When I finally reached city 800 on this long journey around the world, I arrived by train into the city of Agra. Agra boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and more hotels than you can count. So it means, there’s always somewhere to stay, but how do you choose which hotel or hostel to book?
For me, I decided it would be amazing to be able to walk to the Taj Mahal from my hostel. So when I checked online, the Big Brother Hostel in Agra is the closest hostel to the Taj Mahal! Perfect, Sir – book me in for a hat-trick of nights please!
So after the madness of Holifest in holy Vrindavan, I headed to Agra by train from Mathura. The train journey itself was crazy, somehow I just made it onto the train. All this time whackpacking the world and I almost missed my train to city 800. Crazy!
I got a tuk tuk from Agra Cantt train station all the way to my hostel, Big Brother Hostel. You can bargain a tuk tuk/auto rickshaw for 100 Rupees, pay maximum 150 Rupees. Any more you are being stitched up.
Big Brother Hostel seemed to justify with my journey so far and it was the perfect base for me to celebrate city 800, tour the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort and chill out for a few days before heading back to New Delhi. You should aim to stay at Big Brother Hostel when you are in Agra, after all, you can’t get much closer to sleeping near the Taj Mahal.
1.Nearest Hostel in the World to the Taj Mahal
While this should be the major selling point, let’s look at the extra positives – you can get to the Taj Mahal for sunrise without having to wake up early. You are literally 10 minutes walk from the entrance. Even when I looked it up on the map, I was so surprised that the Taj Mahal was so close to Big Brother Hostel. Just make sure you walk to the ticket office first though – you need to buy your ticket before you head to the East entrance gate.
2.Cheap Food Nights
Every night, an amazing Indian buffet food is cooked up to perfection. What’s even better is it’s all you can eat and only costs 100 Rupees. That’s £1 Pound or $1.3 US Dollars! All you can eat Indian buffet!
I did this for two of the three nights I was here and it was expertly cooked and being a cheapskate budget tight-assed backpacker, I went up for seconds!
3.Chill-Out Rooftop Common Area
Common areas in Indian hostels seem to be standard and they always live up to expectations. On the top floor of Big Brother Hostel is a cool rooftop common area. It was here that I celebrated city 800 over a few cold beers with my travel buddies.
Again again again – do not go to India to use Wi-Fi. The country sucks for it, even cafes in downtown Delhi don’t have good Wi-Fi. Here at Big Brother at least the Wi-Fi works.
5.Free Secret Sunset Taj Mahal Tour
As well as doing a celebration tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Taj Mahal, Big Brother Hostel organises a walking tour for sunset at the Taj Mahal. The tour is free, normally daily at 4.30 pm and allows you to see the Taj Mahal from a secret viewpoint. There is an option to pay 100 Rupees for the boat as well.
6.Best Dorm Mates on the Journey
Just as I was writing about the journey of mine slowing down, giving up full time backpacking, becoming a whackpacker etc., my dorm room here gave me the biggest surprise. The people I met in my downstairs dorm (the room on the right at the back) were the coolest people from my journey so far. I chatted, ate and drank with Alice, Guy, Damian, Shanelle, Lara, Laura, Ian, Bart and a load of backpackers that were on the same level as me.
It was an odd wake-up call that I can’t really let go of this lifestyle. I love it too much. Those that shared the room with me will know that. Especially the first night as I celebrated my 800th city/town on this journey (I fact I didn’t publicise) that I got to share a beer with my room mates by chance. We were all solo travellers, and sat down, one by one alone on the rooftop lounge sipping cold Kingfisher beers.
The staff here were also superb – huge thanks to Arpan and Victoria for their hospitality during my stay. The Big Brother Hostel was where I celebrated 800 not out and was meant to stop the journey. Somehow, the whackpacking continues but it will never be the same again. Life is full of surprises.
Here are the details for booking the Big Brother Hostel in Agra, India:
Here are some videos from my time in Agra, India: