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Upcoming India Trip - Working Out the Siteseeing, Shopping and Dining Details for Agra

Upcoming India Trip - Working Out the Siteseeing, Shopping and Dining Details for Agra

Jan 24th, 2005, 06:13 AM
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Upcoming India Trip - Working Out the Siteseeing, Shopping and Dining Details for Agra

We leave for India in about three weeks. Our first stop is Agra (see posts elsewhere with questions on Jaipur and Delhi). We are staying at Amarvilas for two nights to give us time to get adjusted to India time, recover from our flight and have a full day to see the sites. We will have a driver and a guide at our disposal but it is not mandatory that we use them.

From my research, it seems that the "must sees" are the Taj (at dawn and dusk), Agra Fort and It-Ma-Udallah Tomb. We will be also be stopping at Fatephur Sikri on the way to Jaipur. Other siteseeing possibilities include Akbar's Tomb and Jami Majid (mosque near Agra Fort) - are these worthwhile to visit?

We may attempt some shopping just to get an idea of what is available and what it costs - the Sheraton and Taj View arcades have been recommended on this forum. There is also the government run Cottage Industries Exposition - any opinions on that? (I know its expensive.)

As for meals, we would probably be perfectly happy dining at our hotel. However, the Mughal Room at Clarks Shiraz and Jhankar at Taj-View are both recommended in the 2005 edition of Fodor's India - anyone have recent experience with these?

Thanks, everyone for your help.
Craig is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 06:02 AM
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topping...
Craig is offline  
Jan 26th, 2005, 02:46 AM
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topping, again
Craig is offline  
Jan 26th, 2005, 04:06 PM
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I don't think there is any shopping in Agra which is better than Delhi. Agra prices are jacked up for tourists and you may not know how to start bargaining. Cottage Industries is full of the famed marble inlay pieces, IMO at better prices than Agra. Once you have seen the Taj, Agra Fort the tomb and FS you have done the MUSt dos. After that whether or not you see more monuments is a personal choice. I would say go slow, use the down time to get used to India and enjoy the gorgeous Amar Vilas in your 2 days. Jaipur will be much more hectic with things to see and do so conserve energy! Re restaurants. One meal at Amar Vilas perhaps at the Ind rest is a must do IMO. Foir the rest the restaurants at both the Taj and Mughal Sheraton are ok, neither is "unmissable". The Clarks is one of Agra's oldest hotels and you may find it interesting, cannot comment on how the food will be. Hotel arcades are NEVER great shopping options. The Amar Vilas has a small Ravissant store and IMO the Ravissant store in Delhi offers far more variety (tho in this case at the same prices).
hobbes is offline  
Jan 26th, 2005, 10:22 PM
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One of the main shopping centres in Agra is the bazaar (which seems endless!) around Agra Fort Railway Station, and, as you would expect from the name, this is just a short walk from the Agra Fort, so you could combine those quite readily. In fact, if you go to the Taj at sunrise (if the weather is clear, the best time, as there are few other people around (for a blissful hour!) to disturb your quiet viewing -- but some times of the year see the Taj shrouded in fog at sunrise, your 750 rupee entrance-fee notwithstanding, so do check this out before committing yourself) you can be at the Agra Fort before 9 a.m. (a rickshaw between the two costs 20 rupees), and do your shopping before the heat and dust of the afternoon make the bazaar a less-pleasant diversion.

I agree with the above poster -- shopping malls connected to hotels are neither a real taste of India nor a taste of Indian prices. I saw one mall (not in Agra)that actually had a security guard at the entrance to ensure that the locals couldn't get in! (Inside, just about every item outside of the food court was priced in dollars, and there wasn't a sign in Hindi, or any langauge apart from English, to be seen anywhere). The true value in a holiday in India is to leave behind the air-conditioned hotels and the shops with brand-names you recognise -- to leave behind your comfort zone -- and plunge headlong, for better or worse, into the maelstrom. And "maelstrom" is the only word to describe the bazaar around Agra Fort Station!

If your research does indicate that the Taj is likely to be fog-free at sunrise in the month you are visiting, then you could do worse than choose the Hotel Sheela as your accommodation. It's just fifty metres from the east gate of the Taj. You can rise at five-thirty and still be first in line when the Taj opens at six! Being fortunate (in October) to have a crystal-clear morning, we had finished with the Taj by about eight-fifteen (by which time the tourists buses were starting to arrive "en masse" and all the charm had gone out of the place)and returned to the hotel for breakfast, having done the most important thing that we came to do in Agra. The Hotel Sheela is a budget hotel -- 450 rupees a night, double -- but the grounds are delighful, and the location second to none.

Agra is not one of the great cities in India; in particular, the touts at the station are an especially unpleasant bunch, and you need to be on your guard against rip-offs -- but there are some quiet, pleasant areas. If you have a bit of free time, a stroll across the river (via the railway bridge at Agra Fort station) will show you a side of Agra that you won't see if you just haunt the tourist routes.

Have a great time!
Alan is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 04:12 AM
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I really should modify one sentence in my lengthy response above.... when I said that the location of the Hotel Sheela was "second to none", I was referring only to its proximity to the entrance gate of the Taj Mahal. It's not particularly close to railway stations or bazaars, and the area around it is pretty run-down (frankly, I didn't see many parts of Agra that weren't run-down). But I guess that when people go to Agra, the Taj is what they have on their minds, and that's what makes the Sheela's location so special.
Alan is offline  
Feb 15th, 2005, 04:59 AM
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Hi. At Agra stick to the hotel for food, leave the shopping for Jaipur and Delhi (mainly Delhi). Agra Fort and the Taj are the obvious sites to go to, time permitting you can maybe check out Fatehpur Sikri as you have a car with driver at your disposal. Hotel arcades are not a place to shop from.
Debub is offline  

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