As the year draws to an end, I realize that one of my highlights of 2018 will be the trip to Agra, I took with my friends. Scroll on to read to read all about it and plus some great tips for when you visit!
We had been thinking about going somewhere on a one day or overnight trip for quite some time. But as our second year of college was coming to an end, we became serious about the idea that was previously just wishful thinking. After much debate on the destination and talks with parents for permission, we finally decided on Agra.
The main reasons for us choosing Agra were:
- The travel time there is only 3 hours via train, making it easy to return the same night.
- Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world is situated there.
- None of my friends had been there before. Although, I had been there with my family a few years ago.
Eventually, train tickets were booked for the day after our final exams ended. Although the ticket for going to Agra were confirmed, the return tickets were in the waiting list. Even though the tickets were all booked, I couldn’t believe that we were actually going, mainly because the return tickets were not confirmed and I was afraid of one of my friends parents saying no at the last minute.
Fast forward to the day of our last exam, we were excited and planning for the next day.
On the morning of 29 May 2018, my father went with me to the train station to see me off, giving me advice for the trip.
The train journey to Agra went smoothly with us eating the breakfasts our mums had cooked at five the morning and chatting away, taking photos and making videos for sharing on instagram and whatsapp. The train was running late and we didn’t realise that we were arriving at our station until the train slowed down at the platform, which resulted in us quickly putting any of our stuff lying around the seat and getting to the door.
We decided to take an Ola to Taj Mahal, the main destination of our trip but just as we stepped out of the station to our pick up stop we were hounded by Auto rickshaw drivers and cab drivers who tried very hard to dissuade us from taking the Ola cab we’d booked. We were a bit doubtful about taking the Ola after one of the people said that the Ola cab would drop us 2 km away from the entry gate to Taj Mahal. In the end we went with the Ola cab only. And I am glad we did, because the air conditioned cab provided major relief in the scorching heat.
After the cab dropped us off, we took an e-rickshaw to take us to the entry gate. On the way to the entry gate. we also placed our bags in the lockers at Meena Bazar since bags are not allowed inside The Taj Mahal.
Inside we debated quite a bit whether to hire a guide or not. Despite a lot of people including the my mum and sister, the cab driver, one of my friend’s parents advising us not to do so, we did. Because the one friend who wanted us to hire a guide was super convincing and we’d bargained with one of the guides to lower the price. Also, since none of my friends had visited Taj Mahal before,a guide was kind of needed to explain the history and significance of structures and details.
It was a great experience learning about the Taj Mahal, clicking pictures, roaming around in the scorching heat. Pro tip- Don’t ask your guide to click too many photographs of your group along the way and listen to them when they tell you about the place.
Taj Mahal is a grand token of love from Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, but it is at the end of the day,a mausoleum.
For returning to the outer gate of Taj Mahal, we took a horse carriage/tanga (I can’t think of a better way to describe vehicle). Pictured below is the horse Dilip Kumar who pulled our carriage:
We saw the Agra Fort from outside and far away but decided to forgo visiting because:
- The locals there told us that the Agra Fort was just like the Red Fort in Delhi and being from Delhi we’d all visited the Red Fort more than once.
- Time constraints because we’d to catch our train in the evening.
We filled up on food that admittedly wasn’t that good and I finally understood why my father had repeatedly told me to take care while choosing a place to have lunch.
On asking around at the hotel, we got to know of Meena Bazaar, a government shopping place.
Meena Bazaar, as it turned out wasn’t a big market place but a bunch of interconnected shops situated together.
The shops included ones which sold marble products, footwear and Saris and other apparels.
I bought an incense stand made of marble.
Then we went in search of the Panchhi Petha, which is an extremely famous shop to buy petha (which is basically candied pumpkin). Agra is famous for it’s petha and Panchhi Petha is considered the best of all. The small obstacle was that majority of sweet shops in Agra are named Panchhi Petha. So finding the authentic and original Panchhi Petha is quite a feat.
We’d earlier asked about the shop from a bunch of people we met including the cab drivers, shopkeeper, hotel receptionist and the response was mostly varying. We decided to go for one the nearby shops suggested. Though I somewhat doubt it was the original one, the petha was still pretty good.
Panchhi Petha was our last stop in Agra before we headed back to the train station. We had some time to kill before our train arrived and even more so because it was about an hour late.
Overall, it was a great experience because it was the farthest I’ve gone without any adult supervision (although, I am technically an ‘adult’). I do recommend you visit this beauty before all the pollution turns it yellow.
That’s it folks, my trip to Agra. Below are the tips as promised. Have you ever been to see the Taj Mahal? How was your experience?