All the Information You Need to Know When Planning a Visit to Taj Mahal
How often do you get the chance to visit any of the Seven Wonders of the World? Am guessing, not regularly. The Taj Mahal is one of these wonders and making a trip to this monument is in many people’s bucket list. The Taj Mahal is a symbol of undying love, and it has been guarded safely for centuries. Therefore, if by any chance you travel to India, be sure to visit the Taj Mahal and admire this structure of ingenuity.
We know that it is likely to be your first trip, and instead of going through the hustle of researching about a trip to the Taj Mahal, we have described everything you need to know about this monument.
Where is the Taj Mahal located?
Construction of the Taj Mahal commenced in 1632 in Agra. It is in Uttar Pradesh state that is about 125 miles from India’s capital, New Delhi. At first, constructions were for a tomb for emperor’s shah Jahan wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Since then, it has grown into elegance and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Tourists from all over the world visit India to view this monument.
The perfect time to visit the Taj Mahal
You can tour the Taj Mahal all year round. However, there are specific times when it is best to travel. Early summer (the period between March and June), is the perfect time to visit. The weather is sunny and mostly clear. Plan your tour between Monday and Thursday. Ensure you rise early to avoid long queues at the entrances. Avoid visiting the monument during winter (between November and February) because it is covered by fog. In case your travel plans coincide with the winter, visit during the day, preferably in the afternoon, when it is clear. The unique thing about the Taj Mahal is that it appears to change its colours as the sun rises. That is why a visit to Taj Mahal is best at sunrise. Watch the monument majestically reveal itself.
Ways of getting to the Taj Mahal
India has a well set up infrastructure that features smooth roads, an excellent network of flights and railways. Therefore, the city of Agra is easily accessible. In case you miss your flight, travelling by road or railway is also a great option because it is cheap.
Flights to Agra
Flights from Delhi, Varanasi and Khajuraho to Agra are easily accessible. Book your flights early to ensure you arrive on time to plan your visit to the Taj Mahal. The Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is the most popular way of travelling to Agra. It is well-linked to cities and countries around the world. There is a military base in the city that guarantees the safety of all fights.
Travel by train
India has invested heavily on modern railway infrastructure. It has fast trains like the Bhopal Shatabdi and the Gatiman Express. Get to Agra in a short time. After you have arrived, our dedicated team will receive you using a placard with your name on it. They will guide you as you make your memorable trip to the Taj Mahal. Other cities such as Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Jaipur are also well connected by railway.
Travel by road
The road connections between Agra and other cities and towns are excellent. Travelling from either Delhi, Jaipur, Kanpur or Gwalior is fast and affordable, thanks to the newly constructed Delhi-Agra Taj Expressway.
The management of the Taj Mahal opens early, around 30 minutes before sunrise, often at 6 am. Arriving on time is an advantage as you avoid the long queues witnessed later at the entrances. It is closed at around 7 pm. The monument is closed on Fridays for prayer purposes. During the full moon, the Taj Mahal is opened for five days from 8.30 pm to 12.30 am. It is important to note that during the holy month of Ramadan, there is no viewing during the night.
Check out blog on the best places to visit in Agra
Entry points at the Taj Mahal
There are three entries- the east, west and south gates.
West gate-it is the main gate. The queues here are long throughout the day. Locals use this gate.
East gate-used by foreign tourists. It is close to well-known hotels. The queues here are shorter, although they can be longer in the morning. You can be sure to avoid the long line if you book your ticket in advance. It is the best entry point. Buy your tickets in Shilpgram, around ten minutes from the entry points. There are buses, cycle rickshaws and golf carts to ferry you to and from Shilpgram.
South gate- it is close to cheap hotels, suitable for tourists travelling on a budget. However, this gate opens late, at around 8 am, making it the least-used gate. The entrance is convenient if you want to access the inner compound of the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal entry fees and crucial information
Foreigners pay an entry fee of 1,100 rupees while the locals part with 50 rupees. For children younger than 15 years, entry is free. Purchase tickets online at this websiteand avoid the long queues at the ticket offices.
Note: Taj Mahal tickets are no longer available at Agra fort or any other monument. They only offer a small discount fee if you are visiting other forts on the same day.
A foreigner’s ticket includes a tourist map of Agra, a bottle of water, shoe covers and a bus/golf cart service to take you to the entries. You also get the privilege of entering before the locals waiting in line. Vehicles are prohibited within 500 metres of Taj Mahal to reduce air pollution.
Take advantage of the free entry days
There is free entry to the Taj Mahal during the morning of Eid and the World Heritage Week. As expected, these days tend to be congested and busy. It is an opportunity to save your money, and interact with the natives and foreigners from around the world.
Indian ‘Taj Mahotsav’ festival
Every tourist needs to inquire about festivals associated with any country. It helps them avoid congestion and hustle. If you wish to make a trip to the Taj Mahal, consider the following festival- Taj Mahotsav. Celebrations are in Shilpgram, close to the Taj Mahal. It occurs in February from the 18th to the 27th every year. The festival celebrates Indian art and culture as the locals recreate the Mughal Era. There are food festivals, games for kids, camel rides and dancing. The Taj Mahotsav festival commemorates artisans who built the Taj Mahal. It was their place of dwelling.
Enjoy the elegance of the Taj Mahal from the outside
There are two options you should try out when you visit the Taj Mahal. The first one is getting inside the monument. It is the most obvious choice for the majority. However, try the second option of viewing the Taj Mahal from the outside, across the riverbank. The view is best during sunsets. Mehtab- a Mughal garden complex is an excellent place to do the viewing. It is directly opposite the Taj Mahal. Foreigners and locals pay 250 and 20 rupees respectively for gaining access. However, there is a barbed-wire fence that prevents tourists from walking along.
Try an unpopular abandoned watchtower on the east of the Taj Mahal. The sunset view of the Taj Mahal from this place is splendid. To access it, head east from the monument and go to your right when you come across a fork. To access the tower, pay 50 rupees.
Another excellent way of viewing the Taj Mahal from the outside is booking a place at Taj Khema hotel. Uttar Pradesh Tourism runs the hotel. It offers vistas of the Taj Mahal at the comfort of its garden. It is about 200 metres from the Taj Mahal. A spectacular marble bench is set up for tourists to enjoy the sunset as they sip their favourite juice. However, the services are not up to standard since it is government-based.
There is a river close to the Taj Mahal. Take a boat and row slowly downriver on the eastern side of the monument and enjoy the sunset view of this elegant structure. Hire an experienced boatman to guarantee a smooth ride. Although it is a way of enjoying the sunset view, the river is only full during the monsoon season. Most of the time, it is dry.
Things to avoid carrying on your visit to Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal management restricts the carrying of big bags, tripods, smoking items, food and drinks, mobile phone chargers and tobacco items for security reasons. Only small bags are allowed. There is a security check at every entrance that prevents you from gaining entry if you have these items. In case you are travelling with your belongings, submit them in the locker room, near the entrance, for safekeeping. Mobile phones and cameras are allowed in the Taj Mahal. Your ticket grants you a bottle of water, which is also allowed.
Be aware of the dangers and constant annoyance
On your visit to Taj Mahal, you encounter a lot of beggars and touts. It has become an issue because many visitors report cases of abuse, cheating and threats. The touts at the Taj Mahal liaise with their counterparts at the bus and railway stations to spot potential targets. Once a visitor arrives at Agra, the touts pester them by claiming that they are taxi drivers or tour guides. If by any chance you are promised free taxis or discounts, avoid them at all costs.
Approximately, there are around 60 approved guides for the Taj Mahal. However, you will be surprised to get over 3,000 touts and locals posing as middlemen and photographers. They are brave enough to solicit customers at the main entrances (prevalent at the western gate where there are a majority of foreigners). Despite the Taj Mahal ban of hawkers, you will still find hundreds of them selling.
Important tip: hire the services of a well-known tour operator to arrange your trip to Agra. It makes your travel smooth, and you get the best services. Contact us and get the guarantee of a memorable experience.
Women with children are vulnerable to guys asking to pose for photographs. Some go to the extent of taking photos without permission. It is an uncomfortable experience, and this news article prompts you of these photograph seekers at the monument.
The above information covers all you need to know if you are planning a visit to Taj Mahal. You are now aware of the location, the perfect time to visit, transport services, entry fees, and the things to consider and avoid. One thing is for sure, touring the Taj Mahal is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Enjoy the experience first-hand and in real-time.