Our driver picked our group of 4 up in Delhi in the afternoon and we arrived in Agra in the early evening. The weather was not great for our trip, the air full of smoke and fog. We met our guide, Vishnu, when we arrived in Agra, and he took us to see how hand-knotted carpets are made and then to a very good restaurant for dinner. Early the next morning we met for a sunrise trip to the Taj, although unfortunately there was no sunrise due to the smog. Vishnu was very helpful, he sped us through ticketing, kept the beggars and hucksters away, gave us all the deets on the Taj history and construction. He introduced us to a photographer who did take nice photos.
The Taj visit was no pressure and we took our time, going out for coffee afterwards at a western style coffee chain, which after a week in Delhi was a bit of a relief. He then took us to see how the inlaid marble artifacts from this region are made, and then to see how local jewelry is made. Then we returned in our van to Delhi.
On one hand we could have done without the photographer and trips to the local craft places, the sales jobs in all did not seem very high pressure, and we were all pretty fascinated with the amount of manual effort that goes into making these items. The photographer was cheap, and it was actually a relief not to have to take our own photos with one person always missing.
We purchased two small rugs, which arrived in NY in under two weeks, and are quite beautiful and we do not in retrospect regret going. We did not buy anything at the inlaid marble or gemstones places, and again the sales job was not very high pressure. They thanked us politely and we left without a problem.