I remember being a little child. A blonde, handsome and extremely charming little child.
I was sat on my mums lap, watching a documentary about India and the Tibetan foothills. The programme showed a shot of the Taj Mahal and spoke about its history while showing its grandeur. I think it was at that point as a little child, a young, fair eyed, beautiful and modest child, that the seed of travel was planted in my mind.
I remember asking my mum all about this mystical palace and we made a pact that one day we would go.
Obviously, my mum wasn't there the day we visited the Taj. If she was, she was hiding from us. It may have been something to do with the trousers I decided to wear on the day.
It was a very special moment for me to finally arrive in Agra and visit the Taj. It also made me miss my mummy.
We decided to get a guide who was really informative, and full of facts. His accent was almost understandable and he was a MASSIVE gay. He took it in turns to tell us a fact about the Taj, and then getting out his phone to show us one of 265 pictures he has of Amir Khan, a famous Indian male actor. "His body is very strong fit muscles isn't it?"
I won't bore you with facts, but the one I loved the most was -
Without the use of scaffolding, they had to build each floor and cover the area with sand, then build another floor, cover with more sand, and again and again etc…. So ultimately, what was left after 16 years of building was a huge giant pile of sand. The king hid a few gold coins in his massive sand castle and all the local people came in their thousands to clear the sand away and search for the coins.
Underneath, waiting for people to see for the first time, was the Taj Mahal.
All built for a dead Queen. She must have been FIT….
Agra wasn't just about the Taj Mahal, it is without question, a s*** hole. But a charming, very Indian, very interesting s*** hole. With a Pizza Hut.
We found a rickshaw driver who turned into our personal driver for the day, driving us around the city and into the back villages around Agra. This was one of my most enjoyable experiences in India. Driving through back streets and over streams. Huge high rise buildings sitting alongside wooden shacks. New and Old Agra split either side of the river.
Driving past Children playing as well as working in the streets. Families relaxing on door steps, and monkeys hanging everywhere looking mischievous and cheeky. Waiting to pounce on the tourist who naively hold food to close to them.
We also visited the Mother Teresa Orphanage, which was quite an emotional experience. The orphanage was home to babies, children and also adults. All types of disabilities and needs were catered for, and each person had a bed to sleep on. We visited the children, played with them for a while and went to say hello to the adults, who rarely see anyone but the person lay next to them. We made a donation, got abused by the Mother for not being religious and left. Good old non-judgemental Christians.
Our rickshaw driver was really affected by the experience. He had lived in Agra all his 27 years and hadn't even known this place existed. He was very emotional and made a promise that he would bring all his 'customers,' to the Orphanage alongside his normal tour of the Taj and the city.
We would definitely like to come back to Agra at some point and lend a hand in the orphanage for a few weeks.
Overall, Agra was as thought provoking and as emotionally challenging as most other places we have visited in India.
I am so pleased to have visited the Taj Mahal and seen the messy, dirty and charming Agra. However, I do have to agree with Carl Pilkinton who compared the Taj Mahal and Agra to a "Diamond in a lump of s***e…"
Peace and Dead Queen's flip flops
King Nicos and Princess Kathlivu xx