AGRA CONVENTION 2014
Blind Stars Beyond Facebook Bridging The Gap
7th to 9th November, 2014
TAJ Mahal Visit
As if i was holding the Taj in my hand…
By Prashant Ranjan Verma & Veena Mehata Verma / Delhi
Our experience of visiting the Taj Mahal with the Blind stars & Andadrishti Group during the Agra Convention in November 2014.
Both of us had visited Taj Mahal much earlier and had been wanting to visit again. I had visited Taj Mahal in my childhood, when I had good vision. I still recall the photograph which my father had taken, it seemed as if I was holding the Taj in my hand. This must have been about 25 years ago and I wanted to know if anything had changed. I also now understood the history and significance of Taj in a better way and wanted to visit the Taj Mahal with new perspectives.
Veena has also visited Taj earlier but does not recall much. Being totally blind, she appreciates anything based on the verbal descriptions provided by the friends or guides whenever we are on tour. So, we try to make sure that we engage a very good guide whenever we visit any historical place.
This visit to the Taj with a large group of visually impaired turned out to be very enjoyable, very informative and brought new learnings. When we finally neared the main structure, we were required to take off our footwear. A new problem came up, how will the blind persons identify their shoes if all of them are kept together in a pile, it would have surely taken lot of time for each one. The shoe covers came as a rescue, we did not take off our shoes, we just put on the big socks-like covers. I am surely, we were looking very funny but it was an interesting experience walking with those foot covers on. Many took photos and commented that it felt like Penguines.
Mr. Prashant Tandon, Mr. Akhil and a guide explained each and every detail of the Taj Mahal and its surroundings in a very interesting way. They even let us touch and feel the carvings on the Taj walls. Blind people could appreciate the astonishing work done by artists hundreds of years ago, we could identify the Poppy flowers on some of the walls.
Since I am working in the field of accessibility for the disabled, I was also trying to judge if the Taj Mahal was accessible to people with different disabilities. I noticed that ramps had been created and lot of support was available everywhere. By and large, I felt that it is possible for even wheel chair users to visit the Taj Mahal.
We were however sad to see that so much security arrangements had to be made for the Taj. The area outside the Taj entrance did not seem to be very clean and well organized. It is a pity that we are not able to keep the jewel of India in a better condition than what it is today. The city of Agra should have been like a show piece since almost everyone who visits India does come to see the taj once. However, the city still lacks lot of infrastructure and needs to be made cleaner.
Prashant & Veena / Delhi
Read the full report – Agra Convention 2014 – Report – HTML with Audio/Video