We all know that the Taj Mahal is the most recognized monument of India. But what do you know about its history? Not much? Then we recommend you first read all about the Taj. This would help you enjoy an informed visit. Knowing the facts and history would help you relate to various places around. To give you a little background, Taj Mahal was built in the 1630s by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is made of pure white marble and took about 22 years to complete. More than 20,000 workers were employed to construct the Taj and it is said that their thumbs were chopped later so that no such monument could be built again.
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is during the early summers in India – from March to June. Avoid going in the winter months from November to February as you won’t be able to catch the Taj Mahal in all its beauty because of the fog. Even if you stand just a few meters away, you won’t be able to see it clearly and won’t get any good pictures. The best days to go are between Monday and Thursday. On Fridays, the Taj Mahal is closed for prayers, and if you happen to visit on weekends and public holidays, then the place will be really crowded. The best time to go see the Taj Mahal is early in the morning, when it is comparatively less crowded and you also won’t have to bear the scorching heat.
Opening hours: 6:00 am to 7:00 pm for day visits (and 8:30 pm to 12:30 pm for night visits, two days before and after every full moon).
Entry fee for day visit to the Taj Mahal is 1000 Rupees or 15-16 Dollars or 10-11 Pounds for foreigners and includes a pair of shoe covers (to protect the marble from any further deterioration, walking around the Taj Mahal with shoes is not allowed), a water bottle, golf cart or bus service to the entry gate and a tourist map of Agra city. Entry ticket for Indian nationals comes at 40 Rupees and children below the age of 15 years are allowed for free.
Similarly, for night-time visit to the Taj Mahal on full moon nights, entry fee is 750 Rupees for foreigners and 510 Rupees for Indians. You may purchase your tickets a day in advance from the office of Archaeological Survey of India, situated on Mall Road, between 10am to 6pm.
There are certain things which are prohibited inside the Taj Mahal complex due to security reasons. When you enter, you’ll see checkpoints at every entrance gate. Day packs or large bags are not allowed; you can only carry small bags containing essential things. Food, smoking items, other tobacco products and drinks, mobile phone chargers and tripods are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal. So make sure you don’t carry these things. However, there are locker rooms at the entrance where you can keep such things, in case you get them by mistake. All you’re allowed to carry is your phone, camera and the water bottle that comes with your ticket.
Vehicles are also not permitted within 500 meters of the Taj Mahal. A study has found that pollution is a major factor that leads to the deterioration of this ancient monument. So if you go by car, then you’ll have to leave it 500 meters away and walk all the way to the entrance.
A guide is highly recommended on your visit to the Taj Mahal. The most obvious reason is that they will know all the history and related stories about the monument. Plus, they can help you get great pictures as they would know the perfect spots to capture a beautiful shot. The guides here also have good knowledge about all the nearby places like the jewelry and handicraft studios and carpet showrooms, where you can shop for some exclusive souvenirs.
How to get a tour guide: Generally, hotels in India have contacts with various knowledgeable guides who can take you around for your tour. In case you wish to arrange one by yourself, then you may check out Vayable and ToursByLocals. Government-approved tour guides are also provided by UP Tourism for about 20 Pounds a day. If you’re looking for something completely inexpensive, then you may download AudioCompass on your cell phone and get an official audio guide of the Taj Mahal. It’s available in different foreign languages like English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese.
Taj Mahal looks spectacular at sunrise and sunset. Mesmerizing the beauty of the monument at these essential hours is something that you shouldn’t miss. For sunrise, get there early in the morning around 5:30am so you can comfortably check-in by the time the Taj Mahal opens. Sunset takes place around 6:30pm so make sure you reach well in time to see that.
When the light of the moon falls on the white marble of Taj Mahal, it is a sight to behold. You can experience this during full moon – Taj Mahal is open at night, two days before and after the full moon. However, during these days, only 50 visitors are allowed inside the Taj Mahal at a time, and that too for half hour. So you will have to purchase your ticket a day in advance, when you will also be given a time slot for the night visit.
Just in case you miss capturing the Taj Mahal during the beautiful sunrise, sunset and full moon, you can do so in a much better way from the Yamuna river. Yes, the view from the river is beautiful, entry is free and you can even use your tripod! The crowd is also much less here, so you can easily take amazing shots of the Taj Mahal in all its glory.