After arriving in Delhi, India, the next destination was the Taj Mahal in Agra. It was the night before and as I had heard that it was a lot of effort to book a train, I spontaneously decided to get myself into a possible adventure and just hitchhike from Delhi to Agra – 200km — not a big deal, or so I thought. All I needed was an old cardboard box from a shop across the road and a pen to write the destination. A lot of things can happen within 200km in India. I’ll share the experience.
Getting to the highway
The next day, I got up pretty early (7:30am) to quickly find out where would be the best location along the highway to start the hitchhike. After a good breakfast, I was ready and set to start this little adventure with absolutely no expectations. It was already getting late so I took an autorikshaw to get to Mathura Road at NH2 highway; but the road there was unfortunately closed and the autorikshaw had to drive all the way around, which I didn’t really mind because I was just relaxing in the back.
I thought waiting in front of the exit of the petrol station would be the perfect spot to get a lift. Before the first ride, I left this spot and started walking along the highway after waiting for around 45 minutes. This wasn’t so bad, but slightly longer than most of my hitchhike experiences in several countries before. Before the local bus to Agra, running every half an hour, saw my sign and stopped again and again. At first, I hopped on but when they asked me to pay, I turned around and jumped out. All I wanted was the full experience.
The first lift I got was with two nice guys (Andi and Rajas) who didn’t mind taking me to the southern edge of Faridabad at around 9:15am. They also taught me some Indian on the way, which is always good to know. Namaste ! Getting off in Faridabad, I decided to continue wandering along the highway because it bypassed the town. In order to attract more potential cars, I thought about standing at the exit of the town, catching cars heading onto the main highway going south. While waiting or walking along the highway, the autorikshaw always stopped to see what I was doing, staring at me more and more. It slowed down as if I were an alien or something. Haha. The autorikshaws actually starting going so slowly making a queue, so cars didn’t even get a chance to see me anymore, which was another big problem that annoyed me after some time.
Some cars only gave me a lift to the next bus station like the guy with the motorbike who dropped me 50m from the location where he had picked me up – ha ha. A couple of minutes later, Rajat, a very funny guy actually gave me a lift and asked for a free hug before I left – a nice guy like all the others. He actually called it a “very heavy lift,” which I didn’t understand; but I guess because of his weight. Fun times. He even gave me his business card and shared social networking information.
I was then dropped off in a very small village, where I was wandering along a fruit and vegetable market. Everyone seemed surprised at what I was doing. They probably thought: how did this tourist end up here ? I didn’t mind and was just looking at the fruits and smiling at people and then continued walking.
At some point I had to take a break from walking because it is quite exhausting with luggage in the sun in a very humid environment. Suddenly, a random guy accompanied me, who was just happened to be walking around. He recommended to just take a bus, but I still believed that it was possible to reach Agra without it with the help of the locals. A guy whose name was Harsh (meaning happy), who I met whilst traveling, told me to be careful with the trucks that only stop once they are fully loaded because they surely are going to Agra. This was actually a pretty important advice, cheers.
The next lift I got was with a father and son (who gave me a decent lift – about 75 km). The journey was (like most of the others) very quiet because of the language barrier. Their English is just not good enough to hold a good conversation and my Hindi wasn’t either—ha ha. This was a pity because I would have loved to bond with the locals; but for the purpose, it was fine. In my opinion, everyone who stopped to give me a lift were all great people and personalities, but unfortunately I couldn’t get to know them.
For the next lift (still about 115km distance to Agra), I only had to wait for a couple of minutes; but I actually just stopped the truck and asked if he was going to Agra and luckily he said, yes! Sweet made me so happy. It was a lot of fun driving with him even if he couldn’t speak any English at all; but we still shared the food we both had, listened to music, while I was just lying on the mattress next to him. I then called the Indian guy Satender who I met the day before in Delhi and handed over the phone over to the driver because he wanted to talk to him in order to tell him to take good care of me and drive me to Agra safely – such a nice thing to do. He was so nice and dropped me in Agra, the place where I wanted to go before he continued the journey with his fully loaded truck.
Arriving in Agra
Arriving there was so funny because it was like a big challenge to cross the very busy road following some pigs; and I was so happy I made it.
As clueless as I was, I then realised that I was at the wrong destination because the hostel (Zostel) where I wanted to stay was in Taj Mahal and not Agra; I had to catch another autorikshaw ride.
At the end of the day, I noticed that catching each autorikshaw cost more than taking a bus/train from Delhi to Agra (1 USD); but I didn’t mind because the experience was wonderful, seeing so many different places and wandering around in places where I never expected stopped. Oddly enough, on the whole journey I didn’t see any tourists or white people, which was okay by me because I got more of the feeling of the culture.
Once I got to the hostel, the person behind the reception saw my sign and asked me if I was crazy to hitchhike and how it worked. My reply: It was fun and in total the journey took 8.5 hours. I finally made it to Agra at around 4:00pm. There were 2 hours waiting, 2 hours walking and 4.5 hours driving time – not so bad a statistic for my trip to India. He he.
Hitchhiking in India was more difficult than in Australia, South Africa and Namibia because there are no tourists traveling around in cars and the locals don’t understand or know about hitchhiking. No doubt they didn’t know what I was trying to do because it is very untypical, not recommended, and no one ever does it. I had this feeling because some people who actually saw me walking with the sign stopped and told me to take the local bus, and then asked why I don’t want to take it ?
I TRAVEL FOREVER’s VIEW & RECOMMENDATION
My recommendation would be to smile and be nice to people everywhere because you don’t want to get yourself into trouble or robbed in the middle of nowhere. Try not to wear any attention-grabbing clothes and keep your profile low, not that there was anything to worry throughout my whole journey, but it is just a suggestion not to wear exclusive brands.
Fun fact: a couple days later, I met a couple who had also stayed in the same hostel. I told them that I had hitchhiked there from Delhi to Agra and related my experience. They told me that they had seen the sign as it was put up on the wall.
Hitchhike in India; it is a very good cultural experience. Namaste !