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Like adventurers of old times, in a foggy morning we set off on a five-hour journey, two hundred kilometer south of Delhi. Our destination is the Taj Mahal. Getting out of the city was very difficult. There was a demonic traffic. Literally thousands of people constantly crossing streets. Elephants with heavy loads on their backs. I can't help but be surprised by this.  I ended up becoming a fan of these exotic pseudo-urban landscapes. The road seemed like it would never end, but the bus, our ‘house on wheels’, became so much fun that it was even pleasant to spend hours in it. We were sixteen people in a huge bus with about forty seats, so the smaller children kept moving around from seat to seat while the bigger ones read, talked, slept or looked out of the windows. People seemed equally surprised with us and enjoyed our quiet and slow drive through the dirty and colorful streets of small villages along the way. It was hard to let go of the camera. Everything deserved to be captured by the lens.


We stopped at the Sikandra temple, where the tomb of another Mughal Emperor, Akbar, lies and it is permanently guarded by a legion of monkeys who wait for visitors sitting on a wall at the entrance wagging their tails and watching with suspicious faces all those who dare to enter. There we met Rafael, our local guide for the next two days.



We enjoyed Rafael ‘lessons’ a lot. He was a born teacher. He repeated the stories at least ten times. He tried to make sure we all understood and that we were placed chronologically in the history of India. We found him very amusing. I swear I have not forgotten any of his words.


At sunset we finally arrived at Agra, the land that saw the birth of the magnificent tomb of Mumtaz Mahal.  We stayed at the Oberoi Amarvilas. Our hotel rooms overlooked the mighty Taj Mahal.  The hotel has a kind of luxury that is hard to describe; it has a calm and serene atmosphere, with impeccable attention, without sweet talk or excesses.  The contrast between the life outside the hotel grounds and the life that takes place there is striking. I like this way of getting to know India, but I understand that it is not always possible.  I mean to spend time living as any member of the British Raj and then mingle among common people. Both Indias are real and both have to be known. Maybe that's the key to success.

I signed up for an Ayurvedic treatment at the hotel Spa, where I had a massage with the specific  oils prescribed to achieve the balance of my body's energies. When I left the room I felt a new harmony between body and soul and was almost hypnotized by the sensations, I decided to repeat the treatment the following night.



We got before dawn. There is something very particular about the visit to the Taj Mahal. For those of us who have worked in the travel industry, this monument is perhaps a cliché. I arrived in Agra with that feeling, but no, the place wins you over, it makes you fall in love. No one can imagine it, you can only feel it standing just in front of it. It's a perfect amalgamation of sensations.


We crossed the threshold of the temple that precedes the Taj Mahal and were astonished to find that the monument had disappeared. The mist was so dense that could not see the building until we were only a few meters away.


During the day we went to visit the Red Fort but insisted on taking a final view of this unforgettable place, so we returned to the Taj Mahal.


Next morning we were back on the road,  this time we set off prepared for a long one, in the direction of the jungle. We are going to Ranthambore. The park where the largest tiger reserve in India is located.

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En una mañana neblinosa y como aventureros de otros tiempos nos encaminamos a cinco horas de recorrido, doscientos kilómetros al sur. Nuestro destino el Taj Mahal. Salir de la ciudad fue sorprendentemente difícil. Había un trafico endemoniante. Miles de personas literalmente, cruzando las calles. Elefantes con carga pesada en sus lomos. No puedo dejar de sorprenderme con esto.  Me volví fanática de estos exóticos paisajes pseudo urbanos. El camino parecía que nunca iba a terminar, pero nuestra casa con ruedas se convirtió en algo tan divertido, que resultó hasta placentero el transcurrir de las horas allí dentro. Éramos dieciséis personas y había unos cuarenta puestos, así que se convirtió en un deporte infantil el variar constantemente de puesto. Los grandes leíamos, conversábamos, dormíamos o mirábamos por las ventanas hacia fuera. La gente parecía igualmente sorprendida con nosotros y disfrutaba nuestro paso por sus calles sucias y coloridas a la misma vez. Fue difícil soltar la cámara de fotos. Todo merecía ser captado por el lente. Fueron tantas las imágenes que no me cabían en la mente, así que aproveché la memoria externa que ofrece mi cámara para guardar algunas y disfrutarlas a mi regreso.

En ruta nos paramos en el templo Sikandra, donde yace la tumba de otro Emperador mogol, Akbar y está permanentemente custodiada por una legión de monos, que esperan a los visitantes sentados en un muro en la entrada moviendo sus colas y observando con caras desconfiadas a todos los osan entrar. Allí conocimos a Rafael, nuestro guía local por los siguientes dos días. 

Rafael nos distrajo horrores. Era un profesor nato. Nos repetía las historias como mínimo diez veces. Intentaba asegurarse que todos hubiéramos comprendido y que nos hubiéramos situado cronológicamente. Nos resultó muy divertido, además que era la versión india de un familiar cercano y de allí el nombre con el que, al estrecharnos las manos, lo bautizamos. Juro que no he olvidado ninguna de sus palabras. 

Al atardecer llegamos a Agra,  la tierra que vio nacer la magnífica tumba de Mumtaz Mahal.  Las habitaciones de nuestro hotel tienen vista al imponente Taj Mahal.  El hotel es de un lujo difícil de describir,  tiene un ambiente tranquilo y sereno, con atención impecable, sin zalamerías, ni excesos.  Sorprende enormemente el contraste entre la vida fuera de los predios del hotel y la que se desarrolla allí dentro. Me gusta esta forma de conocer la  India, pero entiendo que no siempre es posible.  Vivir  como un miembro del Raj británico y a la vez convivir con el pueblo raso, todo a la misma vez. Ambas indias son verdaderas y ambas hay que conocerlas. Quizás es la clave de éxito. Para reconfirmar mi tesis, me anoté en una terapia ayurvédica donde eligieron por mi, los aceites adecuados para lograr el balance de las energías de mi cuerpo o al menos de eso me convencieron. Al salir sentí una harmonía nueva entre cuerpo y alma y casi hipnotizada por las sensaciones, decidí repetir el tratamiento la noche siguiente.

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