Among the many must see sites of interest in India the Taj Mahal is by far is the most prominent of the lot. Here is a visitors guide to the Taj Mahal, a historic monument for love which has captured the imagination of the world.
One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the monument is an epitome of love by Mughal King Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The only tomb that was built posthumously in appreciation of someone, is now one of the most visited locations in the history of the world. It took 22 years for this architectural achievement to get completed. 22000 artisans and labourers worked day and night and finally finished the structure in 1636 A.D. It stands majestically on the banks of the River Yamuna and is a remarkable example of flawless sculpturing, calligraphy and workmanship.
Resplendent white marble is the main component of the structure, along with red sand stone and coloured stones. It is known to be one of the most faultless structures in the world.
The Taj Mahal is located in Agra in Uttar Pradesh in the North of India. While Agra isn’t the most popular city amongst travellers it is well located and easy to fit into a longer itinerary. Other sites of interest include marble carving factories and the magnificent Agra Fort.
Agra is well connected by road and rail from Delhi and takes only 4.5 hours to reach. For those who want to fly instead, there are a number of flights from major cities of India and the airport is just 7 kms off the main city.
TIMINGS AND DATES
The Taj Mahal opens at 6.30 a.m and closes just after the sun sets at 7.30 p.m. It is closed on Fridays so plan ahead. Also, it’s a charm to see the Taj Mahal lit on a full moon night. It is open two days before and after as well. Tickets need to be booked a day in advance for this spectacle. For normal days, try going at sunrise or sunset time.
The best season to go to Agra is between October and March when the weather is cooler and more bearable.
As most monuments in India, the fees are different for Indians and Foreigners. Rs 20 for Indians on normal days, Rs 110 during sunrise / sunset and Rs 970 for foreign nationals. The ticketing system is fairly organised and a refreshing change from the hustle of other monuments in the country.
THE TAJ EXPERIENCE
For the last decade, the slow weathering of the Taj was of great concern in the archaeological sector and steps have been taken to make the site as low impact as possible. Battery run vehicles to reach the monument are run at strict intervals. Shoes are allowed but visitors have to use a net bag to wear over their shoes. People are ushered fast from the main sanctum and not allowed to spend unnecessary time inside.
Though the River behind the monument has completely dried, it is now cleaned and allows for some breathing space around the Taj. Thousands visit this sacred tomb of love each day, but the monument is kept extremely clean. The favourite spot still remains the front of the fountains where people sit and take forced perspective pictures with the Taj in their hands.
Certainly an unmissable sight for people coming to the country for the first time, soak in the serene beauty of the tomb and the towers around it. The magnificent architecture and precision is something to marvel even after you have left.
If you would like your next trip to include some of India’s most famous historic monuments then get in touch and we can help you plan a fantastic itinerary. Agra is ideally incorporated into a Golden Triangle itinerary taking in some of India’s top sites.