As we were entering the city of Agra we noticed the crowded housing and living conditions. This is the first time we saw the drainage of gray water from homes and business run through small channels below the sidewalk. In many areas the cement sidewalk panels were broken or missing, which allowed the drain water to collect in small pools along the sides of the narrow streets. The scent of the stale waters did not reach us since we were in an air conditioned bus. The smells of stagnant waters must get strong during the summer months since the temperatures here can reach up to 118 degrees.
As were twisted and turned our way into the city we started to see a line of vehicles and trailers adorned with colorful flowers. People were walking behind the vehicles and children and older women rode on the open trucks and trailers. There was a long line of vehicles with portable loudspeakers and people chanting and dancing as they were parading and taking a small statue of their particular deity toward the wide and highly polluted Yamuna River. It flows through the middle of the city. The Yamura is part of the seven major Indian rivers considered sacred by the 850 million Hindus in the country-80% of the nation's population.
Mass quantity of municipal and industrial waste flow each day into them and trash can be seen along the banks. One can also see people bathing and fishing in the river. The river is also used to wash clothing and sheets. It's understandable why India has a major problem providing clean water for its growing population.
Religious groups are continuously coming from different regions of the nation to honor their deity and carrying them into the river and bathe themselves as part of their religious ceremony. Hindu scriptures state that there are 330 million deities. Given the very high number of deities that are worshipped, there was a long procession of vehicles and people waiting their turn to approach and walk a representation of their deity into the river.
The streets are cramped and the number of persons waiting their turn adds to the highly active and noisy surroundings. Worshipers can be seen covering themselves with brightly colored powder. Purple, orange and yellow seem to be popular colors they use to cover themselves.
The day's schedule was to cross the river and visit the Tomb of I'timd-ud-Daulah. It's also referred to as the Baby Taj. It's a mausoleum that served as an architectural model for the construction of the Taj Mahal. The Taj is also a mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor to honor his wife, one of three, when she died during childbirth of their 14th child.
On this day we would only see the Taj Mahal during sunset from the opposite side of the river. Part of our tour was to receive an on-site presentation on the current archeological findings on where were were standing that suggested that there may have been plans to build a second Taj on this specific land site we were on made of black marble. There is still debate about this plan to build it, but had it been built, I imagine that the pair would have been a magnificent sight.
We admired the Taj as it rested on the southern side of the river and from here it was a beautiful site.
We returned to our hotel in the evening and we were anxious to visit and walk around and in the Taj Mahal early in the morning.
Armando F Sanchez:
Armando F Sanchez is a consultant on global markets, speaker, writer, and world traveler. He is the CEO of Armando F Sanchez Global Business Consulting. He also heads a media company that produces global web cast and podcast programming. Author's website Email the author