To travel from Delhi to Agra by car, train or plane, that is the question of many visitors heading to see Taj Mahal!
The distance between Delhi and Agra is just over 230 km, but driving along the old National Highway can easily take 5 hours. When we drove to Agra in 2008 it took us eight hours with some stops… And this is with a driver who knows the road! However, thanks to the recently built Yamuna Expressway the travel time is close to three hours now. Definitely worth the toll.
We met our driver in front of our hotel and begun the journey at the dawn. Navigating out of Delhi was not as painful as I had expected, and we soon found ourselves surrounded by agricultural and industrial countryside, colorfully dressed people and some interesting monuments. Our first stop on the route was Mathura. This lively, religious small town used to be Buddhist until Hinduism took over in the 8th century. Today, it is known among devoted Hindus as the birthplace of Krishna. Precisely, it is in the temple of Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi were he was born, it is said. No cameras were allowed inside.From Mathura we moved to Sikandra, where the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great is buried (1555-1605). His mausoleum is a 17th century architectural masterpiece, which Akbar according to a Tartary belief started constructing during his lifetime. It is said to be a forerunner of Taj Mahal and I found it very beautiful.
I know many travelers catch a plane or a train to Agra, mainly to save time, but now that there is this new road, traveling by car becomes as interesting I reckon. Both Mathura and Sikandra are worth the stop, Mathura for religious reasons, Sikandra for architecture. Both are along the national highway, making it very convenient to visit them if you are on the highway. However, if you are traveling on the Expressway, it probably makes sense to use the fast road until Mathura, and from there until Agra use the highway. But ask your driver…
Whatever you decide, buy some water and enjoy the ride!