The Taj Mahal in Agra is one of the most visited landmarks in the world. Standing on the banks of the Yamuna River, this ivory-white marble mausoleum was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It was built between 1632 and 1648 and includes stunning formal gardens, raised pathways, sunken flower beds, and an iconic reflecting pool. Over the past few years, a lot has been done to ensure the preservation of this famous building. With all these new rules and limits, it is important to brush up on some Taj Mahal tips for you:
1. Do your research
Read all about the Taj Mahal before you go so that you can enjoy an informed visit. Knowing at least some of the facts and history will surely help you relate more to the various places you see on your visit. Tickets cost ₹1300 for foreigners and NRIs, and ₹250 for Indians (as of 2019). Children below 15 years can enter for free, and there is an additional ₹200 charge for visiting the main mausoleum.
2. When should you go?
The Taj Mahal is open throughout the year from 6 am to 7 pm, though on Fridays, it is closed for prayer. The best time of the year to visit Agra is between October to March, when the temperatures are cool; but this season also sees the most crowds. March through June is the summer when the heat and smog are at their worst, while July through September is the monsoon season.
The time of day you’re planning to choose also matters. It’s best to visit in the early in the morning, as you can also see the breathtaking sunrise. Sunsets are equally stunning, but afternoons and evenings are also very crowded.
3. Special tickets
You can also get special tickets to view that Taj Mahal at night during the full moon. It is open two days before and after the full moon, though only 50 visitors are allowed. Be sure to purchase your ticket in advance from the office of the Archaeological Survey of India on Mall Road. The entry fee is ₹750 for foreigners, and ₹510 for Indians.
4. What to wear and what to avoid
There isn’t any dress code for visiting the Taj Mahal, but visitors should still try to dress modestly, covering up the shoulders and knees. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen and to bring along a pair of sunglasses. If you’re visiting in the monsoon, also take an umbrella.
5. You’ll have to walk quite a bit
In an effort to reduce pollution, vehicles aren’t permitted within 500 meters of the Taj Mahal. Both buses and cars have to park about a kilometre away from the entrance to the site, and visitors have to walk up t the monument, though electronic shuttles are also available.
6. There are multiple entrances
The Taj Mahal has 3 main entrance gates: the Southern Gate, the Eastern Gate and the Western Gate. At each gate, there are separate queues for foreign tourists and domestic tourists.
The East Gate: Tickets are available from one hour before sunrise, up to 45 minutes before sunset.
The West Gate: this is the main entrance to the Taj Mahal and faces Agra cantonment. It is also often the most crowded during the day, though it is a great option if you’re planning to visit at sunrise. Tickets are available form one hour before sunrise.
The South Gate: this gate is located near the main market, and is often crowded with souvenir sellers who can get quite pushy. This gate usually opens at 8 am, so don’t go here if you want to see the sunrise.
7. Security checks and what comes with your ticket
All visitors to the Taj Mahal must pass through a security line that includes a pat-down from a guard. Visitors also receive a pair of disposable shoe covers at the entrance that you will be required to wear to enter the mausoleum to protect the marble floors (they aren’t required elsewhere).
8. What you can’t take with you
Due to security reasons, certain things are prohibited inside the Taj Mahal complex. Here’s what you can’t carry: food, drinks (part from a water bottle), gum, tobacco products, headphones, chargers, tripods, flags, books, and drones. Day packs and large bags are also not allowed.
There are locker rooms at the entrances where you can keep such things if you don’t want to leave them behind. So, what can you bring? Your phone, camera, a water bottle and an umbrella, as well as small bags and purses.
9. How long can you stay there?
As of 2019, new restriction ensure that visitors entering the monument have tokens that are only valid for three hours, which will be checked at the exit turnstiles. The new time limit was imposed as a measure to prevent overcrowding and damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors who stay longer than three hours will have to pay an additional charge equivalent to the original ticket price. Visitor numbers are also capped at 40,000 per day.
Also Read: 3-hour Time Limit Imposed at Taj Mahal
10. Should you get a guide?
Guides at the Taj Mahal are usually very resourceful, as they know the history and related stories about the monument. They also know where to get the best pictures, food, and deals.
But, with so many tourists, there are tons of fake guides and scams to be aware of. Watch out for people both inside the complex and on the nearby streets who will press you heavily for tips. You can get reputable guides from your hotel, or agencies like Vayable, ToursByLocals, and G Adventures. Government-approved tour guides are also provided by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Board. An inexpensive option would be to download a free audioguide on your phone. AudioCompass is one that’s available in various different languages like English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese.
Do you have any other Taj Mahal tips that people should know? If so do share them in the comments below.