I must say that coming to Agra to see the Taj Mahal isn't for the everyday traveler !!!! From Delhi you take a 3 hour train ride .... the train leaves at 6:00 am from the New Delhi train station ... which is chaotic to say the least !!!! We had a great tour company(Please read my Dehi tips) and the driver literally took us to the seats on the train !!!!
Now here is some observations ... we had "1st class" seats in a A/C car ..... but be very aware this is Indian 1st class.... not international 1st class standards ...... As a guy I was somewhat Ok with it, but it was not the cleanest train around .... They give you a bottle water and a choice of vegetarian breakfast or egg omlette ... I passed on both of them out of fear of getting sick ...... I had brought some snacks with me so I was OK ..... I did have to go to the bathroom .... and all I can say was I choose to hold it instead !!!!!!!!! If anyone has ever been to Japan .... Japanese 1st class is international 1st class standards ... NOT THIS !!!!!!!! what a disgrace !!!!!!
The train ride is boring with not much to see .... we made the mistake to book the 8:30 pm train ride back to Delhi ..... I would recommend taking the 6:30 pm train ride back ..... after seeing the sites and dealing with the mess that is Agra ... you just want to get out of there !!!!!
On the way back I was offered dinner which again I passed on, this time the train car was a bit cleaner and a bit more tolerable ... still the food that they served was inedible for a foreigner !!!!! Again I bought a pizza at pizza hut and had that for dinner on the way back !!!!!
Be forewarned about the train ride, bring food and bring hand sanitizer ... your gonna need it ...
Cost of the train was $40 US return ..... not sure if I would do the train again, might just rent a decent car with driver and take the drive instead .....
To avoid traffic conjestion on the small roads leading to the Taj Mahal, all cars and taxi's are required to park up some 2km from the monument due to "pollution control". Depending on how lazy you feel, you either walk the rest of the way or take a bicycle rickshaw to the Taj as its downhill, but the poor chap really struggled on the way back but was more than compensated by a good tip. There was a great temptation to let the guy sit in the back a while whilst I did some peddling and maybe he had the same idea from this pic!
We hired a driver plus car for 2 days from Delhi to Agra. We left Delhi around noon, got a tour trough Delhi and then we drove to Agra. We pre booked our hotel in Agra, so this was not included in our "tour package" to Agra. We did get a complimentary guide in Agra. He showed us around the Taj Mahal. Bonus is that he tells some interesting stories about the Taj Mahal, his appearance make beggars, etc, etc, keep a distance. Downside is that the guide is focussed of getting you into a marble shops.
The second day, the driver and guide showed us around. And then drive back to the airport. Total cost were 130 Euros.
(Intercontinental can do it in a daytrip with Mercedes for 400 Euros may you be interested :))
A 3 hour train ride from Delhi then a 15 min taxi to the Clarks Shiraz Hotel . The whole lot only costing a few Dollars.For comfort the suggestion is a pre booked air conditioned carriage, no matter what time of the year. 2 or three tier (class) are fine
I bought my train ticket for Delhi to Agra two days in advance, and I bought it from the International Tourist Bureau at New Delhi Railway Station. The ticket was Rs 120 (July 2010) and was for 2nd class SL. I asked for a lower berth, as they have their seat number by the window.
The train was the Jhelum Express continuing to Pune. It arrived to New Delhi Railway Station in time10.25, and as it was good information about where my coach were stopping I found it quickly and took my seat. But because of technical problems we didn’t leave the station until half an hour late. There are supposed to be six persons in each compartment, but at some time we were eight. There were several young and quiet man travelling together. Two of them seemed to never have been on a train. When the conductor arrived there seemed to be some problems with their tickets and one of the older men paid Rs 1500 to the conductor.
The train arrived half an hour late to Agra Cantonment Train Station, at 14.10 in the afternoon. Outside the station building you will find the prepaid taxis to the right and the prepaid auto rickshaws to the left. For Sheela Hotel it was Rs 80 + 2 (service charge). The auto rickshaw driver drove slowly and he talked a lot and showed me a book with comments from other tourists. He tried to persuade me to book the auto rickshaw for the next day but I was not interested, I was going to Fatehpur Sikri (with bus).
After breakfast I took an auto rickshaw from Taj Ganj (East Gate) to the Idgah Bus Stand in Agra for Rs 70 (August 2010). I asked for the bus to Fatehpur Sikri and was directed to the right bus, a big old bus. I sat down in the bus and didn’t have to wait long before we took off. The ticket was sold on the bus and was Rs 27. The bus ride to Fatehpur Sikri took around one hour and along the way the driver often pressed a very loud horn, it was torture for the ears. In Fatehpur Sikri the bus stopped near the clock tower and bazaar, not far from Jama Masjid.
Going back to Agra I walked out to the main road between Jaipur and Agra and I was lucky as a bus arrived just as I crossed the big road. This time I paid Rs 28 (one rupee more than in the morning). Coming back to Agra I didn’t go all the way to Idgah Bus Stand. I was going to Agra Fort Station and someone on the bus told me where to go off and helped me take a shared auto rickshaw to a place near the station.
There are trains between Agra and Jaipur and I went to Agra Fort station to ask for the schedule. The train was leaving too early, around 6am. So instead I asked the man at my hotel which bus stand I should go to for the buses to Jaipur. He told me to go to the new bus terminal outside town as the luxury buses leaves from there. In the morning another man at the reception told me to go to Idgah Bus Stand instead. I thought that was the best too as it was closer and there would always be a regular bus from there. From Taj Ganj (East Gate) I paid Rs 50 (August 2010) for an auto rickshaw to Idgah Bus Stand.
When I arrived at Idgah Bus Stand it was 7.15am. The man in the first counter I went to sold tickets for the 7.30 bus, a luxury bus. The problem, for me, was that it was leaving from the new bus terminal more than 5km away. He said I could take a taxi there , but that was not a good option for me. I asked for the regular bus and it turned out it was leaving at 7.20, just in a few minutes. Of course I chose that one. It was Rs 159 and took less than 6 hours. Half along the way we stopped and some people ate at a food stall. I only walked around.
In Jaipur the bus stopped at the Main Bus Stand. From there it was not too far (about 1 km) to walk to my hotel, the Hotel Pearl Palace.
The next day I met a man who had been staying in the same hotel as me in Agra. He had gone to Jaipur on the same day as me, but he took the train and left earlier than me and arrived later than me. I’m glad I took the regular bus.
Bicycle rickshaws have seats for two persons, but I have seen them carry a family of 5-6 persons. You see them averywhere in Agra, where their slow speed stops the traffic. They are a common sight in the streets just like the cows. The drivers of the bicycle rickshaws are mostly poor people who don't speak english.
The first picture has GPS coordinate 27° 13' 0.8500'' N 77° 56' 51.0400'' E. Just start Google Earth to see where it is.
There are many motorcycle rickshaws (Tuk-Tuk) in Agra, and they are allowed to travel everywhere in Agra without any restriction (like it is f.ex in Mumbai). The drivers of the motorcycle rickshaws are mostly poor people who don't speak english.
From the bus station, which is a short tuk-tuk ride from Tajganj, buses leave for the 10-12hr journey to Khajuraho. We caught the bus at 5am, and arrived in Khajuraho just before 5pm. The bus ride is, as everyone will tell you, incredibly bumpy, but this can actually be quite fun (if a little painful for the posterior!) - we had lots of small children on our bus, and their giggles at our reactions were extremely infectious!
The bus stops at various small villages, so there should be plenty of opportunities to grab samosas, pakoras, fresh fruit and drinks from the stalls along the way.
Unfortunately I don't remember how much the bus ticket cost, but it's definitely a budget option. Probably around 250INR.
Around the tourist sites, especially the Fort, you'll see these little horse-drawn carriages, which can take you around Agra. I personally didn't want to use them as I find the horses are usually not treated very well.
Tuktuks, or auto-rickshaws, are ubiquitous throughout India, and are probably the best and cheapest ways of getting around quickly. We took one from the train station to Tajganj, and from there to the bus station at the end of our stay. Around 50rupees is probably a decent price.
There are two or three fast trains from Delhi to Agra, taking from 2 to 3 hours. The Shatabdi is a good one for a day-trip to Agra as it leaves early in the morning. It's all AC, and costs anywhere from 390rupees to well over 1000 depending on class.
We took a slightly slower train, as we were planning to stay for a couple of days, and got the Kerala Express, for which a sleeper ticket cost 282rupees. I think it took about 4.5 hours.
The views from this train were my first taste of rural India.
I am adding this tip because very often in the Travel Forum the question arises about how much time one needs to see the attractions in Agra.
As I stated before- we did it all in one day, albeit with a driver and car.
However- the Shatabi Express that leaves Delhi at 6am every morning gets you to Agra by 9.30am. That leaves a good few hours to see Taj & Red Fort. After seeing these- get a taxi to Fatehpur Sikri (a 20 min drive). Fatephur Sikri can be seen in 2 hours easily. Then back to Agra, where you can catch the last train back to Delhi at 6pm.
Of course- if you prefer to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise or at sunset, you can go and spend one night there. Its a personal choice, and depends on amount of time that you have to spare.
its better to take / hire your own Car cause local transport isn't up to the mark, it saves time, more convenient & safe too. like we did it with our compact car.....best option to around Agra & other places.