The Taj Mahal was built in honor of Prince Shah Jahan’s wife who died after giving birth to their 14th child. 14. That’s 14 children. 14 times a child came out of her… You better build me a Taj Mahal, too, if I’m birthing 14 of those things.
Hush, my dear ovaries, we are not even ready for one yet. Continuing on…
The Taj Mahal is the biggest attraction for tourists in India, if not the only reason for many to visit India (although it shouldn’t be). If visiting the Taj Mahal is on your bucket list, then this is the post for you!
When I went to the Taj Mahal, I had one plan: Wake up early, wait in line, go see the Taj Mahal. I didn’t know about the in-between stuff, so I’ve created this guide for you to be able to see the Taj Mahal in a timely manner without any interruptions for that perfect shot of that sunrise.
NOTE: The Taj Mahal is CLOSED on a FRIDAY, so do not plan to go on a Friday.
(If you are more of a visual person, scroll down to see the video on YouTube!)
When should I visit the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal can be visited during any time of the year, but it’s best to go during the winter months because the temperatures can rise from March to October. I visited in March and by 10 am I was getting pretty sweaty.
What is the best time to visit the Taj Mahal?
The best time to visit is sunrise or sunset. I was able to see it at sunrise, but I definitely would love to go back and see it at sunset. Midday is fine too, but if you are looking to take pictures sunrise and sunset offer the best lighting.
What should I wear to the Taj Mahal?
Because the Taj Mahal is made of white marble shoot for very colorful clothing. It will look amazing in pictures. As far as bare skin, there are no strict restrictions, however, it is India. Be respectful of the culture. Wear long dresses or pants and t-shirts with scarves to cover up any extra skin. Scarves look amazing in photos anyway.
Steps to Getting into the Taj Mahal for Sunrise
GO TO AGRA INDIA
The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, in the north of India. The best way to get there is to fly into Delhi, and from there take a domestic flight to Agra, or the local train to Agra. There are several trains going in and out of Agra every day from Delhi and they take about 2-3 hours. One thing you should know about Agra is it is a tough city to love, so I don’t think you should spend more days than you have to there. Plan to arrive the night before.
STAY NEAR EAST GATE
Most of the hotel accommodations are located near the East Gate entrance, which is much preferred. The West gate entrance is usually longer with Indian tourists lining up throughout the day. Hotels on or near Taj East Gate Road and Shilpgram Road are about a 10-15 minute walk from the entrance of the Taj Mahal.
WAKE UP EARLY
Everyone is going to follow this advice, which means the line of people who also wake up early will be long, so you’ll want to rise earlier than the early-risers. You want to be that first bird to get the worm before the other birds even fathom searching for the worm. Does that make sense? Entrance to the Taj Mahal opens 30 minutes prior to sunrise. The ticket office opens one hour before sunrise. Ex: If sunrise is at 6:30 am, you’ll want to be at the ticket office before 5:30 am so you can be one of the first people in line to buy a ticket and then get in line to enter the Taj Mahal.
BUY YOUR TICKET
The ticket office is separate from the entrance so don’t just go straight to the entrance and stand in line. You’ll need a ticket. It’s off to the right of the East entrance gate. If there’s two of you, one person should stand in line while the other gets the ticket. As of March 2018, the tickets are 1,300 rupees. This includes the entrance to Taj Mahal, entrance to the mausoleum and taxes.
PICK UP AMENITIES
A free water bottle and shoe covers are included in the foreigner ticket price, which are picked up at a separate window near the ticket office.
STAND IN LINE
Obvs. But FYI, male and females must stand in separate lines which lead to security check.
DON’T BRING A BAG
If you are in a hurry to get into the Taj Mahal, to be the first one on location, no people in the background, ready, the sun rising like it’s putting you in the spotlight, then you should NOT bring a bag. Why? Because you go through routine security, and on the other side is possibly the slowest x-ray machine in the world (especially when you’re in a hurry to see the sunrise). Everyone who brings a bag must put it through the x-ray machine, and then have their bag manually checked by security. So, things you should not bring: tripod, snacks, reading material (you will be forced to go back and put them in a locker). Things you should bring: camera, cell phone, water bottle, (selfie sticks are allowed as well).
HIRE A GUIDE (OPTIONAL)
I hear that hiring a guide is well worth it because they know all the prime spots for taking photos and can tell you the history of the Taj Mahal in much better detail. This is up to you. They are all standing in front just past security waiting to be hired. You can bargain the fee, but 200 rupees is a fair amount, I believe.
WALK PAST THE CROWDS
The view of the Taj Mahal is beautiful and you’ll want to stop and immediately take photos from the moment you lay eyes on it— just like everyone else. Do that if you want, but continue on immediately. The best photos are closer up and you can beat the crowds by not following the crowds. Walk right past the initial view, down the stairs and head straight for the iconic view with the water in the foreground.
TAKE A RIGHT FOR ANOTHER PHOTO
While facing the Taj Mahal, go right to take photos of the next most iconic photo on Instagram. In the corner, you’ll find a big open white plaza and a building with some arches.
TAKE IN THE SCENERY
Once you’ve taken all the necessary photos and have seen the mausoleum, take a moment to really soak it all in. You’ve made it to the Taj Mahal, the symbol of love. The whole entire purpose of this building was to represent a prince’s love for his wife (albeit one of many). After you’ve taken in the magnitude of such a beautiful structure, you may go cry tears of singleness.
The Taj Mahal is a must when visiting India, and even though it’s so popular and extremely crowded, it’s worth it to view it at least once especially when you realize it took 22 years to make. Ok, but for real, 22 years to build something for someone you love? I can barely get a guy to make me breakfast in the morning. A piece of toast only takes 2 minutes to prepare!
So, is the Taj Mahal on your bucket list?