Your Guide To The Taj Mahal - Agra, India
Whether you have ten hours or two days in Agra, our Taj Mahal guide covers the everything you need to know about this Wonder Of The World. How much is the Taj Mahal ticket price, where are the best places to take photos of the Taj Mahal during sunrise and sunset, what are the recommended local restaurants, where should you stay in Agra, and how do you get around the city? This is your personal guide to mastering this magnificent Wonder Of The World.
Welcome To Agra: City Of Taj
Agra, the 24th most populous city in India is home to many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Agra has been at the control of many different empires, from the Afghans, tot he Moguls to the British and like many other Indian cities, due to this history, has a uniqueness and beauty to it that is unforgettable.
But let’s not bore you with history, you can research more yourself. Let’s be honest, you’re here for one thing and one thing only: The Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra and is truly as magnificent as you imagine in your mind. Extraordinary, impressive, astonishing, phenomenal, or breathtaking do not do this holy site justice. It is truly awesome in the real sense of the word.
Things To Know Before You Go
Welcome To The Taj Mahal
Get Your Camera Ready
Once you’re in, regardless of the time of day, or month of the year, you can probably expect a mad-house dash for the best viewpoint to take that quintessential photo. It’s never fun fighting someone over the ‘best’ spot for a silly picture (even if it is a Wonder of the World), so we talked to local guides and got the inside scoop for the best places, angles, and secret corners unknowing tourists would be unaware of.
Where We Stay
There are tons of accommodation options in Agra, from hostels, Airbnbs, bed & breakfasts, and a few 4-star hotels.
Mumtaz Cafe & Gallery is an awesome hotel/gallery/restaurant directly in front of the Taj. It has an awesome covered patio where you can order delicious food from their restaurant, read a book, watch the locals train pigeons (it’s really cool), explore your artistic side, or watch the sun set or rise behind the Taj. We stumbled upon this place and made it our home for 2 days. The owner is a 24 year old named Fareed who is extremely hospitable, friendly, a good cook, and runs the place himself. Impressive!
Travel Tips & Helpful Hints For India
Do I need a visa? Pretty much every country needs a visa for India. However, 140+ countries are eligible for an E-Visa. The application is long and the fee $100US (for Americans at least) but it makes arriving and getting into India a breeze. Apply and learn more here.
What is the power voltage? The voltage is 220v whereas the US is 110V - so your devices may get a little warm while charging.
What about smoking weed or drinking in the streets? Weed is illegal but is not a huge deal. In Udaipur it is especially relaxed and every tuk tuk driver will offer to sell you a joint. We really recommend this travel bloggers post about weed in India. She breaks down the legality of it all, where you can buy it, when and who you can buy it from and what to do if you get caught.
As far as drinking goes, it is not permissible to drink in public and the police will fine you. So have a good time at the bars.
*Note: A lot of restaurants here sell beer illegally (it is an expensive license) - therefore it will not be on their menu. Ask the price of their beer first, otherwise you will be charged 1.5x - 2x what you should - and there is nothing you can do about it (yes, I learned this the hard way).
What is the currency and its value? The currency used in India is called the Indian Rupee (INR). The current value (at the time writing) is INR 70 = $1 USD.
What is the weather like? Always hot!? The weather in India substantially differs depending what part of the country you are in. The monsoon seasons are different for different regions of this massive country. Believe it or not, India can be brutally cold certain times of the year. Research the weather for every location you plan to visit before you leave.
Are cows really just roaming the streets? Yes, goats and pigs too! And it’s awesome! Don’t touch them though.
“You talk a lot about haggling with the locals - isn’t that rude”? Fair question, but no. As told to us by our local Indian friend, Raj, Indians like to haggle, its like a game, it lets them know you are interested. If you ask the price and say “too high” and walk away, they will say nothing back to you, assuming you are not interested at all. If you come back with a price (50% of what they offered) it lets them know you are interested in maybe buying something. They will be excited at this prospect and negotiate with you until you both find a happy price.
So What's It Going To Cost?
So, What Did We Spend In 24 Hours?
Hotel: $25/night (Average rate for a homestay)
Food: $15 + about $2/beer more if you want to drink during dinner
Taj Mahal: $19 (Entrance cost + 200INR Mausoleum ticket)
Transportation: $6 (including getting to and from the train station)
That's $65USD (depending on cost of hotel).