Is there a building more beautiful in less salubrious surroundings than the Taj Mahal in Agra? Answers on a postcard, but we think not. Yes, there's other stuff to see and do in Agra, but it's all terrifyingly geared up to fleecing tourists.

On the other hand...

Bateshwar, is also on the banks of the Yamuna river and just an hour away. Stay at the Chambal Safari Lodge, a welcome oasis of tranquillity enveloped by 35 acres of reclaimed woodland. Walking past a string of pristine white temples and ghats is the perfect 'agra-dote', but once a year Bateshawar launches into carnival mode, hosting the country's 2nd largest animal fair (Pushkar taking poll position) - a frenzy of horses, camels and cattle - followed by a more serene week-long religious festival. You can wander through the fair, but if you want to escape the bustle, take a boat down the river, or watch from the rooftop of the lodge.