Great 2-day Agra tour!
Private Over Night Taj Sunrise and Sunset From New Delhi with Fatehpur Sikri | Mar 2020
A solo on a business trip with an unusual spare couple of days so booked this tour at very short notice. There was little time for confirmation with the tour company but nonetheless, Deepak (driver) was right on time for the pick-up and journey to Agra. I chose a 9.30 am start which worked well as the drive is 3-5 hours and you arrive in Agra with enough time for the day 1 itinerary without any rush.
It was a pleasure to meet Akash (he rides a Royal Enfield, so a top man in my book!) outside the intended tour hotel. I actually opted to book an alternative hotel which was my own decision (250+ hotel nights per year makes me a little fussy), but to be fair the tour hotel looked perfectly acceptable. I then took lunch at a suggested restaurant (Pinch of Spice). Definitely for the tourist so a little more costly but the food was very good a plentiful.
After lunch, we were joined by Rajesh, my guide for the monuments and onto Agra Fort. Rajesh quickly established himself as very knowledgeable answering my unending questions without hesitation.
The Fort is impressive, so don't rush it! Then onto Mehtab Bagh, one of the restored Mughal gardens with its excellent view of the Taj Mahal from across the river. These are lovely formal gardens and would have been a fabulous spot for the sunset, if not for the total cloud cover and a little rain which sadly prevented this on my visit.
Day 2 was a very early start (5.30 am) for the short drive to the Taj Mahal and the hoped-for sunrise. Even arriving that early there were plenty of people around, so the 'skip the line' ticket (part of the package) worked well! Be prepared for a little madness through the entrance and some mild hysteria as people rush to get their, perhaps crowd-free, pic's. After a brisk walk (about 800 metres) I was guided to a perfect spot for my photo's as the sun came up! Unfortunately not the most spectacular sunrise (due to much overnight rain and consequent humidity) but there was some brief sunrise colour in the monument and so worth the early start. The sunset and sunrise part will always be a hit and miss affair, but going early may mean missing the worst of the crowds.
A mistake on my part was to agree, albeit half-heartedly, to a "professional" photographer. I did say perhaps a photo or two but this ended up being some 25-30 shots with me being asked to pose at various spots. I went along with this to a point but, without my partner being there, this had no value for me and ended with the photographer going off disgruntled when I rejected the 3000INR 'photo package'. For some, this is probably a great service, but if you don't want it be specific and save the time and awkwardness.
Rajesh's knowledge of the Taj Mahal shone through as he walked me around the monument. He explained the history in good detail and again answered my many questions with ease. He gave me plenty of time to take my photos too, so is exactly what I needed in a tour guide.
The next stop was Itmad-ud-Daula (or Baby Taj), another exquisite Mughal mausoleum and garden on the banks of the Yamuna River. This was an especially pleasant visit as with it still being early, no one was there!
For some reason, that I may have missed, we didn't go to Fatehpur Sikri as advertised. I only realised this as I sat down to write this review, so not sure what happened here. As stated, I may have missed something but I don't remember it being mentioned.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and would recommend Akash and his team. Rajesh was a great guide and made every effort to ensure I was getting what I needed from the tour. As is common, the tour included the suggestion of several shopping opportunities. I listened (as they did sound interesting) but never felt pressured to accept these; saying no once (or maybe twice) was enough.
Lastly, for the journey from/to my Delhi Airport hotel, Deepak was a great driver and again regularly asked if I had everything I needed (rest stops, water, food, etc.). I would say that the traffic in and around the cities can be chaotic and may be unnerving for the faint-hearted! There is also a common use of mobile phones whilst driving in India. However, I never felt unsafe and it all relaxes for a large part of the journey on the Yamuna Expressway.
Great job guys and keep up the good work 👍...Read more