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Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

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wiltshire
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Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

I just want to share an experience which almost ruined our trip to Agra recently.

We had booked etickets well in advance for the Shatabdi Express train which leaves Delhi for Agra at 6.15 am returning late evening. We brought copies of the etickets with us as well as our passports.

Arriving at the station we were asked by someone to show him our eticket before we got to the platform - he told us that we needed a boarding pass to be allowed to board the train, and we would need to go to Connaught Square to get one as the office in the station was shut at the time.

I was absolutely insistent that we would get on the train, so we did - and fortunately all was well. We later found out this is a common scam; the person tries to make you miss the train you are booked on then arranges to drive you there at great expense.

There are warnings about not handing your ticket to anyone once you get on the train, but these are a bit late to be of any use.

So, just be aware - a tourist at Delhi train station early in the morning is an easy target. We were travelling with children so probably even more of a target.

59 replies to this topic
Farmington Hills...
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31. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

Many thanks to all who posted information. We will be traveling to India next month and will be taking the early train to Agra from New Delhi. We will be aware!

Cologne, Germany
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32. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

New Delhi railway station is one of the most popular places for scams over years. The guys are really smart. I would advise not to trust anybody and just to ignore people who want to "help" you. Just walk to the reservation office (1st floor) or your platform and ignore everybody.

If you are experienced and know the game, you could have some fun with them if you have time to wait at the station ;)

Southampton, United...
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33. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

Hi there,

I know I am bit late with all of this, but thought I would share our experience. We were travelling on the Delhi/Agra Shataabdi in First Class - we had a man come up to ask demanding some obscure 'tourist tax'.

My Hindi is pretty good (ok, it's alright) and I was really struggling to understand him as he was talking so quickly and trying to confuse me. I told him talk to my father on the phone and he ran off!

I told the train conductor and he said 'you should have slapped him...you should have informed the police...there are a lot of bad people like him around'.

India is a great country, but you'll get people who try and scam you all around the world....you just need to be careful as tourist...

Thanks!

MATHURA
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34. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

This is a long post. In case if anybody feels bored, skip now. For those who wants to seriously weigh the safe-travel options in India, may read on carefully and patiently.

After coolly, patiently reading all the postings on this topic, I have only one word to utter…Shame.!!!

As an Indian I am ashamed, disgusted and at the same time quite bemused at the ingenuity my country’s scam-stars who are always eager to make some quick bucks.

That even after all these, global tourism community has neither altogether stopped, nor reduced visiting India is another surprise for me.

Anyway, now I think is the time to air some pertinent words of caution for all tourists (Indian / Foreign) who wants to visit India’s North. And this is based on my own ground-zero experience, based on my stay at the heart of this northern part for quite some time (currently I am based in Mathura, which is close to Agra as well as Delhi):

0.0> North India is rough (except Rajasthan which is largely tourist-friendly). Delhi is the roughest, the meanest. You can equate it with the wild-wild of west or may be the other most radically right parts of your own countries. Even we Indians drive cautiously in Delhi, think twice in case if we are driving in / reaching Delhi in late-hours (of late even in evening also), deal with the Delhi-locales tactfully and regularly hear many hair-raising episodes on Delhi (do remember the recent horrific gang-rape of an Indian girl). And I really don’t have very high words of praise or compliments for the policemen in any states of North India (that also includes Delhi).

1.0> Railway stations of India (excluding may be a few places like South of India, Rajasthan (largely)) are slimy, untidy, unsafe and even we Indians sometimes feel unsafe. Trains often run at erratic time. And that includes Rajdhanis and Shatabdis. Cloak-rooms are clumsy, toilets are in unspeakable conditions. Food in the railway canteens, though improved nowadays (then imagine how they were earlier), is far from what we may call satisfactory.

2.0> In view of above: Always try to prefer travelling by road. For Delhi -> Agra->Jaipur trips, always prefer road-travel. Options are to travel by bus by group (which I think will be economical); or else rent car/cab/SUVs may be in 2 groups of tourists so that the expense can be shared (but don’t overcrowd the SUV, it’ll be stuffy and Indian weather is humid). Prefer always the Yamuna Expressway while coming down from Delhi to Agra even it means a high toll-tax and resultant higher fares for your travel. Its more comfortable and safe than the chaotic and unpredictable National Highway No-2 (the conventional Delhi-Agra route). And you have some decent road-side canteens enroute for some quick snacks and beverages (non-alcoholic).

Even I stopped travelling by train after some bizarre experiences. For personal tours, within 1000 Kms I prefer travelling by road. That too my own vehicle. Beyond that - Air. In official tour also I follow the same dictum. However I do take enough information before I embark on even any road-journey (refer my post in Jodhpur forum).

3.0> Never purchase any tickets from touts in Delhi, never purchase any tickets from the Pahargunj area of Delhi (horribly unsafe). Do remember even touts are hand-in-gloves with plainclothes policemen; often they sell fake tickets and simultaneously tip-off police; police nabs you red-handed and fines you heavily; the booty is shared between the agents and the police (this happened with me long back in when I ventured here for the first time as a naïve young trainee fresh-out of college joining my job; I narrowly escaped landing up in jail).

I shared above only one of their many ingenuous ploys. There were some more and on a positive side, this makes you seasoned and cynical. A stay here had made me a lot sensible. But losing your passport / ID cards, credit cards and a few dollars in bargain is not a very pleasant bargain for anyone.

4.0> Avoid staying at hotels close to Delhi railway stations especially Pahargunj (I won’t elaborate further).

5.0> Never even think of staying in any railway stations in night. Often, these railway stations turn straight into scenes directly lifted from classic film-noire (a la “Irreversible”) in night. Gasper Noe or Quentine Tarantino would be too happy to shoot their next film in Delhi station (for that matter any Indian railway station) in night. You can suggest them to do it.

6.0> In north-india, Rajasthan is the safest, most tourist-friendly. The state of Uttar Pradesh (where Agra with TM is located) will come next-to (sometimes it may surpass) our majestic Delhi in standards of unsafety.

7.0> Agra is tout-infested; cheaters throngs almost every shops; never purchase any marble artifacts from any of the shops located close to Taj-Gate, avoid purchasing any items from any of the shops around Taj East/West Gates, never even land your hands on those cute little small miniatures Tajs being sold all around the car parkings or on the footpaths leading to Taj gates.

In Agra I found UP Government Handicrafts Palace located in Fatehabad Road as a government emporium where they sell authentic items (the delicate marble inlay works or the clothe items). But inclusive of government taxes, the cost is exceedingly high. I liked one delicately ornate marble-inlay-worked table that costs around INR 2,25,000/- (US $ 4000/- approx). So do take your call judiciously. At this price you’ll get a small car.

8.0> In Agra, always prefer staying in standard well-established secure hotels located in secure complexes (my first recommendation is Hotel Yamuna View, earlier called Agra Hotel, located in a peaceful location, in a sprawling well-secured complex, well-guarded, a good Chinese restaurant attached with it). Similar others are Jaypee Resorts, Trident, Metropolitan etc. Of course these all are on higher-ends. But in India, safety comes at a cost and health/safety are the most invaluable items to treasure. Also comfort of stay is of critical importance.

9.0> Tripadvisor is an excellent indicator of which hotels are safe to stay and which are not. Check always the nos of “Terrible”/”Poor” reviews here. And carefully read these “Terrible” and “Poor” ones. Don’t go by the excellent/Good ones. Excellent/Goods are subjective. Terrible/Poor ones will bring out some harsh truths about the establishment. Check also how the hotel managements have replied (if at all they replied) to these “terrible” / “poor” rating reviews. It will give you a fair bit of idea where you are headed for.

In case of Agra Mahal Hotel, in tripadvisor itself, (before the recent infamous incident happened), there were 23 nos of terrible reviews and a majority of them were recent ones. Even after reading those, if someone would have decided to stay there, my salutes and tributes are reserved for that brave tourist.

10.0> There are certain seasons in India when there are vacations leading to mad-rush for tickets (both rai/air) and hotels like typically somewhere between Mid Sept- Mid Oct when a religious festival comes and people take leave and go home almost en-masse. During this period, there are tremendous rushes for tickets to all parts of Eastern India (Kolkata etc) and North-Eastern Part (Gangtok/Kaziranga/Assam etc). Also the vacationers throng to places like Himachal, Southern Parts of India – so if you are planning to visit India in this period, plan and book well in advance – else you’ll witness chaos.

11.0> Lastly, while visiting Agra/TM, its not necessary that you are required to stay close to TM only. TM is beautiful, Agra is chaotic. Why not stay in Hotel Radha Ashoke or Brijwasi Royale or Wingston in Mathura? These are far away from the din and bustles of Agra, located closed to highway with excellent connectivity, located inside closed, secure and sprawling complex and only around 40-45 kms from Agra (1 hr one-way journey may be). As long as you are in Agra/TM, enjoy. At the end of a hectic day-tour your mind and body will crave for a peaceful resting nest. Come back to Mathura in night and have peaceful stay here. Till date, at least I have never heard of any scams in Mathura.

35. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

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Amman Governorate...
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36. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

A similar thing happened to a friend and I except the scammers told us that as our names were not on the displayed manifest, we needed a tourist pass to board the train. One guy had an official looking pass and he more or less frog marched us upstairs in the station where a second bloke appeared and told us to then follow him. They had their routine down pat and were pretty good too. I was suspicious having read about this type of thing, but when you are not sure given the bloke's pass etc. then you kind of start to get sucked in. It wasn't until the second bloke started to leave the station and head towards a very eager tuk-tuk driver that we 100% realized the fix was on. We told the bloke to do the proverbial and then informed two army looking guys manning an x-ray machine near the platforms. These guys then duly pushed the other two out of the station. Don't fall for it...your tickets are good. Just stand your ground and get on the train!

agra india
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for Agra, Jaipur, New Delhi
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37. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

ROhanL,

You did right thing.

deepak

Agra, India
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38. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

Hi-

You did nice.

Arun

East Fremantle
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39. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

Very helpful for beginners to travel in India - thanks.

Can someone confirm the procedure for using e-tickets. Do you need to display/validate the ticket anywhere in the station, when getting on, or when in your seat?

Jaipur, India
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40. Re: Warning - scam affecting Shatabdi express Delhi/Agra train

Thanks for sharing this valuable information

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