Taj Mahal Advice?

Old Jan 11th, 2010, 07:42 PM
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Taj Mahal Advice?

A friend and I are traveling to India for a wedding in Mumbai and have only the week after the wedding to see some sites in India. We are flying out of New Delhi. We are considering going to Agra Thursday and staying over until Friday. We are aware that the Taj Mahal is only open for prayers on Friday. Will we have enough time after traveling by train on Thursday morning from Delhi to enjoy the Taj Mahal? Will we be able to see the sunrise on Friday morning? Unfortunately we are trying to fit a lot into a little amount of time and are trying to get the most out of the trip possible. Thanks in advance for your advice on this, we're feeling a bit lost on this part of our trip.
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Old Jan 11th, 2010, 08:31 PM
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You won't be able to enter the taj on Friday. You could go to the other side of the river though, and watch it from there. It is in a garden that charges admission If your driver dowsn't know the place, tell him you want the Black taj foundations. It takes a while to get there from the area of the taj Mahal.

You will have enough time to do an afternoon visit on Thursday, as well as time to see the fort and the "baby" Taj. I would recommend taking the Shabahthi (sp?)Express that leaves Delhi at around 6 am. it will get you into Agra about 9.

What time is your flight? I would allow a lot of extra time if I was trying to catch an international flight. Again, a train will likely be the fastest way back to Delhi.
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Old Jan 11th, 2010, 08:41 PM
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Thanks a lot for the tips! Our flight back is actually at 1:40am on Feb. 14th. We would be in Agra Feb 11th into the 12th. Then head back to Delhi on the 12th to stay the night and also do some sight seeing Feb 12th-13th as much as possible. Any mid range hotel recommendations in either place would also be greatly appreciated.
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Old Jan 12th, 2010, 02:25 AM
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How lucky you are to be invited to a wedding! I hope you will take advantage of all the festivities. If you get invited to the henna party (where they draw designs on the bride’s hands with henna), you should definitely go.

As for the post-wedding itin, as you are perhaps coming from Mumbai on Wednesday Feb 10, can you possibly just fly from Mumbai to Agra via a change in Delhi on Wednesday? There is a daily Kingfisher flight from Delhi to Agra which leaves Delhi at 11:40 am and takes about and hour to get to Agra. You can get a flight to Delhi from Mumbai in the early morning hours on either Kingfisher, Jet Airways or if all else fails India Airlines. That would mean you would have most of Wednesday afternoon and then as much time as you wanted on Thursday to see Agra (including sunrise at the Taj). If flying on Wednesday works for you, you could return to Delhi late Thursday, giving you more time in Delhi on that end of the trip.

If I had your whole itin, there may also be other routing suggestions I could make, like going to Jaipur for sightseeing first and driving down to Agra from there.

If all else fails and going by train from Agra on Thursday is you only choice, I will say that sunset at the Taj is really beautiful as well (in the winter months esp), so be sure to be there in time to see the sunset.

I am not sure that watching sunrise from across the river will work, as the Taj faces south and the sun rises in the east, and therefore from across the river you may get a shadow effect more than anything. I think it may also be quite hard to appreciate the beauty of the changing colour of the marble from that distance as the sun increases in strength over the monument (which is really one of the main points in going to the monument at sunrise IMO); the views from across the river are more about the appreciating the size of the monument and seeing its reflection against the water. You would also have to find this area in the dark which may be tricky. However, I have never attempted to see the sunrise from this perspective, so perhaps it is pretty.

For sunrise on Friday, you might just walk down the public lane on the east side of the monument which runs to the river and try to see what you can (this may be packed with others as well). A better idea might just be to go for breakfast at the Bellevue restaurant at the Agra Vilas, but before breakfast, just stand on the outside terrace of their lobby/bar and watch the sunrise. (The restaurants are downstairs and you can’t see the Taj from them; if you just hang out on the terrace this may not thrill them, so you may even want to go so far as to make a booking for breakfast. Or splurge on staying there as you only have one night and you can get in the most Taj-viewing from this location.) The view is also from a distance and so it will hard to appreciate the changing colour of the marble, but it is still very pretty. Otherwise for hotels I would look at the Gateway which also has a Taj view (from further away) and is in a lower price range. But know that you are going at the very height of the season and just before Valentine’s Day. But perhaps most people are going for Valentine’s weekend rather than mid-week so you may get a break on price there.

For the Agra vila, see http://www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_amarvilas/index.asp

For the Gateway Hotel (formerly known as the Taj View and operated by the Taj group, see http://www.tajhotels.com/).

See sunrisesunset.com for sunrise and sunset times in February. Use Delhi as the location.

A very useful website for hotels in India is http://sawdays.co.uk/, click on the book for India. You can also buy the book, Special Places to Stay India, but the website may be useful for Agra, I have not looked for hotels there on that site. The Lonely Planet is a good source as well. Or try tripadvisor.com

The ITC Mughal is also perfectly nice, more like a motel, no Taj views (expect from a viewing tower which requires a climb), but perfectly acceptable. http://www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury.

I am not a fan of the Trident in Agra (a completely different hotel than the Trident Gurgaon). The Park Plaza also gets good reviews on tripadvisor.com, although I don’t know it (http://www.parkplaza.com/gurgaonin) I don’t like the location of the Jaypee Palace and rooms are quite uneven in quality.
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Old Jan 12th, 2010, 04:01 AM
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I also visited Agra 'Tajmahal' it is really amazing, and I just want to say that remember on friday it is closed and, if you have much time then visit also Tomb of Akbar 25-30 k.m. away from Agra.

Have a good trip
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Old Jan 19th, 2010, 05:59 PM
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How many hours can you really spend in Agra? Does anyone have a driver they recommend for Delhi to Agra and return?
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Old Jan 20th, 2010, 02:33 PM
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Fabulous driver is narender. Reach him via email at [email protected]. He only checks his mail when in Delhi, so give him time in case he's on the road.
His tel # in India: +919899360606
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 03:11 PM
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Several Fodorites on this board have used Ramesh Meena(Ram)as our driver. You can reach him at: [email protected] or [email protected]. Telephone is +91 9829807074.
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