India 11.05.2020 TransIndus
In over 30 years of creating holidays to India for travellers, we’ve never heard of anyone who wasn’t enthralled by their first glimpse of the Taj Mahal. The gleaming white-marble mausoleum is without doubt worth the price of a ticket to India alone and continues to astonish all who set eyes on it.
That said, Shah Jehan’s architectural masterpiece has definitely become a victim of its own popularity in recent decades. Rivers of visitors pour through its gateways between dawn and dusk. After years of experience, we know how to navigate this and always offer advice on how to sidestep the crowds, and generally make the most of your visit.
By popular demand, here is a roundup of frequently asked questions and travel tips for anyone intending to include the Taj Mahal on their tour of India.
When is the best time of year to visit?
Each season has its advantages, even the monsoons, when the Taj Mahal may glisten magically after rain. But as a rule we advise clients to come in the dry season, from October to mid-April, and to avoid the excessive heat and humidity of May and June.
When is the best time of day to visit?
If you’re only intending to be in Agra long enough for one visit to the Taj Mahal, then definitely visit in the morning. We generally recommend at 5.30am departure from your hotel, which will give your guide long enough to obtain your tickets and ensure you’ll be in position when the gates open at 6am. Although this is usually after sunrise, the light will be soft and atmospheric, bathing the marble in an ethereal saffron colour. The exception is during foggy weather, which can strike between late-November and February. When river mist is forecast, an evening visit is preferable.
When should I avoid visiting the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, so this will have to be taken this into consideration when planning your India holiday - something our TransIndus India Specialists are experts in doing. Also, the Archeological Survey of India, which maintains the complex, schedules periods for cleaning the marble (usually in July and August), when some of the minarets, and even the main dome, may be temporarily obscured by scaffolding. Make sure you check when these times are prior to booking so that you can avoid them.
Which is the best gate to use for the Taj Mahal?
If you decide to use a guide, they will make this call on the day, taking into consideration where your hotel is located and other factors. But as a rule of thumb we tend to prefer the East Gate as its approaches are marginally less cluttered and the crowds are thinner.
How much time do you need at the Taj Mahal?
Generally, a ninety-minute visit will suffice. The crowds and lack of shade can quickly sap your energies.
Do you have any packing tips for the Taj Mahal?
Security is strict for the Taj Mahal and bags and all possessions, apart from cameras and mobile phones, have to be surrendered on entry. The list of items not allowed inside the Taj Mahal complex is long: it includes camera tripods and phone charger cables. Pack as little as possible for the Taj Mahal. But fear not. Your guide will do a check on arrival at your hotel and if you need to leave anything in the car for safekeeping during your visit you will be able to do so.
What should I wear to the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal is not an active place of worship so no special clothing rules are upheld, though as with all public places in India you should dress modestly – men should avoid shorts, women short skirts and sun tops (wear a long, loose scarf to cover your body).
Should I get an audio or a local guide?
For foreigners, audio guides come with the ticket price for the Taj Mahal, but an expert local guide is always preferable. Not only does hiring a local guide help support the local economy, he or she will not only help you interpret the building, providing historical and cultural contest, but also assist with the sometimes complex logistics, which will leave you free to enjoy the tomb unencumbered by worries about tickets, safe lockers and choices of entry points.
Booking a guide in advance is strongly recommended rather than hiring a guide touting their services at one of the Taj Mahal's gates. That way you are more likely to get a local guide with excellent knowledge of the Taj Mahal.
Can I visit the Taj Mahal at night?
Absolutely! And a wonderful experience it is to see the marble glowing in the moonlight. The complex is open for two days before and two days after the full moon. Special tickets have to be procured (we’ll take care of that for you) and you’re only permitted to stay inside for half an hour!
Which are the best places to view the Taj Mahal from outside the complex?
We have two places to view the Taj Mahal which we like to include in our itineraries. The first are the Mehtab Bagh Gardens, on the opposite side of the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, where Shah Jehan originally intended to erect a mirror image of his wife’s mausoleum, but in black rather than white marble. Photographers particularly love this vantage point, as it yields a view of the tomb facing the rising sun, through low-hanging tamarind trees.
The second viewpoint, a domed pavilion on the riverside to the south, requires the assistance of an expert local guide to access. The platform forms part of a ruined mansion built by Shah Jehan’s chief minister, or ‘wazir’, and is the perfect spot for sunset, when the sun sinks behind the Taj, framed by delicate Mughal cusp arches.
Browse all Holidays that include the Taj Mahal here.