The main reason why i traveled India is to tick my fourth Seven Wonders of the World bucketlist – Taj Mahal
After reading several blogs for tips and guides, I decided to visit the Taj Mahal early in the morning to avoid the crowd. I already had a glimpse of Taj across the Mehtab Bagh and Agra Fort. It’s time to see it closely.
Taj Mahal is set to open by sunrise at 6:30am. I met my guide outside my hostel as early as 6:15am. Just enough time to reach the gate as it opens. My hostel is just about 500m from the East gate parking area where a free golf cart ride is available up to the east gate. So check out your map and see how far your accommodation to the gate.
Entrance fee to Taj Mahal is 1100INR. After getting a ticket, proceed to the screening gate for security gate, separate lines for gents and ladies. Be sure to check my “things to bring and not to bring” below this post.
The Great Gate
Lines are still considerably short when we reached the gate, it only took us less than 5mins to pass the security. After the security, the Great Gate welcomes all the visitor as they enter the garden of Taj Mahal. Note that during December and January, there is a high possibility of foggy/smoggy morning that can hide the Taj Mahal and ruin your planned instagram shot. But dont worry, surely fog will clear up in few hours.
As I enter through the Great Gate, the feeling of excitement builds up. Your imagination on how the Taj will slowly appear in the contrasted light foreground. And Yes! It really happened and it didn’t disappoint.
I was still in awe seeing the Taj from afar while my guide is trying to tell more information about its history. My guide show me where can we get a good shot with Taj on the background. Tip: most visitors will try to have a selfie or just picture the Taj from the flatform right outside the Great Gate, but you can also go down and have a seat on some of the bench on the side to get a perfect shot without hustling with the crowd besides you. You can also go in the iconic pricess diana chair – but note that you will have to wait on the queue.
This magnificent architecture takes over 20-year period to construct on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India. It was built in year 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth on their 14th child. The mausoleum has a combination of Indian, Persian and Islamic designs. It is built of ivory white marble that seems to change color depending on the daylight. It was included in UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 and also part of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Go ahead, walk towards the Taj and look closely to its beautifully hand carved marble designs – the arabic insriptions in the arc, those floral carvings on the walls and pillars and the ornament marble inlays using diffent colored stones.
Aside from that, Taj mahal is known for its symetrical design – the main mosoleum, the garden and even the two mosque in both sides.
After getting all those informations from my guide on how the Taj was built and the love story if Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, we went inside the mausoleum. Photography inside the tomb is not allowed. There will be lines going inside, but since I came early, which is only around 8am that time, lines are still not long. There are two tombs inside, Mumtaz Mahal in the center, and beside it is the one for Shah Jahan. The tomb is surrounded by slab of white marble that are carved with complicated yet beautiful designs. The orignal tomb is located underground the mosoleum, the display is only the replica. But at least once a year, the Taj Mahal opens the underground to public.
After completing the tour around the mausoleum, I told my guide that he can already go and I still wanted to stay a little longer to live in the moment for this magnificent architecture and also to shoot some clips for my vlog.
I ended my Taj Mahal bucketlist around 10am, just enough time to go back to my hostel, check out and prepare to travel on my next destination – The Pink City of Jaipur.
- October – March, though with high chances of foggy morning, surely it will clear up after few hours after sunrise. These month have the most tolerable weather – cool and less rain.
- Go as early as 6am or before the sunrise if you want to avoid the crowd. As per my guide, crowd mostly Indian nationals come to Taj around 10am and afternoon.
- Book your accommodation near the parking gates where you can take golf cart ride to the main gate and tickect counter. If you feel energetic, you can also walk up to the main gate from your accommodation, just check maps for the distance. Ride is free for holder of 1100INR Entrance ticket. But you can also pay 10INR only per ride
- You can purchase you ticket online or you can buy it in the counter. My guide bought my ticket, but as i saw, not much line in the counter. It will not take time. Please note that if you purchase ticket online, it will asked for you intended visiting date and may restrict your “go with the flow” schedule
- Do not bring big luggage or bag as you may not be allowed to carry it inside.
- Photography is allowed but TRIPODS are strictly prohibited. I have my DJI Osmo Mobile and they thoroughly check itvfor any attached or hidden tripod.
- Food is not allowed but you can bring bottled water that is included in your ticket. No food stall/ store inside the complex.
- Taj Mahal is closed every Friday to visitors. Only locals of Agra (muslim) is allowed to enter and walk thru specific pathways to attend their prayers in the mosque.
- Shoes are not allowed on the marble grounds of the Taj Mahal and also in the mosque. Shoe cover is also provided free (included with the ticket together with bottled water).
- Spend at least a night in Agra, if you arrive by afternoon, you can visit Agra Fort and Mehtab Bagh Garden. Visit the Taj Mahal the next morning.
- Look closely and beyond – Taj Mahal is not just the four cornered symmetrical mausoleum. Look closely for its designs and carvings, and enjoy the gardens surrounding it. There is a museum in the left side of the garden, as per my guide it opens 9am, so you can check it also if you have time.
Hope this trip report and tips can help you in planning your Taj Mahal experience.