Chennai to Taj Mahal

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Sep 26th, 2004, 10:34 PM
  #1
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Chennai to Taj Mahal

My daughter is cruising on "Semester at Sea" (currently in Viet Nam) and is asking my advice on traveling from her port of Chennai to see the Taj Mahal. Any ideas? (cheap)She has 4 days to travel.
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Sep 26th, 2004, 11:17 PM
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Hi, alioops!
Four days is not much to traverse a continent -- frankly, if I were she, I wouldn't be in it; I'd choose something equally as wonderful closer at hand. Whichever way she gets to the Taj Mahal, she's going to spend a much longer time in waiting rooms and looking at the insides of travelling conveyances than she is looking at the Taj.

However, if the Taj it must be, then Air Deccan is beckoning. They have amazingly-cheap daily flights from Chennai to Mumbai, and also from Mumbai to Delhi. You can book these on-line at their website.

As for the last leg of the journey, well, there is no shortage of trains, buses, or private cars plying the Delhi-Agra route... the express trains take around three hours.

And then, does she have to return to Chennai, or can she re-board the cruise at another port? The latter, I hope! Even though the flight times are pretty short -- a couple of hours for each, maximum -- Air Deccan may only have one flight a day, and the stopover time in Mumbai might be considerable. Can any building be worth it? Surely someone more experienced than I can chime in with some great places to see which are not TOO far from Chennai -- what about Hampi, for example?
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Sep 27th, 2004, 12:53 AM
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Hi, again, alioops!

Well, things aren't quite as black as I painted them. Air Deccan now fly direct from Chennai to Delhi, which should make things much simpler. Their website is http://airdeccan.net/airdeccan/home.asp

Hope you find a time and a price that is suitable!
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Sep 27th, 2004, 05:19 AM
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With four days, as noted above, the best way would be to fly. In addition to Air Deaccan, she could also fly on Indian Airlines (http://indian-airlines.nic.in) the national carrier. The flight takes about 4.5 hours. I think the fare would be about $350 round trip, but the site is hard to use for pricing. She might want to confirm prices herself using an Indian travel agent.

(No airlines fly non-stop to Agra from Chennai. To cut costs, she could fly to/from Delhi and then go by train to Agra from Delhi. Train takes about 3-4 hours and second class would be quite cheap, I want to say less than $25 round trip, but this could be off. )

A train would be much cheaper but would take longer and she may have to depart or arrive in the middle of the night. The fastest train from Chennai is the Tamil Nadu Express which gets to Agra in about 6 hours if I am reading the schedule correctly. There are slower trains as well. Second class fare would be about $120 round trip. Take a look at www.indianrail.gov.in. for train timetables. The website is very hard to use, IMO, so again an Indian travel agent (hopefully one on board the ship) would be helpful.

If she decides against Agra, a great trip from Chennai would be to hire a car and driver and go down the east coast from Chennai down to Pondicherry. Great temples, some colonial bits (like catholic churches) and sights along the way, very much off the beaten tourist path. If she did this with a group of friends, they could split the car costs and so this could be done cheaply assuming they stay in hostels, etc. (And if you can't when you are young, when can you??!!!)



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Sep 27th, 2004, 08:43 AM
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Thank you Alan and Cicerone for your valuable suggestions!
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Sep 28th, 2004, 03:10 AM
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DEF a train direct from Chennai to Agra. If u take into account advance check in at airports and the fact that all Ind airports are somewhat outside the city center u will spend a lot of time in transit. Taking a train from Delhi after a Chennai-Delhi flight means transferring from the airport to the train station which is qute a distance.
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 11:55 AM
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Agra is over 1200 miles from Chennai.
Chennai to Agra is 30 hours by train (not 6 hours)
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 07:15 PM
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Yep, "day 2" of the train schedule is a very easy mistake to make. I did it myself in March! I did think it must be a very fast train (think Japanese Shinkansen)! Did not see any in India!

alliioops-if there is a possibility your daughter may not return to India in the near future, then tell her from one gobsmacked Taj Mahal fan, that she should not miss ANY reasonable opportunity to view this amazing building. Air Deccan can be unreliable so she must allow a few hours for plane delays. Do not cut connections TOO fine. If she can fit it in, I'd say to her "do not miss the Taj". It's like nothing else in this world, imho.
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