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India Day 3 - trip to Agra

Added: December 03, 2008

Tags: India city photos temple
Monday 3rd November. We are going to Agra today. Original idea was to go by train, but as we checked availability of only train we could go, we found there was quite long waiting list. So we decided to go by plane through New Delhi instead. We got up at normal time, because our flight is at 11:00 so we are not in hurry. After we paid for accommodation at the reception we asked for a rickshaw. A boy staying there went outside and immediately returned with a driver. I did not think it will be so quick. So we got in and instructed him to go to airport. Streets were not as quiet as they were yesterday. But the biggest difference were policemen standing next to road in periodic intervals, every one has stick in hand. I don't get it. Maybe to beat drivers if traffic jam occurs :-)

Driver asked if we want shopping. "No, go to airport" was our answer. So we continued to the airport. As we got there rickshaw stopped at the furthest possible place at the parking lot. We paid 100 Rs (9km) even meter shown 80 (I have read somewhere that taxi/rickshaws have tariff charts, so it seemed OK, but we have never see them). Accepting higher price motivated driver to ask for more "Give me 50 more" he asked without any bad feelings. He tried to explain, we are two and we have luggage. Somehow these reasons did not sound as good to me as they might to him so he did not get more.

We walked back to road with barrier and policemen. We were asked for ticket so Zuzka tried to find one. Unfortunately she had (we both had) a lot of papers and she could not find correct one at that moment. After about minute policemen lost their patience and let us pass. We knew the next check at the terminal building will be tougher. And it was - we gave policeman one piece of paper (as usual), but this flight ticket was for one person only. So we needed to find another ticket. Fortunately we had it :-)

Departing terminal is as small as one for arrivals. Just a bit bigger. There is no display or chart with flights and what is worse there is no sign of Jet Lite anywhere. But they would not let us in if our flight did not exist, would they? Hence I went to ask to the closest matching airline - Jet Airways and they were willing to transport us to New Delhi at given time :-) Pleased with that we sat and waited for 2 hours as we are used to in normal sized airports in Europe... (a few flights more and we started to understand that we are doing something wrong - too many security people told us we are early. That cannot be coincidence).

New Delhi

The flight was uneventful apart from a few strange manoeuvres shortly after take off. Whole country was slightly foggy. During whole flight I was thinking about strategies to handle drivers who ask too much money. I cannot say I solved this problem completely, but I felt better prepared now :-)

Hint for anybody arriving to Indira Gandhi Domestic airport: they have very good drinking water - it is from big bottles, so you can see what you drink. Not like from tap at wall at some railways station. We drank about one litre each and took as much with us.

We paid for pre-paid taxi and with voucher in hand we got out of terminal building. One of waiting guys there asked if we want pre-paid taxi and took us to place near parking lots where another guy wrote number or parking space on our voucher. We got to that place (only a few steps) and got into taxi. As taxi approached end of parking lot it stopped at booth where they checked our voucher and put down my name and probably identification of taxi. So it looks like it is harder for driver to cheat. I can only appreciate that.

It was really hot, probably hotter as was yesterday. Traffic started to be terrible immediately as we got closer to city. It seemed to me we are staying unbelievable long time at every traffic lights. Finally we got to Lotus Temple.

Lotus Temple

Zuzka wanted to see Lotus Temple as something representing modern architecture in India worth of visiting. It is very nice building, but it is closed on Monday. So we just pulled out our cameras and took a few pictures from behind fence. Group of children was immediately attracted to us and about 3 were curious what I am going to take out of my backpack. They were probably disappointed when they realized there is nothing for them.

We went around a fence to find better spot (fortunately we did not have enough time because as I know Zuzka she would find a way in given enough of time). We eventually found open gate and went inside, but it was only gate to some future garden (unfinished with many piles of dirt) and still separated from Lotus Temple gardens.

As we got satisfied with our limited photo opportunities we went back to road to look for some rickshaw to take us to New Delhi Railway Station as we only passed through Delhi. We were not sure how long it will take us to find one as this was not in centre of Delhi. But as soon as I got to road (Zuzka was bit behind) I spotted empty rickshaw approaching. I waved and he stopped. 100 Rs for ride to NDLS - fine.

No doubt it is closed now...

Still we can take a few photos from behind fence.

200mm zoom really helps.



Mondays are for cleaning...

Surrounding does not look bad too. It was bit dusty though.

Train to Agra

You can read about what happened as we got to NDLS here. As we finally got into our train we were nicely surprised by our coach. It was air conditioned coach with 2 berths (AC2), so there was plenty of place. Seriously looking guy sat next to me (he had upper berth but it was not time for sleeping yet). Zuzka did not have any "partner". Later we talked briefly with that guy, he thought we are French. Somehow our dialog in Slovak sounded him similar to his French business partners. Strange (at least for us). It was dark already and windows at Indian trains are not the cleanest so we could not see much outside. I did not check how many stops train should have and because it was late we asked him when we are going to arrive into Agra. "Not this stop, but next one". Thanks. We went to corridor as we could see another bunch of lights. Old guy was standing there, he opened door (still during ride) and stood in way that he was nearly completely outside of train. He was not afraid door can close and cause him "inconvenience". But at least I could see how to open door.

Train slowly stopped. I opened door and looked out. Station was dark and empty. Eventually I found display where was shown strange word shortly. Even with the best creativity I could use it did not look like Agra Cantonment. So I have asked boy who came to our coach if this is Agra, "Yes, Agra" , well but I did not believe it is Agra... So we went back to find conductor. Surprisingly he was near our compartment. I have asked him to help us with our problem with Agra. He did not understand. It could be my English, his English or there is slight chance it was caused by alcohol I could smell from him. Fortunately our former (and present) fellow traveller told us, that actually it is Agra, but Cantonment is next station (25km away we have learned later). As we have arranged pick-up service, it would not be the best choice to stay here.


As we arrived to Agra Cantonment it was easy to spot 500 differences compared to previous station. It was very busy, a lot of people waiting for train and a lot of touts waiting for their prey (as DTTDC guy told us about Agra). It was easy to find guy holding panel with my name. "Welcome to Agraaa!!! The most beautiful cityyy in India!!! It is my cityyyyy!" expressed himself with big smile. Taxi driver was preparing us for offer we got later - 8h of taxi around Agra for 1400 Rs + baksheesh if we are satisfied. We have paid 2450 yesterday so it seemed to be good deal. We need to be at Taj Mahal before sunrise, so it is great if we can organize it today. Driver was nice, really talkative, he asked a lot about us, commented on our plans and so on. And he was right that Gwalior Fort is not much...

We arrived to our guesthouse Col. Lamba's Home Stay. What a fantastic experience it was. Truly generous people run this family guest house. They are very hospitable and do their best so their guests can feel like home. As we arrived we chatted with them for about 30 minutes (before going to sleep). If I ever returned to Agra I would not be looking for different place to stay at. Whole house is very nice. We have been in room Mumtaz. It is great we are staying at such a nice place for 2 days!

I am not going to compare it to our experience in Aurangabad, because I am afraid of division by zero ;-)


Only place in India where we had bath tub!