22nd August

Got up about 6:30 and went out about 7:00. Took a Rickshaw into Agra, actually went to the railway station which was useful. The station master changed my Rs 50/- note. Anything over Rs 10/- is useless as no one has any change. I spent an hour wandering the streets which were mostly empty , it being still rather early for the busting trade of the day. I was shocked by the squalor and filth. Rubbish lying everywhere, pigs rummaging. I thought it smelled like sewerage, probably was.


Early morning Agra Street pigs eating scraps

Early morning Agra Street

As I wandered the shops began to open, small tatty canopies pulled out in front of tiny rooms, all raised about 2ft 6in from the floor. All sorts or tradesmen: millers, tailors with their colourful cloths, confectioners. Many fruit stalls, mainly on wheeled trolleys. A man delivering milk from an urn, children queuing with steel mugs and jugs. Cows, pigs and dogs mixing with the growing street community. I wander along. Everyone stares at me. Many people say hello, rickshaw drivers start to pester.

Street in Agra

Street in Agra

I walked down to the river and turned towards the Taj. The roads were muddy and dusty . After about a mile I took a rickshaw and this time was delivered to the Taj Mahal. it cost me Rs 2/- to get in. The contract with the outside was overwhelming.

The Taj Mahal: peaceful, quiet, smart, clean and stunningly beautiful with its white marble, carvings and jeweled inlays. I'm here at last. One of the wonders of the world.

The Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Shake the red dust from my feet. Sit down and take it in. It was somehow fresher and cooler in here. The wonder was not the grand architecture, the cool white marble mausoleum but the contract between this calm tranquility and the streets of Agra outside. I had walked through a tear in the universe and into another dimension.