The magnificent Taj Mahal, historic Agra Fort and today’s crowded market streets make Agra unforgettable.
The Taj Mahal, recognized symbol of India, is universally admired as the ultimate tribute to ‘love eternal’. The video presentation on this page takes a closer look at its magnificent craftsmanship and then manoeuvres through the crowded avenues and market streets of Agra in an auto rickshaw and on foot; visits Agra Fort, which was a mighty stronghold of the Mughal rulers and contained within its 2.5 km of red walls several luxurious palaces. Today both the Taj Mahal and the Fort are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
White Inn Hotel
Address: 21, Taj Nagari, Shilpgram, Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Chanderi, Panchkuian, Rakabganj, Agra, UP 282001, India
Phone: +91 94 57 400101
Travelin’Ted review for Trip Advisor
“GOOD LOCATION BUT LITTLE ELSE”
We are experienced non-fussy travelers and hopefully have been fair with each of our TripAdvisor reviews and feel the critique following is just.
We arrived earlier than the normal check-in time and asked if our luggage might be left with them so we could begin our exploration of Agra. They asked us to wait saying our rooms were ready and just needed to be checked. To pass the time we asked for the wifi code … this was the beginning question to a pattern of dialogue which would plague our time at White Inn … starting with “yes we have wifi, you have entered the code wrong”; “It is down right now; will be okay in one hour”; “Wifi doesn’t work today because it is a holy day but you can use your computer to get on the internet” … and other nonsensical variations in-between.
First appearances in the minimalist, modern marble reception area were deceiving. Their rooms (201 and 202) were unkept and unclean. We had to ask for towels (there was only one on the bed in room 201) which responded in a flurry of action from staff; but no towels were forthcoming until a second request. Room 202 received only one towel for two people. They brought soap and shampoo separately. (Note: what we thought was shampoo turned out to be a black hair treatment.) In room 201, they said there could be hot water from the individual hot water tank suspended above the bathtub after ten minutes of turning it on. “Very hot” he said with actions showing it would be too hot to handle. After three requests to have it fixed and more flurry of actions, we took cold showers. To their credit there was one small roll of toilet paper and the bed sheet (only a bottom) appeared to be clean as did the pillow cases.
Room 201 at the top of the stairs had one large window which looked out to the hallway with curtains not wide enough to secure complete privacy. The marble halls and stairway acted like a megaphone for the late night conversations and early morning activities in the lobby.
Breakfast on the unattractive rooftop was included in the price we paid but the black tea was undrinkable from a dirty cup; a knife left a dirty streak when wiped with a napkin; they said they had menu items and then after everyone else was served (there were 3 men in the kitchen with only 4 guests on the rooftop) and the request restated they said they did not have it (but had not come to tell us nor offer something different). The promised poached eggs (which they said they could make after each of the three reminders) were finally delivered after everyone else was ready to leave and ended up as two soft boiled eggs alone on a saucer without a knife or fork. That’s the way it was and we laughed through the experience, thankful we had only booked for one night.
If you don’t think you could manage to laugh off unclean facilities and ill service, then don’t include breakfast with your reservation (I wouldn’t again!). If you don’t want to deal with the blatant lies nor rudeness of staff, then we recommend you go elsewhere.
On a positive note – a very short walk from the hotel there is a Taj Mahal ticket office with complimentary shuttle service to the East Gate. Most convenient.
Because of its location and the building, this property has potential, however, under current management and staff it is sorely lacking in anything else to recommend.
PS: The lateness in posting this review was due to a different issue than those listed above; it was caused by a lack of communication and has since been resolved to the satisfaction of both hotel and guest.
SIGHTSEEING IN AGRA
Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah (aka ‘Baby Taj’) … there are other sites mentioned in guidebooks but take some time to spend walking the streets of Taj Ganj near the Taj Mahal’s South Gate.
FOOD & DRINK IN AGRA
To the palate of many Westerners, the highly flavourful, spiciness of Indian cuisine can be unagreeable. But even for those who prefer a blander diet, India is still doable.
India’s population has the lowest individual consumption of meat in the world and animal based ingredients, other than milk products and honey, are seldom used in traditional dishes. Ghee (clarified butter) is the traditional cooking medium. For the traveller who wants their animal protein most restaurants have meat options unless they advertise themselves as vegetarian. Most popular meats are chicken, lamb and goat as religious practices forbid beef products to Hindus and pork to Muslims. Finding truly fresh fish in Northern India may be challenging. In place of animal protein most of India turns to dhal (curried lentils or pulses). Yogurt and other dairy products also play a big part in providing protein.
If a steady diet of Indian spices and dhal are not appealing the traveller will find, on most menus, an oriental style noodle dish with influences from Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.
In Northern India, flat bread and rice are the staple starches. Bread, more commonly referred to as roti and chapati (the latter being a thinner unleavened, whole-wheat version) is often used as a vehicle to get food, such as dhal, from plate to mouth.
Vegetables are plentiful and inexpensive. Other than in American style hotels, salads are a rarity and the savvy traveller would be best to avoid anything which is not cooked or, in the case of fruit, peeled.
Vegetable pakoras are a popular finger food in India and can be ordered spicy or non-spicy. Made from chickpea flour and a variety of vegetables, then deep fried, pakoras are a tasty option for the non-spicy traveller and can be accompanied by yogurt or sweet & sour sauce for dipping.
For some excellent recommendations on restaurants consult a Lonely Planet guidebook – money well spent.
It is advisable for travellers in India to consume only bottled water. A nice change, when available, is bottled carbonated water. Buying water in large two litre bottles from a small vendor is usually the least expensive. With the proprietor watching, check the cap to ensure it is sealed.
Chai (tea) is a much consumed beverage often accompanied by heaps of sugar and generous pours of milk. Although tea is by far the most popular drink, coffee is gaining in acceptance.
Street stands offering fresh squeezed juices can seem tempting however lax hygiene practices – reusing cups which have been sloshed through a basin of tepid water – can ruin a vacation.
Lassi is a traditional drink of blended yogurt and water available ‘savory’ or ‘sweet’. The savory contains spices such as ground roasted cumin, whereas, sweet is made with sugar, honey or fruit. Sweet lemon, a variety of citrus, tastes more like orange to Western taste buds than lemon.
GETTING AROUND AGRA
Train travel is a great way to experience India. Day travel will allow you to see the countryside as it whizzes (sometime plods) by. Night travel can get you to where you are going and provide an inexpensive place to sleep. If you have limited time in India it may be best to make reservations prior to leaving your home country.
Lonely Planet India
Note: There are very convincing scam artists at railway station entrances ready to ‘help‘ you by telling you the ticket office for foreigners has changed locations, after which they put you in a rickshaw and then hop in for the ride to their ‘travel office’ some distance away. The real foreign office was exactly where it should be, inside the railway station.
The motorized auto-rickshaw provides an exhilarating experience and offers a wonderful way to get around a city while affording some protection from the elements. The driver is supposed to use a meter but generally a bartering exchange is carried out before you get in … if the price is not agreed to BEFORE the cost at the end of the ride could be substantial. We were often able to squeeze four people and four backpacks into an auto-rickshaw.
Bicycle-rickshaws offer a slower paced view of a city and are good for short distances. They have limited protection from poor weather. The pedal-drivers work hard for their money.
Taxis are best for longer distances, wet weather conditions or for transporting over-luggaged tourists. Like the auto-rickshaws, taxis have meters which are seldom used. Before getting in, or putting luggage in the trunk, agree on the total cost to get to your destination.
Insisting on hiring another cab or rickshaw usually either “fixes” the meter or lowers the price. If your hotel offers to make transportation arrangements for you, it may be cheaper to decline and walk out to the street and flag down a rickshaw or taxi.
If you like your driver you can make arrangement to have him pick you up at another time and/or place; most often they will be there, particularly if you paid them fairly or tipped above the agreed price. For sightseeing you can arrange to be taken from place to place for the day at an agreed price payable at the conclusion of the day’s travels. Drivers may also be a good source of information as to where to go and what to see.