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Monday 15 October 2007

Sunrise feelings over the Taj Mahal

The awakening of the Taj Mahal belongs to those who get up early. We get through a gigantic entrance and the first glimmers of the dawn unveil the outline of the mausoleum. A long shimmering pond stretches out up to the white tomb.
Fascinating collection of stones and marble blocks that hypnotizes me a little bit more for each new step.
Crazy construction of a mad king, mad in love with his wife.
Symbol of the absolute love and the dementia which can upset the heart of an inconsolable man.
The rectangular gardens and pools contrast to the undulating lines of the domes. Overdose of harmony in this perfectly symmetrical complex where the death tarnished a endless love in no way.
The History is cruel and a tragic fate will wait for the builder of the white mausoleum. Dethroned king, Shah Jahan will be imprisonned. In his cell, a tiny window as only mate. A mere window through where he could contemplate the building of his life dedicated to his defunct wife.
A lot of human buildings impress due to their gigantic proportions, their sizes challenging the physics laws but very few make shake the heart and vibrate the very inside. The Taj Mahal belongs to that world. We can walk around several times and nothing will soothe the inner fire and the swirl of sensations that swamp you. I sit down to gather my emotions. The mausoleum bewitches its residents with a kind aura, erodes the sharpest spirits and awakens the gentlest hearts.
I tread a last time around the white mausoleum, bewildered by these same feelings which submerged me a few hours before, as from the first seconds I got in the enclosure of the Taj Mahal. I leave with the illusion of living a dream. A dream in which I stepped on a marble-paving path. A dream in which I stopped leaning with my back on a wall, sheltered by an alcove. On the wall of a palace smooth as the silk.

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With these angelic radiant-white pictures, our Indian trip ends. We simply picked at a few crumbs of this country full with culture and life. Completely dishonest the one who, in one month, boasts of visiting India. This short interlude opened a gap in our spirits, a crack we'll have to fill in coming again. To discover other facets, other landscapes and other people of the Indian subcontinent. And above all to enjoy new adventures that only India can bring.

Sunday 14 October 2007

Monuments around Agra

8h. Train station of Agra. Our time is short here as we get off the train. One day and a half and our plan is full with the differents places we want to see. We trust a tuk-tuk's driver that offers us to drive us at the castle of Fatehpur Sikri, 40km away from the city. We'll meet in one hour, just a moment to have breakfast from the rooftop of the guesthouse with a nice view on the Taj Mahal. Despite the relative distance, its whiteness is radiant and splashes down all the other buildings. Dwellings are nothing but pale, tasteless houses dramatically crushed by the marble mausoleum. We forget what we have in the plate. Our last steps in India are going to be magical.

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We go for the castle of Fatehpur Sikri. Despite the undeniable beauty of its outlines, my thoughts turn back to Agra and the desire of trudging in the gardens and on the marble floor of the white mausoleum. Our visit at the castle is short and we go back to Agra.

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As we arrive, we stop at the red fort. Well-preserved, Agra can vie with the innumerable castles scattered in the Rajasthan state. The lawns and gardens bring out the straight and vertical lines of the red fortress. The interior of the fort is composed of myriad of rooms that look out onto one another. They are sometimes separate by some interior courtyards. A part of the fortification flanks the river and several openings turn our looks towards the opposite bank. The Taj Mahal's outline looms in the distance among lands barely spoilt by the human hand. My eyes are magnetized by this white monument. An obsession since I arrived in India that changed into unbearable desire since I got off the train.

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We keep on visiting the monuments of Agra with the baby Taj Mahal. We cross the river and stop in front of this replica of its illustrious "big brother". Just a sample before dashing to the Taj Mahal.

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We go alongside the river by tuk-tuk. A few meters by foot, we race down from the small embankment and our looks set on the white-radiant funerary palace. The river separates us from the backside of the mausoleum. The quintessence of the moghul art reflects the last glows of the sun. A spike-ended dome walled by 4 minarets and hemmed in by 2 brick red mosques. We tread along the bank to contemplate the monument from different angles. Harmonious proportions and calming colours. One of these architectural jewels the History bequeathes to the Humanity. One of these treasures which beautifies the brochures of the travel agencies. And however, despite all the photographies taken by the best photographers, the emotion is there, intact. Perfect symmetry between the 2 mosques that embrace the mausoleum and marvellous reflection into the calm waters of the river. The marble palace floats above the time, above the reality. So do we.
Little by little, the mausoleum darkens with the veil of the night.

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Saturday 13 October 2007

Hindu fervour by the Ganges river

The Ganges takes the shape of a crescent. One bank abandoned to the nature, one bank dedicated to the religious fervour.
Varanasi, bathed by the sacred river of the Hinduism and its followers' fervour.
Enjoying a sunrise over the holy city from a small boat drifting on the waters, and you'll surely feel this sensation that overloads your senses, this religious tradition which pierces you to the sound of the morning prayers and at the pace of the ancestral rites several generations of Hindu people perpetuate coming to purify and revitalize themselves into the river.
The bank is a string of ghats, stone stairways arise in the parallel alleyways of the river and vanish below into the holy waters. 5h30, in the coolness of the dawn, we go down a few steps and sit down in a wooden boat. The gondolier pushes off the bank and we start sailing on the waters reflecting the glow of the dawn. A cathedral silent in this Hindu open-air temple. The sun rises beyond the pristine bank and lights the polychrome fa├žades of the opposite bank. We "swim" in this scenery up to be intoxicating. Our digital cameras immortalize these moments of life. Thousands of pilgrims give to each one of these moments a unique and unforgetable feature. An ochre and saffron postcard.

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