We were looking for a room in Agra expecting to find a serviceable hostel at best, and were really impressed by Heritage Homestay. Our taxi had difficulty finding the place, even having been told that it was behind a major hotel that he knew (Clark's Shiraz), but eventually we found it. The Homestay (also called 'Green's Residence') was set in a large garden, and surrounded by buffalo fields shared by peacocks - a surprisingly tranquil setting in such a tourist-centric town.
We were greeted by Veenu and taken up to our huge, marble-floored room. It must've been some of the largest quarters we stayed at in India, and with a pleasant bathroom, TV and aircon. It seemed like the master bedroom of the house! We had to double-check the price (Rs1400) as it seemed remarkably good value given that the econo-hostels were only a few hundred less, and the luxury hotels ten times the amount.
After a nap to recover from our 36 hour train journey, we set out to see the Taj for sunset. We were surprised that it was only 10-15 minutes away by auto-rickshaw. It was, of course, an incredible sight and we stayed until closing. I would really recommend coming to Agra off-season, since the whole place was much quieter than we expected, and the price of autos much easier to negotiate than elsewhere.
The next morning we had breakfast with Swaran Singh - the father of the homestay owner - who told us all about their family history, four generations of which are currently living at the house! The building was originally constructed to house just a single British army office during occupation, but Mr Singh's family purchased it in 1952. It was fascinating learning about the local history while polishing off delicious potato paratha after potato paratha.
We then spent the day exploring the Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri - both recommended. Get to Red Fort early, before the tour groups, and then catch one of the many buses to FS in the afternoon.
Before dinner we sat outside with Swaran and his brother Gurcharan and talked more about everything from arranged marriage to the Commonwealth Games. He told us that if we were around for longer he would have taken us out to the nearby villages to explore. We wished we could stay longer, but sadly had a flight to catch. We had another delicious meal (vegetarian food especially recommended here) and then bed.
It was enjoyable visiting Agra for the world-famous palace, but this incredibly helpful and kind family really made it for us. Thanks!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are a family run home stay with 4 generations living in a turn-of-the century British heritage home. Breakfast is included and additional meals can happily be provided on request. Surrounded by gardens, we provide clean and comfortable rooms with a relaxing, pollution-free atmosphere. We are located near Clarks Shiraz Hotel and 2 km from the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and market; close enough for easy access, but far away from the noise and crowds. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Heritage Homestay Hotel Agra