

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