Nouha went on a field trip to India from the 10th-23rd of January 2017 looking for new inspiration as part of her Masters of Architecture course.
"I could hardly contain my excitement as we landed in Delhi airport. India is amazing, everyone knows that – and I was actually there!
On the day we arrived, we enjoyed a spontaneous afternoon wandering up and down the old city’s markets as we synchronised ourselves with the city’s rhythm. We casually took up a tuc-tuc driver’s recommendation to visit the Akshardham Temple, and in the naivety of a jet-lagged traveller I lacked the energy to expect anything.
We left our cameras and tourist identities at the complex gate and walked towards the axis leading up to the temple. I was speechless in awe! The temple rose up at the end of the axis, and as we walked inside, interior after interior revealed itself in delicately sculptured marble.
That evening offered us another profound experience – the laser water show combining intriguing story telling, dancing fountains and the company of great friends. Sitting on the cold stone step, we all wrapped up in my scarf and let ourselves get carried away by the immersive dreamy story.
The second day had been planned long in advance; the Agra day trip. We left Delhi early in the morning and watched the sun rise in the fog as we sped along the highway. The interior of the minibus gradually turned rose gold and tinted my imaginations of the Taj in its grandeur and timeless beauty. Yet finally arriving at Taj Mahal, the monument that had been a major inspiration to me, was an entirely unique experience!
We walked through a tranquil park to the Taj Mahal grounds curiously browsing our surroundings and were only now and then overtaken by a speedy tuc-tuc with colourful silhouettes. The shadows of the leaves played on the ground and in the distance a monkey family joyously enjoyed a stolen bag of crisps. We entered the grounds through the colonnaded forecourt and reached the square in front of the Great Gate. I was enchanted by the calligraphic detailing and the floral reliefs in the saturated red sandstone and tantalised when I eventually caught a framed view of the bright Taj Mahal through the arched gate. I felt privileged as I walked through the gate; and the Taj was now fully present.
This was the view I had seen time and again, but yet being here in person was different. We squinted our eyes as we posed for the group photo laughing and giggling, and once jumping. The long pool extended in front of us with the Taj brightly sparkling at the end. Although I did get a sense of perspective and distance, it was still much grander than I could comprehend in that moment – and even if it was like the photos, it was still nothing like the photos. To experience the Taj Mahal in person is invaluable! Wauw!
I was incredibly lucky to experience India by road trip – a trip planned in broad brush strokes with yet enough room for spontaneous adventures and chance encounters and with a packed itinerary to make the most of the two weeks. With the mega cities, the tiny villages, the old and the new, the unknown and the familiar and the full spectrum of feelings and emotions.
I road tripped from Delhi to Mumbai and fell in love with India on the way.
Have you been to India? I would love to hear about your trip!
Photos: Nouha Hansen