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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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Most Effective Tips For Booking Cheaper Flights

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aircraft flight travel packing

When you plan your trip, one of the major expenses tend to be the airfare as it is hard to avail last minute cheap flights. In other words, airfare has a detrimental impact on selecting the destination where you wish to go as you have to cut down your expenditure somewhere. So that you do not have to change your travel destination to avail of an affordable flight we are here with some Most Effective Tips For Booking Cheaper Flights. These are as follows:

1. Try to book early

Just like an early worm catches the bird, similarly to avail Emirates Airlines Booking at a cheap rate it is necessary that you book the flight as soon as you have decided to leave. 3 weeks prior to departure, the price of the flight tends to jump by leaps and bound. If you are able to book your tickets between 3 months to 30 days prior to the departure, you are sure to get the best deals on flight tickets. Another advantage of doing so is that you get to book the seat of your choice

2. Don’t be adamant about travel dates

airport waiting

One of the best ways to ensure savings on ticket booking is by being flexible. Here, by flexibility, we imply that you need to have travel plans that can be set as per the availability of cheap tickets. If you fly mid-week or on days when people usually avoid traveling, like Christmas, you tend to get airplane tickets at a very cheap price. You can surely not be flexible to the place you are traveling to or the airport you are opting for but you can surely be flexible as far as the traveling dates are concerned.

3. Opt for a connecting flight

connecting flight

Another way of saving on your airplane ticket is by booking a connecting flight. The non-stop flight is known to be comfortable but very expensive as compared to their counterpart. However, this is only possible if you are not in a hurry to reach the destination but this way you can really save a lot of money on air tickets.

4. Take help of price alerts

It is not necessary that you have to book the flight today for the travel that you ought to make after 4 months to avail of a better deal. Instead, you can opt for setting the alerts for the price change and price drop. If you witness that prices are fluctuating then you can wait for the moment when the price drop to the best but if these are witnessed going upwards you should book instantly before letting it reach the peak.

All in all, these are the Most Effective Tips For Booking Cheaper Flights. By availing the best deals on airfare, you end up saving a lot that can then be utilized in planning the trip in a better and more lavish way. so, next time you book a flight be sure to keep these tips in mind.

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What You Don’t Know About Broadway

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New York is famous all over the world for Broadway and the West End, but there’s a lot that you probably don’t know about the area. 

Most people, for instance, are stunned to find out just how many theatres there are. At the last count, there were nearly fifty along Broadway and off Times Square, with the number steadily rising over the decades to accommodate the new global audience. 

Phantom of the Opera is the currently title-holder for the longest-running West End show. It started in 1988 and is still going today, more than thirty years later. Chicago is the second-longest-running show. 

The West End is also much more popular among women than it is men. Estimates suggest that 66 percent of the audience is female at most shows. 

Finding a show that you actually want to see on Broadway, however, can be a challenge. What makes a great theatre experience for one person might not for another. 

Fortunately, we’re offering some help. Below, you’ll find a helpful decision tree that can guide you to the type of show that you’ll like the most based on your answers to a series of questions. You’ll end up in one of five categories of musical, each designed to fit your personality and experience of the West End. Try it for yourself now. 


Get Broadway Tickets

So what did you think? Which type of Broadway-goer are you? Somebody who lives to love it up with a romantic production, or a person who just wants something that makes you feel good? 

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6 Things To Do In Dubai With Kids

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Dubai is one of the favourite tourist destinations owing to the fact that it has in store something or the other for all and sundry. It is well supplies with entertainment and attractions. Every year a lot of visitors from all across the globe come to visit this beautiful and charming city. Some come as couple and other with their friends but there are few who also get their kids along. There are a plenty of things to be done with family, friends and kids. Here we are going to share with you the 6 Things To Do In Dubai With Kids.

6 Things To Do In Dubai With Kids

Though when it comes to an adult, we do not give a second thought to agreeing doing an activity that we have heard of but this cannot be the case when we are with kids. You ought to carefully tailor your trip so that you can have fun yourself and let you children also enjoy without posing any risk to them. The list of things to see and do in Dubai is endless, so here we are going to restrict ourselves with the popular activities for kids in Dubai.

1. Dinner Cruise Dubai Marina

If you are in Dubai with your kids then instead of exposing them to the play areas and other things immediately, it is better to take them out for a cruise dinner that is surely going to be a dazzling start from them. Kids and aged alike are fond of the cruise dinners and if it has to be one like Dubai Marina then you need not give it a second thought. Your kids are sure to enjoy the mouth-watering dishes belonging to different cuisines at Dinner Cruise Dubai Marina and a variety of soft drinks served on board. There are also the live performances to charm your children though they will be able to enjoy it a little more if they are 12 years or above.

2. Motiongate Dubai

To the major places of attractions in Dubai there has been a recent addition and it is Motiongate. Opened back in 2016, it claims to be in the list of one of the largest themed entertainment parks across the region. It also comprises of the three largest as well as the most prolific Hollywood studios including Dreamworks, Lionsgate, and Columbia Pictures. It is popular for bringing to life the most loved animated stories as well as characters. You get to be the part of the golden age of filmmaking as you get to actually go behind the scenes to get the real life experience of the movie sets in addition to exploring the inner workings of the production studio. At the end you can also witness the live action stage show that is based on movies like the The Hunger Games or Step Up.

3. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Unlike the other aquariums around the world, this one is unique as it is a home to the largest acrylic sheet of the world showing off the sharks along with fish and sting rays. You simply need to walk around the pedestrian tube and you get an opportunity to go extremely close to the marine life. Exactly above the aquarium there is an Underwater Zoo which is another mesmerizing activity to do. Here you get to witness the painting otters that are trained along with the interesting insects as well as playful penguins. Do make visiting tis aquarium and zoo a priority to do item in your list and witness it doing miracle to the happiness of your child.

4. KidZania

If you have a kid accompany you to Dubai then there is one thing that you must not forget to do. It is paying a visit to KidZania. KidZania is basically a play club that is located in Dubai Mall. To children who are above 4 to children less than 16, this place offers them a safety to explore all the play dreams that they have ever had. While some can go in for exploring the role-playing activities mimicking the real-world counterparts, there are a myriad of other interesting things also to do for kids.

5. Dubai Fountains

Children are naturally inclined towards finding the fountains mesmerizing and if it has to be the one that is the tallest then you cannot even imagine the happiness that it gets to your kid. Dubai Fountain Show is based over the enormous crystal clear man-made lake in the tallest building of the world. These fountain shows take place every half hour for around ten minutes in the evening. There are two shows that take place during the day. These are very beautiful and stunning to look at and are sure to make your kid surprised and give him an experience that he will cherish his entire life.

6. Waterpark

If it Dubai, the vacation of your kid cannot be counted complete unless and until he has not witnessed the waterpark of the city. There can be nothing more soothing on a sunny day than a visit to the waterpark, primarily if you are in Dubai. This waterpark that we are talking about finds a decent location at the tip of the colossal man-made island, termed as The Palm. The waterpark is known to feature a number of heart-pumping slides that also includes The Leap of Faith, implying a 9-storey drop and Shark Attack.

7. Sega Republic

In other parts of the world you are more familiar with the term Time zone, that here in Dubai is popular as Sega Republic. Here, you get to explore the two floors of the theme park rides in addition to the endless rows of the arcade games. There is also an enormous indoor playground  to be found here that is entirely supervised so that the adults can drop off their kids free of care to compete in the round of the head-to-head car simulator racing.

All in all, these are the Things To Do In Dubai With Kids. These activities are surely going to keep your kids engaged without compromising on their safety. Meanwhile you can enjoy strolling around the place.

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