Dangers & Annoyances
Staying Ahead of the Scams
As well as the usual commission rackets and ever-present gem-import scam, some specific methods to relieve Agra tourists of their hard-earned cash include the following.
When taking an auto- or cycle-rickshaw to the Taj, make sure you are clear which gate you want to go to when negotiating the price. Otherwise, almost without fail, riders will take you to the roundabout at the south end of Shahjahan Gardens Rd – where expensive tongas (horse-drawn carriage) or camels wait to take tour groups to the west gate – and claim that’s where they thought you meant. Only nonpolluting autos can go within a 500m radius of the Taj because of pollution rules, but they can get a lot closer than this.
Lots of ‘marble’ souvenirs are actually alabaster, or even just soapstone. So you may be paying marble prices for lower-quality stones. The mini Taj Mahals are always alabaster because they are too intricate to carve quickly in marble.
Bus from Fatehpur Sikri
Take no notice of anyone who gets on the Fatehpur Sikri–Agra bus before the final stop at Idgah Bus Stand and tells you that you have arrived at the city centre or the Taj Mahal. You haven’t. You’re still a long autorickshaw ride away, and the man trying to tease you off the bus is – surprise surprise – an autorickshaw driver.
India Post Agra's historic GPO (General Post Office) dates to 1913 and includes a handy ‘facilitation office’ for foreigners.
India Tourism Helpful branch; has brochures on local and India-wide attractions.
UP Tourism The friendly train-station branch inside the Tourist Facilitation Centre on Platform 1 offers helpful advice and is where you can book day-long bus tours of Agra. This branch doubles as the Tourist Police.
UP Tourism Office on Taj Rd.
Bagpacker Travel An honest agency for all your travel and transport needs, including commission-free train and bus tickets, Agra day tours and multiday trips, run by the friendly Anil at Tourists Rest House. English and French spoken.