On our recent trip to Delhi, we decided to visit Agra, and we had a few optionsto travel the 250-odd kms between the capital of India and the home of the Taj Mahal.
Luke had taken this road trip on the newly-built Yamuna Expressway just a few years back so we initially contemplated taking a train ride to Agra, which also takes approximately the same amount of time (4 hours).
After mulling over the pros and cons of each, we eventually decided to go ahead with a road trip – the deciding factor being we would have the convenience and comfort of getting around Agra in our own car.
Personally, I’m also happy to explore a city on foot and with tuk-tuk rides, but seeing how the virus is spreading, it made more sense to play this one safe.
Arranging our ride
A week or so prior to our trip to Agra, we checked out of Gogia residency – a luxury Airbnb and booked an Uber XL to take us to our next stop, The Claridges hotel.
On our way to the hotel, we had a nice chat with Ravi, our driver on the day, who seemed really warm and trustworthy, so we invited him to join us for a roadside brunch.
We felt comfortable with him, so we asked him if he would be willing to drive us around for this 3-day trip. He checked his availability and gladly accepted the offer.
He quoted INR 3000 (USD 40.5) per day, which was a much better price than we had been quoted by a different driver from an agency earlier.
He was driving a Maruti Suzuki Ertiga on the day, and assured us that he would get the same car for the Agra trip.
Our road trip from Delhi to Agra
Ravi arrived with his car at 8.30am and waited in the hotel parking lot while we checked out of The Claridges (which I reviewed on an earlier stay).
We finally hit the road at 9.15am and it took us approximately half an hour to reach the Yamuna Expressway from Delhi. There was a one-way toll of INR 415 (USD 5.6) for four-wheelers, and this was valid all the way through to Agra.
The weather was really pleasant this time of the day and we were happy to keep the air conditioner off till we reached Shiva Dhaba at 10.50am, a highway restaurant. The drivers get free refreshments and meals here – a strategy used at a lot of restaurants on national highways across India to encourage drivers to stop there.
We ordered two cups of special tea that cost INR 20 (USD 0.3) each. It is called “special” when the tea is freshly made especially for you, while keeping your special instructions in mind. In our case, it was to add cardamom and ginger to the tea. One of the reasons why I prefer to order special tea is that there is less concern about hygiene.
We stopped along the way to click pictures of the villages along the road and, as we got further into the day, the wind began getting warmer so we turned the AC on.
I asked Ravi if I could get behind the wheel, and he was happy to let me. In Ravi’s words: “Sir! This is the first time I am getting to sit in the back of my own car!”
The expressway has been built really well and we didn’t experience any issues anywhere. The highway is pretty dull along the way, but if you look a little closer you’ll get a glimpse of normal life in India going on.
Along the way, there were occasional sightings of colorful trucks and villagers riding their tractors, pilgrims quietly walking along the road for hours at a stretch as they made their way to the next destination, and farmers and laborers toiling in the fields in the midday heat.
We got off the Yamuna Expressway at the village of Hathras, which was just a 40-50 minutes drive from Agra. There were some interesting sights as we entered Agra, including a nice gentleman riding a horse cart loaded with empty boxes.
The first thing we did when we arrived in Agra was to visit the Itimad-Ud-Daula tomb and then we headed to ITC Mughal for lunch, before finally checking into Trident Agra and bringing an end to this road trip.
Alternatives to driving
Instead of driving, you can also take a train or a bus from Delhi to Agra. The train and driving by private car both take around four hours, while a bus will obviously take a little longer.
There are numerous services for buses as well as trains on this route. Although there isn’t any air service between Delhi and Agra at the moment, we are seeing direct flights from various Indian cities to Agra so who knows if there will be non-stop flights between Delhi and Agra in the near future.
Personally, I would choose to keep it between a train ride or a road trip, mainly because of convenience and comfort.
I am glad we chose to do a road trip on this occasion as it was a wonderful experience. Taking charge of the vehicle was the highlight of this trip and if the opportunity presents itself I would like to do this trip again.
With no flights between Delhi and Agra at the moment, I regard a road trip as the best way to travel between the two cities.
Have you taken this road trip? What are your thoughts about it?