From Delhi, we did the expected pilgrimage to Agra. But not before sincere, vest-wearing Jagdish, whose car had been hiccuping the day before, called to say that its battery had been stolen from the shop where he had taken it the previous evening. He seemed, in Jagdish fashion, deeply apologetic for having had his car ruined and therefore ruining our itinerary. I tried to assure him that it really wasn’t a big deal since his car service had already set us up with another driver and car but he seemed pretty despondent at letting us down.
The new chap was pretty much the anti-Jagdish: brash, cocky, and a lead foot. Entertaining enough, but you wanted to send him to his room for a time-out every once in a while.
Our first stop e-route was at Akbar’s tomb, which the emperor designed himself. It’s a fascinating space, with deer grazing in the gardens, crumbling domes lined with huge honeycombs, and Akbar’s stark tomb in the center of the complex contrasting sharply with the ornateness of the rest of the buildings.
From there, it was a drive to Taj Mahal, which is admittedly spectacular.
The evening sun painted it a shimmering yellow and the minars glimmered in the fading rays. It is undoubtedly evidence that architecture can be poetry that has assumed physical shape.
Surprisingly, the Agra fort is almost more awe-inspiring, both for the poignancy of its purpose–it served as a prison for Shah Jehan, who built the Taj–and for its sense of a lived space.
We missed out on visiting many other sites in the area–Fatehpur Sikhri, Bibi ka Maqbara, the Taj at sunrise–but I suppose I’ll be returning at some point. Unlike the Trevi, however, there are no coins to be flung in fountains to guarantee a return journey.