Don't be led away at Fatehpur Sakri!
At Fatehpur Sikri, our "guide" led us into the tomb. Plastic baskets were placed on our heads, and we were charged 250 rupees each for the plastic bag with tomb offerings (cloth, rose petals & yarn pieces). I only had a 500 rupee note, but the man would not give me change; he offered instead an extra plastic bag with another set of offerings.
After receiving strict orders in the tomb on how to make the offerings, I laid the cloths, sprinkled the rose petals and tied my yarn to the grate on the window, but was too stressed to make a wish for each yarn tied. I heard barked orders for me to exit the tomb, so I walked out alone. I was looking for my group when an authoritative young man approached claiming to be working there, and stating he would lead me to my group. He was actually leading me down a hallway away from my group, and asked me to take out my camera to take a picture of a window. That's when I realized something was wrong, and I didn't see anyone from my group. I ran in the other direction and saw one of our people walking out of the tomb.
I would suggest arranging in advance a place to meet after making the offerings, or if you're alone, don't go with anyone claiming to work there.
It was a scary experience in a beautiful place.
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Gee, it's hot here.
This tip could really apply to about anywhere in Rajasthan, Delhi or Agra. But for me Fatehpur Sikri was the best place to include this tip.
STAY HYDRATED. Drink lots of nice, bottled water. You may easily realize how hot it is when you're in the area. Other than a couple or three months in the dead of winter, daily temps are pretty high. But, what you may not quite realize is that it's often dry - unless you come in the midst of the monsoons. Assuming that you've chosen to visit Fatehpur Sikri and India in the dryer tourist season(s), it's really important to stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of water, and make sure that you're getting good-quality, SEALED, bottle water. And if your driver manages to get you bottled water that's also nice and cool, give him a very nice tip. :)
offers of guides
As soon as your rickshaw stops outside the fort, the beggars and hawkers and 'guides' arrive. Women shove their children under your nose and make gestures of eating. Boys want to sell you postcards or other souvenirs, and teenage boys offer to be your guide, saying they are students.
It takes the pleasure out of sight-seeing, and at fatehpur Sikri it was almost impossible to get rid of them, so we didn't stay as long as would have done otherwise.
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The Kalandhars and their Dancing Bears
The tradition of 'Dancing Bears' has existed in India since the times of the Mughal empire. You will find a lot of Kalandhars (tribals that keep bears in captivity) and their 'Dancing Bears' lining the road that leads to Fatehpur Sikri. There is a small village inhabited by Kalandhars very close to the Fatehpur Sikri town.
Please do not stop to watch or take pictures with these bears. The methods used to tame these bears are gory and often cruel. These Sloth Bears are an endangered species and the practice of keeping bears is illegal in India. Hundreds of bears have been released from captivity and alternate employment opportunities are being sought for these Kalandhar families, but their rehabilitation has not been fully successful. You can still find a lot of these Bears and their keepers near Fatehpur Sikri. Please do not encourage this activity in any way.
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Forget about a guide!
As told in few lines in the wellcome Fatehpur Sikri page, as far as you will take your a*s down from the car or the bus, a lot of people, moreover young guys, will approch you trying to sell you their services as guide.
Well, I will never suggest you to hire one of them, as they are not guide at all.
A woman I knew, took the chance to visit the city with one of this person, and her guided tour of the great mosque was about 20 minutes!!! They were running, not walking! Just because the guy was wishing to take her in his laboratory in the village located beside the mosque!
So, once you need a guide, ask to the ticket seller, and not hire any guide in the parking!
Hornets/Wasps in Fatehpur Sikri
This isn't a really big warning, just a small one for those of us who are irrationally nervous around wasps and hornets ~ there are a number of nests inside the gateway arch, both in Fatehpur Sikri and in Agra. They weren't really a pest, but I didn't hang around the entryway any longer than necessary.
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