Zipping on the Yamuna Expressway to Agra


Unplanned trips have a tendency to spring up surprises, usually pleasant ones.  A long lost college mate and good friend, now settled in the UK was in India and we were unable to work out ways to catch up until he suggested if I could come down to Agra as he was going to be there to meet relatives. And why not, I said, never one to miss an opportunity to visit the Taj.

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

Approaching the first toll plaza on Yamuna expressway

Janmasthami suited us best as it was a holiday for my son, but then to our horror we realised it was a Friday, the only day of the week when the Taj is closed (I cant still figure out why a tourist place like Taj ever has to be closed). But we were committed to meet him come what may. And as luck would have it, the newly constructed and much hyped Yamuna expressway got inaugurated just a day ago, with promises of connecting Delhi with Agra in two and a half hours. Why not try it out, and we set out early morning by 6:30.

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

Greenery along the Yamuna expressway

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

Exit for Mathura on Yamuna expressway

A heavily overcast sky threatened to inundate us with floods though secretly we looked forward to it, adventurers at heart that my wife, son and I are. But like most monsoon days in Delhi, it only flattered to deceive. Where similar skies in Mumbai would have created another 26/7, not a drop of rain met us all day. Starting from south Delhi, we were soon on the NGN (Noida-Greater Noida) expressway in minutes. Signboards announcing the Yamuna expressway greeted us as we neared Greater Noida and touchwood, they were all simple and easy to follow. Four broad lanes on either side, mostly cemented and adequately fenced to prevent stray animals and villagers. Ubiquitous signboards requesting drivers not to use the cell-phone, or not to drink & drive, to overtake only from the right-most lane, and to halt only in the left-most, something commonsensical, but then most Indians don’t get it.

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

Delhi to Agra on the Yamuna expressway

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

Fields along the Yamuna expressway

Just being the second day after thrown open to public, for quite a while, ours was the only vehicle on the road. But we were perturbed by the innumerable stray dogs lying dead on it, we stopped counting after twenty. And several live ones crossing the road made my wife scream and shout at me not to trample them. Unless this menace is controlled, these highway accidents will soon wipe out all stray dogs on this stretch and not to mention threats to commuters.

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

Yamuna expressway – Delhi to Agra in 2.5 hrs

Another irritation, and a possible danger, was the groups of local villagers on either side of the road we saw throughout our drive. Either for recreation or simply in awe of such a fine road passing through their fields & village, we encountered clusters of teenagers and elders every few metres. Most were innocuously huddled in a group and busy with themselves, but some were running across the road and clicking photographs. The kids were just happy waving their hands at every car that passed. Good fun this is, but may soon result in major risk and later to possible and needless accidents.

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

View of the Taj from Mehtab Bagh

Though the speed limit is set to 100 kmph on this road, I effortlessly touched 140.  The road is very broad and extremely good quality, the biggest advantage being that there were no interruptions of cattle crossings, or a tractor chugging in the fast lane or a bullock-cart coming the wrong way. I zipped at 140 for the complete stretch, something unheard of on any road in this country. There are three toll gates with public amenities and food courts, though the food courts weren’t functional as yet. As a small blessing, the e-way was declared toll free for the first week and I managed to save Rs. 510:).

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

With friends and family in Agra

Even with several photo-op stops, convenience breaks and slowing down at three toll plazas, we were at the Trident in less than three hours. On NH2, this journey would have been 5 hours, accompanied by incredible stress and an aching back. Now Agra can truly be a day outing from Delhi. The sales manager at Oberoi Amarvilas was perturbed this may have a negative impact on guests staying overnight in Agra. Nevertheless he took us on a property tour of the Amarvilas, which has the best views of the Taj from any property in the city.

Unfortunately the city of Agra hasn’t progressed much since the Mughals were last here a few centuries ago. As soon as you enter the town, its all chaos, filth, non-existent roads and people running all over the place like headless chicken. My fingers are crossed that after having made the e-way, relevant authorities will pay heed to the roads of Agra that lead up to the Taj.

Photo by India based Travel & Wedding Photographer / Writer Bhaven Jani

Taj from across the Yamuna

There was a lot to catch up with Hemant, reminiscing college days, old friends and a bit of philosophy, we could have gone on talking for days. In the afternoon we went to Mehtab Bagh, which is behind the Taj and across the Yamuna. By evening, we were back on our favourite (already!) e-way. A quick word of caution here, as of now there are no refuelling stations along the road and I learnt it the hard way. It took me half a tank to reach Agra and I was confident the remaining half would bring me back safely. Sadly the fuel meter sunk down to almost Zero level less than two-thirds on our way back and it was pitch black outside by the time we reached the third toll-plaza, still 60 km short from home. Inquiring here I learnt the nearest petrol pump was in a village named Tappal, for which I had to  drive back 15 kms and get off an exit. I will be wiser next time.

Now, its finally possible to do the Taj Mahal, Sikandra and Agra Fort comfortably in a single day.

Here is some info about the Yamuna Expressway that I picked up from newspapers:

Total length: 165 km

No. of lanes: 6 + 2 (extendable)

6 interchanges and 3 toll plazas

All 3 toll plazas have public conveniences and food courts

Approx charge: Rs 300 one way, Rs 510 if return on same day

Security cameras to monitor speed, commuters will be caught at the next toll plaza

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36 thoughts on “Zipping on the Yamuna Expressway to Agra

  1. hi , nice info have one quick question, do we have U turn in the in the stretch. incase if we start from GNDC from middle can we take U turnther???/?

  2. Hi Bhuvan , how one can reach entry point of Yamuna Expressway from TajMahal , while coming back to Delhi , as I understand that there are no good signages available indicating expressway , within Agra City

    • hi Roopsingh, I havent gone to Mathura/Vrindavan via the Yamuna expressway so wont be able to help you with the details. However there is an exit from the highway for these places. You can use that exit.

  3. Pingback: Images : Yamuna Expressway - Page 2

  4. Hi Bhaven

    For going to Fatehpur Sikri shall we take exit from Mathura and take traditional National Highway for the onwards journey to Fatehpur Sikri or continue using Expressway till Agra

    • Both routes are similar in terms of time, there should not be much of a difference though going to Agra & then to Fatehpur will be a little longer in distance.Check it out on ‘Google earth directions’ and you’ll be able to see the difference. Then decide what suits you best.

  5. lovely writeup..i came across this while searching for the exit point for vrindavan which i intend visiting soon.. thanks for the informative inputs..one question.. were there no speed limits during the free use period as you seemed have not been caught…speed limit for passenger cars, i beleive is 100 kmph and you zipped across @ 140………….

    • Nice question, And I wouldn’t recommend you go beyond the speed limit. But like everything else in India, while there are laws on every issue and item, there is usually lax implementation of the same. The expressway claims to have CCTV cameras all along (though I saw them only at a couple places) so pls dont take the risk. And all the best for your journey.

  6. Hi Bhaven..nice of you to share your information with enthusiasts…..i wanted to the exit point in Agra from Yamuna Expressway..i am supposed to go to Sikandra.

    • Rajesh, If you go to Agra using NH2, Sikandra is to your left when you enter Agra. As you continue on the same road, next landmark is the bridge to cross the Yamuna (one takes a right turn before this bridge to go to the Taj). Do not take this right turn, the new expressway meets NH2 approx 14 kms on the other side of Yamuna. So when you go to Agra via the expressway, take a right turn where the expressway ends and continue for approx 14 kms till you reach the bridge. Keep going straight (this whole stretch is part of NH2) and Sikandra will be on your right ~10-12 kms after the bridge. Hope this helps, else jump onto Google earth:)

    • Raghav, If you are starting from Delhi, go to Noida via DND and then on the Greater Noida expressay, you will see signboards for Yamuna expressway here. While I went straight ahead to Agra, there is an exit on the expressway that points to Mathura, you can use the same route to go to Vrindavan. One of my pics above has the exit for Mathura. Do let me know about your trip & all the best. cheers, Bhaven

  7. Nice read… guess i need all the luck in the world for it to be a smooth ride for me tmrw morning… with no stray dogs or ‘the great indian driving skills’ on display! 🙂

  8. Things have changed so much since I was at Agra in 1986. Does not look like India with out the gaily decorated trucks and all the other varied traffic including cows. I was very interested to read your post. Great photos

    • Thanks for stopping by. Well, India has changed a bit, but not as much as or as fast as I’d have wanted it to. The cows, trucks, chaos are still there unfortunately. But you should visit again, it’ll definitely be more comfortable than your last visit.

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