I had organized with the Sri Aurobindo ashram a tour to Agra, the city of world heritage! From Delhi what seemed like a long 5 hour ride felt even longer with a surprising stop I had not arranged, the Agra Fort! What a splendid surprise, it’s freakin’ enormous! The Fort is India’s most important and probably its most beautiful one also. It’s red stone gigantic walls seem impenetrable, not even the thousands of daily visitors paint a speck on its vastness. Although I could not understand my guide completely I managed to hear that it took four generations to complete the fort, home to Akbar his harem and kids. Both a residence and a military strategic point. It is said that approximately 1,444,000 workers took 8 years to built this red sandstone monument. Its presence beams strength, it stands solid glaring with intimidation. There are endless rooms, columns and quarters, its as if an entire city could sustain itself within its walls, I’m pretty sure at one point it did! So here I am walking through and we reach the council’s chambers, I look into the distance and down to catch a look at the grand view and there right before my eyes, I see it… she is staring right back at me, the smile on my face so extreme I must have looked like a child who had never seen such a grand toy to explore.
For years now I had promised myself that I would stand foot in front of the Taj Mahal and touch its precious marble… that day has come. To many I’m sure it’s just another Historic architectural heritage site and tourist trap but let me tell you from my eyes, it deserves its title as a Man made wonder of the world. Upon arriving, your bombarded with locals, begging for just about everything, to be your guide, to taking a real photo in front, to purchasing cheesy souvenirs and well just begging for your money! Once you get past this and purchase your ticket (which includes the Agra Fort…yeah I paid for both stupidly, so remember visit the Taj 1st!) you’re guided into yet another security check, I had to leave behind my knife, journal, novel and mango! There are several buildings before the main attraction, all in which are beautiful in themselves but don’t stand a chance next to the alluring magnitude of the Taj’s beauty. So with anticipation and excitement I see it up close and personal, standing tall and strong as if she knows her own glory. I refer to the feminine because it was made by The Fifth Mughal Emperor: Shah Jahan [1592 – 1666] for the Mughal Empress: Mumtaz Mahal [1593 AD – 1631 AD]. Also the building exudes the most romantic luster I have ever witnessed in physical manifestation, it has the presence of a high priestess, the strength in form much like a confident woman carries and sparkling gem stones hand carved like the lines of a feminine goddess. To think it is used as a tomb makes one think one of two things, “what a waste, or how appropriate” … it’s all in the eyes of the beholder! I chose to hire a guide to walk me through, for only 100 rupees, about $2 I had a friendly commentary and semi-pro photographer who loved to put me in funny poses and clever shots I would have never have had going in alone. The fountains and gardens add to the majestic atmosphere. Upon walking up it’s grand entrance you have to cover your shoes with disposable shoe covers to keep the buildings integrity. The most notable is the inscription of what is said to be the most important chapter of the Qur’an along with the most detailed of carvings said to have destroyed the hands who built it. This masterpiece is said to have taken 22,000 workers, imports from around the world (impressive for that time) and 22 years for its full completion. It’s true beauty is in the workmanship, no cut corners, perfect symmetry and not an expense spared. At that time the value was approximately 2 million, which in today’s inflation would make it worth about 2 Billion USD! Now that is quite an extravagant love. How lucky was I when inside observing the tomb he said “look were the only ones in here, this NEVER happens, listen to your voice and the endless echo, say your name aloud” And so I did… just amazing! He had a small flashlight and held it up to the imported coloured flowered gemstones. He added that this is what the moonlight reflection looks like if you were to be here in the dusk. He believes the nicest time to steal a glance is at dawn, there is a pink glow, lucky again for me my camera caught just a hint of that rose colour blush. I needed a bit of alone time to just take it all in, to be in the moment and let it sink in that here I am in India, finally… I can’t tell you why my eyes filled up with tears only that I was so grateful for that precious moment and bucket list wish fulfilled!
My tour bus had yet another surprise for me on the itinerary, now this one I was taken back with. I hear the bus guide “A cha… Mathura!” WHAAAAAT!!! This day just seemed to be a gift from the heavens. Krishna is in my lineage of Guru’s and it was an unspoken aim of mine to visit with each of my ascended masters. There I was standing in front of the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple. For a spiritual aspirant and sightseeing it doesn’t get better than that! So fully in joy and gratitude and holy mollyness, I walk into another security check and this time its my cellphone, headphones and knife. So I was told to check it in, once I approached the counter I was told 2 or 4 rupees. I literally looked into my bag and I was spent! I had used and given away all my money, I literally had no money to go in the temple! So discouraged and SO sad, I walked away from the strict guard with my head down and a young boy asked me if I wanted to buy a krishna book. I had told him I had given all my money away today and sadly I don’t have the mere cents to get in the temple let alone buy the book. Well the young boy was shocked and said “you came all this way and you HAVE to go in, your my sister I will pay for you!” I refused… no way could I take this young locals money if even a few rupees, NO.. NO WAY. The sweetheart insisted and I took his offer, I swear not the temples, not the royal fort, not even the prodigious Taj Mahal experience was as touching as that generosity that boy Devdas bestowed, again I felt my eyes wallow up with such gratitude! To imagine all other kids his age just focused on taking and begging, and here he was paying for a fellow devotee to see the sacred site…. I truly have no words for this one!
SO I have to tell you how the night ended, I was terribly late for the Ashram curfew of 10:30pm and when my bus dropped me off at my gate and drove off, you can’t imagine the pit in my stomach with no money on hand for a hotel room as the caretaker did not answer the bell I rang and rang! I thought to myself, what do you expect its almost 2am! (that’s how long things take in India!)
So I repeated my daily mantra I got from my best friend Matti “trust” and climbed the huge locked gates. Once I was inside I knew I was safe, all doors were locked securely so I slept in the garden. I looked up at the moon, thanked the source of life for such an amazing day and I swore to myself “today and all my days… I trust.”