Pigeons – ‘kabooters’ in Urdu – are nothing short of an obsession in India’s former Muslim cities. Unlike in Britain, where they are raced, in places like Agra the birds are flown in flocks, with their owner – the ‘kabooter baz’ – controlling their movements in the sky with shouts, whistles and waves of rags tied to the end of long canes. Begin your day’s sightseeing with a flying demonstration on a rooftop in Taj Ganj, the highpoint of which will be the “capture” of a neighbour’s flock, driven to ground and later held for “ransom”. The tradition derives originally from Perisa and is very much alive and well in theh old Mughal enclave, with fathers handing on the hobby to their sons.

 

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