Prior quiet and everyone went to sleep. It
Prior arrangements had been made to take us by two buses from ____________ (Place) to ____________ (Place). The train at ____________ (Place) was at ____________ (Time) which was to reach ____________ (Place) station at ____________ (Time) in the morning.
All the students had been asked to report at the school at ____________ (Time). They had been asked to bring their dinner packets from home. Boys and girls were divided into groups and teachers were put in charge of their groups.
Attendance was recorded, the luggage was loaded and just at ____________ (Time). we left by buses for ____________(Place). There was a great enthusiasm among all Guardians — mothers, fathers or brothers had come to see off their wards and with hilarity and slogans in favour of the school we left.
The train at ____________ (Place) was in time, teachers once again took the attendance of students under their charge. The train steamed in and we were all properly accommodated. Berths had been reserved. The luggage was properly arranged and the as train steamed off, there again were slogans raised in favour of our school ____________ (School Name), .
Passing through ____________ (Place) junction, where students were asked to take out their dinner packets. Sweets brought by the school were served to them and night dawned and we all, chatted, held ‘antakshiri’, sang songs and by ____________ (Time). all was quiet and everyone went to sleep.
It was time to reach Agra; morning was dawning and how eager were we to be reaching the town that we had so much read about but had never seen — its great monuments — the Taj, the Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and the markets of Agra famous for ‘Petha’ and ‘Dalmoth’.
The train reached on time. Arrangements had already been made. There were buses ready to receive us and take us to the Dharmashala where arrangements for our stay had been pre-arranged. Everything was planned, everything was in order.
It was a comfortable accommodation and we were asked to get ready within two hours — washed and bathed. Breakfast, arranged by the school was served, the lunch packets were packed and there were buses to carry us around.
So at ____________ (Time), we left the Dharmashala for our dream trip of Agra — its great monuments. We first went to Dayalbagh where a beautiful ‘Samadhi’ of the late ‘guru’ is being built.
What a beautiful carving in marble, how symmetrical the designs, how life-like the blossoms and buds carved in marble. The whole structure was one full of art and beauty. It took us nearly two hours to go around this.
Then we were to leave for our dream-destination — The Taj. Leaving the bus at a distance, we had to walk down. As we stood at the main entrance — there before us stood that great wonder of the world — the dream in marble.
The huge white dome, the tall minarets, the raised platform and the pathway leading to it — green grassy with flushing fountains. We had read in books of history about the Taj, but here was it in all its grandeur and glory. We just felt enchanted and wonder struck.
We went round and round — could not feel satisfied — wanted to spend more and more time there. The river Yamuna quietly flowed beside it at the back. We spent nearly four hours there.
The packets of our lunch were consumed — this satisfied our hunger but our eyes longed to keep looking on and on at the magnificence of the huge dome and the intricate workmanship. We could feel why people all across the world come up to witness this marvel of marvels.
Evening was desending and it was getting time for us to leave. With much reluctance we did leave casting the last lingering look at the Taj.
Now was our plan to go through the famous market of Agra, the Kinari Bazar. The buses had been required to park themselves on the other end of the market.
The Kinari Bazar of Agra is also a marvel in its own way. A narrow street runs all through and on both its flanks are shops which sell from a needle to anything. Shoes are Agra’s famous product and there are wholesale markets all over — in the lanes and bye-lanes.
And then the huge mounds of ‘Petha’ and ‘Dalmoth’ — really a treat to the eye and an attraction to the tongue — on every corner and then the sizzling ‘Chat’ and the greasing Desi Ghee Halwa. Agra market is full of such delicacies.
Back to the Dharmashala by the evening, we had our dinner served by the Dharmashala Dhaba — a reasonably tasty one, which our Principal had pre-ordered for us.
Next morning, again an early breakfast of ‘Kachori’ and Jalebi and cups of tea with packed lunch packets, we headed to the Agra Fort — a huge structure built in red- stone.
The inside of it — there was a guide taking us all around — the Dewan-e-Aam; the Dewan-e-Khas the Zanan Khana, and so many other parts — tell the story of Mughal glory.
But it was a touching point from where the once emperor Shahjahan imprisoned by his son, was permitted by his son Aurangjeb to have a look at Taj Mahal — the mausoleum of his beloved queen Mumtaj Mahal.
The forenoon was thus spent and in the afternoon we went to Sikandra, the tomb of Akbar — some eight kilometres away from Agra. This was also a well- maintained huge structure with green lawns in front. We had our lunch packets which served us the day’s food. Back to Dharmashala; a quick dinner at the ‘dhaba’ and then the night’s rest after the hectic day schedule.
Next morning again, the same routine — an early bath and a good breakfast and packets of packed lunch, we headed towards the last of our sight-seeing schedule — Fatehpur Sikri — some thirty kilometres away from Agra which Akbar had specially built to be his capital city but never permanently shifted to it.
Its main gate is a huge one — called the Buland Darwaza —really ‘Buland’ — which means ‘huge’ in structure. Again a guide took us around. It is a widely spread huge red- stone palace. Just as we entered the inside campus, we were guided to the Dargah of Salim Chisti — the Saint whom Akbar greatly revered.
Hindus and muslims — all visitors — visit it and it is said about it that what one asks for is granted. I also prayed there — and what should I have asked for — just that I get a good first division at my Board’s examination and may do well in life.
It was a huge campus — the various parts, the various places for queens — Akbar had a number of them — the ‘sheesh mahal’ — all with pieces of glass studded all over.
We were to catch the train for our return journey from Agra at 6.00 in the evening and the Fatehpur Sikri was our last item for the day. By afternoon, we had finished our going around.
What I wondered was how such a huge structure with such massive stone blocks could be built then when there were no cranes, no means of modern transportation. But then that was that and Fatehpur Sikri also appeared as a marvel of architecture and that it was.
The buses carried us straight to the railway station. The train started from Agra, straight for Gonda — a metre — gauges one. We were really tired after the whole day’s wanderings. We occupied our reserved berths. Snacks that had been brought from Balrampur arranged by the school were served. We ate and talked and laughed and played within the compartment.
The sun set in the west and darkness began to descend and so was sleep descending on us. It was to be an overnight journey which passed off well. Back to Gonda in the morning again, the bus journey from there to Balrampur and back to the school campus where our people were there to receive us.
Such an enjoyable and unforgettable experience — a lifetime experience indeed.
You were not with us, but I hope you would have enjoyed the trip through your imagination — all that I have told you about through this letter. The letter has become lengthy indeed, but how could I not tell you all and everything about it. You are a dear friend to me indeed.
My best regards to your papa and ma.
Yours loving friend,