There are lots of places between Delhi and Agra to make your visit to Agra more of a story and less of a tourism pressure cooker!
These days Agra seems to be no more than a pit stop on the busy tourist super highway, some people squeeze Agra in on a day trip from Delhi.
While this is a shame its almost totally understandable. Agra’s reputation has proceeded it! Cynical comission chasing guides and sometimes even drivers coupled with pushy hawkers kind of detracts from the whole experience of Being There.
This is what happens with tourist places, right? They get spoiled by hawkers and commission agents and that terrible crush of people trying to sell you God Knows What in that short unprotected burst between monument and vehicle. You hear reports from other travelers, from your host in the neighboring city and cut down your visiting time. Jaipur will be next on that hit list, methinks. Uncontrolled hawkers and hard core selling practises lessen the experience for visitors. No one wants to feel like a walking ATM!
The way to deal with this kind of behaviour is NOT to speed things up but to do the opposite, slow things down. Take time to visit the places in between. Take a car from Delhi, call in at Mathura and Vrindavan, the holy cities of worshippers of Krishna. Wake in the early morning to the sounds of bells and chants and prayers and take a long lazy walk along the parikrama routes near the city.
Next day carry on to the little town of Deeg and wander through the almost deserted palace of pleasure here. This is a perfect place for a picnic lunch!
Travel on towards Agra but stop and spend a night at Bharatpur so that you can take a cycle rickshaw at early morning into the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, a UNESCO world heritage site that delights even non bird watchers.
By mid afternoon you can reach Fatephur Sikri. Hire a local monument guide to tell you the story of the ill fated capital city where the birth of the legendary Shah Jahangir was prophesised.
Now you should have arrived in Agra by evening, do please check out the homestays listed here for the absolute best way to be in Agra, these hosts are gorgeous lovely friendly passionate hosts who all go out of their way to make you feel comfortable whilst still respecting your privacy.