The second best thing to visit in Agra after the Taj Mahal is the Red Fort, built in the late 16th century and completed 7 years after the Taj. We go there today, after a good morning of sleep and a nice breakfast at our favourite rooftop restaurant. Our Lonely Planet already told us that it would be very usefull to hire a guide at the entrance, so we think about doing that. When we arrive at the gate of Agra Fort we first have to work through at least 10 salesmen who insist on selling something to us. At first it was funny (the first day in Varanasi) but now we get irritated by these people every day the fun is quite over.
At the entrance gate we get the same experience with 10 guides so out of principle we enter the Fortress without one. However after a few minutes we are already sorry because the Fortress is very big and we have no idea what we see. e walk back to the entrance and hire the guide that we liked most for just 150 rupees (about 2,40 euro). A really good deal for this good guidance that takes more than 2 hours. In the end we know everything about who built the fort, when, why and how. There are many fascinating stories about it’s history, where Shah Jahan (the emperor that built the Taj Mahal) gets captured by his son in his grandfathers Fort with a view on the Taj. He wanted to built another Taj of black marble, but since the family had already lost loads of money and power to built the Taj Mahal, his son took him in prison. The guide tells us there are several secret tunnels below the fort, one to the Taj Mahal (a few kilometers away from here) and even one to Delhi (more than 200 km away from here), unbelievable! I really liked the visit to the fort and the guidance was very usefull.
After our visit we get in a tuktuk with an old guy, let us call him grandfather. We tell him we like to see some shopsbecause especially the ladies still need some nice dresses from here. Soon it becomes clear that grandfather has more in mind with us than we thought, he drops us several times at big shops that we don’t want to see. We told him to drive to the city center, but again and again he says; just look around in the next shop for 5 minutes and than we go to the citycenter. Ofcourse we soon realize that he gets a good commission from the shops where he drops us, but the price of the taxitrip is not that high so we agree. On the way we even buy some things in his shops, exactly as we are supposed to do.
At 17.00 we have seen enough shops and without going to the citycenter we ask him to bring us to the hotel. Because we have to come back to one shop in the evening to collect something, we ask the grandfather to pick us up again at 19.30. He is very happy with that and agrees.
After our dinner and some shopping in the neighbourhood of the hotel, we find the grandfather already waiting outside at 19.15. We get in and not much later it is there again; “excuse me sir, we first go to a very good marble shop, just look around for 10 minutes and than we go to your shop. Very nice marble, very cheap, very cheap!” Ofcourse we really don’t like this persisting behaviour of him, but we dicide to visit just one more shop for him. It is a good shop, with many nice marble pieces, but too expensive for us unfortunately.
We go outside and before we leave again with grandfather, he gets inside to collect his commission, what a world. After our visit to the shop we needed to go to, the grandfather drops us just a few minutes drive way. We ask him what is going on and he tells us he is going home and has to take another road, this guy is really crazy! We can pay him what we want he says, so we give him just 20 rupees (32 eurocent) because of all his commission he already got. We take a riksha to the hotel and arrive there at 21.30. We have been away for 2 hours just to collect something in a shop… Thank you grandfather!

2 Thoughts on “Day 24: Agra Fort and Grandfather

  1. Leo on 21/08/2010 at 23:13 said:

    The grandfatherstory (really very funny!) maybe gives the right Indian touch to your Agra visit, Sander. Grandfather will be scarved into your brain and for his 20 rupees he is doomed to tuktukdrive your memories of this old city to all eternity.
    Fenna, Nieneke and Sander, have a good travel to Jaipur and a nice last week in India together.

  2. Floris on 27/08/2010 at 00:56 said:

    Haha, what a story! I can almost see the irritation on your face when ‘grandfather’ has fooled you once again. Luckily for him, you can always be convinced of a good bargain and you love to buy stuff that other people might consider useless 🙂
    Janinka has also been at the Red Fort in Agra, she was also very impressed by it. I wonder how you’ve experienced Jaipur, heard nice stories about it as well..
    We came back from Italy about a week ago, had a really great time there travelling around. We even went to Cinque Terre and more or less coincidentally ended up at the campsite we had 2 years ago, the owner still recognized me!

    Anyway, enjoy your time left because coming back to rainy Holland isn’t much of a treat I tell ya..

    Ciao! Floris

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