After leaving our paradise in the Maldives, our itinerary was to fly back to Delhi, stay the night, then take an early morning train to Agra, which is in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. This is where we would see the famous Taj Mahal!
There are a couple different alternatives for getting into Agra but taking the train is dirt cheap. However, our experience at the train station turned out to be the only unpleasant encounter of our entire trip. During my preliminary research, I had read several things on TripAdvisor about a common scam that happens at the train stations. Basically, the scammers would pretend they work there, tell you that your ticket is not valid and tell you to go somewhere 20 minutes away in order to get a “real” ticket. Essentially, they want you to leave the station, miss your train, and then when you are in a complete disarray from missing your train, they offer to drive you for a ridiculous price. Although I was aware of the scam, we arrived at the station and immediately we were so overwhelmed. From navigating the huge station to the constant bombardment of people everywhere – both squatters and train riders. The chaos got the best of us and we nearly fell for it.
Really long story short, after nearly 30 minutes of commotion, we got into the cab and just as the driver was about to pull away, A looked at me and said he has a bad feeling about this. We quickly jumped off the cab, rushed through bag security again – ironically there was nobody checking our tickets this time around – and hopped on the train literally 3 minutes before it departed. We couldn’t believe that we dodged that bullet and made it to Agra…
Despite this unfortunate incident, seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time was breathtaking. It reminded me of seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. You hear about it, read about it, and talk about it but there are no words to describe your feelings when you lay eyes on it for the first time. A huge checkmark off our bucketlist! In some weird way, looking back, I think the whole fiasco added to our whole “India” experience and it makes for great storytelling! Our experience at the train station when we were leaving Agra is a whole other story for another day… I’d have to say that every traveller going to India needs to experience the train station, for better or worse! It’s like going to France and eating escargots – whether you love it or hate, you have to say you did it!
It’s no mystery that if you’re travels ever take you to this part of the world, seeing the Taj Mahal is a must in your lifetime. After all, it is now considered one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World 🙂
Every room had a view of the Taj Mahal.
We also visited the Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, described as a walled city. It is a beautiful fortress of red sandstone that encompasses the imperial city of the Mughal rulers within its 2.5 km long enclosure walls. It comprises many fairy-tale palaces and two beautiful mosques.