I rarely write negative reviews. I am the glass is half-full type of positive, bubbly happy-go-lucky person. But somethings make you so frustrated that you want to scream your lungs out. My trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal was one such experience.
Go on, read more. So in Dec. last year, a very good friend and I decided to visit Agra together. When he agreed, my excitement and anticipation level went up. It was a dream come true but for what?
Agra is POORLY connected with the rest of india. The airport there hardly has any flights and the only option for international travelers is the often bumpy and rough ride which kills you, from Delhi by road.
The last 5 miles in Agra to reach the Taj Mahal is a maze through slums, shanty towns and congested streets. When you finally reach the taj complex, you're greeted by filth, animal excreta stench and "tourist guides" ready to take you for a literal ride.
Getting inside the Taj is a nightmarish experience and if you reach on a holiday or a Sunday, God will bless you for your patience. The security guys are polite but almost behave like they want to insult you for anything that they can find on you. The Taj is an over hyped monument whose fame is like the Emperor who has no clothes.
No genuine restrooms, no recreation facility no restaurant. The area in and around teh Taj can be compared to the lack of infrastructure in the Sahra deserts of Africa.
Besides 2-3 "five" star hotels in Agra, there's hardly any middle-class decent accommodation. I am middle class and I cannot afford to pay Rs. 10, 000 a night at the Taj. Am I to suffer because I am not rich?
My advice: Don't visit the Taj if you are not a big fan of architecture.
Avoid Agra like plague.
And please write, email, call the various governments to clean Agra, build better road and provide better tourist infrastructure.
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My only positive point from the whole journey was I got to spend some time with my friend.
Last week I visited agra as a part of faculty tour. Few things which I noticed very common over there was people looting the tourists, doesn't matter whether its indian tourist or forrigners. They ask for thrice or four times and even more price if they see some new tourists. It was te case not only at tajmahal only but also at public places like railway station, bus stands etc.
Second thing is that the city is very much polluted. I still remember when we were in train and asking each other how much time would it take to reach agra. Then one of us told that the moment when you will be unable to breathe without keeping a hanky on your mouth, understand its AGRA. And the same happened.
Of course the tajmahal was best. We captured good memories. The sweets like pethas were awesome but what remained in our memory is the dirtiness over the city and people looting the tourists.
When it should have been India's top tier city, Agra is a city that sucks in every manner! I'd be really brief here as there's too much to say about it.
The historical places aren't very well managed and preserved. When you go visit Fatehpur sikri, etc be ready for filth and garbage everywhere! There's people throwing rubbish all over the place and monuments are getting encroached upon badly! People rob you in the name of tourism. Especially the guides are the worst. They charge you high fees and don't even know about half the things they are talking about! Don't get misled by these cheaters.
The city is suffering from horrendous garbage management issues. The municipal work is non-existent. You get the typical filthy smell of Agra the moment you enter the city. The water here tastes disgusting!
There's no major airport here. And this is supposed to be a famous tourist place!
There are no good Malls and shopping complexes in Agra. Every store is worth a 3rd tier city. Nothing worth buying. You can skip any shopping here. Only okayish place is Sadar where you can have some street food and snacks. I found this again, nothing too noteworthy!
Overall, Agra has been forever neglected city by the state government. I wish people would have given more attention to this place considering it has Tajmahal and most foreigners come to India only to visit Agra! Very sad state of the city. It needs a complete overhaul!