Destination Bucket List: Taj Mahal
Every visitor to India hopes to see the world-famous Taj Mahal in all its glory. The magnificent structure is a sight to behold with its intricately designed exteriors made from white marble. Pictures really don’t do justice; you have to see it for yourself.
Built during the time when Mughals ruled India, the Taj Mahal is a monument to an undying love of an Emperor towards his wife. Shah Jahan spared no detail when he ordered a mausoleum to be constructed to house the remains of Mumtaz Mahal. He gathered the best architects and craftsmen in the land along with a whole army of builders to complete the construction.
Centuries later, the Taj Mahal has gained fame and recognition, making it one of the most recognizable structures in the world. UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site because it is an exquisite example of Mughal architecture. It is also included in the New Seven Wonders of the World. That is why there’s no better time than now to plan the trip of a lifetime to see the Taj Mahal.
When to Go
Visiting India is more comfortable during the cool months, from November to January. But during this period, throngs of tourists make their way to Taj Mahal and other attractions in the country. That is why some travelers prefer to visit during the summer despite the insane heat.
The Taj is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset but is closed on Fridays when Muslims visit the monument for worship service.
How To Get There
Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, is found in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The city is accessible by train and bus from the capital and other major cities. The popular choices for train travel to Agra from Delhi are Taj Express and Shatabdi Express. Both services offer air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned seating. Unfortunately, they make one to three stops on the way to Agra.
The recently launched Gatimaan Express is the country’s premier semi-high speed train system. It runs non-stop at a speed of 160 kph and travels from Delhi to Agra within an hour and 40 minutes. There is food service onboard, as well as attendants to assist passengers.
A Few Don’ts
Security and cleanliness and proper conduct are observed inside the monument. Keep in mind that you’re entering not just a building, but a national treasure and World Heritage Site at that.
Big backpacks and luggage aren’t recommended because you will go through security checks inside the Taj. You can bring your mobile phones as long as it is switched off while you’re in the premises. Photography is allowed except in the main mausoleum. Smoking and eating are strictly prohibited.
Never touch the walls and surfaces of the memorial, most especially the intricate inlay artwork. Doing so will have a bad effect on the preservation of this heritage building.
Other items that are prohibited in the Taj are liquor, tobacco products, firearms, knives, mobile chargers, headphones, wires and tripods.
Tips to Help You Enjoy Your Visit
Being a famous tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal attracts millions of visitors every year. Expect to find throngs of tourists wanting to enter the monument every day. Make it a stress-free visit to the Taj Mahal by taking note of a few tips below.
• See to it that you arrive at the entrance just before sunrise to avoid the long queues of the visitors awaiting entry into the monument.
• East and West gates are opened starting at dawn to dusk. South Gate is only open at 8am until 5pm.
• For those who cannot wake up early, visiting the site in the late afternoon is also an option. You can catch the sunset painting magical hues on the Taj.
• Before you explore the interior of the monument, take a few moments to stay outside and look at the massive structure. The white marble of the Taj changes tone and color depending on the weather or time of day.
• To get the best picture of you and the Taj, stay on one of the benches found at the south gate entrance.
• Allot three hours to navigate your way around the tomb complex on a comfortable pace.
• Don’t forget to make the rounds of the lush gardens, including the iconic reflecting pool in front of the monument.
More Attractions In Agra
If you have ample time in Agra, explore the other attractions in the area. There are more things to see in Agra beyond the Taj Mahal.
Agra Fort - After visiting Taj Mahal, drop by nearby Agra Fort to see the marvelous structure made out of red sandstone standing alongside Yamuna River. It dates back to the 16th century and comprises many palaces inside.
Mehtab Bagh – Photography lovers will want to go to Mehtab Bagh, the gardens near Taj Mahal. With its rehabilitation, the park has become a favorite spot for shutterbugs wanting more exteriors shots of the Taj.
Itimad-ud-Daulah – Also known as Baby Taj, this exquisite monument is made entirely out of marble and houses the tomb of the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal. He was a respected chief minister of Emperor Jehangir, who became his son-in-law.