5 tips to make the most of your Taj Mahal visit

5 tips to make the most of your Taj Mahal visit

You never forget your first love, and the same goes for the first time you visit the Taj Mahal.

Palace on Wheels

Located in Agra which just so happens to be the so-called City of Love, India’s most iconic site is also one of the new seven wonders of the world for good reason. No matter how often you’ve seen it in photos, nothing compares to the overwhelming feeling of awe and amazement that washes over you when you see it for the first time.

Its blindingly-white facade sparkles in the sunlight, the symmetry is flawless, and knowing that such an impressive monument was built by the emperor Shah Jahan solely to house the tomb of his beloved wife takes it to a whole other level. I mean, how freaking romantic is that? Maybe it’s because my visit happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day, but man did I ever get the lovey-dovey feels standing there in front of it.

For those planning to see this bucket list-worthy spot, here are a few things you need to know before visiting the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal visit

Taj Mahal visit

When to visit the Taj Mahal

Timing is everything when it comes to a Taj Mahal visit, and this is one place where the early bird definitely gets the worm. Sunrise is the best time to arrive, as there’s nice soft light for photos (provided there isn’t any smog, which the midday sun sometimes burns off) and way less people getting in your shots.

Sunset is another good option for the same reasons, though it’s still busier at the site than it is first thing in the morning.

Click here to see hotels in Agra near the Taj Mahal and rates

Taj Mahal visit
The gates are pretty spectacular too!

It’s extremely important to note that the Taj Mahal is closed for general viewing every Friday (only those attending prayers at the mosque can go in the afternoon), so if you’re only in Agra for one day make sure it’s not on a Friday! The Taj Mahal’s visiting hours vary depending on the season, as it’s open from sunrise to sunset.

The Taj Mahal, India. Palace on Wheels
The Taj Mahal

What (not) to pack for the Taj Mahal

In an effort to keep the complex safe and clean, there are a number of restrictions in place regarding what visitors are allowed to bring in. Only small bags with the bare essentials are allowed, and prohibited items include:

  • Tripods
  • Food and drinks (you’ll receive a free bottle of water at the gate)
  • Tobacco products
  • Electronics such as headphones and chargers (cameras are allowed, obvs)
  • Flags
  • Books

Don’t even think about trying to sneak any of the above in: there are two security checkpoints, and guards are well-trained at spotting prohibited items. For example, my friend’s selfie stick has hidden legs inside the handle that transform it into a tripod, and the guards were savvy enough to figure out how it worked and force her to leave it behind. So seriously, don’t even try smuggling anything in.

Taj Mahal visit
The list of prohibited items at the Taj Mahal

At the entrance, all visitors receive a pair of shoe covers. You’ll need to wear them if you plan on heading up to the Taj, to protect the ivory marble.

Taj Mahal visit
Some rather fashionable shoe covers

How to escape the crowds at the Taj Mahal

If you end up the Taj Mahal in the middle of the day like most people do, brace yourself for the crowds. The site may be huge, but with everyone clamouring for the same vantage points it can feel like a zoo.

The trick is to quickly snap that token photo right when you walk through the gate (keeping in mind you may have to be a bit aggressive about keeping stragglers out of your selfie), then get the heck out of there so you don’t go mental.

Taj Mahal visit
Snap your pic, then get the heck outta here!

For some strange reason, most visitors tend to stick close to the Taj itself, or along the pools leading up to it. This means that as soon as you head off towards the gardens to the left or right, it feels like you have the whole place to yourself—that is, if you don’t count the resident monkeys.

Taj Mahal visit monkeys

The matching Mosque and Assembly Hall on either side are both great spots to enjoy some serenity, as well as photograph the Taj from unique angles without 450 heads in your shot.

Taj Mahal visit

Taj Mahal visit

Why you should skip the mausoleum at the Taj Mahal

The mausoleum may be the site’s piece de resistance—but don’t bother going inside. Why? Because on a busy day, the line to get in is a nightmare, and they let way too many people in at once which means you’re herded though like cattle and not even allowed to stop and look at anything. The whole time, guards are blowing whistles warning people not to stop, so you will also leave partially deaf.

Additionally, you’ll get to know the dozen people pressed up against you on a whole other level…something along the lines of “is that your camera lens, or are you just happy to see me?” Take a hard pass on the mausoleum, my friends. You’re welcome.

Taj Mahal visit
This is the line just to get in, so you can imagine what it looks like when you’re actually inside the mausoleum

Prepare to have your mind blown

Hopefully all of that didn’t sound too intimidating, because trust me, it’s SO WORTH IT. There’s a reason the Taj Mahal is a wonder of the world, and I guarantee it will be love at first sight and a moment that will stay with you forever. I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Yes there are throngs of tourists angling for the best selfie shot who will drive you crazy, and yes the day is sure to have its challenging moments as most popular sites do. But the sight of that dazzling white building rising up in front of you is pure magic, making it easy to let the chaos fade away as you simply stand back and soak in the scene.

By keeping these tips for a Taj Mahal visit in mind, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable, awe-inspiring day at one of the world’s most iconic sites.

Taj Mahal visit



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21 thoughts on “5 tips to make the most of your Taj Mahal visit”

  1. Fantastic guide to the Taj and some really handy pointers here. Hope to be here later in the year so you have really wettened my lips with the photos.

  2. Your photos are fabulous. Thanks for the great advice on how to avoid the crowds in order to get the perfect shots. I prefer the afternoon golden hour but, in this case, the morning is my pick. I think I would take your advice and skip the mausoleum. I am a bit claustrophobic so a tomb with all that extra company would have me heading for the doors.

  3. Samantha Sparrow

    I’ve wanted to visit the Taj Mahal for so long – your photos are just stunning! I always look for tips on how to avoid crowds at big attractions, so I’ll be sure to bear your advice in mind! The mausoleum does not sound too fun!

  4. You have some amazing pictures of the Taj in this post! Also, I agree sunrise is a good time to get there not only because of the great pictures you’ll get but also because that’s when you’ll find the least crowds. And it is also true that most people stick to the Taj and the surrounding grounds are relatively empty so if you’re looking to avoid crowds, it might be worthwhile to go exploring around the area.

  5. I would absolutely love to visit the Taj Mahal – it’s always been on my list! Your photos are stunning by the way 🙂

  6. It does look like pure magic, your images are beautiful! Great tip for avoiding the mausoleum and heading toward the gardens.

  7. These are great tips! I wish I had it before I went (I was one of those people that went mental – I was there during Christmas Holidays and it was one of the biggest crowds on record!) So true about dodging to the left or right, there are so much fewer people. Definitely worth seeing it though, it’s spectacular!

  8. Just looking at the photos of Taj Mahal leaves me in awe and wonder. Someday I would like to see it up close and personal. Great tips which I’m sure will come in handy for a future trip. Pinned this for future reference.

  9. Great tip on only bringing the bare essentials. I had no idea that they were so strict, of course you can’t bring a book! Haha. It’s nice to hear that it blew your mind. I’ve heard mostly negative reviews and part of me still wants to go, so this gave me a vote of confidence.

  10. Anne Slater-Brooks

    I am sure I would pass on the mausoleum based on my prior experience of visiting India. This place is definitely on my bucket list however and I plan to be there at the crack of dawn

  11. In the winter don’t go early in the morning. Too foggy and you can’t see anything. I don’t know why no one seems to mention it, but we went for the sunrise but saw nothing! We stayed till 9:00 and it was still foggy. We were told that it was typical in the winter.

  12. Same day with car is a distinctive tour package that has been intended for people who hardly ever have time for sightseeing with their loved ones. India has a very rich culture and there are many things to explore. However, many time people do not have time to explore many cities in one schedule, so they usually stick to exploring only one city. One of the biggest benefits of same day tour is that you can visit all the popular attractions of the city. In this Same Day with Car tour, you will be traveling by car and have a chance to explore the city of love, Agra.

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