Taj Mahal is one of the best places I have ever visited, merely due to its sheer elegance. It has beauty, history, architecture and thus something for everyone to look. It is a type of tomb, mausoleum – an ivory-white marble mausoleum built by King Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Today, it stands for love and is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. It is voted as one of the new wonders of the world in 2007 and is estimated that around 8 million people visit this UNESCO world heritage site every year.
What did I love most about Taj Mahal?
The complete view. It stays on your mind forever. The moment we enter thru the Main Entrance, we go ‘awe’ and that says all about it. It doesn’t end there, it has beautiful paintings where the color lived for about 400 years, amazing symmetry everywhere in building, the adorable calligraphy on the walls and much more, depicting the India’s rich history.
Did Taj Mahal meet my expectations?
Definitely yes! Dreamt of visiting this place from childhood watching movies and they all created just right buzz. The history we learn visiting this place is infinite. Those carvings, detailed art, windows, archways, there is so much science we can ever imagine in everything. It always boggle me how those people created all these wonders with little technology and resources.
How are local people?
Lovely people. When you speak to right ones. Yes of course, there are local vendors and guides who might bother too much for their business. If you love to talk about suggestions around, talk to local people on the streets or small street vendors. They might not speak English at all though or least only broken English.
What is the best food around here?
Paratha is the most famous local food. It is kinda wheat bread and comes in different varieties like ghee, potato, vegetable, etc.. to satisfy your taste buds. Remember they can be spicy too! Also if you are looking for street snack, chaats are must try, aloo tikki is the local favorite.
How to reach Taj Mahal?
Taj Mahal is located in Agra, India about 250 km from New Delhi, capital city of India. It is about 4 hours and well connected from the capital city with the beautiful 6 lane Taj Express Highway. There are buses that run 24*7 between these two cities. The best and affordable option for families is hiring cab from New Delhi. Solo Traveler can use trains. Hitchhike is not recommended.
Since there are various options to visit around Taj, people generally book a tour from New Delhi. There are several tour options available based upon the time you can afford. The most famous trip is – The Golden Triangle in 4 days.
Where did I stay?
To give the best experience to my parents, we stayed at Hotel Taj and the food is just amazing. There are several options for every budget in Agra. There are some beautiful hotels with Taj Mahal view and also hostels, locally called homestays too. AirBnb is not very famous in the area.
What and where to shop?
If a tour is booked, guide will usually take you to their affiliated store where they have commissions. These are definitely good ones but over-rated. Bargain is the key here. Kinari Bazaar is where most visitors shop. Leather products and White marble souvenirs are the usual collectables.
Is it worth all the time and money?
Absolutely. It is a lifetime experience. Apart from the Taj Mahal, there are several historic spots around which takes us back into history. It is thrilling to learn about the lifestyle of Kings and how it had changed gradually.
Are there any tips for first time visitors?
There are few worth considering.
- Book tour in advance with a travel agent if you prefer to do several spots around Agra. It saves time and money too. I booked with Vuelo Travels, Bangalore and enjoyed the trip at ease. Otherwise Taj Mahal tickets are also available at the east gate on any day with the little wait.
- Winter is yes and no to visit Taj Mahal. Though the temperatures are perfect, there can be fog cover. Check the forecast(And the forecast is not always accurate). March can be ideal time. Also look out for the construction/cleaning times. There will be crew all over the monument and you don’t want to visit then. Official website details here.
- Check for passport validity while booking flights and bring the passport to Taj Mahal as identification for foreigners and Non-Resident Indians.
- India is a safe country. Just be aware of the surroundings. Also, there are few dress guidelines to follow anywhere you visit. They, most of the times, go hand in hand.
- You will be provided a tour guide if you book tour with agency. Most of the guides on location are unauthorized who might not be of much help and are better to avoid. You will not need a guide if you read things ahead.
- Feel free to say ‘NO’ to strangers for pictures.
- Tips are not mandatory in the area. However, few bucks will always give you an extra comfort.
- Ticket prices are different for Foreign nationals and Indians, like most of India.
- Remember to use only authorized transport service like auto-rickshaws from the standing booth.
- Pack light to Taj Mahal as there will be lot of walking. Selfie sticks and bags are not allowed. Shoe covers are provided at the entrance.
Will I do it again?
Oh yes! I would love to visit Taj Mahal on Full Moon nights, one of the unique ways to experience the most gorgeous wonder of the world.