Agra the city of love, intrigue and architecture
When you think of India, my guess is your second thought is about visiting the Taj Mahal, and that is a lovely second thought to have, because walking through the entry gates and viewing the Taj Mahal standing on its own with no backdrop, other than sky, is breathtaking and it is described as the biggest architectural monument built as an expression of love. The energy is magnetic and I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times, all for different experiences and I’ve written a blog about each visit, here are the links below, it was fun to trace back, dig these out and read again, how much has happened and changed since those days.
read: Past India posts:
My third and quick to follow up fourth trip, exactly 2 weeks, ago, were for new reasons. Taking the first inspiration tour group to explore Agra, included a few hours walking around the Taj and then walking through the charming maze of back streets of Agra to discover a world of creative hubs, that I didn’t know existed. An active sense of community, heritage colours, some a little worn out, craftsmanship that has been passed down through generations and rainbow coloured energy.
Unfortunately I had been a bit sick the day before, so a combination of what felt like 500 degree heat, no shade, no energy, nothing left to sweat out, it was tricky to take in all the new experiences properly. But the rest of the group loved it, which was most important.
The tiny parts I saw and felt on that blurr of a day, made me realise there is so much more to Agra, a buzzing undercurrent of youthful energy ready to take charge, express themselves and show passing visitors, like myself, a city they love.
After the first group left India, I was sitting in Delhi wondering what to do this weekend, when a poster appeared on my phone for a concert, “Awakening the City with Rainbow Sounds” there was my answer, without hesitation I was going back to feel and see more of this new scene in Agra. I was intrigued, ready to soak it up, now being fully recovered.
I booked a car, ready for take-off at 4.30am to make my way back to Agra, ready to relax and enjoy a morning of music, produced by combining a flute, drums and a Hawaiian guitar. Just as they were about to start, one of the musicians said to the group, relax your shoulders, let your hair out, enjoy our music. At the end of the concert we all hung out and enjoyed eating samosa’s together on a chilled out Sunday morning with Agra as the backdrop. It was good to eat again.
The next few hours, were spent talking and walking through the history of Agra. I find the history complicated to write about, so I’m not even going to attempt to explain it here, but can share a thoughtful recommendation list by a reliable source. Here are the books to read if you are interested.
The Complete Guide Taj Mahal by Ebba Koch; Daughters of the Sun by Ira Mukhoty; Agra The Architectural Heritage by Lucy Peck; Empires of the Moghul The Tainted Throne by Alex Rutherford; Empress of the Taj by Timeri Murari; Empress The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan b Ruby Lal.
I’m reading “Women of Raj, The Mothers, Wives and Daughters of the British Empire In India” and it is fascinating.
After a day of walking, learning about poetry, mingling and lazying about over the best Chai tea in Agra, lunch at a locals home, I left completely fulfilled by being able to experience this city and locals in a relaxed and real way. A day I will enjoy the memories of for a while and possibly re-reading this blog many years later. The local tribe of people were a reflection of how Agra got its name, the earliest meaning was from the mythological era when it was referred to as Agravana, which means paradise in Sanskrit.
This is exactly what I love to find the unique heartbeat of a city that can be heard if you are listening, beyond the superficial. it inspires your imagination and curiosity.
When I got back to Delhi and back to work on Monday, I felt inspired by the patterns and colours from Agra and Rajasthan to start creating a new print and style collection for 2020. I sourced textiles and now we are working on the prints, silhouettes based on these earthy colours mixed with pops of pinks, blues and orange rainbow highlights. The collection is going to be made on floaty satin and softest Indian cotton, which feels great against your skin. It’s work in progress, like everything and will launch in January 2020.
Here are the highlight snaps from peeling back the layers from Agra, such a lovely few days.