Journey to Agra
We caught the train from Jaipur to Agra, and we travelled in sleeper class which cost us rs.300 for two tickets. We departed Jaipur at 3pm arrived in Agra at 7.25pm. The train was the busiest we had travelled on, the whole cabin was full so three people were sat on either side. Luckily we both had tickets for the lower bunks which meant that we both got a seat next to the window, however it was still extremely hot and sticky – we could not wait to get off the train.
How long should I stay in Agra?
I would recommend only staying in Agra for 1 – 2 days as there are only two major sights to visit – the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, both of which can easily be done in a day.
We had reserved a room at Hotel Sheela due to its proximity to the Taj Mahal – it is literally situated 100m away from the east gate entrance. It cost us rs.70 to get to the hotel from the railway station, rs.60 in an auto rickshaw and then rs.10 in a cycle rickshaw from the edge of the pollution free zone. You could also walk to the hotel from where the auto rickshaw drops you off – it’s probably only 300 metres walk downhill.
We had reserved a basic double room by email at a cost of rs.600 per night; however we discovered when we checked out that they had actually put us in a semi deluxe room, but did not tell us this on check in! So they tried charging us rs.700 per night when we checked out, however we argued the point and got the room for rs.600.
The difference between their basic and semi deluxe rooms are that the latter has a water cooler in addition to a fan, and also the rooms are a little larger.
Unfortunately the fan in our room was very noisy and we could only turn it off by completely cutting all power to the room using a switch just outside our door. We also found the room noisy due to its proximity to the restaurant.
We’d recommend this hotel due to its cleanliness, cost and proximity to the Taj Mahal, the only things letting it down is the noisy fans (which don’t have an off switch!) and the fact the rooms are all situated round the restaurant which also makes them noisy.
Cost: rs.750 per person
We both managed to pull ourselves out of bed early and were in the queue for the Taj Mahal at 6am. We entered the Taj Mahal using the east gate as it was closest to our hotel and bought our tickets from the office which is situated approx 1km walk from the gate itself – we caught a cycle rickshaw to the ticket office and back from Hotel Sheela which cost us rs.50.
There was already a small queue formed at the gate when we arrived and this was rather large by the time the gates opened at 6.18am (official sunrise). We were both feeling excited about seeing the Taj Mahal and we were hoping it would live up to expectations – to our delight it did.
The light that the sun shines on the Taj at that time in the morning is beautiful and very photogenic. It is also pleasant to walk around the grounds in the cool morning temperature rather than the searing midday heat.
We were not expecting the huge amount of tourists at that time in the morning, but I guess everyone knows it’s a great time to visit. We still managed to push our way through the crowds and get some great cheesy photos!
We spent about 2 hours at the Taj in total before going back to the hotel for some breakfast.
Cost: rs.300 per person
We visited Agra Fort the same day as the Taj Mahal as you get a rs.50 reduction in the cost of your entrance ticket.
The Fort itself isn’t that impressive compared to other forts we had visited in India, but it provided good views back to the Taj Mahal.
Cost: budget/midrange (rs.30 to rs. 200)
We eat dinner and breakfast at the hotel once and we found the food here rather bland and average, although the setting of the restaurant is nice in a green leafy garden.
Cost: Budget/midrange (rs.30 to rs.200)
We ate one breakfast and one lunch at Yash Café and we were very impressed.
The food was nice, service was good and you get free use of their fast wi-fi. They also provide a service handy for day trippers to the Taj Mahal of luggage storage and use of a shower for rs.50.
Saniya Palace hotel
Cost: Midrange (rs.50 to rs.250)
We ate dinner here once and got a table on the rooftop with a view across to the Taj Mahal. This restaurant apparently has the best view in the area across to the Taj, however as we visited in the evening we could only see the shadow of the Taj in the background – I image if you visited for breakfast or lunch you would get a good view.
The thought the food here was nice and the service was attentive.