Once upon a Taj, or 10 tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

No matter whether you consider the Taj Mahal one of the wonders of the world or not, the monument is definitely worth visiting. However, there are certain things you need to know to make your visit more enjoyable. I’ve been to Agra several years ago and I still have mixed feelings about that trip. I have never been particularly fixated on the idea of seeing the Taj, nor I believed in the love story behind it. For me visiting this place was one of the ways of getting to know the country I was going to call my home. Here I’m going to share my true and honest opinion about the monument, without any preconceived notions. Also, I hope you’ll find my tips for visiting the Taj Mahal useful.

Tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

In one word, the Taj Mahal is impressive.  It has to be, considering it took  22 years  to be constructed by 20,000 workers , who were obviously guided by someone with great vision. I’ve been fortunate to see quite a few brilliant examples of Maughal architecture, but none of them had the enchanting power of the Taj – light and massive at the same time, simple and glorious.

Tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

Simple and glorious Taj Mahal

Tips for your Taj Mahal visit

1. There is a number of ways to get to Agra from Delhi: by bus, by train or by air. You can also hire a driver to take you to your destination by car. Whatever you choose, try to get there on your own and don’t go for tours, otherwise you may end up being taken to all sorts of shops where you’re expected to buy marble tables, statues, carpets, miniature (and not so miniature) replicas of the Taj and what not. Oh, you wanted to see the real Taj? No problem, we still have something like 40 minutes left! 🙂

Buy a marble table! Right...

Buy a marble table! Right…

2. Agra is not a very inspiring place – the city is noisy, dusty and full of touts and “helpers”. Stay there as little as possible. I apologize if this statement is too harsh, but these are my honest impressions. I’ll be glad to admit my mistakes if someone can prove me wrong.  The ideal option would be to stay there for one day, just to see the Taj and Agra Fort.

3. If you arrive in the afternoon, it’s better to visit Agra Fort first and go to the Taj next morning.  This way you’ll be able to avoid the crowds and see the monuments lit by the first rays of sunlight. It opens at 6 a. m., and you should be there a bit earlier – people will start gathering in no time.

Tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

View of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort

4. Avoid “helpers”. There are lots of them in the city, and if you feel someone is trying to act smart, don’t associate with this person. For example, one can try to sell you the tickets to the Taj without having to stand in the queue (the tickets will be either overpriced or simply fake). Or they might try to show you “another secret entrance to avoid the crowds”.  Don’t give them a chance.

5. They search you when you enter so don’t take any snacks, metal objects or anything sharp or flammable.

6. When standing in the queue, you can amuse yourself observing the monkeys – there were quote a lot of them.

7. The tickets  cost  750 Rs for foreigners and 20 Rs for the locals – at least these were the prices a few years back. They also give you a free bottle of water (by all means take it!) and shoe covers.

Tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

Wearing my show covers 🙂

8. There are always a lot of people near the Taj so it might be challenging to take a perfect photo. But be patient, it’s still possible – you just have to wait for a suitable moment.

Tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

Lots of people at the Taj Mahal

9. If you’re a foreign female traveler, the chances are you’ll be asked to take a photo with. I’d suggest, take photos only if you feel comfortable about it – with families, women and kids. But if you feel that taking photos with 10-20 guys one by one is not something you would enjoy to do, don’t hesitate to refuse.

10. Even if you find it difficult to concentrate at first, try to take the most of your visit. Imagine there is only the Taj and you, and nothing else. Explore the structure slowly and listen to the stones – they have stories to tell you.

You may also like: Visiting the Taj Mahal with young kids

Tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

Listen to the stones

Hope you’ll find these simple tips for visiting the Taj Mahal helpful. Also hope, you’ll enjoy every moment of your experience. As for me… If you ask me whether I would like to visit again, I would say no. But if you ask me whether I cherish the memories of “my” Taj, I would say yes, definitely!

Giant Taj, little me

Giant Taj, little me

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20 thoughts on “Once upon a Taj, or 10 tips for visiting the Taj Mahal

  1. It’s actually sad the way the touts behave in all the tourist places over India.
    What you have written is true, good advice for tourists.
    In fact I just recently posted a blog with pictures of the Taj taken at different times of day during my visits. You can check them if you wish here: antarik.blogspot.com/2015/07/dawn-to-dusk-captured-moods-of-taj-mahal.html

  2. Beautiful post, i always like your Blog. Thanks for writing.
    Fun fact about this monument is that Taj in Hindi/Urdu means Crown and certainly it look like a huge crown.

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  5. “”try to take the most of your visit. Imagine there is only the Taj and you, and nothing else. Explore the structure slowly and listen to the stones – they have stories to tell you.”””

    I almost given this tips to all my friends, it’s not easy to see Taj alone.

    and Taj means Crown

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  7. Glad to read your description about the Taj Mahal. Of course, it is hard to take a picture of Taj Mahal among the crowd. But thank God, finally I took one and would love to send it to you through your Instagram. I’m sure you would like it.

    Yes, if one does not want to be part of crowd, he/she should prefer morning time to visit it.

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