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Old 28th January 2015, 13:50   #16
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Default Re: Agra - Shopping

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The brief itinerary

Day 1 - Reach Mathura at 4:15 PM by train, Golden Temple Mail from Mumbai
Sight seeing in Mathura and Vrindavan- Krishna Janmabhoomi and Prem Mandir

Day 2 - Day trip to Bharatpur Bird Sancturary. There are a number of amazing threads on the same. Have noted the name of the guide recommended by WAG7(sic).

Day 3 - Leave for Agra after breakfast. Visit Sikandra on the way to hotel. Visit Taj Mahal in the evening. Shopping

Day 4 - Taj Mahal closed. Visit Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort. Shopping.

Day 5 - Visit Taj Mahal in the morning at 6:30 AM. Leave for Mumbai at 12:15 by Mangla Lakhswadeep.

Would appreciate your valuable comments on the itinerary.
Hi,

My comments on your itinerary.

Day 1 - Unless you're the deeply religious type who goes gaga over visiting Gaushalas, one day is enough for visiting Mathura and Vrindavan. The monkeys (trying to steal from you anything carried in plain sight) and the human monkeys (trying to steal from you money in the name of religion) give you a hard time.

Day 2 - Good idea. Bharatpur is very close to Mathura. This is the best time to go there, as the eggs have hatched, and you can see the migratory birds in plain sight with their young. The Rickshaw wallas there are trained guides. If you know someone, good enough. Or PM me and I'll send you contact of the person I usually use.

I don't think Bharatpur is worth a whole day - at best 6-7 hours. Suggest you reach the park as close to Sunrise as possible, spend half a day there, have lunch at the RTDC property (200 mtrs from the park gate) and push off to see Deeg palace (32 kms). A unique (and relatively unknown) destination. More information can be found here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deeg_Palace

Day 3 - Good itinerary. Besides shoes, shop for exquisite Marble Inlay work and Pethas (Panchhi Petha is strongly suggested) at Agra. But beware of touts, and bargain hard.

Day 4 - Do Agra fort in the morning. Have lunch at Agra. Don't plan to have lunch en route to Fatehpur Sikri - very few restaurants, unnecessarily expensive and food is not great. Keep Fatehpur Sikri for the afternoon.

Day 5 - Unless you really want to see Taj Mahal twice, I'd suggest Itmad-ud-Daulah in the morning. Its a relatively unknown monument. Some say Shah Jahan's idea of building a cenotaph of white marble (though on a much grander scale) was borrowed from Itmad-ud-Daulah.
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Old 29th January 2015, 10:46   #17
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Default Re: Agra - Shopping

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Hi,

My comments on your itinerary.

Day 1 - Unless you're the deeply religious type who goes gaga over visiting Gaushalas, one day is enough for visiting Mathura and Vrindavan. The monkeys (trying to steal from you anything carried in plain sight) and the human monkeys (trying to steal from you money in the name of religion) give you a hard time.

Day 2 - Good idea. Bharatpur is very close to Mathura. This is the best time to go there, as the eggs have hatched, and you can see the migratory birds in plain sight with their young. The Rickshaw wallas there are trained guides. If you know someone, good enough. Or PM me and I'll send you contact of the person I usually use.

I don't think Bharatpur is worth a whole day - at best 6-7 hours. Suggest you reach the park as close to Sunrise as possible, spend half a day there, have lunch at the RTDC property (200 mtrs from the park gate) and push off to see Deeg palace (32 kms). A unique (and relatively unknown) destination. More information can be found here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deeg_Palace

Day 3 - Good itinerary. Besides shoes, shop for exquisite Marble Inlay work and Pethas (Panchhi Petha is strongly suggested) at Agra. But beware of touts, and bargain hard.

Day 4 - Do Agra fort in the morning. Have lunch at Agra. Don't plan to have lunch en route to Fatehpur Sikri - very few restaurants, unnecessarily expensive and food is not great. Keep Fatehpur Sikri for the afternoon.

Day 5 - Unless you really want to see Taj Mahal twice, I'd suggest Itmad-ud-Daulah in the morning. Its a relatively unknown monument. Some say Shah Jahan's idea of building a cenotaph of white marble (though on a much grander scale) was borrowed from Itmad-ud-Daulah.
Thank you!
Will definitely include Deeg.

The idea of Fatehpur Sikri in the afternoon is interesting. Would there be adequate time to visit all the monuments? and is it advisable to travel back to Agra after sundown?

Will try and include Itmad-ud-Daulah.

Thanks again
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Old 29th January 2015, 11:12   #18
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Default Re: Agra - Shopping

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The idea of Fatehpur Sikri in the afternoon is interesting. Would there be adequate time to visit all the monuments? and is it advisable to travel back to Agra after sundown?
There would be adequate time. Fatehpur Sikri consists of 2 parts. Salim Chishti's Dargah on one side, and the old city on the other. Should be doable in 6-7 hours. Even if you are a history buff (I am).

It is absolutely safe to travel back to Agra after Sundown. Its not a desolate road if you're thinking so.
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Old 23rd February 2015, 17:45   #19
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Default Re: Just The Taj - Delhi - Agra - Delhi

At the beginning, let me thank predatorwheelz for his excellent advice on our proposed itinerary. But for his advice, we would have missed out on the exceptional palace complex of Deeg.

It is a ritual for us to plan our annual holiday calendar within a few days of receiving the holiday list for the year. Being a banker helps as our organizations are compelled by the NI Act to grant us holidays in accordance with the gazette notification, the so-called Bank Holidays. As a banker who works for a foreign bank, I get Saturdays off too. As this list is released around November in Maharashtra (around August in Delhi), we have the trips for the next year completely scheduled by mid-November the previous year.

The dates being decided, the second decision is the location. As a married man, the decision on the location has to be on the basis of mutual consultation. Agra was always on top of the list of places my wife used to recommend whenever we prepared our yearly travel plan. This year we decided to go there, even though I had visited Agra years earlier.

To make the best out of a bad situation, I looked around for locations that I could club together so that the trip would not be a complete repeat for me. As usual, I looked in the travelogues and decided that Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary/ Keoladeo National Park would be a good option. predatorwheelz recommended Deeg which I promptly added to the itinerary.

Agra has terrible connectivity by air to Mumbai with no direct flights. We decided to take a train as we had not travelled that way for a long time and the timings suited us. Bad decision. Should have taken the flight to Delhi and travelled from there.

ITINERARY
Day 1 – Reach Mathura at 4:00 PM, check-in and visit Temples
Day 2 – Early start to visit Bharatpur Bird sanctuary. After lunch, visit Deeg Palace. Visit Vrindavan temples in evening
Day 3 – Agra by train, visit Sikandra and Agra Fort
Day 4 – Fatehpur Sikri
Day 5 – Taj Mahal and return to Mumbai
This itinerary was sufficiently relaxed for my 2 year old and gave us as much time as we wanted at the monuments as we did not want to be rushed.

TRIP REPORT
Train Journey: Golden Temple Mail started sharp on time and stayed on time till Surat. Due to an OHE fault, the train was delayed for more than an hour. The delay increased along the way and we reached Mathura at 8 PM. It was then too late for any temple visit.

Day 2: We had booked an air-conditioned taxi with a local taxi guy, but he sent us a non-ac cab at 7:30 AM. I had to hire a taxi from the hotel but the driver lost his way. Finally I had to guide him using Google Maps and reached Bharatpur at 9:00 AM.
The road to Bharatpur is in great shape and the journey should not take more than 45 minutes. The sanctuary is right on the highway and is easy to spot.
This was our first time in a bird sanctuary and we loved the experience.
As you enter the sanctuary, the ticket window is to the left and the tickets are priced economically for Indians. The rickshaw guys are allocated their sequence number through lots every day. I liked the person we had been allocated and quickly took off. I did not hire a guide as I had read the rickshaw guys are good spotters.
Our guy was knowledgeable, as far as we could tell. We had seen only sparrows, crows and pigeons till that day 
We spent around 4 hours and had a good time. We missed not coming there early enough as the birds had moved away from the shoreline, however thankfully the weather was quite pleasant. We saw a number of deer, nilgais and a large number of birds including magpie robin, grey heron, egrets, and many others.
A few pics are attached.

I would recommend the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary to everyone who has even the slightest interest in nature tourism. It is clean, well-organised, and affordable and offers a chance to see something beyond the normal. I had not imagined that I would like these ‘birds’ as much as I did.

After the sanctuary, we had lunch at SunBird restaurant. Decent food but over-priced for Bharatpur. The Saras hotel (RTDC) was offering only thalis, which I was not keen on.

Post lunch, we drove on the excellent Alwar road to reach Deeg.
Continued...
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