Travel

A day trip to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

TAJ MAHAL

Agra, Uttar Pradesh.

Nearest Railway Station: Agra Cantonment

Timings: Taj remains open from sunrise to sunset.

Opens: The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.

Cost:  INR 40 (Indians) & 1000 (Foreign Tourist)

Photography: Allowed

At 10:30 on Thursday morning we arrived the city of Agra through Agra Express (From Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station to Agra Cant). From the train station, we took a cab (6 people at INR 700) about 8 kilometers to the pollution barricade near the east gate of the Taj Mahal. The cab charged this much for the whole day including traveling from Agra Cant railway station to the Taj Mahal, then to Agra Fort, then to the Agra Market and lastly leaving us back to the railway station at 6:30 in the evening.

The ticket office-Shilpgram for the east gate of the Taj Mahal is actually located about 1 km away from the gate itself. This means that when you wake up at 5:30 in the morning to be first in line to see the Taj at sunrise, you actually have to walk 1 km to the ticket office, which opens at 6:30 a.m., and then 1 km back to get in line at the gate, which opens at 6:55 a.m. Most other travelers didn’t seem to realize the tickets don’t have a date on them, so you can buy a ticket the day before and then walk straight to the gate when you wake up the following morning.

The other gates to the Taj (south gate and west gate) have their respective ticket offices located right next to the gate, but because of this convenience, those lines are significantly longer. Your best bet to a quick early morning entry into the Taj Mahal is through the east gate, buying your tickets the day before. You can’t wear shoes inside. You need to buy shoe covers from the shops outside the Taj or the ticket counter.

As all the guidebooks and websites will tell you, the best time to see the Taj is at sunrise. If you decide to visit try going early in the morning around 6:30 a.m. just after the sunrise. This will serve dual purpose one it’s a perfect time to capture this white beauty with sunrise in the background canvas, second, there will be very few visitors so the place will not be overcrowded.

Alternatively, if you can plan a visit to Taj on full moon night, it is only this period that visitors are allowed to visit Taj during night. White beauty against the starry black backdrop. You can visit any of these five days i. e. 2 before, full moon night and two days after. However, a pre-booking is required so you need to procure tickets for you. Look up- Night Viewing of Taj

There are several hotels/ rooftop restaurants from where you can enjoy the Taj’s view sitting on this rooftop drinking coffee, beers and eating curry. As it was a day trip for us, so we didn’t reside anywhere.

The Taj Mahal was commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1631, to be built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess who died giving birth to their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632.The imperial court documenting Shah Jahan’s grief after the death of Mumtaz Mahal illustrate the love story held as the inspiration for Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1643 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished about five years later. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level. 

Taj Mahal

So when we entered the Taj premises we spent the next few hours roaming around the grounds snapping some photos and hoping the sun would lift. When it didn’t, we decided we should head inside the mausoleum and hope that when we came back out the temperature falls. The next step was to go inside the Mausoleum where the Mughal and his beloved wife are buried. You’ll need to slip on some protected foot covers here, get in line and hold your belongings close. The Mausoleum doesn’t have a light on, so you’ll pad through, squinting, clutching, elbowing trying to hear your guide in the tiny space. To be completely honest the inside of the Taj Mahal is completely underwhelming.

Taj Mahal

What about you? Have you been to the Taj Mahal? Did it meet your expectations?

Have you ever been to an attraction and been disappointed?

The Taj Mahal is on many people’s bucket list to see, but is it the highlight of a trip to India? It depends on what kind of traveler you are. Here’s our opinion.

So we would suggest rather than ask others decide for yourself.

 “The world is divided between two types of people– one those who have seen the Taj, and other who had not been there”. –Those were the words, how the Former US President described the beauty of Taj Mahal when he visited there. Recognized by the UNESCO, which included it into the list of World heritage Monuments, it is a mausoleum of a queen, built by an Indian emperor to show his esteem and love towards her.

Taj Mahal

We wandered a while after getting requisite pictures and visiting the Mausoleum. We traveled all of this way and were finally seeing the Taj Mahal. We wanted to make sure we weren’t missing something, but the whole time we couldn’t help but feel that there was indeed something missing. Sure the weather could have been better, yes it would have been more enjoyable with fewer tourists, and dang, it would have been prettier without scaffolding, but the whole time, we just kept reverting back to the Taj Mahal image we had growing up seeing, which was much better than what we were actually viewing. It’s kind of like someone hyping a must-see, fabulous movie as the best ever and then you get there and say, this is it? Were we glad we went? Yes, but maybe just because of the friends.

And for our foreign friend (not so foreign) may be just because the first question most people ask when you say you went to India is, did you go to the Taj Mahal?

Next, we visited the Agra Fort, which is worth a visit. It’s a nice tease for the main attraction that you can see across the way. Sadly, Shah Jahan who built the Taj was later imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb at the Fort. The father requested a view of the Taj from the fort and this is where he lived his final years, viewing the ode to his love.

Agra Fort

The Agra Fort, also known as the “Lal –Qila”, “Fort Rouge” or “Qila-i-Akbari”, is the highlight of the city of Agra, then capital of the Mughal Sultanate.

Then we visited the market for shopping and finally after that reached back to the station.

QUCK WINDOW

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Visit Taj in winters
  • Avoid big backpacks
  • Carry water bottles
  • Purchase shoe covers before entering the Taj.
  • Eatables and any electronic gadgets are strictly prohibited.
  • Photography is prohibited in the main mausoleum.
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Sonam Rajput

Sonam Rajput is a student of Education at Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi. She is a foodie and enjoys going on historical walks and imagining the world that had been. She hopes to keep her love for history in tandem with her passion for travel and unravel cultures, and experiences while doing so.


1 thought on “A day trip to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

  1. Taj Mahal is quite a marvel and Agra Fort is monumental. The trip was worth our time and every penny we spent. For a friend of India from a far land, it was a dream come true to behold this exquisite piece of Indian history.

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