Taj Mahal Travel Guide – A Day in Agra

If you come to the Taj Mahal and don’t have Aladdin “Arabian Nights” stuck in your head, I just don’t think we can be friends anymore. The Taj Mahal is one of the worlds greatest sights, made from elegant white marble, towering into the sky and all in the declaration of love. Who wouldn’t want to come to see this magnificent monument up close?

A Small History

The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and with more reasons than just its jaw-dropping beauty. This monument was created by a husband’s undying love for his wife, a love that he wanted to make eternal. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who was head-over-heels in love with his dear wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian Princess. Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child. In the memory of his beloved  Shah Jahan built a magnificent monument as a tribute to her, which the world now knows today as the ‘Taj Mahal’. The construction of Taj Mahal started in the year 1631 and it took roughly 22 years to build, with the aid of over 22,000 labourers and 1,000 elephants. Finally, after an astronomical  32 million rupees approximately, the Taj Mahal was finally completed in the year 1653.

What to Bring to the Taj Mahal

  • 500 Rupee per person or there is an ATM! We didn’t know this and would have been super handy. It is just around the corner where you pay on the left.
  • You aren’t allowed to take your own water with you… however they do provide a water bottle with your 500 Rupee… yeah they got me there.
  • Camera! This is the money shot baby, don’t forget the essential.

Is There a Dress Code at the Taj Mahal

There is no dress code at the Taj Mahal unless you want to enter the mosque, then you will need to cover your shoulders with a shall, however you have to remember you are in India and not your own personal photo shoot, remember to dress appropriately, unfortunately ladies that means try to avoid the tight mini dresses.

Tip for the ladies and gents out there. Where someone that will make your photo pop, bright colours are the way to go with the gleaming white of the Taj Mahal in the background, believe me, you will thank me later. And if you are wanting to frame this photo for the rest of your life in the lounge room, maybe go with the nice dress and not that backpacker, baggy pants boho chic look, unless you love that, then you rock it!

When is the Best Time to Go?

Early bird gets the worm! There are said to be between 40,000 to 70,000 people on a busy day to visit the Taj Mahal. That is a lot of people that are also going to be in your photo. However, I decided to check to miss my sleep in, beat the crowds and arrive at the Taj Mahal when the gates opened. Our plan worked, we got some awesome shots all around the grounds without the crowds, and it was peaceful, which just added to the ambience and beauty of the Taj Mahal.

  • The gates open at 6am, there is a tiny crowd a couple of hundred of people will be here at this time
  • The only gate open at 6am is the East Gate, the popular South Gate opens at 8am

Best Photos at the Taj Mahal

  • The platform in the middle of the gardens, a classic photo is to sit on the benches, but I got my shot from the front stairs, right in front of the sapphire pools.
  • Next to the platform, there are more glistening pools, great for a burst of colour.
  • Tip – the further back the better the picture! Don’t wait to take your favourite pictures right up close.
  • The mosques on either side of the Taj Mahal are just as jaw-dropping as the main attraction, they also have the most unique angles through the arch doorways. I got my photos from the left-side mosque. (you need to take your shoes off)

Where to Eat in Agra

  • Sheros – Cafe

We only stayed one night but were lucky enough to be told about Sheros. This is a quaint little cafe, with an inspiring twist. This cafe is completely run by a group of women that are the victims of the cruel acid attacks in India. It is a touching place, they play videos of the ladies and their stories, bring tissues. The food is decent and the catch is, no set prices, they only ask what you are willing to pay. The money goes towards their goals which are listed on the wall, like a new fridge or microwave. It is definitely worth a visit.

Where to Stay Near the Taj Mahal

  • Hotel Saniya Palace – The best views of the Taj Mahal in the city.

We were recommended a little hotel called the Hotel Saniya Palace. The hotel rooms are nothing special, we stayed in a superior non-aircon for 600 rupees, however, there are aircon rooms and rooftop room with a view of the Taj Mahal, but it is tough to secure apparently. The main draw of this hotel is their restaurant views, and it lives up to its reputation, with views across the city and the best view of all, a full frontal view of the Taj Mahal. And the location is perfect, it is only a 10-minute walk from the East Gate.

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