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.

Agra_ERL-10.jpg

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

Best Time To Visit  - The Taj Mahal is open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes before sunset.  Closed on Fridays.   Sunrise:  For sure without a doubt the best time to visit. The lines will be long so get up extra early and head to the lines. Many, many people will be doing this (it’s kinda the thing to do) so just follow the crowds. The colors during sunrise change the color of the Taj to beautiful yellows and pinks.  Sunset:  Second best option.  Night Viewing:  Only possible during the full moon (and the two days before and after) as the sight is not lit up with lights. During the full moon the white marble glows in the moonlight.  Best Months To Visit:  October to March are the best months to visit as climate and temperature goes. The months of April and May get extremely hot (40+C), and July to September is monsoon season.

Best Time To Visit - The Taj Mahal is open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes before sunset. Closed on Fridays.
Sunrise: For sure without a doubt the best time to visit. The lines will be long so get up extra early and head to the lines. Many, many people will be doing this (it’s kinda the thing to do) so just follow the crowds. The colors during sunrise change the color of the Taj to beautiful yellows and pinks.
Sunset:
Second best option.
Night Viewing:
Only possible during the full moon (and the two days before and after) as the sight is not lit up with lights. During the full moon the white marble glows in the moonlight.
Best Months To Visit:
October to March are the best months to visit as climate and temperature goes. The months of April and May get extremely hot (40+C), and July to September is monsoon season.

Ticket Cost  - This holy site is quite expensive, but oh so worth it.   Day Viewing:  Foreigners: 1100INR + 200INR to enter inside. Children under 15: Free (Indian or foreigner). Indian Nationals: 50INR + 200INR to enter inside.   Night Viewing:  Foreigners: 750INR. Children under 15: 500INR (Indian or foreigner). Indian Nationals: 510INR.

Ticket Cost - This holy site is quite expensive, but oh so worth it.

Day Viewing:
Foreigners: 1100INR + 200INR to enter inside.
Children under 15: Free (Indian or foreigner).
Indian Nationals: 50INR + 200INR to enter inside.

Night Viewing:
Foreigners: 750INR.
Children under 15: 500INR (Indian or foreigner).
Indian Nationals: 510INR.

Getting Around The City  - Uber, hired tourist car, taxi, rickshaw (pictured), tuk-tuk or your own two feet, Agra is easy to get around and without shortage of drivers. Make sure when you are booking your hotel (we recommend an awesome one down below) is in the area next to the Taj Mahal itself. Sure, you may pay maybe $4 more a night, but this you will save in transportation cost.  The most important rule if you are taking a tuk-tuk and don’t want to overpay is this : download the Uber app (Uber is cheap in India) and put in your route to find what the fare price is - now you know the maximum amount you should pay for a tuk-tuk.

Getting Around The City - Uber, hired tourist car, taxi, rickshaw (pictured), tuk-tuk or your own two feet, Agra is easy to get around and without shortage of drivers. Make sure when you are booking your hotel (we recommend an awesome one down below) is in the area next to the Taj Mahal itself. Sure, you may pay maybe $4 more a night, but this you will save in transportation cost. The most important rule if you are taking a tuk-tuk and don’t want to overpay is this: download the Uber app (Uber is cheap in India) and put in your route to find what the fare price is - now you know the maximum amount you should pay for a tuk-tuk.

Security Check  - This is a very important and historical site, and unfortunate in todays geopolitical climate these sights must be guarded and secure. This means once you buy your ticket you will stand in a security line. *Make sure you’re in the right line (women or men). You will enter through a metal detector and will have to put your bag through an x-ray machine. Additionally you cannot bring in cigarettes or lighters but there are  FREE   lockers  you can use to store your things.

Security Check - This is a very important and historical site, and unfortunate in todays geopolitical climate these sights must be guarded and secure. This means once you buy your ticket you will stand in a security line. *Make sure you’re in the right line (women or men). You will enter through a metal detector and will have to put your bag through an x-ray machine. Additionally you cannot bring in cigarettes or lighters but there are FREE lockers you can use to store your things.

What Is The Taj Mahal?  - The Taj Mahal itself is a mausoleum Shah Jahan (right) built for his most favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal (left). Additionally on either side of the Taj are a mosque that is still in use today (the reason why it’s closed of Fridays) and a guest house. There is also a museum you can visit if you’re really intrigued.   Is there a dress code:  No, but just remember you are visiting a holy site (very sacred for Muslims) and a historical site in the conservative country of India.

What Is The Taj Mahal? - The Taj Mahal itself is a mausoleum Shah Jahan (right) built for his most favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal (left). Additionally on either side of the Taj are a mosque that is still in use today (the reason why it’s closed of Fridays) and a guest house. There is also a museum you can visit if you’re really intrigued.
Is there a dress code: No, but just remember you are visiting a holy site (very sacred for Muslims) and a historical site in the conservative country of India.

Beware Of The Touts  - Touts are simply people trying to sell you things on the street: souvenirs, tuk-tuk rides, food, etc… In a country of nearly 3 billion people, everybody’s got to make money some how. Unfortunately for us, sometimes all they see is foreign $$$ and can be quite aggressive.  Grrrltraveler  has a great post about best practices to deal with them.  Follow these simple 3 rules to make sure you don’t get ripped off:   1:  Make sure you know what the Indian Rupee is worth compared to your money. Sounds like a no brainer but its easy to forget and way-way overpay.  2:  Ask around for prices/don’t accept the first price they give you.  3:  Haggle! This is a very normal thing to do in India, in fact the locals enjoy it. Read more about this in the ‘Tips and Tricks’ section below.

Beware Of The Touts - Touts are simply people trying to sell you things on the street: souvenirs, tuk-tuk rides, food, etc… In a country of nearly 3 billion people, everybody’s got to make money some how. Unfortunately for us, sometimes all they see is foreign $$$ and can be quite aggressive. Grrrltraveler has a great post about best practices to deal with them.
Follow these simple 3 rules to make sure you don’t get ripped off:
1: Make sure you know what the Indian Rupee is worth compared to your money. Sounds like a no brainer but its easy to forget and way-way overpay.
2: Ask around for prices/don’t accept the first price they give you.
3: Haggle! This is a very normal thing to do in India, in fact the locals enjoy it. Read more about this in the ‘Tips and Tricks’ section below.


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.

Front & Center  - Get that quintessential picture of the Taj and fountains as soon as you walk in. If this area is too crowded, walk down the pathway about 100 meters for another front a center vantage point (at this point there is even a stage you can stand on for a higher, unobstructed vantage point.

Front & Center - Get that quintessential picture of the Taj and fountains as soon as you walk in. If this area is too crowded, walk down the pathway about 100 meters for another front a center vantage point (at this point there is even a stage you can stand on for a higher, unobstructed vantage point.

Gardens   -  Don’t forget to walk around the gardens. They are massive, perfectly kept and offer unique shots of the Taj. Many angles, trees, flowers and even wild animals - get that creativity on.

Gardens - Don’t forget to walk around the gardens. They are massive, perfectly kept and offer unique shots of the Taj. Many angles, trees, flowers and even wild animals - get that creativity on.

Mosque Corner (Sunrise)  - Head directly for the corner of the mosque  (East side of the Taj)  as soon as the light starts to shine. This will give you amazing shots of the Taj, and the river off to the left as the sun rises.

Mosque Corner (Sunrise) - Head directly for the corner of the mosque (East side of the Taj) as soon as the light starts to shine. This will give you amazing shots of the Taj, and the river off to the left as the sun rises.

Empty Fountain On The West Side  - If the fountain is not full of water, jump in and get this cool perspective of the Taj. Or if it is full, take an awesome reflection photo.

Empty Fountain On The West Side - If the fountain is not full of water, jump in and get this cool perspective of the Taj. Or if it is full, take an awesome reflection photo.

Guest House Corner (Sunset)  - Head directly for the corner of the guest house  (West side of the Taj)  as soon as the light starts to dim. This will give you beautiful sunset shots of the Taj and the river off the the right.

Guest House Corner (Sunset) - Head directly for the corner of the guest house (West side of the Taj) as soon as the light starts to dim. This will give you beautiful sunset shots of the Taj and the river off the the right.

Across The River -  This is FREE - Across the river, directly in front of the Taj is a park where you can view the Taj with the river in the foreground. This is great for both sunrise and sunset. Here you will also the the foundation and gardens for where Shah Jahan was going to build himself a black Taj made out of stone from Belgium. Sadly it was never completed but its a cool sight nonetheless. (Photo Credit: OneStep4ward)

Across The River - This is FREE - Across the river, directly in front of the Taj is a park where you can view the Taj with the river in the foreground. This is great for both sunrise and sunset. Here you will also the the foundation and gardens for where Shah Jahan was going to build himself a black Taj made out of stone from Belgium. Sadly it was never completed but its a cool sight nonetheless. (Photo Credit: OneStep4ward)


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!

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 12.38.57.png
Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 12.40.59.png
Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 12.40.36.png

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.

Agra_ERL-15.jpg

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).

Where's Your Money Going?


Enjoy Your Trip!


Itching For More Information About Asia?

Comment