Health & safety
Touts, vendors and rickshaw-wallahs can be pretty draining in Agra, particularly around the Taj, but it’s certainly more an annoyance than a danger – it helps to maintain a sense of humour and patience. Many hotels, tourist shops and money changers pay hefty commissions to taxi drivers and rickshaw-wallahs who bring in customers; if this happens you will pay more in order to cover their commission. When booking a hotel or guesthouse, arrange for a pick-up from the train or bus station or use the prepaid stand. Cheap or free rickshaw rides always lead to a gem or souvenir shop. Lots of ‘marble’ souvenirs are actually soapstone. Avoid hole-in-the-corner travel agents.
Don’t fall for the gem import scam that has been conning naive tourists in Agra for more than a decade. Travellers are convinced to help a shop avoid import duty by carrying gems back to their home country, where a company representative will reimburse them for their costs plus a tidy profit. The travellers are asked to make a small credit-card payment ‘as a sign of good faith’. Without exception, the gems are worthless, the representative never materialises and travellers are lumped with a credit-card bill of US$1000 or more. Keep your credit card firmly sheathed!
Tourist police (2421204; UP Tourism office, Agra Cantonment train station; 24hr) The guys in sky-blue uniforms are based at the tourism office.
District Hospital (2361099; MG Rd; 24hr)
SN Medical College (2361314; Hospital Rd; 24hr)
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