Touts at Agra - share your experience here
arunchs
India > Cities in India > India Travel > Agra
#1
| Maha Guru Member

Touts at Agra - share your experience here

Here is mine, originally posted on my travel blog.

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Taj Mahal is what Agra is most famous for. Touts come second, beating Agra fort, Fatepur Sikri and anything else that would interest the tourist.

Like it happens to everyone, my encounter started as soon as I got down from the train. Even before I left the platform, people came rushing, offering rides in rickshaws and taxis. I refused, but one of them got stuck to me and refused to leave. Being wary of such people, I tried getting away from him, but there seemed to be no escape. I said I knew someone here and was expecting to be picked up by someone. He left me alone but stood next to me silently. While he was there, I made a couple of calls before I decided to look for transport. People kept coming to ask if I wanted a rickshaw. Some of them looked at my big backpack and asked if I was coming from abroad.

My man waiting for me asked again - "Koi aa rahaa hai? chalen?" Is any one coming to pick you up or can I take you?

I was getting a little impatient now and shouted at him - "Just leave me alone and stop bothering me". He simply smiled and moved a little away from me. I felt bad about being rude. After making a few more calls, I finally decided to hire him. He turned out to be a good man. He gave me a ride to Taj Ganj for a reasonable price, and we had a good conversation about Agra, things to see, places to stay, etc. He even got me to a good hotel, sans the commission that they usually get from hotels. I apologised for being rude and tipped him generously. He graciously said - "koi baat naheen saab, hamara kaam heee aisee hai," and moved on.

Not every experience was pleasant though. I walked around Taj Mahal and was frequently asked by Rickshaw-wallahs if I wanted a ride. And they would not let me go easily when I said no. The day being Friday, Taj was closed and people approached me offering roof top views of Taj for a small fee.

Sometime that afternoon, I took a rickshaw ride to Agra Fort. The driver said he would wait for me to take me back to Taj Ganj. I told him not to wait as I would take a long time. I was in the fort more than an hour, and was surprised to see him still around when I came out. With Taj closed, Fridays are bad for business in Agra and it showed. But this time, I was the one to be rebuked by him. He offered me a ride back to Taj Ganj, but wanted to me to visit a couple of marble shops on the way. I refused.

He said, "nothing to worry sir, you don't need to buy anything. Just visit the shop"

I had no interest to go around all the shops and was firm about my disinterest. He said again, "I will get a good commission sir, you don't even have to buy anything, what are you to loose anyway?".

" I don't need anything nor do I want to visit any shops", I said, "just take me back to Taj Ganj".

This time I was the one to witness some rudeness. He refused to serve me and asked me to get down from the rickshaw!

The next encounter was fun. I was walking to a restaurant just a hundred meters away when a rickshaw guy came from behind and asked me if I wanted a ride. I said no.

"Tell me sir, where do you want to go? I will take you there"

"Not very far, I will walk," I shook my head and told him.

"come sir, just give me ten rupees," he said, "not much!"

I smiled and shook my head again. But he was not to leave me.

"okay sir, only five rupees." And then he even came down to two rupees. By this time I was enjoying the conversation and we were both laughing. I reiterated that my destination is hardly two minutes away. He than smiled said

"you are our guest in Agra and you are walking in the sun like this. How can I let you suffer? Please come, I will drop you for no charge!"

"No, not at all," I said, "you see, I am already about to reach the place. I just have to cross the road and go a little ahead. But thank you for the offer." He finally relented and moved on!
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48 Replies

#2
| Member
I always wondered if it was easier to shoo of touts, rickshawdrivers, sellers... if one spoke Hindi ?
#3
| Maha Guru Member
few tips from my side. since i am from a town just 60 km from there.

if you are searching hotel thru auto/taxi/rickshaw etc, do tell them that you would like to see 4-5 hotels before making a decision (even if you are tired and want to settle in the first one). not so good hotels give them bigger commission than the good ones, so they start by showing you bad ones. this is not agra specific but its true for every city.

in agra, even Indians are harassed if you get down from an AC compartment. and the taxi wallahs who get entry inside railway station are the ones who pay bribe to those not so humble looking cops at the stations. so chances of them being bad are lot more than those who wait outside the station. SO.. soon as you get off the train glue your cellphone to your ear and pretend as if you are talking on the phone.s way they only ask you once and move aside and you can walk outside the station and take a rik.

somehow i feel more comfortable with auto owners who are less than 60 kgs and more than 40 years in age.:D
#4
| Senior Member
I do occasionally stike up a deal with rickshaw guys.

I agree to have a quick look in a couple of shops if we can do a deal on the fare.

Last time I did this was just before Diwali in Delhi when - according to the rickshaw guy - the shops were handing out larger comission to the drivers than usual.

The end result was I got a free ride to the Qutab Minar and back. (Plus of course window shopping in 3 emporiums!)


Chris.
....
#5
| Member
We were dropped off at road near the entrance to the Taj and had to walk down the road/path. This wasnt very far yet we were constantly asked by cycle-rikshaws if we wanted a lift. The sellers were OK and after being in India for a few days were accepted as were rikshaws. The new and least pleasant experience were the 'Official Guides'. There were millions of them and they would lock on as soon as you left the mini-bus. One walked almost all of the way to the entrance and then when we finally got rid of him it was the turn of two others at the same time. Then, when we got rid of them and we were through the gates there were even more. These ones would follow you round pointing things out to you 'come this way'. We kind of rushed to try and get rid of them which was a shame.
#6
| Member
Oh and I forgot. On the main road from Delhi to Agra there was an unofficial road block which our driver sped through. We asked why and he explained they were just people (police?) trying to charge tourists. When we left Agra on the way to Fatepur Sikri a policeman stopped the van as we drove through town. The driver spoke to him and then sped off. The policeman whacked the van with his stick. Again we asked what this was about and he said the same. There was another unofficial road block further along in the countryside which we had to swerve round to avoid having to pay up. This was a bit more hairy as they were waving sticks, there were lots of them and we were in the middle of no-where. Anyone else experinece these things? Or was our driver simply telling us a fib? Maybe he was a wanted man?
#7
| Maha Guru Member
arnoose,
your taxi was probably did not have proper papers to operate as taxi. there are different rates of insurance (taxis run lot more so pay lot more insurance premium) and registration. these buggers register them as normal cars and use them as taxi. thats why he was running away from police. often they don't bug the tourists.
#8
| Maha Guru Member
Arnoose, your driver has a point. I had this experience around Dehradun-Rishikesh-Haridwar roads. There were people who had no uniforms and seemed to have no authority, but they blocked the road and asked for some kind of fees. They even gave receipts which I assume are not authorized. We had everything legal and we were in a personal car. I was driving the car and this was my first experience of such a thing. Our driver told us that these are unauthorized people trying to collect money for all odd reason and not to stop for them. But not being used to such thing I once stopped instinctively and ended up paying up because they would not let us go!
#9
| Member
Thank Arunchs. I am glad it wasn’t just me these people were after!
The taxi was just a small mini-bus organised through the hotel’s travel agency so it may not have been official etc.,
#10
| Member
We visited Agra in december and wait for it..had no hassle what so ever! We were picked up as arranged at the train station (it was a bit manic on arrival but mno worse than any other Indian station on any given day.

We hired an autorickshaw for the 2 days and didnt encounter any problems anywhere.

We went to the Taj Mahel at 6.30am and there was hardly a tout there (some where just setting up their pitches)

on the way out (about 4 hours later) there were a few more touts, but after saying no they left us be.

We were expecting a battle of wills but had an amazing and relaxed time.
#11
| Account Closed by User's Request
I had this experience around Dehradun-Rishikesh-Haridwar roads. There were people who had no uniforms and seemed to have no authority, but they blocked the road and asked for some kind of fees. They even gave receipts which I assume are not authorized.


You're right they are not official and are run by local "mafia" the topic comes up in the local paper from time to time but the situation prevails!!
Sanatana Dharma

www.goneindia.com
#12
| Naan.tering Nabob
When you get off the train, the further you can make it from the platform without succumbing to a ride offer - the better. Best if you can get way outside the station and tap a sleeping rickshaw driver on the shoulder and say Taj - chal mere bhai - and jump in.:D
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~
T. S. Eliot

http://www.derekgrantdigital.com
#13
| Maha Guru Member
I'll certainly agree with Luckywoman! Still, the touts loved my boy's nahi chahiyay and lined up to individually receive it from him. Freaky but so worthwhile so..
#14
| Senior Member
Agra was by far and away the worst place I have ever been to in India for touts. They WILL NOT leave you alone. :mad: Apart from the Taj, Agra to my mind is a dity, congested, connstant hassle nightmare of a place I will never go back to. Our rickshaw driver even insisted on joining us for dinner! Absolutely nothing we could do or say would get rid of him.

Why can't they just move the Taj somewhere peaceful?? :D
Life is not about the moments that we take breath, rather the moments that take our breath away.
#15
| FunJennifer
It was in Agra that I came up with my new philosophy of how to deal with touts: pretend that you are an auto-rickshaw driver and just jump right in!

Seriously, I found that if I tried to avoid the touts they were very persistent, but if I headed right through them at high speed (and avoiding eye contact) they would almost always jump out of the way. All that was required beyond that was a firm "no" - not "no, thank you" or "sorry, no", which seemed to be an invitation to further hassle.