Travel Guide to Taj Mahal – The Taj Mahal resembles a fairy tale on the banks of the Yamuna River. It is the most recognized monument in India and it is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The monument dates from 1630 and is actually a tomb containing the body of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He had it built as an ode to his love for her. It is made of marble and took 22 years and 20,000 workers to complete. Words cannot do the Taj Mahal justice, its incredible detail simply has to be seen to be appreciated.
Location of Taj Mahal
Location Agra, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Delhi. It is part of the popular Golden Triangle tourist circuit in India.
When to go?
The best time is from November to February, otherwise, it can be unbearably hot or rainy. However, you can get excellent discounts out of season. The Taj Mahal seems to gradually alter its color in the changing light of the day. It is well worth the effort to get up early and spend the sunrise there as it is majestically revealed. Visiting around sunrise will also allow you to beat the large crowds that start arriving later in the morning.
How to Get there?
The Taj Mahal can be visited on a day trip from Delhi. Agra is well connected by rail. The main train station is Agra Cantt. Shatabdi Express high-speed services operate from Delhi, Varanasi, and cities in Rajasthan. Find the best trains from Delhi to Agra. The Yamuna Expressway was opened in August 2012 and has reduced road travel time from Delhi to Agra to less than three hours. It starts from Noida and a toll of Rs 415 is paid per car for a one-way trip (Rs 665 round trip). A bus is a good option if it is not possible to take a train. Comfortable, air-conditioned Volvo buses leave from the Anand Vihar terminal in New Delhi every hour during the day. The cost is approximately 700 rupees per person. Buses pass through the Yamuna Highway and stop at the Vango restaurant for a 30-minute snack and a bath (restrooms are clean). Alternatively, you can fly from major Indian cities or take a tour from Delhi. Taj Mahal Travel agent offers a popular and highly-rated Private Day Tour to Agra and the Taj Mahal from Delhi, as well as a Combined Day Tour to Agra and Fatehpur Sikri and a Day Tour to Agra with Culture Walk. It is also possible to see the Taj Mahal at night during a full moon on this private 2-day Agra tour from Delhi.
If you are looking for a cheap travel option, UP Tourism offers full-day bus tours to the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri. The cost is Rs 650 for Indians and Rs 3,000 for foreigners. The price includes transportation, entrance fees to the monuments, and guide fees. Opening Hours 6 am to 7 pm every day except Friday (when closed for prayer). The Taj Mahal is also open to view each full moon at night from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am, plus two days before and two days after the full moon (a total of five days). Night observation is suspended during the holy month of Ramadan every year.
Travel Guide to Taj Mahal – Entrance fees and information
The price of Taj Mahal tickets increased in August 2018 and a discount is offered on cashless payments. For foreigners, the ticket price in cash is now Rs 1,100 and Rs 1,050 without cash. Indians only pay 50 rupees in cash and 45 rupees without cash. Children under 15 can enter for free. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office near the front doors or online at this website. (Please note that tickets for the Taj Mahal can no longer be purchased at Agra Fort or other monuments, and only offer a minimal discount if you want to visit other monuments the same day).
The foreigner ticket includes shoe covers, water bottle, Agra tourist map, and bus or golf cart service to the front door. It also allows ticket holders to enter the Taj Mahal before Indian ticket holders who are already waiting in line. Tickets to see at night cost 750 rupees for foreigners and 510 rupees for Indians, for half an hour of admission. Children from three to 15 years old must pay 500 rupees. These tickets must be purchased between 10 a.m. M. And 6 p. M., One day in advance at the Archaeological Survey of India office on Mall Road. See more details here, including night observation dates. Vehicles are not allowed within 500 meters of the Taj Mahal due to contamination. There are three front doors: south, east, and west. The west gate is the main gate through which most local Indian visitors enter, and generally has the longest lines throughout the day. However, it is the preferred option at sunrise to avoid the crowds at the east gate. The east gate is popularly used by foreign tourists, as it is the closest to several well-known hotels. It usually has shorter tails, except at dawn, when large groups tend to get there. If you buy your ticket in advance the day before, it’s still the best entry point. Note that the box office (on Shilpgram) is inconveniently located about a 10-minute walk from the door. Buses, golf carts, and rickshaws are available for those who are unable or unwilling to walk. The south door is the least-used door. It is close to a congested market area where many of the cheap hotels are located, making it favored by budget and independent travelers. However, it doesn’t open until 8 in the morning. A huge sandstone entrance door provides access to the interior compound there. There are exclusive foreigner ticket counters at the East and West gates.
Travel Guide to Taj Mahal – Security in the Taj Mahal
There is strict security at the Taj Mahal, and there are checkpoints at the entrances. Your bag will be scanned and searched. Large bags and backpacks are not allowed to carry inside. Only small bags containing essential items are allowed. This includes a cell phone, a camera, and a bottle of water per person. You cannot carry groceries, tobacco products or lighters, electrical items (including phone chargers, headphones, iPads, torches), knives, or camera tripods. Cell phones are also prohibited during night vision sessions, although cameras are still allowed. Luggage storage facilities are provided at the front doors. Guides and Audioguides If you want to marvel at the Taj Mahal without the distraction of having a tour guide with you, the government-approved AudioCompass provides a low-cost official Taj Mahal audio guide on your cell phone app. It is available in many foreign and Indian languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.
Travel Guide to Taj Mahal – See the Taj Mahal without entering
If you don’t want to pay the expensive admission fee or fight the crowds, you can get a great view of the Taj from across the riverbank. This is ideal for sunset. Once that place is Mehtab Bagh, a 25-acre Mughal garden complex directly across from the monument. The entry fee is Rs 300 for foreigners and Rs 25 for Indians and is open until sunset. Unfortunately, an unsightly barbed wire fence has been erected alongside the river to prevent tourists from wandering around it. It is possible to take a rowboat on the river. Head down the path along the eastern wall of the Taj Mahal to the riverside temple where you will find boatmen. There is also a little-known abandoned watchtower across a sandy field on the east side of the Taj Mahal. It is an ideal place for a splendid view of the monument at sunset. To reach it, head east from the East Gate and turn right at the fork in the road. Pay the official 50 rupees to enter. The Taj Khema hotel at Uttar Pradesh Tourism also offers remarkable views of the Taj Mahal from its gardens. In early 2015 a new marble bench was installed on a mound, especially for visitors.
The hotel is located about 200 meters from the monument, on the east side. It is a government-run establishment so don’t expect great service. Another option is the rooftop of the Saniya Palace hotel, on the south side of the Taj Mahal.
Cleaning the exterior of the Taj Mahal
The first thorough cleaning of the Taj Mahal is currently underway, aiming to remove yellow discoloration from contamination and restore the marble to its original bright white color. To achieve this, a natural clay paste is being applied to the exterior of the monument. As of August 2018, the work is in its final stages. The main structure of the Taj Mahal is free of scaffolding. In addition, the treatment of the four domes under the main dome will be completed by the end of the month. The clay packaging of the main dome remains and is scheduled to be carried out in stages, starting from the front of the monument. The entire dome will not be covered in scaffolding.
The Taj Mahotsav week is held at Shilpgram in Agra, near the Taj Mahal, from February 18 to 27 of each year. The aim of this festival is art, crafts, Indian culture, and recreation of the Mughal era. It is launched with a spectacular procession that includes elephants, camels, and percussionists. Camel rides are offered, and there are also children’s games and a food festival. The place has a special meaning since it is apparently located on the site where the artisans who built the Taj Mahal lived.
Where to stay
Unfortunately, many of the hotels in Agra are as uninspiring as the city itself. However, these main Agra hotels should help make your stay unforgettable. There are accommodations to suit all budgets and many have views of the Taj.
Travel Guide to Taj Mahal – Dangers and nuisances
Visiting the Taj Mahal can be overwhelming for all the wrong reasons. Prepare to meet many beggars and street vendors there. According to this news report, it has become an increasingly troublesome problem, and many visitors return home feeling cheated, threatened, and mistreated. Resellers operate in sophisticated gangs that have counterparts in other cities that identify potential targets at rail stations. Once tourists arrive in Agra, vendors start teasing them by claiming to be guides or taxi drivers, often using tactics like free taxi rides or the promise of great discounts.
Note: There are official 24-hour prepaid auto-rickshaw and taxi booths just outside Agra train station. Use them to avoid the hassle, and if you book a tour there, check the quality of your vehicle to make sure it’s satisfactory. Be sure to tell the automatic rickshaw drivers which gate of the Taj Mahal you want them to take you to, otherwise, you are probably in the area where the expensive horse and carriage rides or camel rides are waiting to take you tourist groups west gate. Apparently there are only 50-60 approved guides at the Taj Mahal. However, more than 3,000 vendors posing as photographers, guides, or intermediaries, openly solicit customers at the monument’s three doors (especially the west door, which receives around 60-70% of visitors). Hundreds of street vendors (who pay bribes to the police) are also a problem in the Taj Mahal, despite being officially banned. In addition, foreigners, particularly women and parents with young children, are often asked to pose for photos (or even be photographed without permission) by other people, including groups of boys. This can be intrusive and uncomfortable. This news article warns about the selfie hunters at the Taj Mahal. Lastly, note the famous gem scam , which is alarmingly prevalent in Agra. Other attractions around Agra Agra is quite a dirty and characterless city, so don’t spend too much time there. In case you’re wondering what else to do around the city, take a look at these top places to visit in and around Agra. Nature lovers will appreciate a trip to the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Keoladeo Ghana National Park, 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Agra. Thank you!