THE DELHI + AGRA MINI GUIDE
I’m finally sharing a mini guide to Delhi and Agra this morning, the first of my stops when visiting India back in March. I was surprised to hear so much negative feedback of the capital city, Delhi. Yes, it’s chaotic, polluted, crowded with people and livestock, but isn’t that why you came to India? I happened to truly enjoy the city, and after doing quite a bit of research, I found some really special spots to dine and shop at. Despite an unexpected health issue, Delhi and Agra were nothing short of enjoyable and the perfect way to introduce me to the chaos that is this beautiful country.
Agra, most notably known for the city that houses the Taj Mahal should simply be just that, a stop-over to visit one of the wonders of the world. I would recommend a night at the most, an opportunity to enjoy the other jewel of the city, the Oberoi Taj Hotel and then head off to your next destination. Oh, the Taj…what can I possibly say to put into words the magnitude of seeing it in person. A humbling explosion of emotions, I simply could do nothing else but let the tears flow. A reminder to celebrate love, for one another…for humanity.
When I’m asked how my trip to India was, it’s nearly impossible to put into words my experience. It was everything, I tell them. It was the most beautiful, filthy place I have been to in all my travels. All your senses stimulated at once. It was polluted, chaotic, loud, saturated in color, live stock and tuk tuks coming at you in the streets, kind and inviting people, smiling people, wealth and poverty coexisting side by side, a country of juxtapositions and yet humbling on so many levels. It was magic. And while it was near impossible to narrow down my favorite photos of this country and it’s people, here is simply a tiny taste in this mini photo travel diary…
It was polluted, chaotic, loud, saturated in color, live stock and tuk tuks coming at you in the streets, kind and inviting people, smiling people, wealth and poverty coexisting side by side, a country of juxtapositions and yet humbling on so many levels. It was magic.
MINI GUIDE | DELHI + AGRA, INDIA
I’ve pulled together a list of my recommendations of where to stay, eat, shop in both Delhi and Agra along with a list of things to do and see while visiting.
- The Manor
- Scarlette Homestay
- Oberoi Taj
- Haveli Dharampura
- The Lodhi Hotel
- Olive Bar – Mediterranean cuisine and the most idyllic outdoor settings. One of the few places you can also enjoy a fresh salad.
- India Accent – most notably one of the best Indian restaurants in all of Asia. Make reservations.
- Ancient Well
- The Oberoi Taj for all your meals – their buffet breakfast is no joke
- The Lodhi Hotel – request a pool side table and enjoy lunch with an afternoon dip
Shop + See + Do
- Serendipity Boutique for homeware and vintage finds
- Spice Market to catch the sunrise in Old Delhi – make sure to pack a scarf to cover your mouth and nose; the chili peppers are so hot they burn your throat when you breathe!
- The Red Fort – smaller than anticipated but the architecture is beautiful and worth a visit.
- Lodi Gardens for a quiet retreat from a bustling city center.
- The Taj Mahal – obviously.
- Most people will love having their photo taken, some will even ask you to take one of them; but always be respectful and ask for permission first.
- Don’t drink the water unless it’s been boiled (i.e. tea is fine). Stick to bottled and/or sparkling.
- Drink as much masala chai as possible – the spices help fight off Delhi Belly and keep your stomach settled.
- Be prepared to haggle. It’s an expected game and way of the culture. Rule of thumb? Expect to pay 30% less than the asking price.
- When using a tuk tuk or taxi, always agree on a price before actually getting into the vehicle. Also, Uber is readily used around Delhi and very affordable.
- Get to the Taj Mahal 2 hours before sunrise if you actually want to beat the line. I learned this the hard way and missed sunrise, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Also, there’s not much to see inside the Taj, the real attraction is the exterior facade itself.
- Indians bobble their head in a way that looks like they are saying “no” when really this means “yes“. Confusing but eventually you get used to it.
- Carry a scarf with you at all times – this is just a rule of thumb I found to be helpful for myself. Between the pollution, smog, exhaust fumes, spicy chili peppers and at times even a sign of respect, carry one with you.
- Most 5-star hotels also house excellent and safe restaurants to dine at and they take reservations!