Although the station was only a short ride from our hotel, we decided to book a tuktuk to collect us with our bags.
I’ve no idea how but all luggage fitted inside the tuktuk with us and off we went, dodging the obstacles of the Delhi streets.
Our driver wanted a platform number which the ticket didn’t display, but a quick search on Google found our departure platform. Not sure why he was so adament for this as every passenger had to enter via the same security scan!
The platform was chaos with people sat, lying down, traders and porters. It was absolutely filthy, and a monotone voice looped updates in Hindi and broken English.
Although an hour early, our train was in waiting, so we bought some water and coke and embarked to find our seat. This had been allocated months earlier when we’d booked tickets via a Singapore agency.
For this 3 hour 180 mile journey, we booked sleeper class, which is one class above the lowest and the amazingly cheap price of £2.33.
This train was the Grand Trunk Express and would run 36 hours to Channai, although we’d be disembarking Agra.
The compartment consisted of pretty hard bench seats with 2 bunks above. Just before the train set-off we were joined by 2 Americans who were also heading to Agra.
Once the train was moving the corridor was awash with people selling coffee, tea, snacks and curry’s. Constantly throughout the journey traders would pass in their sing song voices “chai” “biriani” just like we’d seen in the movies.
The windows were windowless with railings going across, I’d like to say the fresh air was nice but we travelled through a variety of smells and every time a train passed coming the other way blasted us with warm air.
When we got to Agra we knew the train stopped only 3 minutes and pulling out over packed bags down the train was tricky as nobody wanted to move to let you pass.
On the platform we were descended on by men asking where we were from desperately trying to engage conversations to sell us services; tours and taxis.
We made our way outside with a gaggle of drivers surrounding us. We aimed for an ‘Official Delhi Traffic Police’ booth to prepay out cab, but were told they’d do it cheaper without a receipt!
We were herded towards a small minivan and 2 drivers that first followed us from the station platform jumped in the front. We agreed a price of INR200 (about £2.20) for a ride to the hotel.
We sat back to enjoy the ride, how wrong we were. No sooner had the taxi set off we were given a 20 minute hard sell stronger than any Timeshare presentation trying to get us to book onto a tour of Agra which would pick us up at the hotel the next morning at 9am. Time after time we declined, he eventually relented after we took his phone number with a promise we would call him in the morning. When we spotted the hotel sign we jumped out, paid and ran inside to safety.