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Fatehpur Sikri —meanings behind monuments

The popular “golden triangle” road trip needs no thorough introduction to avid travellers. It remains one of the most pursued, deeply enthralling and highly recommended road-trips in India. It covers the broad geographies of Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. People travel miles away from home to fulfil this goal in their bucket list. In 2015, I set out on these routes too and not too far from the city of Agra lies the Fatehpur Sikri fort, in the city of Fatehpur Sikri.

The Fatehpur Sikri fort is more than just a blend of historical monuments and forts. It features among the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO. It has endless things to reveal if you attentively listen to it but the sad reality is that it has ended up being just an option in travel plans for foreigners. Prior to finalising my itinerary for this road trip, I discussed with numerous travel agencies to understand the options they had to offer. Almost all of them added this place just as a stop over and they expected me to spend roughly an hour there. I was there and I can tell you, it’s not a place to just stop over because you were on the way to another destination. It will be a sheer injustice to the depth of Fatehpur Sikri if you visit this place, just because you were passing by. When you do something, do it well or don’t do it at all. I would recommend you to spend few hours leisurely to explore the length and depth of this breathtaking destination.

The taxis will usually drop you at the downhill area, which is cluttered with hawkers and their stalls. There is no doubt that they will approach you, with the aim to sell their products. I would have advised you to listen to them if the prices were affordable but having been in the shops, I encourage you not to stop by unless you have a budget which you want to waste on items that are sold at cheaper prices in other markets. Pursue your road straightforwardly to the small bus station. Buses are readily available and the fare is very cheap to reach the fort.

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People will generally advise you not to rent a guide when you are journeying to this place. Even I used to think like this but some places cannot fully be understood without a knowledgeable guide. This applies for Fatehpur Sikri too. If you are merely walking around with your camera to get some pictures of the place and tell people that you have been there, then you may choose not to rent a guide; but is it really purposeful? If you are willing to feel the spirit of the place and understand what it once used to be, then a knowledgeable guide can be of great help. If you look closely at the extreme right of this picture, you’ll notice a group of tourists absorbed in the words of the guide. I found that even Indians chose to be guided. They aren’t wrong in doing so; the historical depth of this place requires this.

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Apart from the wisdom of guides, the fort is home to numerous small and open education centres where people are taken back to the Mughal era. Through a series of videos, people are able to grasp the significance of what has happened during those ages.

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I remember walking at a very slow pace, gently placing my hands on the monuments around me and trying to feel what this place might once have been.

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The fine architectures will leave you speechless. Again, do not hurry when you are inside. Explore one place at a time. There’s a lot of meanings behind the monuments.

In the course of my travels, I have come across many people; some carrying countless dreams in their hearts and others wandering vainly to find their dreams but whoever crossed my way had something to give me. They had encounters and experiences to share. They had truths and lies to tell. They had emotions to pour out.

And I was fortunate enough to meet these little angels in the surrounding of the fort. They also had something to give me: their smiles.

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When you are visiting Fatehpur Sikri next time, you now know how to go about it. 

 

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Good-bye Jaipur

Parting from a cherished place cannot happen without dying a little inside; but beside the burden of the unseen heartache that we conceal in our hearts in such circumstances, we carry also the prospect of nourishing our souls with newness – the colors and contrasts of a soulful city. I walked out with not only my luggage filled with memories but with my heart filled with stories too. The weather outside was so warm and pleasant.

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The overwhelming love that grew in my heart for Jaipur rendered my departure harder; and I learned again that letting go is vital for safeguarding our inner peace. I closed my luggage in Jaipur but not my heart to Jaipur; and embarked on another road-trip, leading to the magnificent Agra.

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I encountered so many people and places ― each having a distinct story to narrate.

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I listened to uncountable stories from people along the road and they all had something to say.

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Being one with the Taj Mahal

9th November 2015 was the date when I, for the first time ever, set my eyes on the magnificent Taj Mahal. I still find it hard to believe that such a monument does exist. The size of the huge white domes, the intricacies of the stunning architecture and the silence of the place; all rendered me flabbergasted. I composed a soulful melody from my wooden flute and became one with the undisturbed Taj Mahal.

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I will be elaborating further on my journey to the Taj Mahal, in future posts.

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The beginning of everything – from a new look to a new book

India is a home away from home and I felt the call of home again this year. Without pondering too much upon whether I should embark on another expedition or not in this country of colors and contrasts, I walked out resolutely to the nearest travel agency and purchased my ticket to Mumbai. Whatever it was at that moment in time, it was a beautiful feeling.

I started preparing for my voyage and needless to say, I kept counting days until the time came to depart from Mauritius to Mumbai.

Here are the main things that I stored in my backpack:

  • First-aid kit
  • NIKON D7000, lenses, memory cards and camera cleaning kit
  • Travel journal, sketch pad, eraser, pen and colored pencils
  • Map of India
  • Passport and travel documents
  • Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Flute
  • A treasurable memento
  • Debit, credit cards and cash

I dressed quite differently this time compared to my normal dress code when I am in Mauritius. There’s a reason behind this. A lot has been going on in my life before this travel. I thought I was in a battle with the world but gradually understood that I was at war with my innermost being. I felt I deserved this voyage and I wanted to renew myself – my lifestyle and my vision. And so, I did it.

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I was silently persuaded that my problems were nothing when compared to those of homeless people wandering on the streets of India, in quest of few morsels of food to satiate their hunger; at least for a night. This instilled in me a stronger purpose to commence my tour. I completely disconnected from who I was before and felt ready to fly high above the sky to reach the land of my ancestors – the incredible India.

Whenever I travel, my family always drive me to the airport. This time was no different. They all came and bid me goodbye; knowing that this travel would mean a lot to me.

Once in the airplane, I took out my tablet and jotted down my emotions in my virtual diary. It is something I often do whenever I feel overwhelmed with emotions. The plane took off at around 16:15.  It took me approximately six hours to reach Dubai where I transited for four hours before departing for Mumbai. The Dubai International Airport is so immense and businesses invade the place to such an extent that there’s no way of getting bored there.

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But, I had to find ways of spending the four hours in Dubai well. I walked for nearly an hour inside, looking at the little things around me and talking to strangers. It was fulfilling. To spend the second hour, I ordered a hot cup of coffee at Starbucks Coffee – something that requires no introduction.

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While having coffee, I seized the opportunity to write in my travel journal about so many things – from unrevealed intricacies of my heart to the untamed desire of travelling. Like so many other travelers, I had a meal voucher offered by Emirates too. I hence proceeded to a restaurant, where the voucher could be used, to have a light dinner. I had to opt for a light dinner as it was quite late in the night and I had another plane to catch in the next hours. I loved the dinner – vegetable soup, salads and bread, sandwiches, fruit, coffee and water.

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The remaining one hour at the airport passed in the blink of an eye as I had to undergo the boarding procedures to catch the connecting flight to Mumbai.

I wore a smile on my face throughout the boarding procedures, knowing that time has come to step into the plane that would bring me to the land of wonders. I reached Mumbai at the dimmest hours of the morning and from there, my first road trip to Lonavla began. It was the start of a three weeks’ unforgettable and meaningful adventure. Road trips never lie; they teach and I become.

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There’s a lot to say about the road trip from Mumbai to Lonavla. I will write a post specifically for this in the near future. If there’s something I’d like convey at this point in time, to let you know what India did to me through this voyage, it’s simply that it did everything that I needed mostly at this stage of my life.