Agra... A Fun Cruise!!!!Fag end of summer vacation... when everything looked so mundane and the very thought that we had stayed indoors for most of the time, owe it all to the rising mercury, made us glum. Unaware that the very evening my spirit was to swing to a new high, thanks to my husband who had generously told me to tag along for a trip to Agra. At that juncture any prospect was a big welcome, I embraced it.
We set out at 2.30 pm, as usual there were a lot of loose ends to tie up. After a brief maneuvering, moving at a bumper to bumper pace and a slow start within the city we began our trip. Greater Noida expressway with tree lines and of course, the elephant park had dash of a dramatic element. Many imposing companies dotted the road, with posh exteriors. One cannot miss the big sign of McDonald and KFC’s drive through.
The sprawling Yamuna Express driveway tempts you to test your speedometer limits, wise ones know where the danger lies - concrete road, greater friction a perfect concoction for a tyre burst, unless you’re in a land cruiser. One cannot simply neglect all those bold signs “speed thrills but kills”... I should confess, “sanity prevailed”. As we drove along we passed the Buddh International Circuit, Formula One racing track, we could just catch a glimpse of it. Inspite of hoardings clearly prohibiting vehicles from halting midway, we could see pedestrians crossing road for a quick photo moment (the opportunity was too tempting for some). There came a point where it was as though the road was merging in to the horizon. We saw many mean machines whiz past, luring us too; we let the moment pass by.
We crossed three toll plazas before reaching Agra and it costs Rs 320/- for a car, and if one is planning to come back the very day, a round about trip costs Rs 510/-. It might occur as to whether it’s worth it... well, I would personally say it’s worth every penny, the very reason being the pleasure of experiencing such a palatial, clean, traffic free drive. The rest rooms, parking shelters, drinking water, restaurants were all in ace condition. Numbers for emergency services and medical assistance are flashed at regular intervals. Though the trees planted along the road looked malnourished and fighting for existence, we could see sincere efforts taken by the authorities, and I am sure few years down the line these are going to be huge trees providing the much sought after green cover.
Around 4.30 pm the roads branched out towards Vrindavan and Mathura, we continued our sojourn towards Agra. It was another hour of drive then on. As we left the expressway behind and set foot in to the city, there was a bit of a navigational snag since all the sign boards indicated distance only to Taj, and left us confused. Having taken assistance from motorists who often tail tourists offering accommodation solutions, we reached Taj Gateway, formerly Taj View.
Taj always known for its hospitality, which is par excellence, just proved its mettle once again. As we entered, we were ushered and served a refreshing welcome drink. With a brief moment spent at the reception, we were showed to our room. Our room had a partial view of Taj. Right from the ambience, services provided, people, food, all were a class apart.
Since our trip aimed solely at rejuvenation, we never ventured out much. As we stayed close to The Taj Mahal we visited it at a leisurely pace. One cannot miss out on the retail therapy, Agra is famous for foot wear, I just added four more to my collection, and I suggest all those people who are as crazy about it as much as me, set aside a day. The leisurely road drive, cherishable stay at Taj, renewed spirits, as we drove back I was wistfully smiling and thinking..."What a way to end a vacation"?
-- As shared by writer Gayathri Iyer
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