Posts for Agra

Experience the charm of Heritage at Taj Mahotsav

Agra, Festival - Shubham Varshney - March 5, 2018

Main Gate

As I have said in my post (post), Agra just held 27th Taj Mahotsav from 18th Feb to 27th Feb 2018 successfully. This time this enormous carnival had the theme ‘Heritage’, for which my country is known very well. India has many things as a heritage tagged, though they truly deserve. As it was a thematic grand procession which showcases our Heritage things from classical folk dance to the heritage monuments. This annual extravaganza reveals the rich cultural heritage of the country and unveiled the finest specimen of Indian craftsmanship. For a yearlong, every year the people of Uttar Pradesh not mentioning particularly only this state but I have seen many people from different parts too, wait expectantly for this festival help at Shilpgram.

Craft Work

India is the largest and old continuous civilization, has its name registered in the list of UNESCO Cultural Heritage list, by having the utmost number of sights and things (special thanks to Agra). People from all the parts of this endless world, feel awe for India and they want to visit this country at least for once as the same in the way we want to explore the other countries. And yes, it made me feel proud on that. Yet, I haven’t seen much things till now but from every now and then I have a lust for exploring them back and forth. The heritage things will never be laying down us, an anecdote from my grand maa, she used to tell me every time.

Colorful Mugs

This 10-day long carnival has the power to put anyone into amusement. This festival comprises of culture, craft, cuisines, and community (sometimes all we need is some doses of vitamin ‘C’). Jokes apart, out of these 10 days, I made it to this festival for three days, but it may vary day times. I had a visit in the late afternoon and one day I had a visit in late night and on last day I had a visit at the peak time. Every time there was something which tends to think me that I had a visit for the very first time. On one day I saw some aged men were playing the drums with a mint of classical beats and some of them lost themselves in the magical sound produced by the drums. The whole arena was filled with the echoing of the drums. On another day I saw some entertainers, costumed like a horse and they were entertaining the crowd in the best way as they could be.

Sweet n Sour

The experience of this one of India’s biggest carnival was simply amazing and as far as I concern I will going to visit not every (keeping all the necessary things in mind) but many Taj Mahotsav. As soon as I entered through the main entry with holding a VIP pass (which somehow I managed), there were many stalls which are having many artifacts like Basses, pots, paintings, chandeliers, and many more crafty items. Some people bargaining over the stuff that they liked and some bought the things which they find necessary. That’s what for which this festival known.

Glittering Tree

Like every year, Taj Mahotsav spaced a particular area for the Mainstage on which India’s best artists perform various classical folk dance, which seldom not produce a dancing effect in the giant tent (really it was felt be me only). Sometimes or for being a time period not big but recognizable celebrity performed on that stage like some that I witnessed Abhijit Bhattacharya and Palak Muchhal. They both gave grandeur performance just for the sake of entertainment of the public. Just right after the main stage, there were the stalls of best Mughal cuisines where people have had the best taste so that they could able to satisfy their taste buds. And believe me the taste was really mouth-watering, and until the moment when I swallowed the first bite, the countless time I had to take gulp back in my throat.

Book Stall

 

The Train

There was a thing which attracted me most, there was a stall of books (the only thing which I love the most now), and the thing that attracted me was they were selling books at 200 bucks for one kg, can you imagine one Kg for 200 bucks in INR. Taking the whole advantage of this power I bought 5 books (weighted as 1 kg), thinking that I can pass the half year on them. There was a particular area in which the Northern Indian Railway showcases their every model from the beginning till now, and getting about them was really an outstanding experience for me. When I was wandering in this jamboree I was clearly able to felt that how great our Heritage things are and all this is only due to our ancestors. It forced me to think that we should also do the things on which our upcoming generation will have a proud of them.

Rides

The one who said that experiencing is the only way of exploring, undoubtedly had a genius mind because that is the thing which I felt after coming back to den from Shilpgram. For the very first time, I get to know that India has 8 classical folk dance forms (Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Sattriya, Manipuri, and Mohiniyattam) and like this many more thing about our cultural Heritage I got to know. And focusing on my favorite part, on the opposite side of stalls, outside the arena of markets. There was a huge ground in which there were different types of rides like a giant wheel, roller coaster, gravitron, spinning teacups and many more. I had a ride almost each of them. After seeing this type of rides the kid in me wakes up and he enjoys till the last moment.

Nonetheless, exploration comes after the experience, the more you experience the things smoothly the more you will explore or get exposure. So keep the pace with the life and keep focusing on the things which help in living a happy life. Because the life is meant to be lived joyfully.

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Things to see in Agra Fort!

Monument - Shubham Varshney - February 17, 2018

From Parking

When I was a kid, I am obsessed enough with the history that much that I couldn’t able to learn the dates that which emperor born in which year and in which year this battle had happened. Learning dates to me like dying by using my own methods. But when I had a visit to Agra Fort, and soon after entering in this gargantuan fort, a history lover in me provoked. He pulled me towards every piece of gem that is presented in this Fort and showed me that there are various things to do in Agra.  One can easily indulge him/herself in the history because all the small and big facts like this part of this fort was constructed by which emperor, in which year all this thing is carved on a stone there.

I have read all those stones and believe me the history behind them are really hallucinatory. And if you could manage a visit to this type of historical place in partially cloudy or rainy day, it will add more charm to the memories. Thinking in a right way, yes, at the time of my visit the sky was partially covered by the clouds.

Second Entry Gate

Third Gate

It is making sense that, having Taj Mahal overshadowing Agra’s red fort, one could easily forget that this city of Taj also having another World Heritage Site, one of the curvaceous Mughal Forts in India. Agra Fort and Taj Mahal are considered as Sister Monuments. The ear-like structure of this Fort was meant to flummox invaders if they anyhow pass the moats infested with crocodiles and wild animals at that time. The Amar Singh Gate, named after the name of Jodhpur’s Maharaja Amar Singh Rathore, is the onliest entry point to the Fort nowadays. And from there only we can able to buy tickets from the counters over there. From the anecdote, I heard that in 1644 the chief treasurer in the court of Emperor Shah Jahan, Salabat Khan insulted the king of Jodhpur. So Amar Singh copped-off his head and while escaping from the court he jumped from the long walls.

Fort Stone

The construction of this Fort was begun by Great Emperor Akbar in 1565 and further additions were made by the authorized person but particularly by his Grand Son Shah Jahan. In adding changes, he used his favorite building material white-marble. Its gigantic walls rise about 20 meters in height and 2.5 Km in circumference. More than the half part of this fort is occupied by the higher dignitaries of Agra cantonment board, so it is off-limits to the aficionados. And remaining part is open to the public, which contains some important sections of this Fort. From Diwan-i-Aam to Diwan-i-Khas. Emperor Akbar built this fort for their military base but Shah Jahan resuscitates it into a palace. On the eastern edge of this Fort River, the Yamuna is flowing parallel. And a secret tunnel was there which takes to the bathing ghats of the emperors from the fort.

Hall of Public Audiences

This Fort is having three consecutive entrance gates and amazingly they are in a way that, the next gate only be visible after the preceding one. When I entered from the first gate I thought I entered and this was my same perception when I entered the second. After the third one, there is a long walkway, which is the upward incline direction. That pathway is surrounded by long walls, for a specific security reason for Mughals. They used the echo produced by the horses of invaders as their alarming bells. Straight in this way, a large Moti Masjid is there, closed permanently for visitors. On turning back, to the left is Diwan-i-Am (A hall of Public Audiences), Shah Jahan used this hall for his public proceedings. I truly, found it a city within a city, not just a fort.

Throne At Diwan-i-Aam

This Diwan-i-Aam features a throne room in which the emperor focuses on the petitioner’s petition. On the throne, in this public hall, the intricate work is there. The artistic work on the marble with intricate precious gems makes people stand still for a while. The manifest work puts people really in amazement. The pillars and the ceiling work as a superlative factor for clicking some nice pictures to the people. In front of it, there is a grave of John Colvin, a lieutenant governor who died in the fort due to some illness. Also, a water well is there from the right front of Diwan-i-Aam covered with a steel grid.

Courtyard

Taj View

Diwan-i-Khas

From the right corner of the throne, there is a way which leads tourists to the large courtyard full of colorful flowers. Not much far from it, there is a Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audiences). In this hall, important meetings were used to hold and it is said that this hall once housed Shah Jahan’s legendary throne and the main and the shocking thing is that that throne was inset with precious stone including the famed Koh-i-Noor diamond. After the devastation of Mughal Dynasty, the throne was taken to Iran by Nadir Shah after defeating Aurangzeb in 1739 and dismantled there after the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747. A slab is there which is overlooking to the Yamuna and the far Taj Mahal, the best point for taking photographs or to showcase our photography skills. Those who are really having a wanderlust can spend their whole day just watching the Taj from there. Not whole day but ample amount of time I spent over there clicked many photographs and from many, some are here.

Slab

Meena Bazaar

Hidden Capture

In the right adjacent to this slab is a Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), tiny mirrors are inlaid on the walls of it. Unluckily, I was not able to get in because it is closed. But you can peep through the cracks in the doors at the sparkling mirrors. There you can also find Musamman Burj and Khas Mahal, the wonderful white-marble octagonal tower. In which the Shah Jahan was captivated by his own son in his last days, but for him, a good thing was that he could gaze out at Taj Mahal from there. After the death of Shah Jahan, his body was taken to Taj by a boat. There are many other things which are now closed like Mina Masjid, was his private mosque and at a few steps down from it is the Meena Bazaar where the court ladies are allowed to roam and bought goods for their shake only.

Jehangir Palace

Benches with a tree

To the south of this fort there is a Jehangir’s Palace built with huge red-sand-stones, the Akbar built this palace for his son Jehangir. And as we all have heard that Akbar had strong feelings for Jodha Bai, princess of Jodhpur. He built a Krishna temple in it and the architectural style on the carvings of it shows Akbar’s, kind heart. There are many things to see in this fort which depicts the perfect blend of Hindu-Mughal architectural styles. After exploring this insight palace, the path will bring back to the main entrance gate. Honestly, in this fort, I have spent more than three hours just in grasping the things and the history behind them.

A click

Last but not the least, after exploring this fort no one can able to point a finger at UNESCO that why they have considered this fort as a World Heritage Site. But when I was returning back, there was a little man, about 7-year-old, walking alongside me with a trite face. I asked him why he was not happy then he replied me that “all the things are boring here, I couldn’t able to see some crazy stuff”. And I realized that not every, but many kids don’t have their interest in history. That’s all this fort.

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Could February be the best month to visit Agra?

Agra - Shubham Varshney - February 10, 2018

From the snow-capped mountains of the far North to the tropical green shores of the Deep South, India is having a legion number of amazing things. And those things are just hidden in its heart only, one can easily hear its beats. The only thing which we have to do in order to hear them is we have to move out from our comfort zone and have to sail our boats in the upwind direction. We can hear them either in our surroundings or even in the work whatever be we do. And I am going to hear it in the upcoming carnival, Taj Mahotsav (I will discuss it later in this post). There is a city in the Indian state, Uttar Pradesh, which is having many gems, Agra. This city is having the real charm of India that is Taj Mahal and about its beauty, I have discussed in “this”. Here I am going to discuss that why February is the best month to visit Agra.

Weather of Agra in February month

Agra is one of those places which are capable enough for giving a warm welcome to a New Year in the chilled winters. As the January passes by, in February Agra’s weather undergoes the transition from winter to summer, chilled days start getting warmer gradually. The days are kind enough with an average temperature between 20 – 25o Celsius. Such pleasant weather conditions provide the best time to visit Agra city and allows wanderers to a joyful glimpse of the monuments that this city is having. A deadly combination of cool midst and Luke warm sunrays, make this month more exotic.

Returning to the Question

Because of many things February is the best month to visit Agra and here I am discussing only those which I have experienced till now. As we all know that, February is for romance, love, and pleasure, so did this city. Agra is having a well-known monument Taj Mahal, which is the symbol of pure love and romance. Besides this monument, Agra is also a destination for themed weddings. It is the fact that February is the best month for Indian nuptials (marriage). One can easily see some hotels or gardens decorated with amazing flowers or lights in this month. Foreigners love the Indian culture and their traditions. They love to see the Indian weddings, all that Band, Baja, and Baraat.

Second Thing, In February month, Agra host a great festival which known as Taj Mahotsav. This is festival is for those who just want to have a glimpse of art, craft, culture, and cuisine. This is a 10-day long carnival, held every year in the month of February. This year it is scheduled from 18th Feb to 27th Feb in Shilpgram near to Eastern Gate of Taj Mahal. Actually, it is a platform which can provide information about India’s rich art, craft, cuisine, culture, dance, and music. One can enjoy all these things at one place. Imagine that, you are tasting the best eateries in this world at the same time you are watching people having fun by doing some other activities. One is dancing on the beats and some are bargaining for some stuff.

The upcoming Taj Mahotsav is the 27th, it means Agra successfully enjoyed this carnival 26 times (AMAZING). The theme of this festival in this year is Dharohar (Heritage). Honestly, I have not make it yet, to experience the aroma of it. I assure you that, I am going to experience it this time and I will share my every single moment which I will spend in this festival with all of you. Really I am very excited to encounter this carnival. I have asked many people in the excitement that what could be we do in this festival, there is only one answer which I got and it is “just experience it on your own”. They say that the words are not good enough to describe this jamboree.

Before making to this jamboree, I have planned my next post which should be on Agra Fort (Hope). So, stay connected and stay happy. And more importantly always have a nature of acquiring knowledge on our surroundings. Eat whatever you want to eat, pull legs of your siblings, and do the things which make you feel happy.

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Have you ever seen Taj Mahal in mist at the time of Sunrise?

Agra - Shubham Varshney - January 20, 2018

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As I have written in my last post that “I will share my experience of Taj at Sunrise”, so keeping this in mind, like others here is my effort in glorifying the beauty of Taj Mahal. I am starting this with some questions just to make it more precise. Have you ever seen the boundless beauty of Taj? Have you ever felt the aroma of love which is shrouded at this monument? Have you seen the image of Taj given by the ponds over there in the early morning? Have you ever screamed, “where is the Taj” when fog covered the whole arena?. If yes, then you know very well that here what I am going to share and if no this post is only for you. I have done all the things, I felt the love, I saw the endless beauty and honestly, I just screamed off “where is the Taj”.

On 17th Jan, Wednesday, it was a 6’o clock and literally I was dreaming. Suddenly, my phone rang and it was a call from my brother-in-law, who was residing in the room adjacent to mine. He was the only one due to which I made it to Taj Mahal in the morning (A big thank for him). We both reached Taj at 7’o clock and bought tickets 40 for each as we are Indians. There were queues in order to get an entry from the main gate. I could able to see people who came from different parts of the world and they all were waiting to get an entry. It was clear and suddenly mist started covering the whole area and second by second it got more denser, the excitement crossed all its limits.

At 7:15 AM, we entered from the west gate of Taj Mahal, people could barely see anything because the dense fog was omnipresent. We entered in the arena where many fountains, small gardens and ponds were there, all were covered by mist. People were grinning at each other faces because we all weren’t able to see Taj yet. I asked my brother-in-law “where is the Taj” and he said, “It is having a unique stance and standing in the right front of us, but we cannot see it till the sunrise”. 7:30 was clicking on the watch and sun rises from the Far East, the moment was so mesmerizing that I can spend a couple of days in watching it only. As the sun turns out, the mist started disappearing and we people now could able to see the taj dome first and rest slowly slowly. It’s almost impossible to have that moment without feeling awestruck.

One of my good friends used to utter some beautiful lines and these are “Love is better of as virtual, you should feel it from far, rather not touch it because once you do, and the love has gone”. And the same I was feeling while standing in front of it. I felt handicapped and I don’t want to touch the marble which is used in building this artifact. Even I couldn’t step on the marble floor of it but very soon I am going to revisit this monument so that I can able make a way to appear in the list of those fortunate ones who had experienced the beautiful work done on it. Let’s not have a talk of future because no one knows what will happen.

This wonder of the world has a characteristic which is strong enough to appeal people to fall in love with this monument and people found spellbound to it. The characteristic is, as the daylight change, the marble reflects the same, means in the morning the sun used to be orange so Taj also appears orange. From my point of view that is the best time to experience the Taj Mahal. I was standing at the right front stage and watching the whole show, damn beautiful show in amazement. People were clicking pictures, some were giving their best poses and some were trying to copy the stance of Taj Mahal. Photographers were advising people to stand like this or in that way (like the one I had). I was clearly able to listen to some praiseworthy words which were uttered by every single person who was there with me.

Last but not the least, here is a tip, please don’t take books, diaries or any of the drawing material because all these things are not allowed to take in (because cops not allowed me to take my journal in and it was clearly written over there). Apart from this, we had a great time over there, we clicked many pictures and out of those best ones here are very few. If it is appealing than you could ever wish to explore with a marvelous piece of creation. There are lots of things about Agra which I have to share with you all. Till then stay happy, stay cool and keep the things neat and clean. Are you on board?.

 

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