The Taj Mahal, located in the city of Agra and built entirely of white marble back in 1932, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal, the late wife of Shah Jahan, the structure represents a memory of their love story.
Depicting India’s historic Mughal architecture, the Taj Mahal is definitely worth a quick stop-over visit if you are traveling in India, especially to/from Delhi or Varanasi.
It is also worth dedicating an entire day (but no less than 4 hours) to this visit, as the entrance process can take some time, and well, it’s just a beautiful site to witness.
Note that the Taj Mahal is not open to the public on Fridays, as it is closed for prayer. For up to date hours, online ticketing, and contact information, you can visit their official website for details.
Included at the end of this article is a breakdown of my spending for my visit to the Taj Mahal. Just as a spoiler, I only spent $50 total all weekend!
7 Tips When Planning A Visit to The Taj Mahal
1. Opportunistic Crime is Common
Upon visiting the mausoleum, please keep in mind the exhaustive amount of tourists which travel through these areas every day. Opportunistic crimes are unfortunately all to common. My friend was one of the unlucky travelers who had her wallet stolen slyly from her pocket.
Even the monkeys will join in the game! So beware if traveling with food or other small devices, they aren’t shy – and they also carry rabies – so please walk with caution if you are near them (and do not attempt to feed or entice them).
2. Be ware of scams
There are several locals who may wish to offer you tickets, guided tours, and other services, however, only government officials should be trusted.
There are three different locations around the Taj with designated ticket offices, and are split into a line for locals and a line for foreigners. And no, you aren’t getting scammed, foreigners are charged quite a bit more than locals to enter.
3. You are not allowed to bring any bags or water inside
There are several places near the entrance which will offer to store your bags for a small fee. This is up to your own discretion. My friends and I looked around at a couple places to see how secure they were, and in the end settled on one and just had to trust them (and everything was fine), but we did make sure all our bags were locked individually as well as locked together just for added precaution.
Do keep your passport/ID, any cash and other cards, camera, phone, and other valuables securely on your person at all times, do not leave them with anyone. And don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen beforehand and bring a scarf or light jacket to cover yourself inside, as it is a religious place of worship.
4. Lines to get inside are lengthy
I strongly advise to have some water on you at this point, even if you can’t bring it past security checks. There is little shade provided while waiting to get inside, especially during high season (November-March typically).
Once inside, it is quite a walk along the reflecting pool to the Taj Mahal itself, so I recommend some comfy shoes. There is (yet) another line to get into the Taj, and they don’t allow you to wear shoes inside as it is considered disrespectful.
Shoe covers are provided free of charge and allow you to keep your shoes on and place the slips under and around the top of your shoes (it’s like a shower-cap for your shoes!).
If you do decided to leave your shoes on the racks provided, there is no security or “coat check”, and you will have to walk around and collect them afterwards (assuming they are still there).
If you aren’t particularly attached to your shoes and wish to leave them on the racks provided and experience the Taj barefoot just as the locals do, be my guest :).
5. Photography is prohibited once inside the tomb
There are several security guards and other personnel patrolling the quarters. Be advised that they will not take it lightly if they see you using or attempting to use any form of photo-taking device. Photos are strictly prohibited inside the tomb area.
6. Photo-taking outside the Taj Mahal is an absolute must
On the other hand, make sure you snap some great photos of the Taj in the background once outside the tomb.
You may get mauled with locals wishing to take a photo with you than the amount of photos you will have a chance to take for yourself. It’s best to turn away their requests from the beginning and set a precedent with them, but please do so respectfully. The word for no in Hindi is “Nahi” or more politely for those with authority or for elders “Ji-Nahi” (Jee-Nahee).
7. Here is a breakdown of my budget for the weekend, just $50!
For those backpackers on a budget, I have documented my spending for my Weekend trip to the Taj Mahal back in 2012 (note that these are estimated conversion rates only, and are subject to frequent change):
- Roundtrip bus from Dehli to Agra = 800 rps. ($11.80)·
- Taj Mahal Entrance Ticket = 1000 rps. ($14.75)
- Backpack/bag check = 30 rps. ($0.45)
- Rickshaw (Tuktuk) rides = 300 rps. ($4.45)
- Hostel for one bed, two nights = 400 rps. ($6)
- Food* = 800 rps. ($11.80)
Total for entire weekend trip = 3,330 rps.
About USD$50 total. Not too shabby!
*Note that I didn’t drink alcohol at all and ate relatively cheap. If you intend to buy alcohol or visit nice restaurants, this will obviously increase.
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