Places to visit in Agra: Taj Mahal

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One of the most famous & beautiful monuments in the world! Taj Mahal is situated at the beautiful banks of River Yamuna in Agra. Taj Mahal literally translates into the Crown of Palaces & is one of the seven wonders of the world. One of the best places to visit Agra. A dream in white marble, flanked by massive gateways, arches & alcoves, a spectacular garden with fountains & water channels, no wonder that this wonder of the world is on everyone’s bucket list!!

 

This UNESCO World Heritage Site lies on the Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur & is a must amongst Agra tourist places for anyone visiting India for the first time. On moonlit nights, it is simply magical!!

It draws you again & again for another glimpse. We visited the Taj in October 2021 – my second visit…I’ll try to outline the highlights for a first timer! 🙂

Taj mahal agra visit

Best Time to Visit Taj Mahal 

 

The best time for your Taj Mahal visit is either at sunrise or sunset when it looks the most captivating. If staying in Agra, sunrise is the most comfortable time to visit because of fewer crowds. You can also plan your visit around the five nights of the full moon.

ProTip: The entry tickets for this time are limited and must be booked a day in advance.

india taj mahal agra

You may also like: The hidden gems of Goa

Reaching the Taj Mahal

 

We booked the ticket online. There are 2 types of tickets- one with mausoleum & another without it.
If you plan to visit the Taj Mahal twice, you can book once without- to go around the gardens etc. as the area is huge. Next visit with the mausoleum & change of dress. Photos are super important, isn’t it? 😉

taj mahal agra

We stayed in Hotel Radisson on Fatehabad road & entered through the East gate.

It is also the VIP  gate & the gate with the least crowd. The Taj Mahal can be entered through east, west and south gates.

 

To keep away as much pollution from reaching the monument, vehicles are not allowed in the vicinity of Taj and need to be parked in the parking lots at a short distance.

visiting taj mahal
Shuttle-bus to Taj from the parking lot

From the parking, there are electric carts which take Rs. 10 for a drop at the Taj gates. Vendors selling shoe covers are aplenty. We just took a sling bag with money & mobile & could go straight in without depositing anything anywhere. You can find guides inside & outside the Taj, who could make your visit more interesting.

We took a guide, but used him more as our photographer :))

The Taj Mahal

taj mahal visit

It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan’s tomb is also here, next to his favorite queen. The construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631 and completed in 1648; it took a good 17 years !

 

The gorgeous Taj is made of semi-translucent white marble, adorned with thousands of semi-precious stones and carved with flower patterns. The four sides to Taj are in perfect symmetry, featuring impressive strong arches containing pietra dura scrollwork and the quotes from the Quran.

History of Taj Mahal 

The Taj Mahal was built  by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth  in 1631. Her death left the emperor completely heartbroken & the Taj was a beautiful mausoleum for her.

The construction of the Taj began in 1632. Shortly after its completion, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb and kept as a prisoner in the Agra Fort. History has it that  he asked to be in a cell from where he could  gaze at the Taj through a window. After his death  in 1666,  his mortal remains were buried  alongside Mumtaz.

agra weather taj mahal

Taj Mahal Garden 

The classic Mughal style gardens begin from the entryway across to the base of the mausoleum & are one of the leading highlights of visiting Taj Mahal. There are seating areas which have Taj as the backdrop across these beautiful gardens, this is where all visiting dignitaries get themselves clicked. 🙂

The enchanting garden has two marble canals studded with the fountains occupying the centre. 

things to do in agra

The Taj Garden abounds with lush trees, chirping birds, fruits, flowers and symmetry, signifying the abstract meaning of paradise. This quaint setting makes for a wonderful backdrop for those perfect shots.

 

Inside Taj Mahal 

agra tourist places

The monument stands on a raised marble platform  with the Yamuna River at its back. There are 40m high white minarets at each corner of the platform. Taj itself is built of semi-translucent white marble, adorned with precious stones,  carved with flowers & quotations from the Quran. The four sides of the Taj are in perfect symmetry,  topped off by four small domes.

The mortal remains  of Mumtaz Mahal lie directly below the main dome. What you get to see is an elaborate false tomb with  an elegant marble screen inlaid  semi-precious stones. The real tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan lie locked  below the main chamber.

 

The complex houses a  mosque  which is why entry timings are restricted on Fridays. The Taj Museum is within the Taj Mahal precincts which houses many original Mughal miniature paintings. 

places to visit agra

How To Reach Taj Mahal 

Nearest airport: Agra, Delhi – Agra has its own airport, but all flights run through Delhi. Delhi is around 4 hours by road & rail.

Nearest Station: Agra station- Cabs, autos, e-karts are available to reach Taj / your hotel.

For a day visit from Delhi, there are special trains which start in the morning & return late in the evening. Autos, cabs are easily available outside Agra station.There are many buses too plying between the 2 cities. It takes about 4 hours to reach Agra from Delhi.

agra tourism agra history

Reaching the Taj Mahal and getting around Agra can be done in cars, tongas, auto rickshaws and state buses. To minimise the pollution that reaches Taj, vehicles are not allowed in the vicinity of the monument and need to be parked in the parking lots nearby. There are golf carts &  non-electric tourist buses for visitors from the parking lot.

Within the city, ola is also available apart from autos etc.

Places to visit in Agra

agra tourist places taj mahal

Agra Fort

Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort are very close to each other, and provided that it’s not too sunny you can just walk between the two. Otherwise, there are a lot of autos and e-rickshaws running between the two major monuments that charge a minimum amount.

things to do in agra taj mahal
things to do in agra agra fort

The Agra Fort is majestic & highly recommended. It has the Meena bazaar grounds, the room where Shah Jahan was imprisoned, a view of the Taj from this fort- all worth a visit. There are covered areas too, hence we were able to visit it in the afternoon.

places to visit agra
agra fort

Mehtab Bagh

This garden on the opposite side of Yamuna river faces the Taj Mahal across the river. It gives stunning views of the Taj & with much lesser crowds. Pre covid times, you could also take a boat from here & cruise besides the Taj. Another vantage point for Taj pics!

Fatehpur Sikri

 

The Mughal Emperor, Akbar had planned this city in red sandstone as his capital, but had to abandon it due to shortage of water.
A UNESCO world heritage site, the efforts of the Archaeological department have retained many of these structures. 37 kms from Agra, it is a definite place to visit if one comes to Agra.

Fatehpur Sikri is the best example of the mix of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Don’t miss the palace of Jodhabai, Hawa Mahal & Buland Darwaza.

fatehpur sikri taj mahal
Guide to Taj mahal fatehpur sikri

Sadar Bazaar

 

To get a taste of local food & local handicrafts, sadar bazaar is the right place to be in. Located in the heart of the city, near the  Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, Sadar Bazaar is Agra’s most famous market. 

sadar bazaar agra

Food in Agra

Petha is the most famous sweet of Agra. Available in various interesting flavors like paan, pista, chocolate…you will definitely find a version of your favorite. 😀

Mughlai cuisine of Agra is also famous & you must try all types of parathas when there.

agra pethas taj mahal visit

Shopping in Agra

Agra is known for its  handicraft items, shoes and leather work. This is also a great place to buy marble inlay souvenirs. Literally all souvenirs have Taj on them, paperweights, fridge magnets etc.
Also bangles here are famous, the bangles center Aligarh is nearby.

taj mahal agra

Before You Visit Taj Mahal

things to do in agra taj mahal
  • Timings for Taj Mahal visit : Opens half an hour before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset

  • Closed on Friday

  • Time Required : 2 -4 hours

  • Entry Fee : For Indian Citizens it is INR 85 & rs 285- you have to book online.

  • (An additional INR 200 is charged for every tourist who wishes to enter the mausoleum of Taj Mahal structure)

  • Entry is free for all children below 15 years of age

  • Entry Gates for Taj: Taj Mahal can be entered through three gates  

  • P.S- The east gate has the shortest queues! Thank me later. 🙂

  • There are separate lines for men and women at all three gates of entry.

  • You can store your luggage for free beside the ticket offices and also pick up an audio guide for INR 118.

  • Battery buses and golf carts are also there from parking area to Taj Mahal

Restricted Items :

  • Drone- Drones aren’t allowed inside or around Taj Mahal

  • Eating and smoking is restricted

  • Mobile phones to be kept on silent or airplane mode

  • Photography is not allowed inside the main mausoleum

  • Mobile phone is banned for night viewing of Taj Mahal

hotels with view of taj mahal agra

Taj Mahal at Night 

Viewing the Taj Mahal at night is available on five days a month, including a full moon night and two nights before and after the full moon. All these aspects, the dates and the timings for the night viewing of the Taj are decided by the Archaeological Survey of India. Viewing the Taj Mahal at night takes place between 8:30 PM to 12:30 PM in 8 batches of about 50 people for about 30 minutes each. Hence, only limited people are allowed on a single night.

While visiting the Taj Mahal at night, visitors  aren’t allowed inside the monument  and can view the Taj Mahal only from a bit of a distance. All belongings and luggage have to be given at a security counter before the night viewing starts. Video cameras are not allowed inside the monument during the night viewing.

Where to stay in Agra

taj mahal visit

The range of stay in Agra is incomparable. Almost all 5 star chains have hotels here, but you can also find budget stays, hostels & ethnic homestays too.

We wanted to stay in a Taj-facing room, so we searched for a hotel accordingly.
We stayed at Radisson & loved our stay! 🙂

things to do in agra
tips for visiting taj mahal

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