Bharatpur - Agra. Happy Diwali! En route to Agra, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, former imperial capital of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1569 and 1585, it has been deserted for more than four centuries, by all accounts abandoned in 1600 due to a meagre supply of water. In Agra, we visit the impressive Agra Fort before touring the legendary Taj Mahal and witnessing a glorious golden sunset. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who tragically died in childbirth in 1631, the Taj Mahal in Agra is described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love and remains one of India’s most enduring symbols.
Most Indians are celebrating Diwali today and this evening we too will participate in the rituals and celebrations of the event. Our first stop of the evening is Mahadev Temple, a modern complex where we'll witness the prayers and aarti (Hindu rituals of worship) being performed by the local devotes that gather in numbers on this special night. After learning a little more about the customs and rituals of Diwali we'll spend a moment to gaze at the strings of colourful lights that that have been hung in the temple grounds for the occasion.
Of all the festivals celebrated in India, Diwali is by far the most glamorous and important. The five day celebration commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, from his fourteen years of exile and vanquishing the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, overwhelmed with joy illuminated the kingdom with earthen oil lamps and set firecrackers ablaze to welcome the return of their king
Now a day, Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil signifying the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Believing in good luck and good fortune associated with the events most Indian business communities choose to begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali.
Leaving the temple grounds we'll make our way to at a lovely heritage property whose restaurant specialises in classic Indian cuisine for a special Diwali Dinner. As firecrackers light the balmy, autumn night sky we too continue to celebrate Diwali alongside the people of India. Overnight - Agra