Taj Mahal is a breathtakingly beautiful mausoleum of ivory and white marble.
Positioned on the south bank of Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal is a bucket list travel destination.
Taj Mahal (Crown of the Palace) is situated in Agra (northern India) – 204 km from the capital city of Delhi. Commissioned in 1632 by the wealthy and powerful Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who reigned from 1628 to 1658, it houses the tomb of his beloved wife and a Persian princess Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to their 14th child. Her tomb is in the centre of this huge 17 hectare complex, which also includes a mosque and a guest house. The tomb is surrounded by formal gardens.
Taj Mahal’s construction
The mausoleum was completed in 1643 however, general work on the project continued for another decade. More than 20,000 masons, stone carvers, artists, workers and a group of architects were employed on the project. A thousand elephants were also used in the building works. Throughout the years, Taj Mahal has been regarded as a symbol of India’s history and the best example of the Mughal architecture with some Persian, Indian and Islamic influences. In 1983 Taj Mahal was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It was said to be “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.
Nowadays Taj Mahal attracts around 8 million visitors per year. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever created – a true symbol of love and a testament to the scientific and artistic accomplishments of a wealthy empire. In 2007 it was a winner of the New 7 Wonders of the World initiative.
Taj Mahal – the architectural gem
Taj Mahal has iconic arches and domes of shimmering white marble that changes colour depending on the sunlight, moonlight and the different seasons. It boasts four minarets, beautiful carvings and inlaid semiprecious stones such as amethyst and turquoise, crystal, lapis lazuli and jade. The main gate resembles a veil on a woman’s face. Within the dome of Taj Mahal is a jewel-inlaid cenotaph of the queen.
There are two red sandstone buildings – a mosque and a former guesthouse – on either side of the mausoleum. The buildings in the complex are situated within a garden featuring a huge reflecting pool which was designed to enrich the beauty of the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal has a rectangular base, which symbolizes the different sides from which one can view a woman. The casket of the emperor, which was built next to the queen’s after the construction of the monument, is the only asymmetrical object that can be seen in Taj Mahal.
Besides the lovely interior, Taj Mahal has an impressive exterior as well. Be sure to allow enough time to contemplate the building from the outside.
There is a story of a second, Black Taj Mahal which Shah Jahan planned to build in black marble opposite this one. However, the war that the ruler had with his own sons stopped him from completing that plan. Aurangzeb, the Shah’s son and successor was opposed to the building of a Black Taj Mahal and later threw his father in jail. Shah Jahan was buried next to his wife but in a very simple way.
According to the legend, Shah Jahan ordered his minions to cut off the hands of the architects of Taj Mahal so that they would never build another building of that kind. Today Taj Mahal is the most well-preserved monument of its kind in the world.
When is the best time to visit?
Every year Taj Mahal attracts a large number of tourists. A two-tier pricing system allows Indian citizens to enter at a much lower fee. Taj Mahal is open year-round, yet the best time for tourists to visit is in the cooler months of October and November, as well as February. Those who are looking for a more peaceful visit and some solitude should come either early or late in the day. For security reasons one can enter Taj Mahal with four things only – water if it is in transparent bottles, small cameras, mobile phones and small purses.
Since neither pollution nor traffic is allowed near the complex, tourists must take an electric bus or walk from the parking lots. The Taj Mahal site is open from 6 am until 7 pm on weekdays, except Fridays when it is open for prayers at the mosque for two hours starting at noon. On the day of the full moon, as well as two days before and after that, Taj Mahal is open for night visits although this does not include Fridays and the month of Ramadan. Once inside, Taj Mahal tourists can stay as long as they want within the operating hours. Each Friday Taj Mahal is closed.
How to get there
Taj Mahal is situated in the main city of the Uttar Pradesh state of India. It is easily accessible by bus, train and air service. The city has plenty of tourist amenities.
Agra is connected to the capital Delhi with domestic flights operated daily by Indian Airlines. The airport servicing Agra is situated only 7km from the centre of the city.
Agra is also well connected to all other large cities of India by rail through the railway stations of Agra Cantonment, Agra Fort and Raja-ki-Mandi. Palace on Wheels, Taj Express, Shatabdi and Rajdhani are the main trains that connect Agra to Delhi.
Part of the so-called Golden Triangle of the Tourist Circle (Delhi – Agra – Jaipur), the city is connected to other major cities by NH-2, NH-11, and NH-3 roads. Agra is also served by many bus lines to various important cities through the main bus stand of Idgah.
The distance from Agra to the parking zones near Taj Mahal can be covered by regular or prepaid taxi, battery-operated buses, auto-rickshaw and cycle rickshaw or horse-driven tongas. Bicycles can also be hired on an hourly basis from various parts of the city.
How much does it cost?
Tickets to Taj Mahal can be obtained from the Western, Eastern and Southern Gates of the site. The queues for Indian residents and foreign tourists are separate. No entry fee is charged for children under the age of 15 years.
Don’t forget that tickets for World Heritage Sites can be bought from ticket counters of World Heritage Sites in India. You can also buy tickets on line from the official website ( https://asi.payumoney.com )
Taj Mahal’s facilities
Inside Taj Mahal, visitors are given shoe covers and a 500ml bottle of water, plus a Tourist Guide Map of Agra. Visitors are welcome to use the Battery Bus & Golf Cart Service free of charge with the foreigner’s entry ticket for the Taj. First Aid and wheelchairs for disabled visitors are available from the ASI Office at Taj Mahal.
Are there any rules and etiquette for visiting Taj Mahal?
There are some regulations and etiquette that must be followed while visiting Taj Mahal.
- Take your camera – there is no charge to take your camera but it will be inspected at security.
- If visiting during the day, you can take your mobile phone (but not charger). You can also take your wallet / purse, spectacles, umbrella, hat and medicine.
- If you take a video camera, you will incur an additional charge.
- In case of long queues at East and West gates, tourists are advised to use the South Entry gate 250m away.
- Dustbins should be used so that the monument is kept neat and clean.
- Tourists should hire approved guides and photographers who can present their identity cards.
- Consider purchasing a souvenir – Taj Museum situated inside the Taj Mahal Complex opens from 10.00am to 5.00pm. It is free to enter.
- Polluting vehicles are not allowed within 500m of Taj Mahal. There is parking at Shilpgram for the Eastern Gate and at Amrood-Ka -Teela for the Western Gate.
- Smoking and eating are strictly prohibited inside Taj Mahal.
- Firearms, smoking items and tobacco products, liquor, sweets, headphones, mobile chargers, electric goods and tripods are prohibited.
- Mobile phones must be switched off. If visiting at night, mobile phones are not permitted.
- Taking large bags and books inside the monument is not advised as they will increase the security check time.
- Taking photos is prohibited inside the mausoleum.
- Touching the walls and surfaces of the monument is not allowed as they need special care.
- Visitors should keep quiet inside.
- While there is no formal dress code, dress in a respectful fashion.
Now you’ve got some great ideas for your trip, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance as soon as you’ve made a booking. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1300 819 888 to discuss your requirements.
Categories: Travel Advice