Dear community members,
It has been a pleasure to associate with you in the year 2018. We at AHW thank you from the bottom for hearts for supporting us.
As a 90’s kid I always felt a disconnect with the city I thought it was too slow and too strict, it lacked art and fun. So when I came back to Agra and set up the UP80 artist residency along with my friends ( big shoutout to Neha Chaturvedi, Raj Vithalani and Kaleem Ahmed ) the first project that I wanted to start was naturally something that could connect me with the city. That is how the idea of Agra Heritage Walks came. Since then for me Agra has been a city with a glorious history, filled with so many stories and breath-taking art. I have had the opportunity to meet some really fine people in the city and explore monuments that are hidden in plain sight.
About the walks
We started in June 2017 so we are a little more than 1.5 years old. The vision of AHW has changed over time and what is emerging now is that the walks need to have a strong focus on building a community. I led the initial walks for about a year with lot of support from Neha while Raj and Kaleem documented and helped with research. Over time all of us have led walks and while Raj has gone back to bombay, Anal Jha and Jitendra have joined the team. So presently we have a five member strong team with strong inclicnation towards film-making, writing and arts.
Our walks are community led and community focussed. We encourage city people to visit their own areas.
Partnering with local women: Our food partners are local women which solves two purposes a) it gives us the local taste and b) it provides business to these women and makes them confident.
Partnership with small businesses: We further focus on a lot of local businesses. Our series of videos made in partnership with Delhi food walk on the Agra street food have highlighted these local joints and given the national and international recognition. More than 4 lakh people have watched these videos.
Focusing on Artists and poets from the city: Agra is the city of poets. Home to the three pillars of Rekhta Mir taqi Mir, Mirza Ghalib and Nazeer Akbarabadi our city has a rich legacy of literature. Our walk leader Anal Jha has started a unique poetry walk in which we re-connect with the lesser known but much talented poets of Agra.
New initiatives by AHW
- City documentation through Instagram page: This has been highly successful and over a small period, we have been able to generate quality content focused on food, people, literature, and heritage of Agra. We have over 500 active followers on our which increase by the day.
- Visits to lesser known monuments: The second program is our community visits to lesser known monuments. Through these community visits, we ensure that the people of the city get to see these monuments which otherwise will soon vanish. We try and do small activities at these sites, be it a small musical jam session or story reading. These monuments will only survive when the city people make it a part of their daily life.
Images from the first #storytelling fridays
- The #storytellingfridays: Another program that we started is storytelling Fridays; this is a very informal event where various people from the city come and share their stories. This kind of an event enables the participants to dive deeper into the city culture as most of the stories are about the city itself. There has already been poetry written about the city bazaars like lohamandi by Anal Jha. Through these storytelling Fridays I hope more and more artists use the city as their muse.
And finally, we have a website now. Cheers. The website will have all the walks listing and will have a lot of interesting blogs about the city of Agra. We hope to have more people from the community writing about the city and if you have anything that you would want us to publish at the blogs, we are just a message away.
For the year 2019, my focus will be on listening to the voice of the community, that is YOU. I will be communicating with each one of you through our whatsapp broadcast list ( if you want to be added just message me on +91 901 591 6355 saying add me to the walk list ) I would like to hear more about what places you would want to walk, hidden spots or secret monuments that we can explore together, events and experiences that you would like to experience. I would like to have a more apt representation of our city, we are the city of Taj but we are much more. It is only by working together can we make this city the city of our dreams.
That is about it for now. I wish you a very happy new year 2019 and look forward to your love and support.
Tahir Ahmed & Agra Heritage Walks team.