My first fleeting experience with the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra took place at the Red Fort when, visiting Summan Burj, my guide Danish explained to me that right there the king Shah Jahan spent his last years torturing himself with the sight of the awe-inspiring tomb he had built in loving memory of his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal.
Visiting the Taj Mahal, the ultimate monument to love
“Are you ready for the ultimate monument to love?” Announced my guide when we were leaving the Red Fort.
“Oh my,” I thought. “This is going to be big… Can I say ‘no’ to such an enticing program?”
“You bet I am!” came my reply.
We got in the car and made our way to UNESCO world heritage site Taj Mahal, one of the sights India is known for. “Take a picture of the Taj when you go,” an Indian friend of mine living in Shanghai told me. “Even if I’m from India I’ve never seen it!”
The first impression a visitor has when motioning beyond the curved vault into the otherworldly garden is one of peace. It doesn’t matter how many tourists visit the monument, you will always be able to hear the silence. It was built as a tomb, a place to rest, and this is how it stayed throughout the centuries.
It seems like we don’t have much information on the Taj Mahal city, Agra, before the Muslim conquest.
What we have is the impression of Persian poet Salman, who died in 1121 AD, left to posterity his memory of a glorious Hindu stronghold.
As history goes, we know that in the seventeenth century, when it was ruled by Shah Jahan, grandson of Akbar the Great, the city reached its highest moment of architectural style, which culminated, needless to say, with the Taj Mahal.
Since the day of their marriage, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal became inseparable, to the extent that when her husband went to Burhanpur in the Deccan to suppress a revolt of Khan-e-Jahan Lodi, Mumtaz went with him, and after giving birth to their fourteenth child, she fell very ill.
Apparently, her last wish was that her husband would build a beautiful monument on her grave as the symbol of their never-ending love. This is how the Taj Mahal was created.
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A white marble masterpiece
So Shah Jahan did, commissioning the Taj Mahal, a real masterpiece in marble of Makrana, in the Nagaur District of Rajasthan, to architect Ustad Isa Afandi of Turkey.
It took twenty years and some 20,000 workers to build the Taj Mahal, today one of the landmarks that hardly miss in any India itinerary.
Created by the genius and expertise of countless artists, workers, poets, the Taj shows its majesty even before arriving, but once there it’s truly striking to realize that nothing is visible behind it: no other city, no building, no land, only a boundless sky.
Around the Taj Mahal, there are other minor buildings, also beautifully inlaid with an exquisite taste of colours and decorations, serving as tombs as well, some for the maids of Mumtaz Mahal, some for the other wives of Shah Jahan.
Apart from visiting the Taj Mahal, with the opportunity of taking pictures from the outside (inside it’s not allowed, even if some visitors don’t really respect the rule), you will enjoy watching the many Indian couples, with respective families behind, posing for romantic photos, almost as a way to celebrate their marriage in the place that in their country is widely considered as the “ultimate monument to love.”
Things to know and how to dress appropriately at the Taj Mahal
When visiting the Taj Mahal, it is important to dress in a way that is respectful of the site and its history. This means avoiding shorts, tank tops, and other revealing attire.
Instead, opt for loose-fitting pants or skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes. And don’t forget to bring a scarf or shawl to cover your head when you enter the mausoleum itself.
By dressing appropriately, you will ensure that you have a respectful and enjoyable experience at this amazing Wonder of the World.
Is there a Dress Code at Taj Mahal?
Although the Taj Mahal is a sacred site for Muslims, there is no dress code at the Taj Mahal, but certain types of clothing are not appropriate.
For example, visitors are better not to wear shorts, sleeveless shirts, or skirts above the knee. And those who wish to enter the monument must remove their shoes before doing so.
Not just in Taj Mahal but in general, one of the things not to do in India is wearing revealing clothes. Aside from putting you at risk of mosquito bites and diseases, revealing clothes in India can also bring too much attention and make you uncomfortable. Try to cover yourself with loose and breathable clothes, it’s comfortable and allows you to blend in.
What Kind of Shoes Should I Wear to Visit Taj Mahal?
Located in Agra, this magnificent marble mausoleum was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Though there is some walking to be done, the Taj Mahal grounds are clean, paved, and well-maintained—you won’t need hiking boots or even super-supportive footwear to enjoy the Taj Mahal.
I would suggest wearing sneakers but you could wear anything that goes with your clothes. That said, I wouldn’t recommend high-heels. Note that to enter the mausoleum, you’ll have to take off your shoes or wear provided disposable shoe covers.
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal
Winter – November through February is the most ideal time to visit the Taj Mahal when temperatures are less hot and more pleasant, ranging from 20 to 28 degrees Celsius during the day and from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius during the night.
However, since this is also peak season, expect larger crowds which means longer wait times for tickets and security. To beat the heat and stay cool, wear light-colored and breathable clothing like white linen pants.
You are allowed to bring small backpacks inside the Taj Mahal but be prepared for them to be searched before entry. By being aware of what to expect and what to pack, you can make the most of your experience at this UNESCO World Heritage site.
What to pack when visiting the Taj Mahal
1 Sunscreen and hats – the Taj Mahal is a very sunny place and you’ll want to protect your skin especially if you decide to visit the Taj Mahal from March to October.
2 Bottled water – it can get quite hot and humid in Agra, so stay hydrated – make sure to get buy your water from reliable brands, and to avoid getting sick in India, you should avoid tap water at all costs when you are in India.
3 Comfortable shoes preferably breathable closed shoes – there’s some walking to be done, so make sure your shoes are up for the task. I wouldn’t recommend flip-floppers or high heels as they are neither safe nor comfortable to walk in when it’s hot and humid.
4 Camera! – you’ll want to remember this trip for years to come – and don’t forget to pack your power bank as you might end up taking too many pictures and run out of batteries.
5 Money – there are plenty of things to buy in the gift shop, from postcards to souvenirs – instead of using your card, I would highly recommend using cache when possible.
6 Umbrella – What many visitors don’t realize is that the Taj Mahal is not closed during monsoon season (from July to September). If you’re visiting during monsoon season, be sure to pack an umbrella. umbrellas are allowed inside the gates, so you’ll be able to stay dry while you explore this amazing place.
7 Mosquito Repellent – It’s important to use mosquito repellent in India to protect yourself from malaria, dengue, and other diseases and from the discomfort of mosquito bites. Repelling mosquitoes is especially important during the monsoon season when the risk of malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses is high.
How much is the ticket price for Taj Mahal
First of all, there is no entry fee for children below 15 years (both Indian & Foreigner). As for adults, the entry ticket to Taj Mahal is RS.11000 for foreigners and RS.50 for Indians.
You can buy the ticket at both Taj Mahal at Eastern and Western Gates or online at “www.asiagracircle.in” website. You will get Rs.50 discount if you buy the ticket online.
For visiting the main mausoleum of the Tajmahal You would have to buy an additional ticket of Rs.200/- along with your regular ticket. Foreigners also get free electric bus and golf cart services with their entry ticket to the Taj Mahal.
What time and when does the Taj Mahal open
Tal Mahal is open all year round and every day except for Fridays. Every Friday it’s closed both for Indians and foreign tourists.
The ticket windows for the Taj Mahal open 30 minutes before Sunrise & closes 30 minutes before Sunset. So, you would normally find the Taj Mahal open from 7 AM to 6 PM.
Taj Mahal Entry and Exit Gates
There are two entry gates and one exit gate. You can use the East Gate or the West entry gate to enter the Taj Mahal. The exit gate is located on the South side. Normally, you can’t use this gate to enter the Taj Mahal.
The Wast Gate usually has the longest queues. Early morning visits usually see the longest lines at the Wast Gate. However, there are separate queues for Foreign tourists and Domestic tourists to enter to Taj Mahal.
Second, keep in mind that photography is not allowed inside the main mausoleum. You’ll be able to take pictures of the outside of the building, but not of the interior.
Remember that you are required to remove your shoes before entering the mausoleum. And finally, taking pictures is allowed, but flash photography is not.
What is not allowed in the Taj Mahal?
Some things are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal for preservation reasons, such as food. Visitors must also remove their shoes before entering the mausoleum. Other items like tripods and monopods are allowed but must be left at the entrance.
Furthermore, while taking pictures visitors should refrain from using flash photography and stand a respectful distance away from the sarcophagi.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, so it’s important to be aware of these rules before your visit!
There are also several other common rules that visitors must follow, such as no smoking, drinking alcohol, no climbing on the walls, and no drone photography in the monument.
Best Time Of Day To Visit Taj Mahal?
It is open from 6 AM to 7 PM except for Fridays, when it is closed for locals and foreign tourists. The best time of day to visit the Taj Mahal is sunrise. You’ll avoid larger crowds. You will also get to see the monument change colors as the sun rises.
Because Taj Mahal is made of white marble, it can be quite hot during the day, so it’s best to visit early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler.