Road Trip to Agra and Jaipur, the golden cities of India

Rajiv Roy
12 min readAug 2, 2020

As Christmas holiday was nearing; me and my friend planned for a road trip. My daughter was studying at Allahabad and as such I was to leave for the ‘Sangam’ city alongwith my wife. We thus decided to visit Agra and Jaipur, the cities amongst the golden triangles of India, the third being Delhi.

The trip started on 26th December, 2016 when I alongwith my wife left Patna for Allahabad around 7 AM. The fog frequented us till 9 AM whereafter it was a clear sky. Soon were on the old NH 2 (new NH19) G.T.Road.

Crossed the Sasaram toll plaza, had lunch at Mohania and thereafter proceeded to Varanasi. The effect of recently announced demonetization could be seen at almost every toll plaza. Less cash in hand leading to use of card had led to 1–2 kms long queue of vehicles.

(Sasaram, Bihar)

After driving 400 kms, reached Allahabad by sunset and stayed at the beautiful College Guest house of my daughter, Dipti. Relaxed and post dinner strolled in the campus chatting with Dipti for long.

Tuesday, 27th December, 2016

Started our journey for Lucknow, 200 kms away taking the NH 30. Our daughter too joined us as we drove through the Unchahar, Rae Bareli route. Traffic was scarce and it was a pleasant driving. By evening, we were on the ‘Shahid Path’ that took us to the Lucknow city.

(Shahid Path, Lucknow)

The Lucknow city at night looks so beautiful with the old and new buildings standing side by side. It is really commendable the way it has been developed. Situated on the banks of ‘Gomti’ river, this multicultural and multilingual city gave us many ‘Lakhnavi’ things.

Checked in and later went to a Mall for dinner. It being Christmas time, most of the buildings were decorated. My friend Mr. Bindhyachal Singh along with his family started from Patna in the morning and reached Lucknow by 10 PM. We thereafter chatted for long before hitting the bed.

(Lucknow Mall)

Wednesday, 28th December, 2016.

It was a foggy morning. After the breakfast, we set out towards ‘Bhul Bhulaiya’ or the ‘Bada Imambada’. On way, also saw the beautiful heritage buildings like the General Post Office, the U.P. Assembly etc.

(Bhul Bhulaiya/ Bada Imambada, Lucknow)

Spent quite some time there whereafter we moved to Hajratganj, the famous market of the capital city. Had delicious lunch, visited some government owned stores for small purchasing. It was past 2 PM and time to leave the city. Returned to our place of stay, packed our bags and by 4 PM, we were on way to Agra.

We wanted to take the newly inaugurated Lucknow — Agra Expressway but the locals at a Petrol outlet advised against it. Their genuine response was that having just been inaugurated, there is neither any traffic nor emergency services available.

We respected their view and decided to take the longer route of Unnao — Kanpur (NH 27) — Etawah — Shikohabad — Agra (NH 2) also known as Asian Highway 1(AH1). Our travel distance had jumped to 60 additional kms to around 370 kms.

The Kanpur — Etawah — Shikohabad route was in the best of condition and with lights on the highway (a rarity), the driving was pleasure. Two stopovers, one at Kanpur outskirts for tea and another one at Etawah highway for dinner were made. Finally around 12 AM, with the classical music of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in ‘Mughal e azam’ being played in the car, we checked into our Hotel situated near the Eastern gate of Taj Mahal.

(Agra CIty entrance)

Thursday, 29th December,2016

In just three days, there had been lots of driving and it was time to settle down for a while. A relaxed morning with the delicious complimentary breakfast was followed by walk by friends toward the majestic Taj. As we strolled on the beautifully laid pink stones pathway, had that nostalgic feeling of the construction of the ivory white marble mausoleum on the banks of river ‘Yamuna’ by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved late wife Mumtaz Mahal.

(at Hotel premises, Agra)

Vehicles are not allowed after a certain point and one has either to walk or take E-rickshaw to reach ‘TAJ’. We purchased tickets and returned to our hotel. Our family members were ready and we drove back to ‘TAJ’. It being year end, there was huge rush and it took some time and after security checks that we finally were able to put our foot on the beautiful garden that adds glory to the majestic Taj.

(Parking lot, Taj Mahal)

It was my third visit to TAJ, the first two almost decades ago, once with my late father and another with my College friend. But every time one visits ‘TAJ’, gets mesmerized with its beauty and grandeur. To conceive and construct such a beautiful mausoleum on the banks of river Yamuna; the credit must go not only to the late Emperor but his entire team including the thousands of laborers who toiled day and night to make his dream come true.

(the symbol of love, TAJ MAHAL)

Once the sun set in the west, a chilly evening with the windy Yamuna river completely shivered us and despite our eagerness to stay for some more time, the body was just not ready to bear the cold. We took E-rickshaw upto the car parking and thereafter returned to our Hotel.

A cup of coffee and after putting up some warm clothing, we again drove towards the main market/Sadar Bazar of Agra. Relished delicious preparation of ‘Chaats’ as also ‘Pethas’ of the famous ‘Panchhi Petha store’. There are hundred of shops across the city putting ‘Pancchi Petha’ board but as the owner at the Sadar Bazar informed us they do not have any branch in the city.

Later, we drove towards the famous ‘Thaliwala Veg. Restaurant’ to have our dinner. It was late night and time to return. As usual, both friends chatted for a while before retiring to our respective rooms.

(at Hotel Reception, Agra)

Friday, 30th December, 2016

Time to move on. After the breakfast, we visited the Agra Fort. It was earlier known as ‘Badalgarh’ before Emperor Akbar rebuilt it with red sand stones. The fort consists of ‘Delhi Gate’ and ‘Lahore Gate’. Tourist are allowed to use the Lahore Gate (also known as Amar Singh gate).

(The Lahore Gate, Agra Fort)

The famous sites inside the Fort include the Jahangir’s Hauz, the Shah Jahan Mahal and the Jahangir’s chain of justice placed by Emperor Jahangir (to be used by any aggrieved person so that the sound of the bell attract his attention and he could look to his/ her plight). It also has ‘Sheesh Mahal’ built by Emperor Shah Jahan having glass mosaic with high mirror quality.

After spending some time, we returned to our Hotel but not before purchasing the small memento of ‘TAJ’. Packed our bags and by 12 noon, were on way to Fatehpur Sikri, built in 1569 by Emperor Akbar and named after the village Sikri. The road was rough and it took almost two hours to cover the 40 kms stretch. Parked the cars at the designated parking slot and had ‘Bagghi’ ride towards Fatehpur Sikri.

Entered the Majestic ‘Buland Darwaza’, built by Emperor Akbar in 1602 to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. It is the main entrance point. ‘Buland Darwaza’ is said to be the highest gateway in the world and is the finest example of the Mughal architecture. Also saw the Panch Mahal, Jodha Bai’s Palace, pond etc.

(Ornamental pillar inside the Fatehpur Sikri)

It was 2 PM and time to leave. Returned to the parking lot and had lunch at the Tourism Department’s restaurant situated there. We were again on road to Bharatpur sanctuary, around 25 kms ahead on NH 21.

Once we entered Rajasthan, the road was excellent. Parked our cars outside the sanctuary and took rickshaw tickets from the ticket window (as the Battery cars were unavailable at that time). It was a pleasant an hour ride inside the sanctuary with the Rickshaw owner, Rakesh also doing his duty as a GUIDE.

(Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary)

At 5 PM, after snacks, tea at the local cafeteria, we moved towards Jaipur, 180 kms ahead. Now the cars were at its best with the beautiful NH 21 /NH 248, the only minus point being long queue at unlimited toll plazas.

It was around 8 PM that we entered the Jaipur city and went straight to ‘CHOKI DHANI’. It has an exorbitant entry fee. Local food (which can not be termed delicious) is provided inside and traditional dances can also be witnessed. However, with great respect to its owner, it’s not worth visiting as not only the place has lots of dust, it can be felt in the food too which is served in most unhygienic way. Remained there for two hours where after we came back to our place of stay.

(Chokhi Dhani, Jaipur)

Saturday, 31st December,2016.

A bright sunshine in the morning welcomed us. It was quite different from the foggy days we were witnessing since last few days. A casual walk in the garden and caring of our cars was followed by quick breakfast.

(place of stay, Jaipur)

We moved on to explore the Pink city. Our first destination was AMBER FORT (spelled AMER FORT). We reached there and were fortunate enough to drive right up to the top. Had some nice time there. As usual, being the last day of the year, the Fort was crowded.

(Amer Fort)
(the pond that catered to the Fort’s need)

The Amer Fort is said to have been built by the ruler from the Chanda clan of Meenas in AD 967, reconstructed by Raja Man Singh, the Kachwaha King of AMER and later fully expanded by Raja Jai Singh. It remained the ruling seat till 1727 when Sawai Jai Singh founded the Jaipur city.

(Kesar Kyari Bagh, Amer Fort)

Spent quite time there with the Guide providing us all the minute details relating to the Fort. The Amer Fort was followed by our visit to the Jaigarh Fort. The road distance is around 7 kms, the last 1 km had some scary time reaching the top.

However, once there, the beauty from the top mesmerizes. The Fort was built by Sawai Jai Singh, named after him in 1726 to protect the Amer Fort and its palace complex. Both the Amer Fort and the Jaigarh Fort are situated on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) on the Aravalli range, connected on top through a pathway and at times were used to escape from enemy.

(the Cannon placed on the top of the Jaigarh Fort)

It was time to have our lunch and move on to new destination. Must add my disappointment here. Despite the ‘Padharo Mhare Desh’ boards welcoming tourists; at every crossing, while local cars moved away, the Traffic Police stopped our cars with Bihar Registration plate to check papers. Isn’t is possible that once the vehicle paper of a Tourist is checked, a sticker is affixed on the windscreen by the Rajasthan Traffic Police (may be for a limited period)so that the Tourists are spared of the harassment as also the loss of time repeatedly. No other State Traffic Police stop the vehicle so frequently as it was done there.

(City Museum, Jaipur)

We later went to the City Museum, the Hawa Mahal & Jantar Mantar and spent some time there. Came back to our place of stay, freshened up and moved to a Hotel in the night to celebrate the last day of 2016. Returned well past 1 AM and were soon fast asleep.

Sunday, 1st January, 2017.

It was a bright sunshine on the New Year too. Walked on the beautiful garden of the campus. Later, we moved in the city and did some local purchasing.

(enjoying sunshine at our place of stay)

Post lunch, we said goodbye to the Jaipur city on way to Mathura, the land of Lord Krishna, around 250 kms away. Once the sun set in the West, the fog engulfed the road, the driving became difficult. The route to Mathura from Jaipur is through the same NH 21 upto the Bharatpur outskirts whereafter one has to take left road to Mathura. Reached the destination around 9PM. Freshened up, had a good meal and retired to our rooms.

Monday, 2nd January, 2017.

Woke up early morning to the sound of the peacock in the campus. The sun shining, the water droplets on the leaves and the peacock calling in between, it was a lovely day. Got ready and went on to visit the temples of the city. Parked the car and took E-rickshaw to the temple through the narrow lanes which cannot be described as clean. The Municipal authorities must ensure the tourist return with good memory.

(the beautiful morning of Mathura)

Luckily, we entered the temple in time before it was to be shut for brief period in the afternoon. It was the first temple I found where the slope of the floor has been built like the cinema hall inasmuch as it descends from back to front. This way even the last man standing in the back row can have clear glimpse of the Lord Krishna. Prayed for the well being of all and then moved out to nearby ‘Tulsi Van’. Again took the E -rickshaw to reach the parking lot. Later drove to some more temples nearby.

(Tulsi van, Mathura)
(parking lot, near temple, Mathura)

Returned to our place of stay, had lunch and then hit the NH 2 for Kanpur, around 325 kms ahead. Reached Kanpur city by night and stayed at a OYO Hotel in the Civil Lines.

Tuesday, 3rd January, 2017.

In the morning, we had a late start. Visited the nearby Z-Square Mall, one of the finest Mall not only in the Kanpur city but also in the country. Right from the separate ticket entry for the four wheeler to the clean well lighted parking area and the presence of lift in the parking area, the Mall owner has taken care to make the visitors stay comfortable. Had some good time there.

(Z-square Mall, Kanpur)
(Z — Square Mall, Kanpur)

Post lunch, we moved towards Allahabad, 215 kms away on NH 2. Enjoying good music, some food/ tea on way and by evening, we were back to the daughter’s College Guest House(Allahabad), almost a week after we left the ‘Sangam’ city.

( at Kanpur — Allahabad Highway Eatery)

Wednesday, 4th January,2017

Our daughter bid us goodbye as we left for Patna via Vindhyachal in the morning. Reached the Vindhyachal temple around 10 AM, had ‘Puja’, took breakfast and later moved on the State highway via Chunar, Varanasi to take NH 2 on way to Patna. The 400 kms journey ended around night. In the process, almost 2800 kms were driven hassle free. Everyone enjoyed the trip which ended in a very pleasant manner.