Essential Guide to Visiting the Taj Mahal

Essential Guide to Visiting the Taj Mahal

By CarolUpdated Oct. 19, 2021

The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and on the top of everyone's list when visiting India. This incredible white marble structure is not only beautiful but is also a testament to the love that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Built in the mid-1600s over a period of 22 years using 20,000 workers, the Taj is truly a testament to otherworldly beauty and architecture.

On this page, you'll find everything you need to know when visiting the Taj Mahal including where it is, how to get there, what to wear, entrance fees, the best time to visit, and other things to do nearby. 

Taj Mahal travel guide

Taj Mahal Location

The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, India. Agra is a small city in North India a few hours drive or 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the capital of New Delhi. Agra is often visited on the Golden Triangle travel route which includes the most popular stops in India: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. 

Agra was a very important city during the Mughal rule of North India, but since then has a decrease in political importance and today only has 1.7 million people. The Taj Mahal is located to the east of the city near the banks of the holy Yamuna River. 

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How to Get to Agra and the Taj Mahal

Agra is normally visited by travelers on the Golden Triangle circuit because it is around 200 kilometers from both Delhi and Jaipur. You can also make a day trip from Delhi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and then return to Delhi. We recommend staying in Agra for 1 or 2 days to see some of the other World Heritage Sites there such as the Agra Fort and Baby Taj. 

You can reach Agra from Delhi by train. The high-speed Shatabdi Express has trains that run between Agra, Delhi, and other cities in Rajasthan. A train from Delhi to Agra will likely take around 1 hour and 20 minutes.

You can also travel to Agra from Delhi by private car on the Yamuna Expressway. If you book a Golden Triangle tour, traveling between the three cities by private car will be included in the price. The car journey from Delhi to Agra takes around 3 hours and is often more comfortable and convenient than traveling by train. 

Once you reach Agra, the Taj Mahal will be easy to reach from your hotel by either private car or rickshaw. We recommend taking a private car with a guide in order to avoid scams at the entrance. 

Best Time to Visit the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal can be visited all year round, but the best time to visit is from November to February. This period is during the winter months in India when the weather is cool and dry and the skies are clear. 

This time of year is the high season for visiting the Taj, so you can expect there to be larger crowds visiting this world wonder. During December and January, the Taj Mahal is often shrouded by fog in the morning so if you want the perfect sunrise shot, its best to go in November or February.

You can also visit the Taj Mahal from March to May and June to October. March, April, and May are the hot season in Agra with temperatures reaching up to 40°C (104°F). During the hot season, we recommend visiting in the early morning to catch the beautiful sunrise and avoid the heat.

March is the best hot season month to visit because the temperatures are still manageable and the crowds are much smaller.

June to October is the rainy season in Agra. This season is slightly cooler than the hot season but is still warm and humid. Agra doesn't get as much rain as other parts of India. The wettest month in Agra is August with an average of 272mm (10.7 inches) of rain. 

You can still see the Taj during the rainy season, but you will need to spend a few more days in Agra to make sure that you have time to see everything and avoid the showers. 

September is a good month to go for affordable hotel rates and travel. The last two weeks of September are often dry. October is the beginning of the high season and hotel prices normally rise on the 1st of the month. 

Get more information on the best time to visit the Taj Mahal by month. 

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Taj Mahal Entrance Cost and Rules

The Taj Mahal is open from 6 am to 7 pm every day except for Fridays when it is closed for prayer. The Taj also reopens every day from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am for 4 nights around the full moon.

The price of entrance tickets into the Taj is 1,100 rupees ($15) for non-Indians. You can get a 50 rupee discount if you pay with a card. Children younger than 15 can enter for free whether they are foreigners or Indians. Your ticket comes with a water bottle, shoe covers, and a map of Agra. Shoe covers must be worn inside the main building of the Taj Mahal.

The full moon night viewing tickets cost a little less than day tickets. For foreigners, night entrance is 750 rupees ($10).

Taj Mahal tickets can be purchased at the entrance gates or online. 

There are three entrance gates into the Taj Mahal complex: South, East, and West. The West Gate is the main date and normally has the longest lines throughout the day. The South Gate is the least used as it is in the heart of a congested market and a little difficult to access. The East Gate is most used by foreign visitors because it is close to many nice hotels and often has shorter lines. 

The Taj Mahal is India's most important monument and has high levels of security at the entrance. When entering the Taj, your bags will be searched and no large bags are allowed inside. 

Taj Mahal entrance gate Entrance gate to the Taj Mahal

Other items that are not allowed inside the Taj include food, cigarettes and lighters, tripods, and lighting equipment. Cameras are also not allowed inside the mausoleum as taking photos of the inside is prohibited. 

If you bring a big bag or backpack, you may want to store it in a locker outside the monument so as to decrease your time at the security check. 

What to Bring with You to the Taj

Because security is so high at the Taj Mahal and many things are not allowed, it's a good idea to only bring a small bag with a few belongings. Some items you may want to bring when visiting the Taj include:

    • The Taj Mahal was constructed to be immensely beautiful. It is completely symmetrical and surrounded by gardens. The white walls of the Taj reflect the colors of the sky from orange in the early morning to dark blue at night.
    • The Taj Mahal is a tomb containing the bodies of emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal and is decorated to depict an image of heaven. The marble of the Taj is carved into beautiful floral designs and inlaid with semiprecious stones from Persia, Russia, Afghanistan, China, and the Indian Ocean. 
    • The story of its creator, Shah Jahan, is a sad one with his son betraying him after the death of Mumtaz Mahal and locking him away in the tower of the Agra Fort where he could still see the Taj from a distance.

Sunblock is especially important during the hot season, but you should consider wearing it no matter what time of year you visit the Taj. The sun reflects off of the white marble walls and garden pools causing your skin to be more exposed to the sun's rays than normal.

Bug spray is also important, especially during the rainy season, as the Taj is located next to the Yamuna River and sometimes has many mosquitos. 

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What to Wear to the Taj Mahal

There is no dress code for entering the Taj Mahal, but even so, it is important to be respectful of the local culture. It's a good idea to wear loose and long clothing. For women, a loose long-sleeved shirt and loose pants or a skirt are perfect. This way, you will be respectful and still stay cool in Agra's hot climate.

The general rule for how to dress appropriately in India is to cover everything above the knee and your shoulders. 

To enter the mosque that is located on the grounds of the Taj Mahal, women will need to cover their heads, shoulders, and knees. 

Why You Should Book A Guided Tour

Visiting the Taj on a guided tour is the best way to see this world wonder. Guides will take you to the Taj in a private car and help you get your tickets and through security. They will also show you around the Taj Mahal and give you all the information you could want to know.

Guides can also protect you from the many notorious scammers and hawkers who hang out near the Taj Mahal trying to catch unaware tourists.

If you visit the Taj with a guide, it is best to book through your hotel or through a tour company on a Golden Triangle tour. Outside the Taj, many people pose as guides who are not actually qualified to do so. To avoid this scam, make sure to book beforehand.

If you choose not to use a guide at the Taj, just make sure to keep your wits about you and turn down anyone who asks for photos or to be your guide. You can purchase an audio guide at the entrance of the Taj for around 105 rupees. Audio guides are available in many languages including English, German, Spanish, and French.

How to See the Taj Mahal Without Going Inside

Taj Mahal Mehtab Bagh View of the Taj on a foggy day from the Mehtab Bagh gardens.

Besides entering the official Taj Mahal grounds, there are a few other ways in Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

One of the most popular Taj viewing points is from Mehtab Bagh which is a large Mughal garden located just across the Yamuna river. Entrance to Mehtab Bagh costs around 300 rupees ($4) and the garden provides incredible views of the world wonder. This is an especially great place to view the Taj during sunrise.

You can also see the Taj Mahal from many hotel rooftop restaurants in Agra. You can see the beautiful mausoleum for free from the roof of the Taj Ganj hotel. You can also get great views of the Taj from the dining room of the Oberoi Amarvilas luxury hotel. 

Lastly, you can see the Taj Mahal at a distance from the windows of the Agra Fort. The Agra Fort was also partially built by Emperor Shah Jahan and is the building where he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. 

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Where to Stay in Agra

Because Agra is such a large tourist area in India, the city is full of hotels for all budgets many of which are located near the Taj Mahal and offer rooftop views. Luxury hotels are particularly popular in the city and are great places for fine dining and spa experiences. 

The Oberoi Amarvilas is the best hotel in Agra for luxury experiences. It is located around 600 meters from the Taj Mahal and its architecture was inspired by the monument. The hotel has fountains pavilions, gardens, and pools. It also has an incredible dining room where you can sip champagne while watching the sunset behind the Taj. 

Another great luxury hotel in the city is Jaypee Palace. This hotel sits on 25 acres of and that is full of pools, gardens, and palm trees. Jaypee Palace is located in the center of Agra and close to all major attractions. They also have an outdoor dining location that features nightly performances.

If you are looking to stay in a resort, our favorites are the Trident and ITC Mughal. If you are looking for more affordable options then the DoubleTree by Hilton is a great one that also offers views of the Taj Mahal. 

What Else is There to Do in Agra

While the Taj Mahal is without a doubt the main attraction in Agra, there are plenty of other things to see in this ancient Mughal capital.

The Agra Fort is also a stunning location and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in the 16th-century. Inside the fort, you see a number of palaces that were built by different Mughal kings and also the place where Shah Jahan was imprisoned. 

If you are interested in beautiful architecture, you can also go and see the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah. This tomb is only about a 25-minute drive from the Taj Mahal and is often called the "Baby Taj" because it was one of the architectural inspirations for the world wonder. This tomb contains the grandfather of Shah Jahan and was the first Mughal structure to be made of white marble. 

Another UNESCO World Heritage site near Agra is Fatehpur Sikri which is the ruins of an ancient city that was originally built by the Mughal emperor Akbar as a place for his family to live. The city is made of red sandstone and contains the beautiful ruins of palaces, mosques, and homes.

If you are looking for some socially responsible activities, you can check out the Elephant Conservation Centre which is run by Wildlife SOS and works on the rehabilitation and care of rescue elephants. The city is also home to Sheroes Hangout which is a small cafe that is run by victims of acid attacks. Here you can grab a coffee and listen to the women's stories.

Some great restaurants in Agra include the fine dining Esphahan, the more relaxed Mama Chicken, and the delicious Pinch of Spice.

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