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Delhi hotel, Train or Car to Agra, Agra hotel

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Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:03 PM
  #1
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Delhi hotel, Train or Car to Agra, Agra hotel

Hi,
I arrive Delhi March 5 Friday at 9:45pm. I have been told I should spend the night in DEL and go to Agra Saturday morning. I have been in contact with Rameesh and he will be my driver.
As of now my plan is:
Friday 3/5 Arrive DEL 9:45pm sleep in DEL
Sat 3/6 Go to Agra to see the Taj
Sun 3/7 Drive to Jaipur with Rameesh
Mon 3/8 Jaipur
Tues 3/9 Drive to Jodhpur
Wed 3/10 Drive to Udaipur seeing Rankpur and the other monument on the way, sorry starting with a K
Wed 3/10 and Thurs 3/11 Udaipur
Fri fly to DEL to meet friends. I'll have a few days in DEL then
My questions are:
1. Can anyone suggest a hotel to sleep in Delhi Fri nt when I arrive? How long does it take to get through customs? Is there a hotel near the train station to Agra? Which is the best train station to leave DEL from? Arrive in AGRA?
2. Would it be better to drive or take the train to Agra? By car I could see Fatehpur Sikri
3. How long should one plan to spend at the Taj? I think it closes at 7. If I got there by 4 would that be enough time? Also, I need a nice mid range hotel in Agra. Approx cost?
I would appreciate any advice on this first leg of my trip. Thanks,
Lisa
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Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:13 PM
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well of course you know we all are going to tell you that you are rushing too much....

the car takes longer than the train to agra... but the car is way more flexible and you need it for onward movement...

my first impression is when is this person going to visit the taj which takes a couple of hours....if by car you would not arrive until mid afternoon, but if by train you would have most of the afternoon for a visit... BUT AREN'T YOU GOING TO BE VERY TIRED FROM YOUR TRIP TO INDIA?? you will not sleep in the car i don't think if that is your answer....and probably not on the train either... i prefer 2 nites in agra to see the place properly...

the drive to jaipur with a stop at FS takes a good portion of the day also... and you need a couple of days in jaipur...
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Jan 23rd, 2010, 09:16 PM
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Yes i know it is alot. So I can take the train to Agra to have more time at the Taj. So many people say they don't like Agra and I thought since I would see so many incredible palaces it would be ok to skip the Red Fort in Agra.
I am very much a water person so am looking forward to Udaipur.
I guess you would say to leave Jodhpur out.....
Do you know of a hotel near the train station to Agra? Which train station is best?
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Jan 24th, 2010, 10:08 PM
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I have read both your posts, and here are my thoughts after reading your exhausting plans:

1. You do not have time to see Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Agra in 6 days. I am sorry, but really you don’t, and if you try to, IMO your trip will be a blur of Indian roads, airports or train stations. As it is, you have one day in Jaipur and half day in Jodhpur. That is just silly. You won’t be able to see anything of either place in that short amount of time; even just seeing the fort at Jodhpur will take up the entire time. You are spending far more time in the car going to Jodhpur than you will actually spend in Jodhpur. Cut out one of them. It seems Agra and Udaipur are musts for you, so consider cutting one of the other two. Even that, IMO, will be quite a rushed trip. Someone has recommended Pushkar; again interesting but with 6 days on the ground you really do not have time to make that trip, IMO.

2. None of the places on your itin have significant Hindu temples; you will of course find temples in every area, just none of real size or significance like in the South. If you want to see the really mammoth colourful Hindu temples, you might consider a trip to the south instead. (Ranakpur is a Jain temple complex, and is quite interesting, but is not a large temple nor colourful.) Or go to Varanasi which has many temples and of course the river, which would meet your water criteria. Or go to Rikisesh, which has a river and mountains and temples and is a non-stop flight from Delhi (as is Varanasi). It seems you have chosen the Mughal desert which may not actually meet your interests as well as some other areas might.

3. The drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur taking in Ranakpur and Kumbulgarh will take you the entire day. That leaves you 1 day in Udaipur. If you really like water and gardens, this is way too short. Ranakpur and Kumbulgarh are very interesting, but have neither water nor gardens. You have to set priorities here. If you cut out Jaipur, then you have some more time, and this drive makes more sense. These two are also quite possible to do as a day trip from Udaipur, so if you settle yourself into Udaipur, you can include them IF you have time.

4. There is no reason that you have to go to Agra first. You could also go to Agra at the end and then train or drive up to Delhi. You can fly from Delhi to Jodhpur, Jaipur or Udaipur. There are also “fast train” options to Jaipur which take about 4-5 hours. Either may be a much easier way to start the trip and to undertake the rest of the itin. You can fly to Udaipur from Jodhpur or Jaipur, or fly between Jodhpur to Jaipur in about an hour, which may be a better use of your limited time. You can drive from Jaipur to Agra in 4 hours. As you may know, the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, so do bear that in mind if you reverse your itin.

5. It actually makes more sense geographically to stop at Fatephur Sikri on the way from Jaipur to Agra (as it is on that road, not the Agra-Delhi road), so I would add that to the Jaipur itin.

6. If you decide to take the train to Agra or elsewhere in the morning, the best place to stay would be a hotel near the train station. Depending on what train you take, you will either go out of New Delhi station or New Delhi Nizamuddin station. The Shatabdi, mentioned above, goes out of New Delhi station, which is in the centre of Delhi, so hotels near Connaught Circus would be fine, or a hotel nearer to old Delhi. Nizamuddin is more in southeast Delhi and a hotel like the Oberoi is quite close to that. It is on the expensive side, however, and I don’t know your budget. If you decide to fly out to Jaipur/Jodhpur/Udaipur or take a car to Agra, then staying near the airport makes more sense. There are many hotel options there, do you have a budget.

7. If you like gardens, you can actually see more than a fair number of them in New Delhi. Be sure to do so. The grounds of the Presidential palace are usually open to the public in February or March, check with your hotel.

8. 3 hours at the Taj is fine, I would time an afternoon visit to include about an hour before sunset so you get to see the sunset and get twilight views to; so see sunrisesunset.com for timing for March. Once it is dark, there is not a whole lot to see, as the monument is not lit. You should also make the effort to get up and see it at sunrise before you leave, as I assume you may never make it back in your lifetime, and in the off chance it is cloudy on your one evening there. (You do have to pay admission fee again, which is not cheap.) For hotels in Agra in the “mid-range” (hard to say what that might mean to you), I would first try the Gateway (see tajhotels.com) also try the Mughal which is a Sheraton, see the starwood site.

9. It takes very little time to go through Customs, although you do have to put your bags through an x-ray machine when you have collected them and before you exit the airport. However, the line for Immigration, which you will go through first before you get your bags and go through Customs, can be long. It will depend on how many planes land when yours does, and how many clerks are working at Immigration. Generally, the line is very quick; although I will say that for my last trip to New Delhi in mid-December, the Immigration line was over an hour. I think there was a work stoppage going on, plus the start of the tourist season. Normally, it should take 15 minutes or so.

10. You will just have missed the Holi holiday in India, which is March 1. You may see some tail end celebrations. This is a very lively spring festival. Perhaps you will be glad to have missed the chance of being sprayed with coloured water.
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Jan 26th, 2010, 04:23 PM
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Cicerone is a nicer person than I am, but I will say that to do what you've described is lunacy. Make Udaipur your base, then do Ranakpur, Kubhalgarh, Aravelli Hills as day trips. Add Jodhpur if you wish. Forget most of the rest. I'd go to the Taj in Agra in the a.m. as it's much less crowded. Fatehpur Sikri is lovely, but crawling with touts. How can you do it first thing in the a.m. before they arrive?
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Jan 26th, 2010, 07:09 PM
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Thank you so much Indianapearl and Cicerone! With all this advice I can get real with my trip. More later when I digest it all. I agree Agra and Udaipur are at the top of my list and I will plan to see the Taj one afternoon and the following morning at sunrise. More soon.... thanks!
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Jan 27th, 2010, 04:29 PM
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Less is more . . .
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Jan 28th, 2010, 05:53 AM
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Lisa, you cannot possibly do all that places in 6 days. I was there last December and did Agra and Jaipur in 7 days by car and did not cover a few things in Jaipur I could not see. On retrospect I should have taken train from Delhi to Agra to save travel time and from Jaipur to Delhi to avoid a very severe accident. Our minivan was hit by a truck on the way back to Delhi, which I heard is not uncommon. Thankfully the only damage was to the van. You could take a car from Agra to Jaipur or fly since train service between Agra and Jaipur is not reliable and at one point there was some political disturband on the way.

Anyway, in Agra, you should see the Agra fort. I really liked Fatehpur Sikri too. It is amazing, if you can ignore the touts and mess around.

In Jaipur do not miss Amber Fort visit and its light and sound show in the evening. Plan to be in Jaipur for at least 2 full days experience everything. In Jaipur visit the City Palace art museum to see some amazing paintings. Also in Jaipur plan to visit Chokhi Dhani on one night. You will get indredible experience of Rajashtani culture, food, entertainment etc. Also definitely visit Jantar Mantar in Jaipur with a guide. Do not hesitate to bargain the fee with the guide. Usually guides drop price drastically if you walk away. Say if they quote Rs400, you can get the same service with Rs150. You can always tip them more if they do a good job.

Plan for experiencing severe jetlag and it is worse if you drive around since you would fall asleep in the car.

HTH.
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Jan 28th, 2010, 06:06 AM
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Wow, lots of questions! When I did this trip, I took trains between all the major cities and then hired drivers for the day. It worked out really well, and I recommend doing that.

In Agra, stay at the Trident Hotel (http://www.visiting-india.com/2009/0...gra-india.html), which is not too far from either the train station or the Taj Mahal. If you can get to the Taj at sunrise, I recommend that. It is absolutely beautiful and there aren't too many people to get in the way of your perfect Taj photo at that time of day.
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Jan 28th, 2010, 08:55 AM
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"train service between Agra and Jaipur is not reliable" - really? What's been going on? It was fine when I did it.
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Jan 28th, 2010, 10:09 AM
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There was some local problems and they had removed some tracks - this is what I heard from my BIL (in Indian Army) when we planned the trip for December 2008. he strongly advised us not to take train on that route. When did you go there?
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Jan 28th, 2010, 10:40 AM
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Well before that. Sounds like a temporary problem.
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Jan 28th, 2010, 04:15 PM
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Could a temporary problem. It was a political unrest which caused this in mid 2008. May not be a problem now.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 03:10 AM
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Yeah, I took the train from Agra to Jaipur in Feb 2009 and it was perfectly fine.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 04:24 AM
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you know lisa, having two posts asking much the same thing isn't really helpful to your cause. I've stuck my replies to you in the other one. Go there.
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Feb 6th, 2010, 11:16 PM
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Lisa, you have a wonderful driver. Ramesh drove us for most of our 3wks in India Dec/Jan. You have probably already figured everything out, but just in case, I will put my two cents in. If possible, I would try to see the Taj Mahal as early as possible to avoid the long wait to get inside. You can wait hours if you arrive in the afternoon. The inside of building is small, there is a mosque to see too, but most of the time is spent viewing from the grounds. The place is magical and a must see visit. Once inside the grounds and assuming you are not in the huge line, I would say you would want 2 hours. I would take the express train from Delhi to Agra. Fatehpur Sikri was OK but I wouldn't feel bad if you cut it due to time limitations. The drive from Agra to Jaipur, Jaipur to Jodhpur, Jodhpur to Udaipur are long. However, the drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur is beautiful and was my favorite scenic areas. I broke the trip with an overnight in Narlai which is a wonderful village. Ranakpur temples were are favorite temples. It's too bad you are not going to Varanasi, it was the most moving part of our trip. Regarding customs, we flew through the process. No big deal. We stayed at the Radison airport hotel but I can understand why you would want to stay closer to the train station if you are catching an early train. Ram can help you with hotels if you need it. Have a fun trip!
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