Have you ever thought of exploring the city, Agra? I am sure; it does sound fun to you. If it doesn’t, what? Really? Haha! You are missing out on something big if you to travel to India and miss exploring the old streets of Agra. I am a budget traveler, and it was three months back when I was in Agra busy writing the most visited post of my blog: Ten ways to cut your expenses and save money for travel. I have been to Agra five times now, and I usually go there only to visit the Taj Mahal and the Red fort, but since I love that city so much I thought of trying something new. So, I decided to go on a cycle tour.
A Start to the Cycle Tour
John said, “You are the first Indian who have come here for the cycle tour in past three years.” I was happy to hear that. By the way, John is the owner of Agra by bike who conducted the tour. Before starting I wanted to ride the bicycle, haha, I always do that, testing vehicles before taking them for a long ride. Everything went great. It was 5:30 AM in the morning, and I did not want to miss the sunrise view of the Taj Mahal, so we started off.
What exactly is the Taj moment for you?
My Taj moment is to see the sun rising and shining brightly at the Taj. To keep that wonder protected there are no fuel vehicles allowed within the 2-3 km distance of the Taj Mahal. So, we rode to the back side, i.e., the north of the Taj Mahal, where the Yamuna river is. There was standing an old man ready to take us on a boat ride in the river. While he was rowing the boat slowly and took us in the middle of the water I could accurately see what I dreamt of; the sunrise at Taj. I could also see the complete shadow of the Taj Mahal in the river along. It was a perfect moment. I think a picture here will explain it better.
Soon after our ride, we went to a small village just next to the Taj Mahal. Locals live there with goats, cows, and hens and there is a watchtower, probably a secret place from the old times to see who’s coming to visit the Emperor. Anyways I went there to see another view of Taj from the top, and it was so beautiful and peaceful that I spent some time there sitting and just staring at the beauty of the monument. Well, there are more views from where you can see the Taj, try reading this piece by the Lonely planet to take ideas.
Streets of Kinari Bazaar
Getting off the tower, we started our ride to the Kinaari Bazaar. It was Friday, and the Taj Mahal was closed, so it was all quiet and calm. Riding through the west gate of the Taj, we reached the Agra red fort. Though we didn’t go inside because we had no time; we parked our bicycle on the corner of the road to take a careful look at it. We then went to a chaotic part of Agra, the Old Agra, and the Kinari Bazaar. There were many Petha shops, a sweet manufactured in Agra. It has been said that Petha is originated in the kitchens of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and since now it has become so famous, that it comes in varied flavors. Exploring the old streets, I could see many great things to fill my shopping bag. You will get a vast variety of traditional clothes, footwear, accessories, cookware, and almost everything. I also tried the authentic street food there. And how could I miss Malai Lassi? It’s too heavy, but it’s incredible.
Shahi Jama Masjid
Just next to the place where I had Lassi, was the Shahi Jama Masjid. Shah Jahan built this Mosque for his favorite daughter. There was a Tripolia that existed between Jama Masjid and the Delhi gate of Agra Fort, which was destroyed to build the Agra Fort Railway station. Even one of the two pillars at the entrance of the Masjid is missing. So, just opposite the Mosque, there is the Agra red fort railway station.
We were about to explore further, but it started raining, and I got tired of cycling for such a long time, so we headed back. John’s cycle shop is just near the car parking at the South gate of the Taj Mahal. It was great to tour this beautiful city, the only city in India that owns one of the seven wonders of the world.