The Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, is a breathtakingly beautiful mausoleum that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler. The white marble structure, built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
It is recommended to spend at least a full day to fully appreciate and explore the Taj Mahal, its gardens and its surroundings. A day trip from Delhi to Agra is also possible but might be rushed.
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is during the months of October to March when the weather is cool and pleasant. Avoid visiting during the summer months as the heat can be intense. The Taj Mahal is open for visitors from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm every day, except for Fridays when it is closed for prayers.
When it comes to food, Agra is famous for its Mughlai cuisine. Some popular places to eat in Agra include Pinch of Spice, which serves delicious Mughlai and North Indian cuisine, and Taj Mahal Heritage Restaurant, which serves traditional Indian food with a view of the Taj Mahal. For street food lovers, the streets of Agra are famous for its local street food such as chaat, gol gappa and local sweets like petha.
When it comes to shopping, Agra is famous for its handicrafts and souvenirs. Some must-see shopping sites in Agra include the Kinari Bazaar, which is known for its traditional Indian clothing and fabrics, and the Sadar Bazaar, which is known for its traditional Indian souvenirs such as marble inlaid work, carpets, and leather goods.
For those readers who are interested to know the history of Taj Mahal, we had a guide who walked us through the historical significance and the background about Mughals. It is totally optional for you to take a guide but if you are short on time, having a guide is super useful to see the most important landmarks, breeze through the crowd and the best places to take some amazing photo shots.
The history of the Taj Mahal is steeped in romance and tragedy. The story goes that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan was so deeply in love with his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, that he built the Taj Mahal as a tribute to her after she died during childbirth. However, it’s worth noting that Shah Jahan also built many other monuments as tribute to his other wives, one of them is the tomb of Akbarabadi Mahal and the tomb of Hira Banu Begum, both located in the city of Agra. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and took around 22 years to complete, with 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants working tirelessly to build the grand structure. The finished product is a stunning blend of Indian, Persian, and Islamic architectural styles and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Interestingly, Shah Jahan himself was also buried in the Taj Mahal, in a black tomb located next to the tomb of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. His tomb was added to the Taj Mahal after his death in 1666, completing the mausoleum as we know it today.
Getting to Agra from Delhi is relatively easy. The most popular way to travel is by car, with the drive taking around 3-4 hours via the Yamuna Expressway. The highway is well-maintained and offers a smooth and comfortable journey. Alternatively, one can also take a train or bus to Agra, with the train journey taking around 2-3 hours.
Entrance Tickets & Entry requirements
For Indian visitors, the entry fee is:
- INR 50 for Indians visiting during the daytime (valid from sunrise to sunset)
- INR 210 for Indians visiting during the full moon night (valid from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM)
- INR 110 for Indians visiting during the night (valid from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM)
For foreign visitors, the entry fee is:
- INR 750 for foreign visitors visiting during the daytime (valid from sunrise to sunset)
- INR 750 for foreign visitors visiting during the full moon night (valid from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM)
- INR 550 for foreign visitors visiting during the night (valid from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM)
Security & Entry requirements
When visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, there are certain items that are not permitted to be taken inside the monument. These include:
- Food and drinks (except for water in a sealed bottle)
- Smoking and tobacco products
- Arms and ammunition
- Lighters and matches
- Knives and scissors
- Pets and animals (except for guide dogs for the visually impaired)
- Professional cameras and tripods (without a permit)
- Any other item that the security personnel consider a threat to the monument’s security
It is also important to note that visitors are required to go through security checks, including metal detector and baggage scanning, before entering the Taj Mahal. Visitors are also not allowed to enter the monument wearing shoes, so it is recommended to wear socks and bring a pair of disposable shoe covers which are available at the entry gate.
Here are some top-rated hotels and accommodations near the Taj Mahal in Agra:
- The Oberoi Amarvilas – This luxurious hotel offers stunning views of the Taj Mahal from every room.
- The Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Road – This hotel is located just a short distance from the Taj Mahal and offers comfortable rooms and great service.
- ITC Mughal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Agra – This hotel is located on the same grounds as the Taj Mahal and offers a blend of Mughal and modern architecture.
- Jaypee Palace Hotel and Convention Centre – This hotel is set in a beautiful palace and offers a great location near the Taj Mahal.
- Hotel Taj Resorts – This hotel is located just a short walk from the Taj Mahal and offers comfortable rooms and great service.
Overall, the Taj Mahal is a must-see destination for any traveler. Its beauty and historical significance are truly unmatched, and the experience of visiting it is something that will stay with you for a lifetime. So, if you’re planning a trip to India, make sure to put the Taj Mahal on your itinerary and experience the beauty and history of this incredible monument for yourself. Plan at least one full day to fully appreciate and explore this magnificent wonder of the world. The best time to visit is during the months of October to March, and the Taj Mahal is open for visitors from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm every day, except for Fridays. Don’t forget to indulge in the delicious local food, and pick up some traditional souvenirs while you’re there.