Abandoned City – Fatehpur Sikri

If driving from Jaipur to Agra, I highly recommend a pit stop at Fatehpur Sikri.  This walled city functioned briefly as the capital to Emperor Akbar’s empire before he shifted the capital to Lahore to fight some Afghan tribes. It was also home to Jahangir for just 3 months in 1619 and then remained abandoned till its archaeological exploration in 1892. Psshah these emperors, and their disposable, use and throw walled cities. I guess sustainability- recycle, reuse, re-purpose was not on their agenda. Why build such a stunning place and then abandon it?

Oh yes, you are welcome. This lesson in history was brought to you by our guide who also showed us how to take artsy pictures through latticed walls. If I remember right, the guide mentioned that the city was abandoned due to water scarcity.

When we were there, there was plenty of water. This boy, along with 3 others was cleaning the pond, scooping up flower petals with his palms. Looked like a fun job given it was a scorching warm day.

This pond called Anup Talao is where Tansen perfomed his ragaas. For those not from India, Tansen was a musician in Akbar’s court. He was believed to have had the power to conjure up fire with his music. There is a fable about him having a musical duel with another musician. Tansen lit fire while the other brought down rain.

Try…and you can visualise them sitting there, right there, at the centre of this pond singing up a medley of fire and rain. Goosebumps.

Salim Chisti’s tomb.

Pilgrims.

This used to be the stable with horses and elephants. Now home to this little dog. He looked hungry and thristy, all ribs with tongue hanging out. But he refused the water we gave him, so I guess he was doing just fine. :)

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Via Agra.

I promise not to make viagra jokes. There is a plaque outside the entrance to the Taj Mahal about how Shah Jahan built the tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, his third and favourite wife. She died giving birth to their 14th child. Fourteenth my friends. That’s 10 and then 4 some more. 

Our Bharat Darshan continued from Jaipur to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. This was my second time there. Like  my first time, I was underwhelmed. It is very beautiful, all cool white glistening marble, poetic symmetry and backed by a historic love story. The build up to the Taj Mahal is so great, my expectations so high. When I am there, it meets my all expectations but I really expect it to exceed them. Plus I must mention how when I am there, other questions of deep historical importance plague my mind. How many kids did the less favoured wives have. Where are their tombs? Is there a tour for tombs of less favoured wives? I wonder if the myth about the workmen who built the Taj Mahal being mutilated and dismembered, so they couldn’t build a replica, is true.  

What I like most about the Taj Mahal is how it is in the middle of the city surrounded by haphazard settlements. It brings the contrasts in India to face. On reaching Agra, we went through some narrow streets to a rooftop cafe to watch the sun set. This was incidentally the same place my husband came to as a backpacker years ago. He said the sunset he saw was the most beautiful one.

So we waited for the sun to set. The sun didn’t ’set’, not as a red ball of fire anyway. It dimmed. But still a very beautiful view, marred only by a man sitting on one of the terraces below, masturbating. Men masturbating, even in the open, don’t surprise me. But this man knew how to up the game. He sat there putting on his show while there was woman (mother? sister? wife?) sitting right next to him shelling peas! The scale tipped straight from disgust to deep curiosity. I couldn’t stop staring! I wanted to see if the woman next to him was blind and if she wasn’t, why she was putting up with his perversity. My rapt audience only excited him more, he got more disgusting so I begged my husband to switch chairs with me. I love him! (My husband, not the pervert) Giving up a chair with view of the Taj Mahal for chair with view of masturbating man to ease your wife’s discomfort -THAT my friends, is true love. 

This post writes itself. I deny authorship of this post. I have no explanation for why a post meant to tell you about The Monument of Love started with viagra, of a king who loved his wife to death and now a masturbating man. I will now try to scrub those images out of your mind with pictures of that beautiful monument.

Do you sometimes go to a famous monument and emotionally connect with the lesser photographed parts of it? Which perhaps explains why I have only 2 pictures of the the-taj-mahal-as-seen-in-pictures-all-over-the-world and but have many pictures of its corners.

 

Mission find skirt that will fly just so accomplished at H&M discount rack.

The highlight of the Taj Mahal visit was seeing these street dogs play in the garden. I am guessing they were regulars, they knew exactly where the hose was. They drank water, chased each other and then walked out. They were so much fun to watch. Love.

Dogs have left their imprints at many places at Taj Mahal. We spied many paw-prints on concrete of the main pathway leading up to the Taj Mahal.

Here we are staring at a tomb. Isn’t it beautiful? Sung-mur-mur is the Hindi word for marble. Love the sound of that word.

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More Jaipur.

India is special in that, one doesn’t have to visit a zoo to see animals and birds. For some tourists like my husband, that in itself is a big attraction. He made a list of life he saw on city streets. He saw humans, cats, cobras, monkeys, horses, cows, dogs, peacocks, donkeys, asses, big rats, small rats, buffaloes, squirrels, elephants, camels, bulls, horses, regular goats, mountain goats, pigs, crows, doves, pigeons, parrots. 

Anyway, onwards to some more pictures from Jaipur. 

Your country doesn’t have elephants strolling down the streets? How boring. I would advise the elephants to go easy with the make up though. Bit much for day wear, don’t you think?

Far from being an abandoned building, this is actually a part of a very busy shopping street   called Johari Bazar.

Fresh sugarcane juice. Squeeze lemon, sprinkle kala namak. Summer in a cup. Sometimes also diarrhoea in a cup. 

Drink lassi. Smash clay cup after use. You happy. Earth happy. 

Jal Mahal (Water palace) Once an oasis in the desert. Now closed to tourists but wedding venue to rich and willing to spend.

Front of Hawa Mahal. Poor phone picture, but I dodged motorcycle man, tricycle man and a monkey running with a melon to take this picture. So. 

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