What's the easiest way to get back and forth to Agra on a weekend trip?
May 10, 2011 11:08 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest way to get back and forth to Agra on a weekend trip?

I'm in Bangalore (Bengaluru) India on a trip for work. Since I don't know how often I'll be able to get to India, I thought I'd take a trip on the weekend to Delhi and Agra to do the touristy things like Taj Mahal. Not the best time of year to do it, since it's the height of the hot season, but not much I can do about that. However, I have several issues...

My main issue is I have to do this on a weekend, because I have to work. Even worse, I have to do this from Saturday to Monday because I work NY hours, so I can't leave on Friday night. Nothing can be done about this, and I can't legitimately take the Friday off.

I think I've pretty much figured out the flying legs (namely, fly Saturday morning, fly back Monday afternoon). My problem is the "getting to Agra" part and back.

Most guidebooks and online groups say the train, however, every single coworker I have who has done the trip says to get a private driver from the airport to take me to Agra. They all overall say it will be a more pleasant experience. My main issues are:
1) I have no idea how to get a driver in Delhi. I was told "Oh, they have desks at the airport", but it was a very vague description. Most people recommend "getting a car at your hotel in Delhi", but I'm coming directly from the airport.
2) Trains would seem to be to be faster than a car just based on Bangalore to Mysore traffic alone. Am I mistaken?
3) So... if I hire a driver to Agra.... how do I get back? Do I pay for him to stay in Agra. I'm thinking about spending a night in Agra at the highly priced Oberoi just for the experience, then driving back on Sunday and staying in Delhi on Sunday night. So... do I pay for my driver to stay some place in town? Or do I get a new driver in Agra? How does that work?

I posted this in one other place, and they recommended Hertz or Avis and negotiating a deal there for a driver. I'm trying to figure out how to do this.

Any ideas?
posted by Drylnn to Travel & Transportation around Agra, India (10 answers total)
A private car would be better, IMO. Call the Oberoi and ask their travel desk for recommendations -- they probably organize this kind of this all the time.
posted by prenominal at 11:37 PM on May 10, 2011

I suspect lots of companies do this. Here's one
posted by adamvasco at 12:25 AM on May 11, 2011

I did this from Delhi with a private driver, stayed at the Oberoi and yes, the driver stays, you give him a tip and he makes his own arrangements. He will have made the trip many times and will have some kind of arrangement. He will get some kind of nominal fee for staying over night which will be negligible in your money. Yes, call the Oberoi and see who they would recommend. And call the hotel you'll stay at in Delhi and see who they recommend and see what offer appeals most.

Stay in the Oberoi on Saturday afternoon/evening and enjoy that experience. Get up at 6am to go the the Taj on Sunday so it's not so busy and not as hot. Go back to the Oberoi and enjoy breakfast and be on your way. There are one or two things you can stop at on the way back to Delhi although I forget what they are.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:32 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

A private car's going to the least hassle. Don't fuss over the details -- any decent hotel will have a concierge service, a list of trusted drivers, and the ability deal with your situation. (Alternatively, there are independent services like this one that has built a business on positive TripAdvisor reviews.) Standard practice is for drivers to have a daily fee that covers their food and accommodation -- so yes, you pay for the driver to stay in town, but you're not picking a hotel room.

That said, if I ever do the Delhi-Agra trip again, it'll be on the Shatabdi Express train, which does the journey in around two hours. The old NH2 route by car (which took four hours in the early 90s) is meant to be superseded by the Yamuna Expressway, but it isn't quite finished yet.
posted by holgate at 12:32 AM on May 11, 2011

Hmm..... so going to holgate's comment - would I be better off trying the train? The main issue is I can't take the Shatabdi to Agra (it leaves early in the morning, so the only way to do it would be to take the plane Friday night, which I can't do because work wouldn't like that so much .... "Yes, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to skip training your team today - I'm going to North India...")
posted by Drylnn at 12:53 AM on May 11, 2011

Well the trip by car will take you ~ 3.5 - 4hrs each way. Think we managed to get back to Gurgaon in 3 hrs but that was sheer good luck. On the upside you are going door to door.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:57 AM on May 11, 2011

Message me if you want the contact of a driver that I've used for the trip. I think he's "in his native" until the 25th, but will be back in Delhi after that.
posted by eulily at 5:03 AM on May 11, 2011

I did this. Flew from Bangalore to Delhi, hired a car to get to Agra, and then came back to Delhi with the hired driver the next day. The driver found his own accommodations. I forgot how much it cost, but it wasn't that much.

I didn't stay at the Oberoi in Agra, but I stayed at the Oberoi in Bangalore for about 8 months and the Oberoi in Shimla for a weekend. Live it up.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:32 AM on May 11, 2011

would I be better off trying the train?

The slower trains aren't really worth it. The advantage of the Shatabdi is that it leaves early and goes back late, so you get into Agra at a good time and have a full day. Given your tight schedule, it's better to have a driver pick you up in Delhi and take you straight to Agra.
posted by holgate at 9:17 AM on May 11, 2011

Thanks all for the advice. Got a private driver lined up. Still figuring out the hotels, but do have the airfare. It's 114 degrees in Agra, but it's the price to pay for being here in May....
posted by Drylnn at 2:58 PM on May 11, 2011

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