Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about visiting the Taj Mahal!!
The Ticket Office
Located on Taj East Gate Road the official ticket office for the Taj Mahal opens every morning at 6.30am. If you are planning on visiting for the famous sunrise then make sure you arrive exactly at this time or just before to avoid any long queues and ensure you can get down to the Taj Mahal gate as quickly as possible. The ticket office is 600m from Zostel Agra which was a great base for our trip.
The price for foreigners to visit the Taj Mahal is now 1000 rupees per person and the price for domestic tourists is 40 rupees. There is a foreigners queue which you will see as you enter the ticket office. Please note that you can only pay in cash for the ticket – they do not accept credit or debit cards.
One Entry Only
We thought that the ticket to the Taj Mahal was valid for one whole day meaning that you could catch both the sunrise and the sunset but, unfortunately, this is not the case. The ticket allows for one entry only but there is no time limit on the amount of time you can stay so make sure that you make the most of your time inside the complex, take as many pictures as possible and imprint the image of this stunning building in your mind!
The ticket to the Taj Mahal might be expensive but you do get a couple of freebies – don’t get too excited though! The ticket includes a free bottle of water and some shoe covers which must be worn if you want to enter the Taj Mahal itself – this protects its famous pearly white marble from the dirty feet of its thousands of visitors a day! Collect these from the table just next to the door of the ticket office!
Taj Mahal Gates
The closest gate to the ticket office is the South gate which is around 1.7km or a 20 minute walk away. You can take a tuk tuk but given the early morning and the tourist nature of this sight they will most definitely try to over charge you so just be aware. The walk doesn’t take long and will wake you up in time for seeing the Taj! The gates to the Taj Mahal open at 7am (or sunrise – check when this is on your visit!) so once you’ve got your ticket, head down to the gate as quickly as possible and get in line!
As the gates finally opens and you walk in anticipation into the Taj grounds you won’t want to be delayed any longer so take note of the cans and can’t takes into the Taj Mahal itself;
- No large backpacks or handbags
- No tripods
- No large selfie sticks
- No pens or markers
- No sharp objects
- No food
- No smoking / lighters
Every person goes through a metal detector and has their bags searched so no trying to sneak these things in either!
We learnt the hard way and had to take our backpack back out and leave it in one of the many marble shops and hope it was still there when we got back! That being said our bag was a lot smaller than some people’s we saw inside so it seems the rules are a bit sporadic!
Photos and Film
Luckily you can snap away to your hearts content inside this wonder of the world! Our tip is to take as many pictures as possible from every angle, it really is mesmerising and somewhere you won’t want to forget! If you are looking to film however the story is a little different. As you walk through the gateway and see your first glimpse of the Taj there is also a barrier where everyone will be fighting to get their first picture of this marble sensation. This is the only point where you can film – after this barrier filming is strictly prohibited.
We said to snap away to your hearts content but actually once you go inside the main mausoleum you are asked to politely refrain from photography. This is after all a tomb.
The only guidelines for opening times of the Taj Mahal are from sunrise to sunset so just check when these times fall during your own visit.
The Taj Mahal is always closed on Fridays for prayers at the Taj mosque. It is opened on Friday afternoons only for those people who are attending prayers.
When to Visit
Weekends at the Taj Mahal are always busy both because more domestic tourists will travel on the weekend and because the Taj is closed on a Friday the build up will likely then overflow onto a Saturday! We would suggest aiming to visit the Taj on a weekday if possible. As the day goes on the Taj ultimately gets busier and busier – if you are able to visit during the sunrise hours then this is the quietest time and will let you enjoy the Taj in as much peace as possible.
When entering at sunrise it seemed to us that most people remained around the entrance to capture those panoramic views of the Taj in all its glory or made their way along the water in the centre to the central podium with the famous benches. We however skipped past all of this (after a few quick snaps of course) and headed to the left of the Taj to the mosque. Here we could sit and watch as the sun rose up behind the Taj with only a couple of other people around. It was so much more peaceful and we even managed to get some pictures with nobody else in – practically unheard of at the Taj Mahal. Then once the sun has risen you can make your way back to explore the other parts as everyone else makes their way round to where you have already been! Sneaky!
It’s all in the detail here! The Taj Mahal is known for its all white sparkling marble structure but when visiting be sure to look a little closer. We were so surprised when we saw all the intricate details which surround the entrance to the mausoleum; inlaid into the marble are hundreds of tiny red flowers! And, when you step inside the tomb area take note of the screen that surrounds the two tombs as it holds so much detailing, carving and lattice work all over the marble. These detail for us made it so much more enchanting.
We don’t believe there is a specific dress code for the Taj Mahal but be reminded that there are Mosques inside and it is a tomb so dressing respectively (as anywhere in India) is highly recommended.
Despite the Taj Mahal being one of the most iconic structures in the world and drawing millions of people to India each year; Agra the city in which it is built is not so iconic. Other than the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort there really is nothing else to do here. We would recommend keeping your trip here to a minimum of one night. The Taj Mahal should be at the top of any bucket list on a trip to India but Agra itself can easily be skipped. Note that it is possible to see the Taj Mahal in a day trip from Delhi too.
A Different View
After spending a morning gazing at the magical Taj Mahal there is another way you can see it again without having to buy another ticket. Once the heat of the midday sun has passed you can head to the gardens which are set across the Yamuna river and named Metabh Bagh or “The Moonlight Garden”. Here you get a fantastic view of the backside of the Taj Mahal and adjacent gates and mosques which can only be seen from this scenic vantage point. Entry to the gardens is 200 rupees for foreigners and 15 for domestic tourists. Boat rides along the Yamuna river can also be organised from here and are a popular activity for sunset so you can bob along right outside the Taj as the sunset reflects off the marble giving the Taj beautiful pinky and orangey hues!
We met some people who said that the Taj Mahal was somewhat of a disappointment but for us it completely lived up to expectations if not outdid them! The Taj Mahal and all it’s romantic connotations were so vivid and real. As we sat and watched the sunrise through the mist and fog and watched as the Taj turned from a shade of pink to gleaming white in the sunlight it was most definitely one of those moments that we know we will never forger. It may get busy at the Taj Mahal but when you find a quiet corner we urge you to just sit and ponder for a while, take it all in and enjoy the moment as it may be a once in a lifetime. After leaving none of us could quite believe we’d sat right there in front of the Taj Mahal – we were stunned by its beauty and looking back we would so love to go again!
For pictures of our experience check out our latest blog post here!
We hope you enjoy as much as we did!!
C & J