Arriving in Agra
Agra Travel Blog› entry 19 of 37 › view all entries
We had a couple of days in Agra. We arrived on an overnight bus from Pushkar in Rajasthan. As usual we were dropped off by the side of a random road at 4am. We were immediately surrounded by autorickshaws wanting to take us to this or that hotel. On this occasion it was going to take a bit more effort to get where we wanted to go.
What we really wanted to do was make it to the centre of town near the Taj Mahal, where we could find a cheap guest house. The first thing to ascertain was how far we were from the centre of town, and whether we needed to use an autorickshaw at all. After asking one of the rickshaw drivers a few apparently innocent questions we managed to establish that we couldn't walk into town (obviously there would have been no point asking him whether we could walk; he'd say "no" every time).
The next fun bit was getting to the area of the city we wanted to go to. We asked to be taken to the Taj Mahal. That would get us to the right area, and we would be able to walk to find a hotel and therefore not end up paying more for the room because the hotel would be paying commission to the autorickshaw driver. No-one wanted to take us to the Taj Mahal. Eventually one guy agreed, but only drove 100yds round the corner before stopping in front of a hotel and insisting that we should go in and get a room. We walked away in the direction of the centre of town, and eventually he stopped following us. By the time we'd walked only another 100yds we came across another autorickshaw, who wanted to take us to a hotel in the centre of town, and so we decided it was time for a fresh approach. We went with him, had a brief look around the hotel with no intention of staying, asked the price (which was too high, predictably), and then walked off. Luckily the hotel he'd chosen was only a five-minute walk from where we wanted to be, and we'd managed to match up the streets with the map in the Lonely Planet. I was surprised that he didn't follow us when we walked away.
Then came a big stroke of luck. It was 5am, and the call to prayer was ringing out around the city. Just as we were passing a small guesthouse the owner came dashing out of the front door on his way to the mosque. We explained that we wanted a room, and he found just enough time to book us in before heading off to pray! God bless India and its capitalist culture!