The Taj Mahal is one of the seven Old Wonders of the World and represents a symbol of love from Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to his wife. Completed in 1632, the mausoleum is perfectly symmetrical and made entirely from white marble. There are detailed floral inlets engraved into the marble and inscriptions of Koran along the entranceways. It’s impressive the amount of patience and precision that were required to construct the Taj Mahal, something that would be impossible in today’s world.
When I was in Delhi last month, I took a day trip to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. Here are a few tips that can make your trip more enjoyable!
Hire a Car from Delhi
There are three main ways to reach Agra from Delhi: by train, bus or car. I hired a hotel car for $200 for the convenience, time and comfort. It included a local guide in Agra and a private car. To me, it was totally worth it because I had the flexibility to leave Delhi whenever I wanted and visit any local market or shops in Agra. I also didn’t have to deal with the entrance fees since the tour guide did all the talking for me.
Go at Sunrise
The Taj Mahal gets 7-8 million visitors per year, so if you want to avoid the crowd and get a nice photo, I highly recommend visiting at sunrise. This means leaving Delhi around 3 AM to arrive at the Taj Mahal around 7 AM, right before sunrise. For reference, I visited in February and was probably the first 300 people in the Taj Mahal just after 7 AM. The sun rose to the right of the Taj Mahal and lit a golden yellow tint on the white marble – it was so beautiful. 100% recommend going at sunrise!
I’ve read concerns about the Yamuna Expressway being dangerous in the dark, but I found it safe with few cars on the road. Also note that in the winter, Agra is actually pretty cold in the morning. I made the mistake of not wearing enough when it was only 45 degrees, so wear layers!
Take Your Photo at the Second Fountain
You’ll likely enter the Taj Mahal complex from the East Entrance and want to snap a photo when you see the first glimpse of the Taj Mahal (trust me, I did it too). However, if you continue walking down to the second reflection pool, there are fewer people and the view is much better. This is where I shot the first photo above.
Find Photo Ops Around the Taj
The iconic photo of the Taj is viewing it from the center with the reflection over the pool. I agree that is one of the most beautiful shots, but there are other great photo ops around the Taj. Focus on the minarets, details of the inlets, or alcoves on the outside of the palace. Be creative and photograph the Taj from different perspectives!
Hopefully these tips will help you better plan your Taj Mahal visit!