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Agra, Journey to the Taj Mahal: Travel Opinion and Analysis

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Agra is the place which will simply make you say “Wah Taj!” (Wow Taj!) even if you do not know the meaning of it. Situated on the bank of the river Yamuna, Agra is the former capital of Hindustan, 200 Km (124mi) South of the national capital, New Delhi. It is commonly accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodī, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate founded Agra in the year 1504. However, the city was founded much before and has its earliest reference in Mahabharat and Mahirshi Angira in 1000 BC.

How Should I Prepare My Itinerary for Agra?

If you are based in Delhi or if you are going to Agra from Delhi, then seeing the most important attractions in Agra requires only one day. The best way to travel to Agra from Delhi is by train. Almost every train from Delhi going to South passes through Agra. There are large number of morning trains that takes three to four hours to reach Agra, but if you want to save time for travelling in Agra, my advice is to book Bhopal Shatabdi Express (also same day return journey) powered by Ghaziabad WAP 5 engine that runs at 150 Km/hr. This train will take you to Agra conveniently and comfortably in just two hours. It starts from New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS) around 6 AM and reaches Agra Cantt Railway Station (AGC) around 8 AM. While returning it departs from Agra around 8:45 PM and reaches New Delhi at 10:45 PM. Beware, all the Delhi bound trains in winter from November to February are prone to be late from their scheduled time due to dense fog conditions in the region.Train is the cheapest and fastest option to reach Agra, There are also a number of daily bus and taxi hire services that you can chose from. You can easily book them from Indian Railways website irctc.com or travel websites like makemytrip.com. I recommend you to browse through makemytrip coupons and you may make your journey even cheaper.

The World Reporter in Bhopal Shatabdi Express
Bhopal Shatabdi Express (c) The World Reporter

Lots of tourists go to Agra and then return to Delhi on the same day, some also travel further to Jaipur completing the golden triangle of Indian tourism (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur).

What to do Once You Reach Agra?

As soon as you will get down at Agra Cantt. Railway Station, number of taxi drivers will surround you, usually in a group. They work for government pre-paid taxi service, but still they will insist and rush to you as if they are all individuals. I asked them the reason, “you work for government, seeing you insisting and forcing us to go with you so much looks a bit tricky”, but he replied that it is because he will also take us to the market, where he will get some commission which is his own. Hence, all the drivers insists you to chose them. This happens specially if you are non Indian, or if you are with foreigners because they are the ones who would actually buy something from those markets.

It is good if you book a taxi, it will be with you for the whole day and will bring you back to the railway station in the evening according to the time of your train. As soon as you will reach Pre-Paid taxi counter you will see list of travel packages covering many attractions. Agra is blessed with a number of historical monuments, out of which most famous ones are the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri which are also UNESCO world heritage site. What I have observed is that most of the tourists cover only Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

The first destination in your trip would be Taj Mahal, which is nearly 7 KM from the railway station. You would be entering from the West Gate which is one of the main entrance. If the queue is long, then may be you can try entering from South Gate which is less busy. Your taxi would wait for you outside and you can admire the beauty of the Taj for as long as you want.

Visiting The Taj Mahal

the world reporter at the taj mahal
Taj Mahal (c) The World Reporter

Although I lived almost for all my life in Delhi just 200 Km away from Agra, but it was only last year in November that I actually made to Taj Mahal for the first time. It is really strange for everyone and for me that one of the most visited monument in the world was unseen by me till now. I had been seeing Taj Mahal many times in videos, and photos since my childhood and I used to say, yes it is beautiful! But when I actually went there to see, I was silent for a moment and “Wah Taj!” were the only two words that came out of my mouth. It is  magnificent and is brilliantly white. I have not seen something so white before, shining in the bright sunlight.  Before I could proceed even further I saw my teammate who was holding an SLR camera with her burst into tears, it was her dream to see Taj Mahal since her childhood in Russia, although it wasn’t the first time she was seeing the Taj.

Be informed that no eatables are allowed inside. You cannot eat inside. And of course no guns and ammunition is allowed inside. If you still have got something you can get it stored in a cloak room some 100 metres away from the security checking.

Taxis and other vehicles cannot go beyond a certain point and from there you will have to walk to the entrance of Taj Mahal. Correct distance of the entrance of Taj Mahal would be mentioned on sign boards. People will approach you to take horse cart, camel cart or battery car/golf cart to the entrance, you may chose any of them. If you are not interested, the you can simply walk as it is a short track.

For Indian citizens the cost of the ticket is only ₹20 and for the foreigners it is ₹750. I heard from many of my non Indian friends about this huge discrimination and I just tell them, we pay taxes and so we deserve subsidized prices 😉 Foreigners will get a half litre water bottle and shoe covers with their ticket for free, and Indians may also buy it just for paying ₹10 extra.

Taj Mahal is surrounded by lush green gardens and artificial lakes. If you walk over to the other side of the Taj you can enjoy a beautiful view of the River Yamuna flowing via Delhi, that takes a sharp turn right where the Taj Mahal is situated.

Many guides and photographers will approach you, chose only those who have a valid Identity card if you really wish to hire a guide. The best way is to learn about Taj Mahal before visiting it, or buy a audio guide or book at the ticket counter and spend good time learning and admiring the monument. Guides do tell interesting things and can speak almost all the major languages of the world, but they are very quick as they have to approach maximum group of tourists. They will cover the entire place in just half an hour, the place which actually deserves you spending two to three hours.

Do not buy anything on the street sold by the people who will aggressively approach you, unless if you really find the things interesting and of good quality. Every thing is negotiable, you have to bargain. These sellers are so aggressive that they will force you to buy things like map, keychains, photos, etc.

If you are a woman tourist, then beware of the guys who either in groups or individuals might approach you to get their picture clicked with you, if you are not comfortable, simply say no.

As you will go out of the complex your taxi will be waiting for you and can take you to a nice restaurant or Agra Fort whichever is your priority.

Visiting Agra Fort

The World Reporter at Agra Fort
Agra Fort (c) The World Reporter

If you have been in Delhi, and have seen Red Fort, then you will find many similarities. The fort is mere one or two kilometres from Taj Mahal. Agra fort  is very big and looks really strong. Its structure and architecture give the sense of the strength of the then Mughal Empire. The Fort was continuously built by many Mughal kings. Out of which work by Shah Jahan is the most prominent due to his fondness with white Marble. All his work is done with white marble, which is easily recognizable in a fort mainly built with red sandstone.

Guides are more aggressive here, and will tell you that it is worthless coming here if you don’t hire them, as it is a complex fort built with medieval military strategies. Hiring a guide is completely a tourist’s own decision. You might be able to learn interesting things, but if you wish to explore yourself it would also be great. Agra fort has some great picture taking points, one of which is just along the river and you can see only the river and trees between you and the beautiful Taj Mahal.

Keep your Taj Mahal tickets safe. If you have them, you can get a price cut of ₹50 in the ticket for Agra Fort. For Indians it is the same for ₹20 and for foreigners who have ticket of Taj Mahal it will cost  ₹250.

If you are in Agra only for one day, then a trip to another UNESCO World heritage site, Fatehpur Sikri may become really tight, as it is built in the outskirts of the city of Agra nearly 40 Km away. Most of the tourists who come here spend the rest of their time in shopping and eating. I would really encourage you to also visit Fatehpur Sikri, if you have no scheduled train or bus in the night or if you are in Agra for more than a day.

Exploring The Markets in Agra

Taxi drivers will take you to some fixed shops and restaurants where they take almost every tourist who come with them and earn good commission. Restaurants are generally multi cuisine, have good ambiance  and slightly costlier than others. Food is normal. If you have a request of going to a particular restaurant they will take you there as well, but still they might insist you to go to the one where they are offering. 

One of the shops where they will take you will be a marble workshop where same kind of work is done as  it is on Taj Mahal, people in the workshop may also teach you how they work and then will take you to their store where you can buy their items. Other places where you will be taken are semi precious and precious stones shops and shops where you can buy shawls and other Indian clothing and jewellery. All the shopkeepers or traders here will force you to see, but will not force you to buy, It is your decision.

Almost all the traders, shopkeepers, guides and even street sellers know many European and Asian languages, specially Russian. If you are Russian you will not face any language problem at all. However it is also the trick used by the sellers to lure you by talking in your language and then force you to buy. 

Agra is an important and must destination for almost every tourist who visits India. You would have seen the Taj many times on TV and books like me, but it really deserves a visit from you. Then only you will be able to do the justice to the monument and the admiration which it deserves. It will only take one day from you, but will leave an imprint on your soul for the rest of your life making you realize the preciousness of love. If it doesn’t bring the smile on your face or tears of joy in your eyes, let me know! 

Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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What Malaysia Airlines’ First Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Surabaya Means for the City

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Just two days ago, Malaysia Airlines commandeered their first flight from Malaysia’s national capital and largest city, Kuala Lumpur, to Surabaya, a port city on the Indonesian island of Java. This inaugural flight has caused a stir, and the event was celebrated with a welcome and send off event at Juanda International Airport. Guests included Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim (the Malaysian Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia), Arved von zur Muehlen (Malaysian Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer) and several Indonesian local government officers. To add an extra special touch, guests on the flight were treated to a performance from dancers supplied by Tourism Indonesia and a whole range of other in-flight extras. So, what does this new airline connection mean for the country of Indonesia and its inhabitants? Stay with us as we explore the potential benefits for the region.

Potential Increases in Property Value

Improved and expanded transport links are massively beneficial for near enough any given location’s property market value. Think about it: when you’re searching for a home, you look for properties that have all of the necessary amenities nearby, or properties in areas with the necessary transport links required to get from your home to wherever you may need to be. Properties within walking distance of public transport links tend to be favoured. This demand transfers into increased interest in properties that fully cater to the market’s desires and the price of suitable properties increase dramatically. Now think about how beneficial the addition of an international airport that consistently works towards opening new flight paths may be to various individuals. Perhaps a potential tenant or buyer does business with partners in Surabaya. Properties in Kuala Lumpur will now look a lot more appealing to them, as they will be able to get to where they need to be with the least hassle possible. Perfect! So, if you’re planning on moving to Kuala Lumpur or investing in property in the city, it’s better to take action sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you may get to the marketplace a little late and find that the best properties have been snapped up, or prices have skyrocketed. So start viewing apartments for rent and sale now!

Increased Tourism

Surabaya has been known for its brilliant potential as a holiday destination for some time now. However, transfer flights and consequent longer travel times put many individuals from Kuala Lumpur off the area. However, this new flight path could massively boost the number of the city’s inhabitants who choose to holiday on the Indonesian island. With the commencement of regular flights between the two destinations, travel companies are likely to start setting up deals for package holidays to simplify the process and make a trip to Surabaya seem just what the tired city folk of Kuala Lumpur could do with. At the same time, many dwellers of Surabaya may well opt to visit Kuala Lumpur too! After all, these things work both ways. A holiday is generally best when you experience a change of culture and atmosphere, and the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur could prove to be an energising break for those habituated to island life. Both places can expect to see a dramatic increase in local income and the state of their economies through the tourism industry alone.

Improved Business Relations

Better and more open routes of transport allow for an improvement in business relations between two countries and cities within them. While many goods can easily be shipped overseas on, well, a ship, remember that planes don’t merely transport passengers. Many can also carry cargo for trade or sale. Planes are a much faster and more convenient option when it comes to getting items from A to B as quickly as possible. Especially considering the fact that we live in a more impatient consumer market than ever before. Many buyers expect the option of receiving purchased goods the next working day following the placement of their order. The increased ease that goods can be passed quickly between Kuala Lumpur and Surabaya will hopefully improve the working relationship between the two places to the equal benefit of both.

As you can see, the introduction of flights between Kuala Lumpur and Surabaya four times a week holds a lot of potential for Kuala Lumpur as a major city. Hopefully, the creation of this flight path will see an increase in the value of properties in the area, an increase in tourism, and better business relations. It’s all up from here on out!

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A comprehensive guide for visitors to Sunderbans

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West Bengal’s most famous landmark is undoubtedly the Sunderbans, which is located at the South Eastern tip of the 24 Parganas. It is a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers of Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna. Of the entire delta, 4,262 sq kilometres of the Sunderbans is situated in India, while another larger portion is a part of Bangladesh. 2,585 sq kilometres of the Indian side of the Sunderbans is dedicated to India’s largest tiger reserve, the Sunderbans National Park.

How to Reach

Sunderbans is well-connected to Kolkata by an excellent transport network of road, rail, air and waterways. Hence one can rent a car in Kolkata and undertake a short two-hour journey (100 kilometres) to reach this amazing National Park and Tiger reserve. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience and visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an amazing adventure for the entire family to embark on.

The nearest airport to reach Sunderbans is Netaji Subhash International Airport, Kolkata that is about 112 kilometres away. For those who love the rail, Canning is the nearest railway station from Sunderbans National Park (about 48 kilometres). The adventurous ones can opt for motorboats which can be hired from Sagar Island, Namkhana, Raidighi and Sonakhali.

What can you see in Sunderbans?

The most famous and popular inhabitant of the Sunderbans is the Tiger and there are over 100 of these magnificent cats roaming the dense forests of this delta and even swimming through the network of channels and mangroves. It is an exciting adventure as you cruise through the world’s largest mangrove sanctuary and its waterways, all the while relishing the breath-taking sights. You can use one of the reliable outstation taxi services in Kolkata that will transport you to the Sunderbans quickly and safely.

The delta is also home to reptiles like the Estuarine Crocodile, the Olive Ridley Turtle and the Monitor Lizard too, all of whom are a part of a conservation program to safeguard their population. Keep an eye out for the playful dolphins, the saltwater crocodiles, the water monitor and kingfishers when you ride out on this expansive water body. The Sunderbans was once home to leopards, rhinoceros, swamp deer and water buffalo, which have turned extinct over the past few decades. Those wishing to travel with the extended family can book an Innova taxi in Kolkata for a hassle-free journey.

When to visit

If you can endure the heat, then the months of March and April are perfect to visit the Sunderbans for increased chances of spotting the Royal Bengal Tiger. November to February is a relatively cool period and is preferred by tourists too. Remember that during winter, the park closes earlier since the days are shorter, while during summer, you can stay in the park for a longer time. A large population of migratory birds also visit this place during summer and this gives you an opportunity to spot them. Travelling from Kolkata for a short trip? It is now easy to book cabs in Kolkata and enjoy this amazing adventure with family and friends.

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Live a fantastic experience in Perú with the best organized trips

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Perú is a country with much charm and a lot of history to reveal to the world, so If you are planning to book an organized trip, this can be one of the most interesting destinations, full of cultural and fun experiences at your disposal.

Enjoying tourism in Perú is a good way to have a lot of entertainment and fun activities at your disposal, with which to experience new sensations and spend an unforgettable time away. Without doubt it is a fantastic way to increase our culture while we have fun, which makes it an especially suitable experience for the whole family. So let’s go to analyze some of the most interesting possibilities to consider when we are organizing a trip to Perú.

Firstly we encourage you to enjoy the fantastic excursions along the Inca trail, neither more nor less than the popular Inca trail Tours, an amazing experience with which we will be able to enjoy the wild nature around, the history of many tours and the meaning it had at the time. And finally, we can live and understand in the present, events and situations that happened in the past.

The most important thing about this journeys is that we can enjoy and learn more about the history of the country, and there is no better way of doing this than living the experience and the best lessons through the Ina Trail Tours, a way to ensure that the whole trip will go to the perfection, so we just have to organize it in advance and be ready to spend a few fantastic days and satisfy all our expectations.

Get to know the secrets of the Machu Picchu

And when we talk about Perú, we must not forget the incredible Machu Picchu, and old town prior to the XV century located in the Mount with the same name, having at our disposal some of the most amazing and unforgettable views that nature can offer.

There are doubts about the true nature of this construction, as some consider that in fact it was a palace, while others think that its purpose was to be a sanctuary of that times, and there exist other options as it was build as a citadel or even a fortress.

Regardless, it is a good idea to travel to the place not only to listen to the different theories about it, but also to understand the dimension and wonder of being in such an impressive environment, full of the wisdom of this ancient culture that revels some mysteries of an impressive civilization.

We must remember that Machu Picchu is within the list of the Unesco, as it was declared World Heritage in 1983. This is why this trip became indispensable and today you can book your trip through Machu Picchu Tickets, that will allow you to enjoy a very enriching experience in every way.

The Rainbow Mountains of Perú

As a third alternative for your trip, which in fact is not incompatible with the other two options as long as you have enough time, is to visit the Rainbow Mountain Peru, a succession of mountains of diferent colours that create speechless sensations.

Without a doubt, a very original and special destination to be part of the dimension of something bigger than us: the nature and its ability to surprise us with creations that escape to our imagination and ability to understand the world from a very magical perception.

So as you know, all you have to do is pick a date and book in advance the upcoming experiences to live in Perú, one of the most beautiful and charming destinations you will find.

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