Be it as a symbol of romance or for its exquisite craftsmanship, the Taj Mahal in Agra is on the bucket list of most Indian and international tourists. Till last month, it would take one around five hours to cover more than 200km to travel from Delhi to Agra by road. Choosing to travel by air was no good either, as reaching the airport one hour before a 30-minute flight made little sense.
All this has changed with the opening of the ambitious Yamuna Expressway this week. One of its kind in India, the super highway cuts the travel time between Delhi to
Agra by two and a half hours.
Invited by the Oberoi hospitality group to test-travel on the expressway before it opened to the public and check out their luxurious hotel Amarvilas in Agra, I embarked on a rather memorable journey last week. Driving through Greater Noida, we initially encountered some traffic jam but once our SUV hit the six lane expressway, we were magically transported into a new world with beautiful scenery and no traffic jams, muddy tracks or red lights. As we zoomed along the highway at 100 kilometres per hour, the scenery passed by like a film on fast forward mode.
There are three toll booths along the way — at Jewar, Mathura and Agra, with a total toll tax for a one-way trip from Greater Noida’s Pari Chowk to Agra is Rs. 320 by car. Also, there are restrooms 20 metres ahead of the toll. We covered the 165km drive to Agra (which is 35km less in distance as compared to the alternate route) in around two hours. After a 15-minute drive through the city of Agra, we got the first glimpse of the Taj, in all its majestic splendour and looking every inch a wonder of the world. The Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel, which lies just 600 meters on the east of the Taj Mahal, gives a magnificent view of the monument from each of its ultra luxurious rooms.
The writer’s trip was sponsored by The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra.