Map of India

Map of India

Agra is home to the Taj Mahal and is therefore a worthy stop on the map. Unless you have no interest in seeing another classic building (and I do feel you there, visiting “sites” can get old), it truly is worth the trip. However, this jewel in India’s crown has also been Agra’s undoing. Group tours will rush in harried tourists who just want to spend 2-3 days in India, enough time to snap pics of the Taj and say they’ve been there, done that. The package tourists have a bit of a rep for being obnoxious and this has sullied the relationships between tourists and locals here in general. In turn, the number of tourists are now almost outnumbered by pushy touts who want to sell you fake Taj Mahal tickets (you can only get them at the gate), over-priced water and expensive taxis. It can all get a bit stressful, so after you’ve visited the Taj take some time out to visit a quiet restaurant, wander around the less-touristed areas and maybe catch a Hindi movie.

Tips: Petty theft is one of the main issues here, and my hotel room was robbed overnight while I was sleeping in it (creepy, yes). So get a room with a lock (always a good idea in India) but go one up and sleep with your valuables – passport, cash – on your body overnight if you can’t afford the type of place that comes with a safe. Also stock up on water for the day when you pass a local corner shop, because it’s eye-wateringly expensive to buy from water stalls near the Taj.

Pros: Taj! Taj! Taj! It’s a monument to love, and it’s even better in real life than the photos.
Cons: the touts. And pickpockets. And obnoxious tourists who look dressed and ready to explore an undiscovered land.
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