Flying Over The Taj

Breath-taking view of the epitome of love- Taj Mahal from the hot air balloon. 

Megha Mamgain

The early morning horizon dotted with vibrant balloons and you floating mid air. It is as if the time is standing still and from the haze emerges one of the most breathtaking sights in the world, the Taj Mahal. I witnessed this mesmerizing view was at the Taj Balloon Festival going in Agra.

It was the second day of the festival and I was excited as ever for my first hot air balloon ride. At 5am, we were at Haathi Ghaat on the banks of Yamuna. Giant balloons were being blown up, flames of fire hissing away and shooting orange glow on our eager faces. The balloons were vibrant, wacky & strikingly beautiful!

I was assigned one in the shape of a bubble bee! But that was not the only cool shape or colour – the alien balloon, the monster balloon with it’s tongue sticking out or the classic multicolour, all of them looked absolutely grand.

The 15 teams from countries such as Britain, Spain, Australia, Brazil and France are all here to participate in UP tourism’s Taj Balloon festival by Sky Waltz. These pilots have flown all over the world, some over iconic spots like Mount Kilimanjaro or the Egyptian Pyramids and yet their excitement for Taj was difficult to hide.

As our bubble bee lifted us from the ground, my pilot, Francisco Naccarato and I let out a loud cheer! The prospect of seeing Taj Mahal from the skies above makes us as excited as children. It is surreal- floating around, with 14 other balloons dancing to the tune of the winds.

“Wohooo!”, I screamed to the other balloon as they waved back. As the orange of the rising sun peeked out of the horizon, the balloons spread out, making their own tracks.

Francisco hastily manipulated the gush of the flame. Each time the searing fire blew hot air in the balloon, we would rise to the left, and every time we descended a bit, it was to the right. “All the play of wind“,winked Francisco!

The morning haze was thick, but we hovered. And soon enough, the silhouette we had been waiting for emerged against the rising sun. It was a breathtaking sight- Taj Mahal wearing a shroud of white, the marble glowing in the touch of the early morning sun. The bubble bee was happy. Only a few others had the fortune to see the Taj because the haze had been too thick.

Early in the morning, men and women, children and men in uniform all smiling ear to ear as the balloons descend close to the homes and streets. Mobile cameras in one hand and the other waving, the people in Agra are walking around with the heads turned upwards these days. The rides are usually 45 min to an hour and Francisco landed at the golf course- beautiful and smooth!

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