We came back from Taj Mahal around 9.30 and thought of having breakfast. There are many restaurants and cafes located in between small hotels here but it was still hard to choose. All places are quiet. We passed by this Taj Cafe that claims itself to have been recommended by Lonely Planet Book, but were not really impressed. They definitely think that by claiming it out loud that it was featured in Lonely Planet, it would attract more customers.. but we can see that it’s being overused here. In that street there are a number of restaurants displaying the same in their signboards too. On the other hands, I cannot remember our favorite Mughal Darbar restaurant in Srinagar displays something telling that they’re featured in Lonely Planet (despite they really are). Perhaps in Agra especially in this area, all restaurants look almost the same, old, small buildings and not attractive at all, so you have to verbally tell people that you’re special in order to stand out from the rest. And they dont need to know if you’re telling the truth or otherwise :P
We went to the Taj around 6.30am, and we’re just on time when the ticket counter was just opened. No long queue yet, so after we got the ticket, we entered to this India’s most visited place. Okay, first photo is no surprise, with loads of tourists.
Jabbar told us about this restaurant, he said many of restaurants in here are actually not serving Halal food so we have to be aware of that. So he brought us to this restaurant, which was rather decent, I guess it’s a hotel restaurant and its rooftop has a good view of Taj Mahal from afar.
How to get there: Go to Agra bus station, and you will find a bus going to Fatehpur Sikri (Rs.30). It takes 1.5 hour though. For faster way, you can take a shared sumo taxi. Way back: Shared Tata Sumo taxi Rs.30, auto-rickshaw to hotel Rs.80
Everyone coming to Agra would not miss going to Fatehpur Sikri, for it being a relatively historical monument as Taj Mahal and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it’s located a bit far away from Agra, people do come to here to see such huge structure built in the era without modern machinery. The bus going to Faterpur is regular town bus. So when we were going, the bus was full of locals, leaving us with another Danish guy to be the only foreigners on board. We chatted with the Danish guy, he was traveling alone and just entered India from Nepal.
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