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Agra’s Taj Mahal is, well, the Taj Mahal. Any visitor to India should attempt to see it and many do. My friend arranged a car and a guide, so I didn’t have the typical experience. They key tip from the guide was to enter from the East Gate to avoid the crowds at the West Gate. Official guides also have arrangements with the security guards to do things like borrow a pen light to show how the stones inside illuminate. I so rarely use guides that I overlook the value they can add.
I saw three of the other major sights in greater Agra. UNESCO-listed Agra Fort is pleasant for a quick visit, some tourists hustle there for the 6 am opening to photograph the Taj.
Akbar’s Tomb is like many other tombs of the era and about 10 km outside the city.
Over Akbar’s Tomb I recommend UNESCO-listed Fatehpur Sikri, some 40 km from Agra. It sees relatively few tourists and has many cool crannies, such as the faux elephant tusk minaret accessed by going around the outside walls to the back of the complex.
After a day of brutal heat my guide did the greatest possible service: locate a restaurant willing to let me suck tea and wi-fi until my 23:20 train.
I headed out late at night by train from Agra Cantt to Khajuraho. Very chaotic experience with my and other trains all delayed, some monitors still sayin ‘on time,’ while few staff to help. I found an Indian traveler going to Khajuraho and stuck with him. The ‘2 AC’ sleeper berth was comfortable. Important to get tickets in advance, in a very complicated online process, so many, like me, find a tour agent to handle it.