The Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and makes it to most people’s bucket list of places to visit before they die. The Taj Mahal in India, commonly considered one of the world’s greatest buildings, was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as an eternal resting place for his wife Arjumand Bano Begum, more commonly known as Mumtaz Mahal. It was constructed in Agra between 1631 and 1648 and has been an important tourist attraction since the 18th century. To this day, it remains one of the best examples of Mughal architecture around the world and attracts more than four million visitors every year from all across the globe. In this guide, I’ll provide you with the tips you need to know before visiting The Taj Mahal in 2023— everything from the best times to visit and places to visit near the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal, dubbed "a teardrop on the face of time" by the famous Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore, was built in 1632 as a mausoleum for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, who passed in 1631. After more than twenty years of gathering 20,000 laborers and the greatest designers, makers, and stone slicers from all across India, the development of the Taj Mahal began in 1653, making it one of the world's architectural wonders.
The Taj Mahal is situated in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh. It is 125 miles (210 kilometers) from Delhi and 230 kilometers from Jaipur. The Golden Triangle Tourism Circle in India consists of Agra, Delhi, and Jaipur.
The Taj Mahal is most commonly visited as a day excursion from Delhi, which is connected to Agra by highway and train. A bus service will require approximately 4 hours, a personal automobile will take approximately 3 hours, and a rail ride will take approximately 2 hours to reach Agra.
If you're simply visiting Agra for the day, use the train. Take a train to Agra Army barracks from New Delhi Train Station (NDLS) (AGC). The Taj Mahal is about 20 minutes away from Agra's railway station. You may take a rickshaw to the Taj Mahal after departing the station.
It is not advised to visit the Taj Mahal during Diwali, as the level of pollution increases dramatically and tourists are prohibited from entering the complex. One of the best times to visit is October-November when it's off-season and before it becomes crowded. Another good time to visit is April-September, after peak season but before winter begins. Some tours give virtual tours which are a great way to get a feel for what you'll experience on your trip.
Useful: The Taj Mahal is locked every Friday and only reachable to Muslims conducting afternoon prayer.
For international visitors, the Taj Mahal entrance ticket costs 1,050 Rupees plus an additional 200 Rupees to visit the main tomb. It costs 50 Rupees (+200 Rupees to view the tomb) for Indian nationals (I suggest taking advantage of the additional 200 INR to tour the mausoleum for a full experience).
Kids under the age of 15 are entered free of charge.
If you are from a SAARC or BIMSTEC country, you will pay lower than other foreigners: $740/$10. These nations are as follows: Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand are among the countries represented.
Tours of the Taj Mahal
It is preferable to take advantage of the many travel packages offered by different firms for a stress-free journey to the Taj Mahal.
Agra sightseeing bus tours are also available through Uttar Pradesh Tourism. This itinerary includes visits to the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri. Foreigners will pay roughly 3,000 rupees, while Indian nationals would pay around 650 rupees. This includes bus prices, admission tickets, and guide expenses.
To begin with, the Taj is closed on Fridays: Take heed! The Taj Mahal is closed every Friday, so make sure your vacation to Agra does not overlap with this. Because the Taj Mahal has a mosque on its grounds, the complex is closed every Friday to allow people to attend religious services.
Taj Mahal’s visit timing starts at 6 a.m. and finishes at 7 p.m., closely corresponding to dawn and sunset. It is also open at night for five nights during the full moon, from 8:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.
Tickets may be purchased at the Taj from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
You may also purchase your ticket the night before. If you're going to see the dawn and don't want to stand in line with everyone else, you may buy your ticket in advance the day before.
The East Gate, the South Gate, and the West Gate are the three entrances. All three have benefits and drawbacks, but I believe the East Gate to be the greatest. Here is a summary:
East: Due to its tendency to have shorter lines at all times except sunrise, the East Gate is the one that attracts the most international visitors. It's close to many hotels in the city, so it's probably walk able from wherever you're staying. You can avoid the lineups if you purchased your ticket the day before.
South: The South Gate is the least used gate since it is near to a chaotic market with aggressive touts and attracts travelers because it is close to so many hostels. If you want to arrive in time to see the dawn, keep in mind that it doesn't open until 8 a.m.
West: The West Gate frequently has extremely lengthy lineups because Indian visitors prefer it. It is less busy at sunrise than the East Gate, thus it could be a decent alternative for avoiding crowds.
Because the Taj Mahal is a sacred site, all visitors should dress appropriately. Wear clothing that covers your elbows and knees. While a headcover for ladies is not required, it is a great alternative to have. Wear lightweight clothing in the summer and layered gear in the cold (November-February). You must also remove your shoes before visiting the Taj Mahal, so wear shoes that are simple to remove.
Certain items are prohibited from being brought into the Taj Mahal for security reasons. If you are carrying something, the checks near the entrance gate will not let you pass. Large bags are not permitted; only a modest bag containing necessary things is permitted. Inside the Taj, tripods, mobile phone chargers, smoking equipment, food, beverages, and tobacco products are not permitted. There is, however, a locker room at the entry where you may turn in any belongings you may have
transported by mistake.
You are only permitted to bring a Smartphone, a water bottle, and a camera, which are all included in your ticket price.
The greatest time of day to see the Taj Mahal is during sunset when there is a much smaller throng. Additional to the Princess Diana site, here are several other locations where you may capture a stunning shot of the Taj Mahal:
· The area immediately preceding the main doorway's arch
· The Taj Mahal is seen from the border of the garden pool, with people lined up towards it. You can get a wonderful image of the Taj reflecting on the river from here.
· A riverbank image of the Taj Mahal with the Taj's mirror in the water.
· Shot on the opposite side of the river in a garden known as 'Mehtab Bagh,' with the Taj Mahal in the backdrop.
· The interiors of the nearby mosques
· Of course, any close-up photograph of the Taj Mahal will yield a stunning image.
Because of advances in technology, you may now obtain an audio guide that is far less expensive than hiring a real tour guide. The Audio Compass Smartphone app gives full audio recorded guide in English, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Italian.
Private tour guides are provided at the ticketing booths near the Taj Mahal's gates.
This author slept at a hostel with a terrace view of the Taj Mahal. Most of the hostels and hotels near the Taj Mahal have rooftops from which you can see the Taj, especially after sunset. There are, however, better places to see the Taj.
Outside of the Taj Mahal, the greatest site to see it is the 25-acre Mughal Garden known as Mehtab Bagh. It charges international visitors 300 rupees and Indian citizens 25 rupees to enter.
On the Taj Mahal's eastern flank, there is also an unfinished watchtower. Locals recommend going here to see the sunset. You may get there by traveling east from the East Gate and then turning right at the first fork.
Even if you're only visiting Agra for a day or have a few days, you may still find time to visit these wonderful sights around the Taj Mahal.
This tomb, also known as the "Bachcha Taj," was built between 1622 and 1628 and is often regarded as the prototype for the Taj Mahal. Nur Jahan ordered the construction of this Mughal mausoleum for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, a well-known Persian Commander of the Mughal Empire. Beg happened to be Mumtaz Mahal's grandfather, for whom Shah Jahan constructed the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal's sibling site, Agra Fort, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The walled bastion of Agra Fort, which was erected in 1565 in honor of Akbar—the grandson of Shah Jahan, the creator of the Taj Mahal—spreads 94 acres. There are various ancient monuments within, including palaces, tombs, and old Mughal administration rooms. Exploring the architectural beauties within Agra Fort never gets old. It is also the location of the Taj Mahal's melancholy history since this is where Shah Jahan was imprisoned till his death by his son Aurangzeb when he was deposed as Mughal Emperor in 1658.
· Food, cigarettes, and lighters are not permitted within the Taj Mahal compound. Tripods and other photographic equipment, such as lighting, require prior approval. It is extremely forbidden to take pictures within the tomb.
· Be wary of strangers who pose as exceptional tour guides that every visitor should employ. You may see the Taj Mahal even if you do not have a personal tour guide.
· Because the Taj Mahal is a popular tourist destination, stay wary of touts outside the premises. They will attempt to sell you everything, including bogus jewelry.