Agra - shitty people - amazing Taj-Mahal :)

Agra Travel Blog

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The Taj-Mahal (no water in the fountains...)

Got to Agra early in the morning. It was only 9 or 10 am and it was already bloody hot. Even for a person who comes from a hot country, the 45 degrees in Agra was too hot, and there was no air circulation in the buildings. We found some hotel, that offered us discount on food (except beverage), and promised to help us out. Amy asked for a place to change money, the owner told us that it's very far and that she should change in his place, and he gave her some strange rate, with a proof of some fax paper saying that this is the official rate of a rupie to a dollar. Needless to say that when Amy got to a real bank, she found out that there is no similarity between the rate he invented and the real ones in the bank.

the top of the Taj - beautiful!
That was lie no. 1.

We went to the Taj-Mahal in the afternoon (for the sunset). I have to admit that it's a beautiful building from the outside, but not the most amazing one. But I do understand why the king decided to cut the hands of his 30,000 workers after they finished building it, so they won't build another one (although I would personally just go and kill the chief engineer and save 30,000 hands). Everybody is always shocked about the tourist entry price (something like 40 times higher than the local one) but I think that paying 20$ to see the Taj-Mahal is OK, and I also think that for a poor country, it's good that the government lets the local people to go in for less than half a dollar. Everybody should share this wonder.

The funny thing about wondering inside the Taj area is that the indian tourists there are people from small places and they get excited from us, the tourists, and so we found outselves posing in pictures they took of us and them, and they didn't care about the fact that the beautiful Taj-Mahal is standing 2 meters next to them.

Amy and indian women - they asked to take this photo, I just took it also..
Amy got the most attantion there as she's blonde and they get crazy about her (I had to use some physical power to get her out of the indian men circle who were trying to get pictures with her).

Later we decided it's time to enjoy Pizza Hut for the first time in months, so we took Rikshas for that ride. We found ourselves for the first time paying for the ride by watching shops, which is funny for the first time, ok for the second, and really bloody annoying for the third time.

On the next day we wanted to buy tickets to the afternoon train to Delhi. The hotel owner and the Riksha drivers told us there is no chance in doing it, and that we should pay each one of them a commision and they will buy us tickets for the next day or even later that week.

me and the Taj
So me and my friend went to the train station, and suprise suprise, we got 4 train tickets for the afternoon train. That was lie no. 2.

We settled our account in the hotel, and suddenly found out that he added some taxes he didn't say anything about. We started to argue with him, and also demanded the special discount he offered us. In the end he decided to drop the new tax but not to give us the discount. Our little revenge was in the guest book, and I hope it helped some other tourists to decide not to sleep in this hotel. That was lie no. 3.

We then went to Sikri (read the next post) and then to Delhi.

I read in the Lonely Planet that Agra is known for it's tourist scams. There was a whole chain of hotels and restaurants that got poor tourists to be sick with bad diarreah, and then when the hotel owners would be asked, they would recommend on some private doctors who took amazingly high rates for the treatment.

The sunset over one of the towers of the Taj
In that way the insurance companies lost a lot of money and worst than that, some guy or two died. In the end the insurance companies did some investigation of their own (never trust the indian police) and they got some people in jail. But it's a known fact that Agra is still a tourist trap, so please - BEWARE!

portia says:
I hope you will add some more to your trip, I just came back from India myself and kind of wondered what other people thought about the place.
Posted on: Dec 29, 2005
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The Taj-Mahal (no water in the fou…
The Taj-Mahal (no water in the fo…
the top of the Taj - beautiful!
the top of the Taj - beautiful!
Amy and indian women - they asked …
Amy and indian women - they asked…
me and the Taj
me and the Taj
The sunset over one of the towers …
The sunset over one of the towers…
photo by: rotorhead85