Travel makes us wiser : A very interesting experience at Fatehpur Sikri, UP (India)

Recently when we planned a short road-trip to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary from Noida, we also planned to quickly visit Fatehpur Sikri and we learned a big lesson during this trip. Travel has this beauty of exposing you to different situations and it leads to different kinds of learnings/experiences. Which certainly make us better travellers and our ability to judge situations/people becomes better. Please don't pick me on 'judging people' because it's important aspect when you make decisions which can impact your time and money, which are precious when you are travelling.     So here goes the story and at the end we have learnings in 2 sections : learnings when you visit Fatehpur Sikri and second section is more about how generics tips while going to new places for exploration.

Recently when we planned a short road-trip to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary from Noida, we also planned to quickly visit Fatehpur Sikri and we learned a big lesson during this trip. Travel has this beauty of exposing you to different situations and it leads to different kinds of learnings/experiences. Which certainly make us better travellers and our ability to judge situations/people becomes better. Please don't pick me on 'judging people' because it's important aspect when you make decisions which can impact your time and money, which are precious when you are travelling. 

So here goes the story and at the end we have learnings in 2 sections : learnings when you visit Fatehpur Sikri and second section is more about how generics tips while going to new places for exploration. 

Experience at Fatehpur Sikri :     So as we got down from the highway which connects Bharatpur with Fatehpur Sikri, after a short drive, few well dressed folks with some sort of badges around the neck indicated to stop the car. These folks were standing close to a parking area just close to the old gate of Fatehpur Sikri Palace. We thought of these guys as authority people who want to help us park the car. As we stopped, we were told that Petrol/Diesel cars can't go beyond the gate so we need to park the car outside and walk or take CNG auto-rickshaw to go ahead.     CNG vehicles close to Palace sounded pretty reasonable and then the guy explained us about different costs for the visit : 50 Rs entry ticket for each person, 100 Rs parking fees, 10 rs for shoes when we visit the place with Dargah and 200 Rs for pick & drop in an auto-rickshaw. And he would accompany us a guide is needed. He sold whole package to us in 650 Rs for 2 (me and my wife).    We parked the car, and sat in the auto-rickshaw. We met another guide recommended by this person who took us to Jama Mosque where we had to take off the shoes. It's a huge campus with Jama Masjid, Buland Darwaza, Tomb of Salim Chishti etc. He showed us these places pretty well and along with that took us to different shops inside this campus where he wanted us to explore and buy stuff. That behaviour didn't sound right to me while Vibha was little interested in to knowing what these shops are selling and certainly they had some nice creations of marble. We didn't buy anything because of unreasonable pricing. Then he took us to a man selling sheets which are presented at Dargah and the man started telling us weird stories around how this shop helps poor etc. The costs ranged from 1100 to 11000. Certainly I didn't buy his stories and denied to buy anything. At the end he was selling me flowers which I would have bought but that personality repelled me to talk to him any further.

Experience at Fatehpur Sikri : 

So as we got down from the highway which connects Bharatpur with Fatehpur Sikri, after a short drive, few well dressed folks with some sort of badges around the neck indicated to stop the car. These folks were standing close to a parking area just close to the old gate of Fatehpur Sikri Palace. We thought of these guys as authority people who want to help us park the car. As we stopped, we were told that Petrol/Diesel cars can't go beyond the gate so we need to park the car outside and walk or take CNG auto-rickshaw to go ahead. 

CNG vehicles close to Palace sounded pretty reasonable and then the guy explained us about different costs for the visit : 50 Rs entry ticket for each person, 100 Rs parking fees, 10 rs for shoes when we visit the place with Dargah and 200 Rs for pick & drop in an auto-rickshaw. And he would accompany us a guide is needed. He sold whole package to us in 650 Rs for 2 (me and my wife).

We parked the car, and sat in the auto-rickshaw. We met another guide recommended by this person who took us to Jama Mosque where we had to take off the shoes. It's a huge campus with Jama Masjid, Buland Darwaza, Tomb of Salim Chishti etc. He showed us these places pretty well and along with that took us to different shops inside this campus where he wanted us to explore and buy stuff. That behaviour didn't sound right to me while Vibha was little interested in to knowing what these shops are selling and certainly they had some nice creations of marble. We didn't buy anything because of unreasonable pricing. Then he took us to a man selling sheets which are presented at Dargah and the man started telling us weird stories around how this shop helps poor etc. The costs ranged from 1100 to 11000. Certainly I didn't buy his stories and denied to buy anything. At the end he was selling me flowers which I would have bought but that personality repelled me to talk to him any further. 

That was the point when I started facing suffocated with our guide. He was also in a rush but in a very polite way. I love photography places well and it takes time. He was not letting me do that well.    Our guide concluded our tour and now asked for 650 Rs. Various events during those 1.5 hrs make me uncomfortable paying full amount to him, because I was not sure if the Auto guys would come to pick us or not. After few telephonic conversations with his boss, I paid him 300 Rs.     As we went back to the place where we had parked the car, I talked to the person and asked why did he lie about he being the guide for us and about entry tickets. Because our guide didn't buy any ticket. Then we realised that our guide didn't even take us to the Palace where entry ticket is 50 rs. Let me not go ahead and share the next part but also share some of the other observations through this time :

That was the point when I started facing suffocated with our guide. He was also in a rush but in a very polite way. I love photography places well and it takes time. He was not letting me do that well.

Our guide concluded our tour and now asked for 650 Rs. Various events during those 1.5 hrs make me uncomfortable paying full amount to him, because I was not sure if the Auto guys would come to pick us or not. After few telephonic conversations with his boss, I paid him 300 Rs. 

As we went back to the place where we had parked the car, I talked to the person and asked why did he lie about he being the guide for us and about entry tickets. Because our guide didn't buy any ticket. Then we realised that our guide didn't even take us to the Palace where entry ticket is 50 rs. Let me not go ahead and share the next part but also share some of the other observations through this time :

  • There was public parking maintained by govt authorities where visitors could park their vehicles.
  • These guides were not certified guides but more of a lobby between people who bring visitors to the monuments and then encourage them to buy stuff from other folks with whom they share profits. 
  • Our guide was in a hurry as certainly he wanted to optimise on time and cater to as many groups as he could. 
Learnings and Tips while visiting to Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh state of India :    If you are driving, chose to park your car in public parking where nobody would stop you at the road side or anything like that.    Whole area is easily walkable if you want to explore Jama Masjid, Buland Darwaza, Chishti Dargah and the Palace with various other structures at same place.    There are ADA buses running between these touristy places which can be used by anybody who wants to explore the city and its gems. (At a very nominal ticket fee of 10 rs)   Do certainly read before hand and have a clear list of things you want to do and also consult map to figure how you want to sequence these places.   Always recommend govt approved guides over others who catch you on the streets. Even then, be very clear about their fees and is that time dependent or not etc.   Avoid buying stuff from Hawkers inside and on the gate of these monuments, unless you seriously liked something. (This is more for avoiding the feel of cheating later on)


Learnings and Tips while visiting to Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh state of India :

  1. If you are driving, chose to park your car in public parking where nobody would stop you at the road side or anything like that. 

  1. Whole area is easily walkable if you want to explore Jama Masjid, Buland Darwaza, Chishti Dargah and the Palace with various other structures at same place. 

  1. There are ADA buses running between these touristy places which can be used by anybody who wants to explore the city and its gems. (At a very nominal ticket fee of 10 rs)

  1. Do certainly read before hand and have a clear list of things you want to do and also consult map to figure how you want to sequence these places.

  1. Always recommend govt approved guides over others who catch you on the streets. Even then, be very clear about their fees and is that time dependent or not etc.

  1. Avoid buying stuff from Hawkers inside and on the gate of these monuments, unless you seriously liked something. (This is more for avoiding the feel of cheating later on)
Learnings and Tips for visiting a new place in the world :  At tourist places, don't make immediate plans with folks who come on your way and suggest something proactively. At times, these folks present themselves as Tourism employees or Tourism dept recognised agents etc.   Read well before visiting a place - Must know things are transportation system, places to visit, things to be careful about etc. Better preparedness is always helpful in avoiding such unwanted situations.   Be careful about making advanced payments before figuring out the credibility and one must be more cautious when cost is higher for sure.  Be clear about priorities. E.g. - We messed up by hiring a guide when I wanted to spend more time photographing in a relaxed way.   Be aware of timings when you are outside and be watchful of your surroundings, especially in odd hours. And that's true for any new place you go to.


Learnings and Tips for visiting a new place in the world :
  1. At tourist places, don't make immediate plans with folks who come on your way and suggest something proactively. At times, these folks present themselves as Tourism employees or Tourism dept recognised agents etc.

  1. Read well before visiting a place - Must know things are transportation system, places to visit, things to be careful about etc. Better preparedness is always helpful in avoiding such unwanted situations. 

  1. Be careful about making advanced payments before figuring out the credibility and one must be more cautious when cost is higher for sure.

  1. Be clear about priorities. E.g. - We messed up by hiring a guide when I wanted to spend more time photographing in a relaxed way. 

  1. Be aware of timings when you are outside and be watchful of your surroundings, especially in odd hours. And that's true for any new place you go to. 

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