Travel | Agra, India

Taj Mahal. The iconic symbol of India. Finally on my third round to India, it was time to visit the majestic ivory coloured wonder.

Arriving early in the morning from Varanasi with the most comfortable night bus, chilly breeze from the open auto rickshaw as we drive on the big highway until we reach the new guesthouse. Bright sun rising over the misty morning. Clear beautiful day. Bags are dropped, tummies are full with the homemade aloo paratha and spontaneously we book a tour at the Wildlife SOS elephant rescue sanctuary.

Sleepy one hour taxi drive and little out of Agra, a truly fascinating animal sanctuary with 20 beautiful rescued elephants that have been saved from the slavery in circuses, temples and from other forms of abusive capacity. In some parts of India, it is still common to use these intelligent and kind mammals in wedding ceremonies, riding tourists and even as beggars by the temples. And there’s still so many of them around, some even legally owned. It is heart breaking to see them suffer and being forced to live in urban environments and against their natural nature. The attitude towards them are cruel and most of them are badly injured. No animal should ever be taken out from their natural habitat to please human desires.

We unconsciously look up to them in circuses and entertainment and are amazed by their grace and beauty not knowing the full story and truth behind it. As babies of just 6 months old, they are caught and brought out of their natural home where they begin a horrible and torturing journey. They are beaten with sharp sticks to “train” them doing things against their nature. Until they surrender to this miserable life. Info from their website.

It’s the evening walk for them, so we join tenderly observing these incredible giants. The 12 elephant girls are divided in matriarchy. We learn and get to know their stories and characters. Two of the elephants girls from the same group, slowly start making their way back to the centre for their pre dinner sugarcane, as they pass just few meters from us. The indescribable feeling as their presence becomes so close to ours. Standing still in the silence and just taking in the moment as they gently walk by, moving and flopping their massive paper thin years, with their long trunk leading the way. They start communicating with each other, making the sounds they only do once feeling completely safe and comfortable with the space.

One could spend hours and hours observing them. The way they move the trunk and chew all the fresh delicious fruits, the lining of their skin and the deep beautiful soulful eyes that has seen already so much in the lifetime. Their big flat feet and tiny cute tail. So much love and heart radiating for these beautiful beings!

Heartfelt and emotionally full afternoon as the mama sun starts reaching the horizon in full glory illuminating warm orange light.

Early morning, before she shines her first rays of light upon the earth. Queuing to experience the rising sun over one of the words seven wonders, Taj Mahal. The symbol of eternal love. Misty veil yet covers the ivory white tomb of the Mughal emperor’s favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, rising in perfect geometry. The cool morning dissolved by the mama sun rising, with songs of the awakened birds flying over Taj and the Yamuna river slowly appearing behind the white clouds. Sharing the moment with hundreds of people as all try to capture the moment through the camera lens.

Changing tones of the milky white marble as sun and moon takes its rise and set.. yet never changing mystery and magic as it stands in perfect harmony throughout the times. Words from the great Indian poet and artist Rabindranath Tagore, “Taj Mahal rising above the banks of the river like an eternal teardrop on the cheek of time.”

Back through the guesthouse and into the next bus to complete the golden triangle, the pink city of Jaipur.

Namaste,

Krista ✨

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