3 October 2018, by E-van and Terry
We have just returned from our anniversary trip, an amazing one to India! I would like to share with you our one-week experience there, though I – wished we could’ve stayed longer!
We made our way to Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosque in India. A local helped take photos of us and he even helped himself to add a filter! I quite like it. Haha!
No shoes were allowed and there was a small entrance fee to enter this mosque. It was really nice to sit, chill and people watch on the warm floor of this mosque! We sat till our butts were really toasty.
We took a 5-hour train ride in the morning to Agra, where the great and magnificent Taj Mahal was. You’ve got to see it in person as seeing it in photos will never beat its majestic beautiful view in real life. I was in awe of the architecture, the meticulous craftsmanship and the sheer glory of it. It was HUGE – so bright and white, standing tall in the sun.
Things to take note when in Agra…
Child beggars: When you arrive in Agra, there will be child beggars. If you do any research on traveling in India, as much as it breaks our hearts, you will be warned repeatedly to ignore these little ones because once you give a little money to one, more and more of them will surround you begging.
Tour agents/individuals: There will also be a flock of tour guide persons / companies pestering you for business right outside the station. For us, we walked straight to a booth where it says “Agra Tours – Government Owned”.
Prices are stated on the booth for 5- or 8-hour tours, informing you where they will be taking you to, etc. We opted for the 8-hour tour that comes with an air-conditioned car, a driver and an English-speaking tour guide.
Entrance fee: This will cost you approximately 1200₹ (SGD 22.50). The price is per car. The difference between an air-conditioned car and one without is 200₹ (SGD3.50). Do take note that this does not include your entrance fee to the sites that you will be visiting. For example, it will cost 600₹ (SGD 11.25) per person to enter the Taj Mahal.
Tips: The prices stated above also does not include the impending tips your tour guide will be sure to ask you daringly. It is expected. Please give what you are comfortable with. Do not feel obliged no matter what sob story your tour guide might feed you along the way.
I am not going to glamorise India for you. The fact is that we tipped our tour guide 600₹ (half of the tour fee) and he said it wasn’t enough. We did not give him more. We did not let this affect our mood and our trip because if you do, many things will get to you. It is part of their touring culture to be asking for tips directly, even security guards who you thought were just being really helpful to snap a few shots for you!
Agra was just a one day trip for us. In fact, if I knew what Agra had to offer, I would’ve opted not to stay a night at all. Because, truth be told, Agra only had the Taj Mahal and nothing else.
This was confirmed by the locals as well. So if you’re not carrying a lot with you, I would suggest visiting Taj Mahal and continue your journey to somewhere else on the same day.
The tour guide would probably take you to carpet shops, jewellery store, textiles shop as well as a place selling marble carvings.
They are really beautiful but they also cost quite a bit. You can find them at a much cheaper price in the street shops. The craftsmanship to detail may also differ.
India is really beautiful and that’s only our first two days. We went on down to Jaipur which is a whole other story. It deserves a dedicated post on its own!
Here are a few photos of what a normal street in India looks like. Traffic is very vibrant! In other words, super noisy. Hahaha!
We treated ourselves to a little Chai tea every once in a while when we pass by these little stalls.
Looking back at the photos really make me miss India! Be sure to read the Part 2 of our anniversary trip to India where I tell you all about my favorite Pink City: Jaipur!