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Every day in India is an adventure, and a day trip to Agra is no different. Agra is of course the one “must do” things in India. Among thousands of other unique adventures, the Taj Mahal stands as a true wonder of the world.
Leaving New Delhi, be aware of the scammers - from dodgy rickshaw rides to the middle of nowhere to fake train ticket cancellations - you need to be on your game, like any day in India. Getting past these potential disasters before I even got to Agra, I was not prepared the chaos at the train station as every rickshaw driver fought over my business (they literally exchanged pushes and punches). My good mate Matty recommended I contact Bunty, a tour guide for 400 rupees for the day (about $6 USD) - and what a brilliant day it was! We saw the sights of Agra, visited the old Fort, hit the shopping areas and of course spent a few solid hours at Taj Mahal.
Bunty. Local celebrity, rickshaw driver, legend
A grand and beautiful building, a monument to the ingenuity of humanity. The Taj Mahal glows in the daylight and appears to change colour as the day goes on. Looked upon at different angles, it is challenging to keep your camera in your pocket and just admire. Seriously, try not taking a photo for 5 minutes.
Allow several hours in the venue to take in the beautiful gardens, stunning water features and walk a long slow loop around in outside of the grand centrepiece. Despite being a massive tourist hub, there are plenty of peaceful places in the gardens to chill out and admire and take in the amazement.
After the Taj Mahal, Bunty took me for lunch, and we ate the most delicious array of street curries sitting in the back of his rickshaw on the side of a highway. All you can eat curry for 40 rupees (60 cents). I made sure I gave all the kids making fresh naan and helping with serving a generous tip. What a great experience.
Epic view of the Taj Mahal, those colours
We ended the day watching cricket and drinking beers by the side of the road with some of Bunty's friends. We did this in the local chicken shop of all places. This was a little hut on the side of the road where they literally killed and plucked the live birds right in front of you, all as we had general chit chat and talked all things cricket.
India. A beautiful chaos.
Agra. Simply amazing.
1) The Taj Mahal. The beauty captures your imagination to wonder how on earth they managed to pull this incredible building together.
Sample the local delights - and feast. If you are on a tour, don't let your tour guide take you to a western style hotel for lunch, challenge them to show you the real India, and get some local food.
2) The Thali (mixed curry plate) I had by issuing my guide this request was simply fantastic, eaten literally on the side of the road.
3) Get the local experience with a Rickshaw Tour. See the in's and out's and tailor your own experience by getting a real flavour of Agra and the sights. You won't end up having beers, watching cricket while chickens are sacrificed in front of you on the Hop On Hop Off red bus tour (probably a good thing).