Basic double room with bathroom: Rs. 400 (pick-up is free!)
Sai Palace Hotel, Agra
So our CouchSurfing host Mr Jai said he could not host us for first 2 nights as it was holiday, and suggested us this budget hotel nearby Taj Mahal instead. The price was perfect, we didnt need any star hotel whatsoever when all we wanted to go out walking all day and only need a place to sleep at night. Only at night.
The owner Rajiv sounds a funny man when we texted him for booking. Yes, we did the booking only by SMS on our way from Jammu, but stranded one day because of the tout incident in Delhi, and had to cancel the first night booking. After continuing our way to Agra again, luckily he wasn’t mad at us and accepted our booking.
Arriving Agra Cant train station, when we were walking out, there was a man holding a paper written ILYANI and while we thought of him as a hotel representative, which is true also, but he was in fact an auto-rickshaw driver. His name is Jabbar and he has a bit scary face whom we think we can find resemble in one of Indian movies.. but anyway, he talked alot from the very first minute meeting him. He offered to bring us Agra city-sightseeing with his rickshaw, which he called his ‘helicopter’ :P
We said we could go to Taj Mahal by ourselves and dont need any guide and we knew that our hotel is walkable to Taj and we dont need to take rickshaw. And we’ll go to Fatehpur Sikri by bus (it was far and we’re too cheap for taxi while auto-rickshaw seems impossible for that)
Rs. 400 is reasonable and cheap and enough, although the room is very basic and nothing fancy, in a rather old building full with Buddhist artistic pictures, but I can say it’s clean in their standards. Bathroom is not with hot water as far as I can remember but unike Kashmir, Agra is as hot as Malaysia (even hotter at times) so you will have no problem with no hot water.
Since we overnight here for one night only, but next day we need to check-out BUT at the same time utilize our day for Taj Mahal and others, we are allowed to check-out in the morning (10am) and leave our luggage at their luggage room for free until evening! It’s a bonus. And yes, Sai Palace Hotel is located only 10-15 minutes walk to South Gate of Taj Mahal, which we’re visiting tomorrow morning. But in the meantime, we’ll go and have lunch first and go to bus station for Fatehpur Sikri.
There are many hotels cramped in this small area surrounding the Taj Mahal, and you can imagine everyone is concentrating in the place nearest possible to the Taj. So around here you’ll see nothing but hotels, restaurants, cafes, internet cafes, anything they can take part in the tourism business.
We stopped by a restaurant that has an upper floor, and ordered some food (Rs.290). I forgot to take the pics of the food as well as the restaurant name but it’s okay because the food is terrible and not worth mentioning here :P