23 Dec 2014

Chintu Travels: Day 3, Gray Tourism, Akbar's Abode, and Farewal Agra.
21st December 2014

I started early in the day, by taking an Auto to the Idgah Bus Stand, the auto driver was pretty chatty, he talked a lot about the internals of the tourism industry in India, I was pretty surprised with whatever he was telling me, I probably thought all of it was exaggerated, but then I met a big fish, today's post would be mostly about it and  my visit to Fatehpur Sikri which is approximately 45 Kilometers from Agra. By the way I did have the famed Badei Kachori at one of the most famous shops in Agra, Devarams, one of the best snacks I've ever had, and if you intend to try it, do have some Warm Jalebis from the shop, the taste is something you'd want to store for a long long time, exactly opposite of the one I had yesterday.

Gray Tourism

The auto driver told me a lot about how the guides try to sell a lot of stuff to the people here especially to the foreigners, the prices are marked by approximately 30 to 40 times, and everyone gets a huge commission from the seller, the auto driver, the guide, the escort. The figures of commission the driver told me were unbelievable,  But then later I heard it straight from the horses mouth, I got up into the bus and sat next to a guy who was well suited, I asked him if the bus would go to Fatehpur Sikri, he confirmed that it would and he was himself going there, I asked him if he was from Agra, he wasn't, he had come here for work, He was an Escort,he worked for a tourism company in Delhi which is being run by a Russian Guy(He told me, the guy was arrested last year, because of irregularities in paying his taxes. The man has shit loads of money, and 4 top class cars including a Bentley), he had a good command over Russian, and since his boss was a Russian running a tourism office in India,  he got a lot of Russian tourists coming over.  The big "Souvenir" shops in Agra have links with them, and the prices in the shop are usually marked by 20 to 30 times. The Escort/Guide/Driver get a commission varying from 10% to 40% depending on the price the product is sold. He told me that last year, he made a Russian Guy buy stuff worth 600,000  rupees and he got a commission of 100,000 and the driver who was accompanying them got 50,000.  and the stuff was not even worth 50,000! I parted ways with him on the outskirts of Fatehpur-Sikri because apparently the guides inside Fatehpur Sikri charge too low, and if the Russians discover that they'd probably cancel the trip with his company. 

I didn't have an appropriate photo to describe the event, so please enjoy this pretty silhouette. 

Akbar's Abode

The city of Fatehpur was the capital of Akbar, it's called Fatehpur-Sikri because the city of Fatehpur is made by Akbar beside the village Sikri; There are two complexes in the city; The holy complex and the Palace Complex. 
The holy complex is a live complex with people still living in it, there is a mosque and a Madrasa (Islamic Education Institutions)inside, The Madrasa has been active since the days of Akbar,  there is a tomb where resides the grave of the Sufi saint Saleem Chisti, it is said that anything you wish over the grave and tying a knot on the windows of the tomb comes true, but you can't tell anyone about it. 
I covered the Holy Complex first with a guide who forced himself upon me and wouldn't leave me till I agreed to hire him, I have to say he didn't try to overcharge me and gave me a good tour of the holy complex. I moved to the Palace Complex and instead of getting a human guide, I bought a self-paced audio guide. The guide is very descriptive, (I was looking at this place where Akbar's prisoners were given death penalties by being crushed by elephants had voice overs of a shouting elephant, repeated loud stomps and a man crying in pain slowly dying to death ) , it was worth the 100 rupees. The entire tour took only 2.5 hours, I was back in Agra at 4:30. Racing back to Zostel to pick my backpack, because I had a train to catch in an hour. 

The Buland Darwaza

Farewell Agra

I raced to Zostel to pick my backpack, but then I didn't want to pay enough to reserve a tuk-tuk(I am not going to call them Autos anymore, reason coming up in the next days update ) , but the driver won't start it even after he had 7 people in there, I pleaded to him to start the auto or I'd missed the train and thankfully he listened.  At Zostel, I met Federico, he had to catch the same train to Jaipur and we were supposed to stay in Zostel Jaipur, he was on a different coach,  then later I met Matteo in the train, even he was coming to Jaipur and was looking for a place to stay, I recommended Zostel to him, we three are still together a day later and intend to cover Jaipur together.