Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine what you think India would be like.
That picture in your mind is probably very close to being reality in Agra. It is chaotic. With a fraction of the population of Delhi (a fraction still being over a million) it's chaotic in a different way.
People leering at you through the car window as there are considerably less tourists and even less backpackers here, my blonde hair and fair skin definitely sticking out like a sore thumb. Garbage lining the narrow streets. Buildings that are missing walls and generally falling apart. Dogs, donkeys, pigs, monkeys, horses and cows - a lot of cows, all roaming alongside people.
And although Agra is smelly and dirty and crazy, it also has moments where all you can smell is incense and spices and chai. Although the animals are living with the people, it's kind of beautiful to realize how many creatures are living in harmony. There's no fear or sense of entitlement for any species in Agra, the animals get fed as the humans eat, there is a mutual respect here. And of the few things Agra has going for it, number one is definitely the plentiful UNESCO world heritage sites and general culture abounding. It's home to Fort Agra, the baby Taj and the the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal being the grandest and most well known of them all. It's stunning. There are very few words to describe it, it's huge. And walking barefoot on the cold marble is one of the most memorable, most meaningful things I have ever done. It's a Muslim temple, and when I think about how many temples, mosques and government buildings I've been to in the last few days I realized there are so many religions and cultures being represented, all in their own beautiful and unique way.
There is no fear of religion or culture. India, as far as I can see is a melting pot in the truest, most innocent way. Maybe the animals aren't the only ones living in harmony...
Thank you Agra for definitely showing me the most beautiful places and things I've ever witnessed, and also making me very grateful to have a Canadian passport.
Ranthambhore National Park with my two new friends from Denmark (that were nice enough to share their driver) next...