Despite boasting of more than 264 monuments and thousands of stories, the city on the banks of the Yamuna now yearns to showcase its hidden beauty. The Taj Mahal is every Indian’s and every Agraites’ pride, but the world still needs to know many untold stories.
There are four stories related to the Taj Mahal alone.
“The first Taj we have is our very own white marble monument, looked upon as the symbol of emperor Shahjahan’s love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The second one is our baby Taj, which is Itmad-ud-daulah, built by Nur Jahan for her parents’ burial. The third is the Red Taj which was built by a wife in the memory of her husband. And the last is the Black Taj which is actually a myth,” said Ritik Gupta, owner of ‘Trocals’ which caters to travel enthusiasts and offers tours.
Ritik said, “In any picture of the Taj Mahal you see the monument and the locals, so no tourist can ever miss visiting the Taj. But more importantly they shouldn’t forget the people of the city, who have lots of stories in their repertoire.”
The city also boasts of a plethora of cuisines, artwork, gardens and much more, most of which is missed by tourists. Agra is usually a one day trip for both domestic and foreign tourists while actually the city has so much to offer than even 3 to 4 days might prove less.
Currently the youth has sprung up to break the stereotyping of Agra as just the city housing the Taj Mahal and has initiated tourist packages which offer authentic walks all around the city, much in coordination with the government’s initiative of ‘Beyond the Taj walk’.
These walks around the city include visiting the forgotten gardens, mosques, temples, markets, authentic food joints and places of the traditional arts and crafts. A veteran of the city, Rajiv Saxena has been guiding many such tours that cover places like Jama Masjid, Mankameshawar temple, Vaidya Ramdutt Gali, Temple of Musicians Balcony, Chidiyawala Mandir, Chitti Khana, building of 1914,Akbari Mosque,Patal Hanuman Temple, Dara Shikoh’s library, Agra fort and Amar Singh gate.
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