So it was weekend and one of my friend was visiting from Bangalore. We decided to take a single day trip to Taj mahal.
We looked for all type of conveyance from bus to taxi to trains and we zeroed down to train. There are many trains to Agra from New Delhi but recently launched Gatimaan Express was the best fit according to our needs.Cost for one side ticket for normal CC was 750 INR that was little high for a 230Km distance but journey time was only 1 hour and 40 minutes.They have Exclusive CC too for 1500INR. And on plus side there was meal included and departure time from both ends were perfect. We booked the to and fro ticket a day before and over 350 tickets were available for both sides.
Our train was at 8:10 am from Hazrat Nizamuddin station(NZM). Since it was winter and NZM is close to south Delhi compared to metro we decided to go by cab. We left for NZM at around 6:45Am and reached in 20 minutes. When we entered in train (gatimaan express) it gave a premium feel with all the cleanliness, news papers, more leg space & amazing food quality. Train left on time and whole forward trip was wonderful.
We reached Agra cannt. on time . There are many ways to reach Tajmahal from station like private taxi, local auto, battery operated rickshaw. This is where we felt little uncomfortable where all drivers for all mode of further transport poured upon us even after neglecting and rejecting them politely. Although I will advise foreign visitors to book pvt cab from booths as they are economic and comfortable. Since we know how these things work in India, we took auto rickshaw for 70 INR. Tajmahal is approx. 10 kms from Agra cantt station. We were dropped on west gate where there is facility of cloak room. I was carrying a shoulder bag alongwith my camera bag. After asking around I got to know no bags are allowed inside (ladies purse and hand bags are allowed). No eateries, power banks, charger, earphones or any electronic equipment except cameras, small tripod, transparent water bottle. Another thing to keep in mind is to keep an ID ready while collecting tickets (Not PAN card) and on entry gates to tajmahal. Tickets for Indians was of 40 INR while foreigners 1000 INR & Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries 530 INR.
We deposited our bags in cloak room for Rs. 20 and bought Rs. 10 shoe cover i.e required to wear over shoes while entering main mosque (Shoe cover is available for free inside). We entered beautiful Taj mahal and was really astonishing and magnificent. It is advisable to hire a registered guide while taking this trip. Since we learned a lot on internet and from our history books we didn't hire guide :D . Also only Agra fort was on out list apart from taj mahal to visit so we roamed around comfortably and with patience for 4 hours inside taj mahal. We went there on Saturday so it was very crowded.
We left from taj mahal to agra fort around 3:30pm. It was very close like only 2kms away. We took rickshaw for Rs 30. The rickshaw guy was very helpful and he helped us in buying some memento and Agara famous pethas (sweet) on the way to fort. We took tickets for Rs 40 for Agra fort and went inside (Rs 550 for foreign tourist). Guide is must to visit this place as its rich in history. taj mahal can be seen from fort. We spent one and half hour in fort and left for Agra cannt railway station as our train was at 5:50pm. We took auto for rs. 80 and reached in 20 minutes. Train (gatimaan express) was already in platform. Train left on time and evening snacks were served.
We reached back Delhi on time at around 7:30pm. We took cab and left for our place.
Our overall trip experience was great and with quick travel time of Gatiman express it was a sweet deal. I am attaching few snaps of the trip below. You can view whole trip images at my website: http://thevisualflow.com/taj-mahal/
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