Discover Agra beyond the Taj - in electric rickshaws
Electric rickshaws of this type will ferry tourists on the heritage tours of Agra.
The city of the Taj is now aiming to show visitors that there is much more to it than the monument to love. Discovering Oriental Agra, a new tourist circuit, will showcase not just heritage monuments but also the city's culture, cuisine and industry - in electric rickshaws.
Described as a "journey through the heart of the Taj city", the daily hour-long tour that was formally launched on Sunday has been organised by members of Agra Beat, a group seeking to promote alternative tourism. While a number of rehearsals have been conducted, regular tours will begin in the first week of May.
"We offer foreign visitors a ride in an electric rickshaw every morning through the city to acquaint them with the real culture of Agra and its cosmopolitan legacy. The rickshaw takes them through the old bazaars, traditional eating joints and places of worship," a member of Agra Beat said.
"Agra is a melting point of cultures. It lives in three distinct zones: the Hindu Agra, the Muslim and the Christian," Amit Sisodia, the leader of the group, told IANS.
The tour will initially be conducted on four electric rickshaws that can each carry four passengers but more vehicles can be arranged if the demand rises. There is one guide per two rickshaws and passengers pay Rs.500 per head.
The tour starts from the gurdwara near the Taj Corridor.
"Tourists get to see Dara Shikoh's library, Mirza Ghalib's birthplace, the headquarters of the Radhasoami faith, the ancient Manka Meshwar temple, the Jama Masjid, and churches of different Christian sects, as also St. Patrick's Junior College - Asia's oldest convent - and the Akbar Church. On the way, they will see the early morning bustle at the shoe mandi in Johri Bazar, the only street of Ayurvedic doctors, the paan mandi, the petha mandi and the chaat-pakori street of Seth Gali," Sisodia said.
Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society (BMHCS), which has mapped out the route, is collaborating with the project.