A woman extends her arms in front of the Taj Mahal
What To Know Before Visiting The Taj Mahal For The First Time
The Taj Mahal is in the bustling city of Agra, about four hours from Delhi, and easy to reach by train or bus. Once in Agra, you'll need to take a taxi or auto-rickshaw.
Haggle with the driver to avoid paying hefty tourist prices, especially as you can't be dropped at the entrance. Vehicles aren't allowed within 500 meters of the monument.
From sunrise to sunset, almost daily, you can admire the Taj Mahal in all its splendor. However, on Fridays, it's closed to allow practicing Muslims to worship.
When To Visit
If you want to avoid crowds, visit right when it opens or just before it closes on weekdays. Sunrises and sunsets are magical, providing a warm glow over the pristine white marble.
Each season has its pros and cons. The winter has cool temperatures but can get foggy, while April to May is hot and humid with fewer visitors; June to September is monsoon season.
The Taj Mahal was commissioned by the fifth Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth in 1631.
The building process began almost immediately after her tragic death and took around 20 years to complete. The Emperor was buried here in 1666 alongside his beloved wife.
As well as incredible white marble from the Indian state of Rajasthan, materials for the Taj Mahal were sought from all over the world and thought to be carried by 1,000 elephants.
As a mausoleum, it's important to respect the rules, including wearing the shoe covers given to you at the ticket booth when you enter the burial chamber.
Shoe Covers
The covers are used to prevent dust and dirt from being tracked into the mausoleum and to keep its marble-clad surfaces as shiny and clean as possible.
Domestic tourists pay much less when visiting the Taj Mahal. Indian citizens pay 50 rupees (approximately $0.70), while it costs 1,100 rupees ($15.50) for foreign visitors.
There's an additional 200 rupee fee ($2.50) to go inside the mausoleum. Tickets include shoe covers, a water bottle, a map, and a bus or golf cart service to the nearest gate.
If you haven't bought advance tickets online, it's best to line up at the South Gate and avoid the very busy East Gate. Arrive early, as it doesn't take long for the queue to fill.