Friday, August 12, 2005

Avoid Agra!

So the Taj Mahal is well worth the visit - it is much more detailed and impressive close up than the bleached white images you see of it. Agra Fort is nice. But staying in Agra is such a hassle that you just want to leave. One of the nicer cycle rickshaw drivers followed me and the children walking for one and a half hours, trying to drum up business, all the way from the hotel and back to the hotel door. He was one of the less aggressive people trying to sell you something, if a little more persistent. This was worst on Friday when the Taj Mahal is closed and so there are few tourists around. The sellers get pretty desperate then.We stayed in the lovely Hotel Sheela, a few yards from the Taj Mahal west gate, another hotel with a peaceful garden.
Taj Ganj, the area just in front of the Taj Mahal, is almost as run down as Paharganj in Delhi, but not quite. It is where apparently a few years ago some of the restaurant owners decided to poison their guests, rush them to a local clinic and in collaboration charge thousands of dollars against the tourists' medical insurance. Get rich quick. None of the clinics or restaurants involved have closed apparently. So we felt very comfortable eating there. They do like to boast of the great views of the Taj Mahal eating in their rooftop garden terrace.



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