If you’re in the north part of India, then it’s mandatory to visit the famous building and world wonder, Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal is a mausoleum that was built for Emperor Shah Jahan’s three wives. This is such a sight that you don’t want to miss in India since Taj Mahal is one of the most impressive buildings on this planet! If you have decided to travel to Agra and visit Taj Mahal, then there are a few things that are good to know before visiting the mausoleum.
Since I’ve visited Taj Mahal, I’ll give you my best tips and let you know how everything works while visiting the wonder. In this guide to Taj Mahal, you can learn from my mistakes to make your experience even more magical than mine!
Here’s your ultimate guide to Taj Mahal:
1. To be one of the first at the mausoleum or not?
It’s good to decide in advance if you want to be one of the first people at Taj Mahal or not. Early in the morning people stand in line outside the ticket booth to secure a place to be one of the first persons inside the mausoleum. You’ll never know for sure if you will be the first person to buy the ticket, but you can secure to be one of the first individuals who step inside the gates.
If you would like to give it a try, then I recommend being there no later than 05.00 am and also plan the day before on how to get to the ticket booth.
If you prefer to sleep in the morning, that’s fine too, but don’t get there too late since you risk ending up in huge crowds.
2. How to buy a ticket
The ticket for the Taj Mahal, purchase about 1 kilometer before the entrance to Taj Mahal at the Eastern Gate. The ticket costs 750 rupees for foreigners, 20 rupees for locals and 550 rupees for those who are nationals of SAARC and from the BIMSTEC countries.
Early in the morning, the queue starts to grow – even before the ticket booth has opened. So if you want to be one of the first persons there, you’ll have to be there on time!
It can also be good to know that there are a water bottle and shoe covers (to be used up at the mausoleum) for you to pick up for free outside the ticket office. You have to use the shoe covers up in Taj Mahal.
3. Transportation from the ticket booth to the Taj Mahal entrance
After you have purchased your ticket to the world wonder, then it’s time to decide how to get there. There are four options; by foot, by the small tourist cars, horse carriage or bicycle taxi. It takes about 5-10 minutes to walk, and the small cars are the fastest option. I don’t recommend you to travel by horse and carriage since it’s incredibly cruel towards the animals that must walk day in and day out dragging around lazy tourists.
4. The Security Control
When you get to the entrance, you have to stand in another queue to go through the security control. Here they do a body check, so you don’t have any sharp items and also cut your tickets and scan your bags. When you go through this security control, it’s important that you don’t have something with you that’s forbidden inside the gates. Otherwise, your plans will not go as you planned.
If you now would have something that isn’t allowed to bring in – then they will ask you to throw it away or leave the queue and leave your item inside one of the shops outside (which is not safe), or go all the way back to the ticket booth to leave it in a safe.
This, unfortunately, happened to me – so I woke up super early in the morning in vain…
To be honest, it’s a bit confusing of what you can bring inside Taj Mahl or not. Things like weapons and explosives are quite obvious you can’t bring inside – but, it was some items that weren’t included in the “stuff you can’t carry inside” sign.
Before I entered the security control, I had a look at this sign, just to make sure that I could bring all of my things inside. However, when I arrived at the security control, I couldn’t bring my tripod for my camera into the area? So I had to walk all the way back to the ticket counter and leave it there…
The absolute best is to bring as little as possible and only the most important, such as your camera, beverages, and other personal necessities.
5. Ready to enjoy the beautiful Taj Mahal
When this whole “process” is over, you can finally explore Taj Mahal and the beautiful surrounding architecture – which is amazing!!
As a photographer – to be prepared to 100%
If you’re looking for to take excellent pictures of the Taj Mahal during your stay, there are also some other important things to consider before planning your visit. Like it can happen in other places around the world, there can be construction work at these beautiful places. And this can ruin your photography plans.
During my trip through Asia 2015/2016, I had the misfortune to visit Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Wat Rong Khun & Wat Arun (Thailand) and also the Taj Mahal in India when they were under construction.
After a lot of disappointment of not getting those perfect shots, the next disappointment came – three of the four iconic pillars were covered with scaffolding and blue plastic coating. This was not quite what I had expected.
I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to be as disappointed as I was. Sure, it was still beautiful – but if I had known, maybe I would have visited Taj Mahal another time? However, one should not be sad or grumpy for this – there are still several excellent opportunities to photograph cool pictures of Taj Mahal (if not ugly scaffolding would cover the top of the building haha).
If it would happen to you too, then I recommend going around the building to see it from new angles and be creative.
Facts about Taj Mahal
Admission: 750 Rupees per person
Hours: Opens at sunrise, closing at sunset.
Now I hope that you enjoyed my guide to Taj Mahal and that my tips and experiences have been helpful for you. I don’t want you to have the same experience as I had when visiting the Taj Mahal, since it’s such a magical place!
If you need some more information about things to do in Agra, then you should check out my article “Top 6 Things to Do in Agra.”