Agro in Agra

Well, we arrived in Agra – home of the Taj Mahal – Saturday afternoon just before 2pm. It’s only 200km south of Delhi so thankfully the drive didn’t take too long. When we got there we had to catch up on boring things like washing our clothes (which are getting extremely grubby and stained from a combination of DEET and cheap Tesco sun lotion!) so didn’t go back out straight away.

There wasn’t much that we wanted to see in Agra anyway, apart from the Taj Mahal, so we took the opportunity to chill out that evening and watched the Jim Carrey film Yes Man (I think that’s what it’s called). It was nice just to do normal things like watch a film for a change as we’ve literally been on the go since we left London and we don’t want the tiredness to catch up with us!

By the way, the hotel we’re staying in is really gross! Both of our pillows have grey stains all over them, the sheets and walls are filthy and we have God knows how many bugs crawling around underneath our bed! Probably the worst hotel we’ve stayed in! But hey ho, if it doesn’t kill us it’ll only make us stronger!

Anyway, we ventured outside for a little bit in search of an internet cafe and going outside is where the title for this blog post came from – Agro in Agra! All the way down the street and back we faced hassle from pretty much everyone out there, from Rickshaw and Tuk Tuk drivers to teenagers on motorbikes and children on pushbikes. In fact, after hassling us for money, two kids on a pushbike (who must have only been around 7) decided to chase us down the road and shove the bike into us! Little *bleeps*!

The street was so busy and people seemed to just ignore which direction they were supposed to drive in and just go wherever they wanted – which 9 times out of 10 was right towards us! We really didn’t like the feel of this place. Groups of people were just roaming around the streets with no purpose at all, along with the stray dogs and cows! It’s probably the first place that has felt intimidating – not even Pakistan and the need for armed guards fazed us! We spent as little time as we could outside and gave up looking for the internet after a while!

After a restless night of sleep, where we tried all night to get comfortable without pillows, sharing the ‘cleanest’ of the single beds, we got up and headed towards the Taj Mahal area. First we went to find a roof top restaurant where we could have brunch/lunch and get our first glimpse of one of the Wonders of the World. I have to say, it was pretty impressive even from a distance…

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As soon as we’d eaten we walked round to get tickets, passing a monkey sat on the pavement eating ice cream on the way!

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The queue to actually get into the Taj Mahal was huge and once again we got to experience the ‘Agra agro’ with blokes from various ‘marble’ shops going on and on about visiting their shop to buy rubbish looking mini Taj Mahal ornaments. They also kept telling me that I couldn’t bring my bag inside and could ‘deposit’ it in their shop until we came out, as well offering to ‘help’ us get into the monument quicker – with no catch at all! Yeah right.

We were starting to realise that due to its position as the number one tourist attraction in India, this area was a haven for local people trying to pull a fast one over tourists and rip us off as soon as they got the chance. India has a habit of discriminating against the people that visit it and there are always two prices, one for Indians and one for tourists. For example, to get into the Taj Mahal, Richard and I each had to pay 750 Rupees – about 10.27 English pounds, but Indian tourists only had to pay 20 Rupees – about 27 English pennies! Talk about one extreme to the other!

This was the same in Pakistan as well actually, particularly at tourist spots. We’re beginning to get fed up of it – this is exactly why we wanted to steer clear of ‘tourist hotspots’ and see the real side of whichever country we were visiting. The same sort of priority seems to apply in restaurants too – we sat down for ages in one before we even got our drinks, whereas in the meantime an Indian couple sat down, ate and left before we’d even ordered desert!

We decided to ignore the blatant exploitation of tourists this time round, as you can’t go to India and not go into the Taj Mahal! We were glad we did, as it really is a magnificent building. It looked like a photograph or oil painting from a distance, and even as you walked up to it, it seemed like if you reached out and touched it, it would disappear.

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Inside was a bit of a disappointment however, you could hardly see a thing as the ‘coffins’ inside were sectioned off – the walls etc inside weren’t really designed like the outside, they were plain and a little grubby!

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We wandered around the Taj Mahal grounds for a while before we headed back to the hotel.

We were off to our next destination – Lucknow – at 8 the next morning so did our best to make that night’s sleep a bit better than the previous one!!

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4 Comments

  1. August 14, 09:38 #1 Aisleen Author

    I know! We were too – anything to make money out of tourists hey?! x

  2. August 13, 09:51 #2 margaret D.

    I was surprised to hear that you had to pay to see the TAJ- MAHAL! and also about the price.Enjoying your joy’s and woe’s!!! Good Luck x x x

  3. August 13, 00:35 #3 Mum

    Love the photo of you both, you look very relaxed. I’m glad you’re not taken in by the ‘tourist’ exploitation and I have to say, that I’m surprised by what you said about being charged more than the locals.

    My mates at Primedale have been asking about you and how you’re getting on with your travels. I’ve passed on your ‘blog’ so they can catch up on your adventure.

    By the way Aisleen, we raised £107.12 for Bottle for Change at Primedale and Amy emailed me with the press release during the week about the campaign. I will let you know how much was raised nationally when we know the final figure.

    I hope you’re enjoying your Life’s Big Adventure sweetheart. Love you lots and can’t wait to hear all about your experiences when you move on from the Oz bus.

    Love you, xxxxxxx


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