By Suman Bajpai
Anyone who visits Agra, has only one image or destination in mind, that is Taj Mahal-an epitome of love and architectural beauty. But Agra has lot to offer beyond Taj – its culture, its food, its monuments and bazaars which take you in the glory of past but also retain the essence of present life and culture. And every year, apart from all the fascinating things in this city, one thing people all over the country eagerly wait for is a magnificent festival, which attracts thousands of people every year and Shilpgram suddenly becomes the centre of attraction.
All road led to Shilpgram
That is certain that you definitely want to visit Taj, as it is a heart of all the precious monuments. So, after immersing in the purity and beauty of Taj, when one exit from eastern gate of it, and walk down for almost one kilometre, one can see a huge ground of Shilpgram.
It hosts Taj Mahotsav every year in the month of February which is a colourful event. This10 days event has started this year on 18 th and will continue till 27 th February. This colourful carnival is actually a vibrant platform which let one explore about the deep-rooted culture of India, its rich art, craft, cuisine, music and enthralling dance. Taj Mahotsav is organized by Department of Tourism, Government of India.
The vice President of Tourism Guild of Agra, Mr. Rajiv Saxena, "told that this magnificent affair was started in year 1992 and since then its grandeur has reached to greater heights. This year, it is a 29 th year of this Mahotsav. A large number of Indian and foreign tourists visit to become the part of this festival. One of the objectives of this craft mela is to provide encouragement to the Artisans. You can find here variety of interesting home décor things at the most reasonable and authentic prices."
Wood carvings of Saharanpur, brass and other metal ware of Moradabad, handmade carpets of Badohi, the pottery of Khurja, chickan-work of Lucknow, the silk of Banaras, just name it and you will find everything here, besides the food, especially chaat.
Sanskriti ke Rang, Taj ke Sang
'Sanskriti ke Rang, Taj ke Sang', is a theme, this time for Taj Mahotsav, so one can explore, enjoy and feel the diverse cultures and tradition of India. According to theme only they organize cultural programmes. Folk artistes are an integral part of the Taj Festival. Watching the dances, one cannot stop humming on same tune and tapping the foot. An elephant or a camel ride, you cannot miss it and really end up riding on these friendly animals, which gives you a chance to feel like a king. Teenagers and adults can enjoy various rides and roller coaster while for children small rides such as merry-go-round, Train-rides and Ferris wheel are also arranged here.
(The author is a travel writer. Views expressed are personal.)