If you’re planning a trip to India, visiting the Taj Mahal is an absolute must! Built as a monument to eternal love, this palace is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world and visited by millions of travelers each year. Read on for everything you need to know before visiting the Taj Mahal.
Where is the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, India. The city of Agra is located in northern India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The city gained importance during Medieval times and remains a popular tourist destination to this day thanks to the Taj Mahal and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The emperor who built the Taj Mahal chose the location because it is the most beautiful and peaceful spot in the city of Agra. It’s perched on the banks of the Yamuna river, offering stunning sunrise views from the palace and an amazing view of the sunset from across the river.
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What is the Taj Mahal Famous For?
The Taj Mahal is famous for its stunning beauty and intricate construction. The grounds feature multiple structures including a gateway, a mosque, the main mausoleum, a guesthouse, and gardens which are divided by four waterways.
For the construction of the mausoleum they used pure white marble inlaid with gemstones, like jade, amethyst, and turquoise. This technique is called pietra dura. Throughout the complex, you’ll find verses from the Quran inscribed in calligraphy.
More than 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants worked on the Taj Mahal building project during its 20 years of construction.
Most notably, though, it is known as the most famous monument built to love.
Why Was the Taj Mahal Built?
Shah Jahan was the emperor of India in the early-mid 17th century. He made his home and capitol in the city of Agra. When his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during childbirth, he commissioned the building of a magnificent white monument as a mausoleum to entomb the body of his beloved, deceased wife. His hope was that the beauty of the build would reflect the beauty of his late wife. When he died in 1666, his body was laid to rest next to his beloved.
To this day, the Taj Mahal stands as a testament to true and eternal love.
Is it Worth Visiting the Taj Mahal?
Without a doubt, this monument is a must see if you are traveling through India. It is one of the most easily identifiable buildings in the entire world and sees millions of tourists each year. I couldn’t imagine visiting India and NOT taking the time to see this stunning symbol of love and India’s abundant history.
How to Buy Tickets for the Taj Mahal
We got to the ticket booth around sunrise to try to avoid as much of the crowds as possible. The ticket booths open one hour before sunrise and they close forty-five minutes before sunset. The lighting gets better throughout the day, but it was a priority for us to try to avoid the crowds. However, at sunrise, there were already many people there. Luckily for us, the crowds weren’t overwhelming yet, even though we were there during peak season.
Important to know before you go:
Your entry ticket is only valid for 3-hours. If you’d like to stay longer than 3 hours you will be charged the equivalent cost of another ticket, which is 1,300 rupees ($19).
Multiple lines — which one to choose?
When purchasing your tickets, you’ll find a lot of lines! There are separate lines for cash, credit card, foreign tourist, Indian tourist, men, and women. It can be a bit confusing, but it’s not a huge place and at sunrise there weren’t that many people there so we were able to navigate the flow pretty easily.
You can also buy your tickets online through www.tajmahal.gov.in
Be sure to buy the right ticket!
There are two separate tickets you can purchase. For 1100 rupees you get access to the gardens outside the Taj Mahal. If you’d also like to go inside the mausoleum, be sure to buy a separate ticket for 200 rupees. This comes out to a total of 1300 rupees which is about $19 US. Tickets are free for children under the age of fifteen.
Don’t forget the your shoe covers!
If you are an American tourist, your ticket includes shoe covers (which you will need to go inside the Taj Mahal) and a bottle of water. Don’t forget to collect both of these items to the left of the ticket booth. It’s a bit off to the side so it’s easy to miss.
After you grab your shoe covers and water, you’ll see the security checkpoint to the right of the ticket booth. Pass through security and then you’re at the Taj Mahal!!
Important to know before you go!
When making your plans, please keep in mind that the Taj Mahal is closed every Friday.
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How to get the PERFECT Picture at the Taj Mahal
If you’re wanting to get that perfect photo in front of the Taj Mahal pool, don’t worry too much about the crowds. It’s actually easier than you might think! When we first arrived, we made a beeline straight there. We found an organized line of about 5-6 people waiting off to the side. They were letting people get their photo without anyone else in it. You can either have someone take a photo of you, or take your own photo right in the center if you don’t want to be in the picture.
We came back to this same spot several times during our 3 hours to see how the lighting had changed. Sometimes there was an organized line and sometimes there wasn’t. I noticed if we formed a line, started telling people about it, and asking people to wait, then most people would. Typically we only had to wait about 5 minutes for “our turn” to get the perfect shot. Whoever is taking the picture might need to remind people to please scoot back for a second, but we found that everyone would do so without issue. Everyone wants their photo taken there, so they are willing to wait for the perfect shot, too!
No Photos Inside the Taj Mahal
You’re not permitted to take photos inside the Taj Mahal building itself, but it’s smaller than you might expect! The Taj Mahal is a tomb, and basically all you can see is a very fancy coffin in the middle.
Things to Do Around the Taj Mahal:
See Views of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort
There’s not much to do in Agra besides the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Built in the 1500s, the fort is a walled city and was main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until the mid 1600s. There are a few nice views of the Taj Mahal from the fort. Plan to spend about 1.5 hours exploring the fort.
Get the Best Sunset View of the Taj Mahal
Across the river from the Taj Mahal there’s a park where you can watch the sunset behind the Taj Mahal every night. Here is the exact GPS location of the park. You need a ticket to enter the park which you can buy at the entrance to the park.
Important! The ticket booth closes forty-five minutes before sunset, so be sure get there early!
Taj Mahal Restaurant with the Best View
The Saniya Palace Restaurant & Hotel
We did not stay at this hotel, but if you have some free time it’s definitely worth going up to the rooftop restaurant for an amazing view. It’s a beautiful place to relax, and the views will not disappoint.
This restaurant is definitely where you’ll find the best rooftop view of the Taj Mahal. LonelyPlanet made this view famous, but you’ll find it mentioned in just about any guidebook or travel guide.
Aside from the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, there aren’t too many other places to visit in the town of Agra. If you spend 3 hours at the Taj Mahal and another two hours at the fort, you’ll probably be looking for something to do by mid-afternoon. If you woke up before sunrise and you’ve been walking in the heat and sweating all day, you’ll probably be a bit tired and in need of a cold drink!
We suggest popping in to the Saniya Palace restaurant to relax and refresh. We went at about 1 PM, and we had the place all to ourselves! It was so quiet and peaceful. The image above shows you the stunning view of the Taj Mahal from the rooftop restaurant at the Saniya Palace Hotel. It’s a must-see if you love taking pictures!
Questions about Visiting the Taj Mahal?
Do you have any questions before you go? Anything you want to know? Leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to help!