When in India: My Number One Tip to Enjoy Taj Mahal in Agra

Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built with love by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to lay down his most beloved departed wife Mumtaz Mahal, thus making it a symbol of true love. The architecture is known for its perfect symmetry covered in white marble and ivory. Its construction started in 1643 that took years and Indian rupees to finish.

Taj Mahal is a renowned landmark not only in India but in the world. With UNESCO World Heritage Site and Seven Wonders of the World next to its name, seeing it is truly a dream come true. Nevertheless, it would be good to plan the visit there, since it’s expected to be as crowded as one can ever think of. So with thousands of tourists and locals at the sight, how to beat the crowd when visiting Taj Mahal?

My answer: COME EARLY.  Here’s why. 

Less Crowd in the Morning
While most monuments in India are open from 9:00AM to 4:30PM, Taj Mahal’s open hours is an exception. It actually opens at sunrise (as early as 6:00AM) and closes at sunset (as late as 6:00PM).
Being early is a good way to avoid the crowd at Taj Mahal because not all tourists may know that it’s already opened and it’s also a fact that majority aren’t early risers. Moreover, most group tours (like a bulk of Chinese tourists with yelling tour guides carrying flags!) usually start flocking at Taj Mahal 9:00AM onward.
With my experience, I left the hotel at 5:30AM and easily reached the north of Taj Mahal in 10 minutes. At that time, there wasn't much vehicle on the road and parking lot yet including the huge tour buses.

Note: Taxis, buses, and private cars are only allowed up to a certain drop-off point. From there, either walking or riding an auto rickshaw (INR 10 each) is needed to reach the north gate.
Tip: If you’ll stay in a hotel with inclusive breakfast, visit Taj Mahal first and then return to the hotel to eat breakfast. Hotel breakfast buffets in Agra usually run up to 10:00AM anyway. Also, if you’ll avail of an Agra tour, you may request Taj Mahal as the first stop, go back to the hotel for breakfast, and then do the rest of the tour afterward.

Shorter Queue
Taj Mahal has an increasing attraction of 7-8 million tourists per year. With this number, it’s most likely given to fall in line in this tourist attraction. From queues at the entrance booth to the entrance gate, visitors also fall in line to enter the mausoleum. So if you really want to spend more time exploring Taj Mahal than falling in line, then better come early. Also, lines are worst on weekends, so if possible, try going on a midweek (like Wednesday).

The mausoleum is the highlight and centerpiece of the 17-hectare Taj Mahal complex. It's where Mumtaz Mahal's body was buried, and later Shah Jahan's body too. Visitors are allowed to enter and pass through it, but usually gets congested because it's a narrow and dark path.

Note: Taking photos inside the mausoleum is not allowed.

Better in Pictures
It’s not everyday to have a beautiful sight like Taj Mahal, so taking pictures of it serves as good remembrance. Having too many photobombers, however, somehow makes the photos of Taj Mahal less Instagram-worthy.
Tip: People usually start taking photos at the hand rail after passing through the north gate, thinking that it’s the best spot to capture Taj Mahal. Skip this spot, move forward, and go near the pond instead. This gives a better angle and the water complements a nicer photo.
Also, as a photography savvy, Taj Mahal in the morning creates more drama in pictures. The natural light from the sun rays makes a picture-perfect finish.

More Relaxed Time to Explore
If you have limited time in Agra, starting early is the best way to get the most out of it. You are also most likely to avoid the heat of the sun at noontime. Note that Agra is a humid city, which can rise up to 40°C during hot and dry season (March to May).  
(Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah)
After allotting 2-3 hours exploring Taj Mahal, you can check out other historical and architectural landmarks in Agra including Agra Fort, Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah (also known as the “Baby Taj Mahal”), Akbar’s Tomb, and others. Agra is a relaxing place to visit with most of the tourist attractions sitting next to Yamuna River.

Taj Mahal
Location: Uttar Pradesh, Agra District, India
Entrance fee: INR 1,000 (USD 15) for foreigners
 *Children 15 and below have free admission
Open hours: Sunrise to sunset (closed on Fridays)

Check out the rest of my India series:
When in India: Amber Fort, Jaipur
Viajera Vlog: India

When in India: My Number One Tip to Enjoy Taj Mahal in Agra When in India: My Number One Tip to Enjoy Taj Mahal in Agra Reviewed by Shelly Viajera Travel on 21.9.17 Rating: 5
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