Keep in mind, as you plan your time in Agra, that the quintessential symbol of both Agra and India - the Taj Mahal - is CLOSED on Fridays. All other days of the week, you can visit the world's most beautiful building from sunrise to sunset.... but NOT on Friday.
For what it's worth, the other major attactions in Agra (Agra Fort, Akbar's Tomb and Itmad-ud-Daulah's Tomb) are open seven days of the week.
If by some tragedy you find yourself only able to "view" the Taj on a Friday, you have two choices for a good look... maybe three or four depending where you're willing to stay, hotel-wise, in Agra.
> You can take a cab to the other bank of the Yumana River, and will get a spectacular look at the "other" side of the Taj, the side that faces North.
> You can get a good look, albeit from a distance, from the edge of the Agra Fort. (See the photo accompanying this warning tip)
> You can stay at one of the Taj Ganj Hotels or Pensions, just beyond the South Gate. It is said that these hotels have the cheapest "free" view of the Taj of any of Agra's hotels. Many have rooftop viewing areas.
Oh, there's one other place with a great view of the Taj... that would be the Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel. Rooms there start at about 40,000 Rs per night. (That's US$ 800)
Sellers and Guides are at Taj Mahal and Red Fort entrance. They are really a nightmare.
They will just ignore you when you say “No thanks” they will go on and go on trying to make you loose your modals and calm.
MUT CHE NAJI CHA JI LLE
= “I don’t want to buy anything”
Try with this phrase. A Indian friend write it for me so I could try to make me understand.
I saw how they get over a tourist bus with theirs postcards as vulture over dead cows ... terrific imagen
At the entrance of Little Taj I did have a bad moment when a boy with lepra (at least I did thought he had it) came to me to ask me for money. I hope I had gone to India with information about this illness.
As I did with other child that asked me for money at India or in other country, I didn’t but in this case I did get a little nervous. I hope he didn’t notice but I am ashamed about not having information about lepra and of getting nervous.
Shame on me.
Stomach illness is very difficult to prevent. The electricity fall few times a day so the food is not well refrigerated and with the height temperatures your find there having a lasy for example was like drinking some kind of poison for me. I did have rice with banana 2 of the 3 days I spend there. At last I decide to eat what ever I wanted and afford stomach illness with calm
Everywhere in India, but moreover in Jaipur and Agra, ocne it rains, will be a completely disaster!
I was in India in August and the rain was my travel partner! Deamn!
Every time it was raining, after half an hour or so, the streets were unbelievable, you couldn’t walk, you couldnt drop in a rickshaw, was amazing!!!! Watch the street. This is the result after 5 mins rain!!!
Below are the main things to note in Agra:
- Beware of pickpockets as this is a major tourist city in India.
- Traffice is chaotic (this is India, so it is the norm).
- Touts are very aggressive, especially at attractions such as the Agra Fort. The roadside sellers are very persistent and it is quite difficult to shake them off.
- Beware of fake items, especially the marble souvenirs. If you buy from roadside sellers, most likely the items are fake and made of chalk instead of marble. Better to buy from reputable shops even though you have to pay more.
- Remember to always bargain and slash the price as low as possible, because the prices quoted have been inflated many times (especially roadside sellers, camel rides, trishaw rides etc).
- When locals offer you help e.g. helping you to take photos, it does not come free and they will ask you for money after that. This practice seems to be the norm in India.
- You can try the roadside food, but be mentally prepared that it may cause diarrhoea especially if you are prone to it.
The best time to visit Agra and surrounding areas of the Golden Triangle (e.g. Delhi, Jaipur) is during the cooler and dry season between November and March. After this, the weather will get really hot and humid. Unfortunately, the cooler season is also the main tourist season so do plan ahead.
Another thing to note is that the temperature can get very cold during the cooler season, especially at night so do be prepared.
It happends a very strange thing to me.
I book a bus ticket for the route and I paid normally the rate.
Once we were dropping on the bus, the man told us “you do have to pay for looking forward your bags”…and what tha hell does it mean?!
So, despite the normal rate they will ask you for some Rupee for looking forward your bags…When this will happen, DO NOT pay anything and go stra8 to the manager, he will settle the matter…
Before to choose the restaurant or even the Guesthouse, check twice. If it is not enought, check the third and the fourth time.
I decided to overnight in a very “beautifull??!!” Guesthouse, ohh well, it appears beautifull...the view offered by the GH was amazing, from the terrace I had the Taj Mahal 100% in front of me and com’on this GH was suggested also from some of the most popular indipendent travel guides...so, all was ok..
Well, when I got back in the night, my room was completely fullfilled of huuuuuuge mosquitos (not properly mosquitos, huge animals with some wings) and I could definitely not stay in the room...
I had a lot of trouble with the GH has they refused to give me another accomodation, as I had payd (as they said) for that room...and what tha hrell does it mean???!
At the end, I slept on the flor, and the day after I admired my beautifull Taj Mahal view from the terraces.
Check properly the room!
The same happend when we are talking abt restaurants.
Few years ago Agra was wellknown from incurance due the tipical tourist trap: the restaurant were used to fill every kind of food with some kind of poison. As soon as a person was eating the food, he /She woudl start to feel bad and the people in the restaurant would bring the person to a privat clinic were doctor were heklping the person.
This was a very huge trap done to the insurance and to poor travellers.
Now the situation is ok ,as everyone is telling that the organization doing those stuff has been cleaned up...but...simply take care and simply watch how many people/how is eating..one check more, here, is better then one less.
If there is one thing you have to learn as quick as possible is this: Bargain! Regaurding whatever, from stuff, to food, to drinks to also the Guesthouses. When somebody is asking 100, you gotta pay not more then 30!
There are only few items that has a fix prices, like BIRI, which costs 5Rs!!!
Reguarding tghe GH you should not ask for the 30% of the inquiry, but for sure go down to the first price called by the owner.
This is a very big problem in Pushkar, moreover in the Gaths area or in the old city part, but anywhere else in India, as well as in Agr.
Everyone will offer you every kind of drugs, simply avoid them and there will be no problem.
There is no reason to get worried about that...simply take it easy...
Wherever there is power in India there is DANGER! Electric engineering is a kind of art in India - to use the words of an Indian biting on the wire to connect our TV to make it run: "That´s Indian style!"......and that means freestyle.
Whenever you get close to any power cable - on the streets or in your room - be careful with touching anything.
Now I can imagine why there are so many power fall outs - in Agra we witnesses a loud bang with a lightning and suddenly FRIED doves fell from the sky - this was not Cockaigne nor paradise, NO, there were just too many doves on the wires making them touch......and BANG!
In Varanasi we were told that quite some monkeys die from hangling on the wrong "trees"....
So keep that in mind and be careful!
One thing you always have to keep in mind when recharging your batteries or trying to watch an important Worldcup match (2006) is that there ALWAYS are power fall outs in India!!!!!!!
So, the picture shown here might suggest that this is a romantic candle light dinner......but NO - just the usual energy shortage. Make the best out of it!
I just found this pic and thought I have to mention it. This is nothing special for Agra, but typical for most Indian places - an open sewer system. Well, I wanted to take a pic of the dog cooling down in the sewer, which did not work - he ran away.
But be careful at night walking over the streets, you can esily step or fall into it. Plus in the narrow lanes of Jaisalmer our rickshaw got stuck with a wheel in such a sewer chanel...and we had to pull/push it out of the sh*t!
Prior to visiting the Taj Mahal we were warned not to take anything of electronic nature, sharp objects, candies, chocolates, food, cigarettes, lighters etc. Cameras were ok. You will also pay extra for entry than the locals which is the same all over India.