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Outside the walls of Taj Mahal

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India - August 2023

We left the Taj Mahal as the last stop on a trip to India that opened our eyes, hearts and minds. We met and hugged people, who welcomed us into their homes. They told us stories of who they are, what they do and what their dreams are. It was a journey that made us fall in love with a country that at first glance you cannot appreciate, but as soon as you get in touch with its essence, you cannot help but love it. Everything changes, especially the perception one has of one's everyday life. India gave me the chance to slow down.

Those who love India know this: one does not know exactly why one loves it. It is dirty, it is poor, it is infected; sometimes it is thieving and lying, often malodorous, corrupt, merciless and indifferent.

Yet, once encountered, one cannot do without it. One suffers to stay away from it. But so is love: instinctive, inexplicable, disinterested. India, unless you hate it at first sight, soon induces this exaltation: it makes everyone feel part of creation.

In India, one never feels alone, never completely separated from the rest.

And therein lies its charm.

Tiziano Terzani, Un altro giro di giostra

One last stop, the Taj Mahal, which unfortunately as a whole, disappointed me. One of the seven wonders of the world, it captivates by its grandeur, simplicity and beauty. It captivates with its romantic story of a husband's love for his favourite wife. Emperor Shah Jahān, after the death of his wife Mumtāz Maḥa, had this immense mausoleum built to make her immortal and never to be separated from her.

However, the story that is not always told is that, it is said, the emperor then had the architect and all the workers who had participated in the construction of the Taj Mahal cut off their hands so that they would not have the chance to build anything else of that kind. More than 20,000 people worked for the construction of this immense mausoleum.

It is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen, built entirely of white marble that changes colour according to the light. It is truly one of the seven wonders of the world. A place surrounded by green, clean parkland, with over 45,000 tourists every day, perfect for the photo for Instagram. Huge queues for that photo. It is so perfect that it almost seems unreal, as if floating in air, but that is precisely why it does not represent the real India, which lies outside those walls. The India I had experienced in the previous 20 days.

Taj Mahal
The first view
Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders
The picture everybody knows
Taj Mahal
Did you say turistic?
Taj Mahal
Bright green and white
Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
On the other side, outside those walls
Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal from our hostel

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