Top tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

This is the 3rd of my #ThrowbackThursday posts as I share tips and experiences from my past travels.

Visiting the Taj Mahal was without a doubt the highlight of my trip to India. I don’t normally get excited over buildings but how can you not get excited about the Taj Mahal!?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been entranced by the massive domes, the curved archways and the way the sun shimmers off the white marble.

If you’re travelling to India and you’re thinking about skipping the Taj Mahal because, let’s face it, we’ve all seen a million pictures of it already, I strongly recommend you reconsider. There is such a beautiful and magical atmosphere and photos really can’t do this incredible building justice.

But I am going to try anyway…

the travel hack at the taj mahal

Taj Mahal through an arch

Taj

Taj Mahal in India

Taj Mahal iroof

The history of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a monument to his fourth wife who died after giving birth to their 14th child.

The Emperor wanted the Taj Mahal to be 100% marble but due to the weight it had to be made from brick and clad in the stunning white marble which comes from Varanassi.

Building began in 1631 and took 20 years.

Soon after the mausoleum was completed, Shah Jahan’s son had his father imprisoned, presumably because he spent so much of their money building the Taj Mahal.

Shah Jahan was placed in the Red Fort where he had a view over the Taj Mahal and stared at it for the rest of his days as he mourned for his wife.

It is said that he cried so much while staring at the Taj Mahal hat he eventually went blind because of all the tears and the building is thought to be one of the most romantic symbols of love in the world.

I don’t know how true this is but whoever let the truth stand in the way of a tragically romantic story?

The tombs of the Emperor and his wife are in an underground crypt but replica tombs can be visited inside.

There are three other incredible buildings surrounding the Taj Mahal and I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for them. If they stood on their own I’m sure they would be gawped at by tourists but when stood next to the Taj Mahal they are sadly dwarfed by its beauty.

The mosque, however, does provide the perfect frame for taking pictures of the Taj Mahal.

The Travel Hack The Taj Mahal

view over the gardens from the Taj Mahal

other building at Taj Mahal

view outside the taj mahal

tourists outside the Taj Mahal

Man outside the Taj Mahal

Inside the Taj Mahal

 

Top Tops for visiting the Taj Mahal

[icon_check] The red sandstone walls that surround the Taj Mahal ensure that you can’t see it from the outside and it means there’s an air of mystery about what’s on the other side of the wall. Of course, we all know exactly what the Taj Mahal looks like but it was still exciting!

[icon_check] Get there as early as possible. The tourist buses start rolling it at around 9am so anything before then is best to avoid the crowds. I arrived at 6.15am in time for the gates opening at 6.30. Even at 6am there was a queue!

[icon_check] Make the most of the chai tea sellers who walk up and down the queue.

[icon_check] The ticket to get in costs 750 rupees for foreigners which is about £9.00(prices and currency conversion from April 2013).

[icon_check] You’re divided into queues of men and women because you’re searched when you enter so don’t take any lighters or anything sharp, flammable or any food.

[icon_check] They say that food and metal objects will be taken off you at security. In reality, I don’t think they’re that strict but it’s best it’s best to avoid having them to get through security quickly and easily.

[icon_check] Whatever time you go, it will be crowded so you need patience to get a good photo without someone standing in the way. Don’t give up, they’ll move eventually!

[icon_check] To get ‘the money shot’ of the Taj Mahal, you need to join an informal queue by the edge of the pond and place your camera on the ground. This will ensure you get the water and a great shot of the whole building and it will also be straight and without any people in the way. Take as many pictures as you possibly can before the snappy happy tourists behind you start to get rowdy.

[icon_check] For a second chance to see the Taj Mahal, head to the gardens across the river. You only pay 100 rupees to enter and I went at sunset for a crowd-free Taj experience.

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TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

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SHOWHIDE Comments (18)
  1. Great tips and photos Monica. From what I remember of my visit the story is very much true and this is one of the ultimate symbols of love by anyone in history.

    It is a stunning modern day wonder of the world and I agree it should be on the itinerary for any first time visit to India.

  2. these are great tips! every super touristy destination like this has some secrets everyone should know. and \i dont blame you for having it be the highlight of your india trip… machu picchu was the highlight of my Peru trip!

  3. Great tips Monica! I’m heading to Delhi later this year for a wedding so will be making time to visit the Taj Mahal while I’m there. So excited! Did you travel there the morning you visited or the night before? I want to get there as early as possible but not sure if that means an overnight visit. Did you go with a tour group or by yourself?

  4. Hi Monica!
    I just came across your blog and I’m absorbing as much as I can about India because I’m heading there in September with a friend! I esp liked your post on what to pack, it was great!
    With regards to these tips, I’m curious about the ‘second chance to see the Taj Mahal’ and heading to the gardens across the river. Is this easy to get to? Can you just walk across to this area? As excited as I am to see the Taj Mahal, I’m not looking forward to the crowds so I’m excited to hear about this tip specifically! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Malou. Yes, we just took a taxi there. I think we asked our hotel receptionist to book the taxi for us and he knew exactly the place we were talking about. There were taxis handing around the area for when we wanted to come home too. I can’t remember exactly what it’s called but it’s well know.
      Have a great trip! The crowds in the Taj Mahal are worth it 🙂

  5. Hi Monica! I understand that this might be an antiquated post but it is still so helpful and needed! Quick questions: do you have a recommended entrance gate to the Taj Mahal? It looks like the northern gate is beautiful, but does it really matter? Also, do I purchase tickets to see the Taj in advance or do I just go to the ticket booth on the actual day? And lastly, the other sites in Agra like the Red Fort, are they near by? Is there a way to see the main Agra attractions in one day? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Dela,

      I don’t think it matters at all which gate you use. You can buy tickets on the day – I’d get there early before the gates open and get someone to stand in the queue while someone else goes and gets tickets. Your hotel may be able to provide you with tickets too though.

      The Red Fort isn’t too far away. If you’ve only got one day and you want to see everything then I’d recommend booking a day tour. This one with Urban Adventures looks pretty good – http://www.urbanadventures.com/Agra-Culture-Tour#nav-section1

      Alternatively, you could book one through your hotel as they almost always have tours on offer. Or you could find a taxi driver and hire him for an entire day. Negotiate a rate for the whole day and ask to be taken to certain sights. If you get a good driver then this can be great as you’ll get to know each other and you can do everything at your own pace. But there’s always the risk you won’t find a good driver.

      Have a great time!

  6. such a beautiful description of Taj Mahal. I have been here almost 100 times as a tour manager with my groups and its still attracts me. Its really deserve to be in wonder of the world.

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The Travel Hack

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