The main reason for almost everyone’s visit to Agra is to see the Taj Mahal. Visiting the famous wonder of the world is like mandatory if you’ve ventured all the way to India. When we’re planning this trip, I told my husband that I’m fine with skipping most of the attractions for his portraits photos as long as we visit the Taj Mahal. We may saw thousands of images of this incredible monument over the web but seeing it for the first time was like a dream come true. Let us take you to the day we visited the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal Experience
Our hotel the Taj Resort was located about 500 meters from the main gate. Since we already booked the tickets online, we directly walked to the gate. It was around 9 in the morning yet thick fog or mist covered the streets. Weather was bearably cold so we had our jackets on, something that I didn’t expect from this country. As we walked through, I was hardly praying for the fog to go away. There were a lot of shops, vendors who market their products and will follow you until the end and tour guides offering their service before the main entrance.
By that time, there we’re only few people in the gate. I passed the security check while the husband brought his mini-tripod (a 15cm like). As expected, they didn’t allow him to bring it inside! (see what happens when he don’t listen to his wife!haha) So we went back to our hotel and return riding a tri-bike. By the time we reached, we’re surprised to see that the entrance is now busy! Good thing, there’s a separate lane for foreigners and male/female.
When we’re inside, my high hopes of seeing the Taj Mahal disappear. The fog was really thick and unforgivable. But this wonder is really something. Despite the zero visibility, many foreigners and locals are still there with us making fun of the unfortunate scene!haha. We can’t even see the Royal gate if we don’t come near to it, as in ZERO.
Being his optimistic self, my husband told me that it will surely cleared up then asked me to go inside the mausoleum first. After wearing the shoes cover provided, we went close to it and to tell that we’re in great awe would be an understatement. The intricate carvings, ivory-white marble inlays, from the smallest details to how huge it is – it’s really an architectural masterpiece! I felt like I travelled time and remember the history classes about this emperor’s great love for his wife. Though we haven’t opted for a tour guide, by eavesdropping to other’s loud voice guide, we’d able to hear its history while we’re checking out the tomb.
We’ve tried to spend more time inside when it gets colder outside and the major enemy fog was still there. After 2 hours of waiting game and before my husband fell asleep, the fog cleared up like 80%, yes it didn’t fully went away but it was enough for us to take our selfies with it. And when I saw it clearer, my heart skipped a beat. It was so beautiful and I can’t seem to find the right words to describe it! All I can say is – Mr. Emperor Shah Jahan, you’re the man! 🙂 For an hour, we’ve able to capture this beauty and just spend some time looking at it. Thankful that we’ve crossed out one from our Ultimate Travel Bucketlist.
Photography Tips in Capturing the Taj Mahal
A photo in the center with the fountain then Taj Mahal as your backdrop is certainly wonderful, just like what we did. But there are more angles to capture the most recognized monument in the world. Also, a lot of visitors would probably photobomb your Taj Mahal selfie. Here are the areas where you can take a stunning angle of this wonder. And more tips that we planned to do but the weather and time didn’t allow us to but you can still try to do on your visit.
1. Mahtab Bagh
Backside area of the Taj Mahal. We arrived in Agra on a Friday late afternoon when the Taj Mahal is closed. After checking in, we asked our hotel to arrange a car service for us to this area. But I read in tripadvisor that you can take a rickshaw to go here. We planned to capture the sunset but we didn’t make it and the weather was so misty. Entrance fee is INR 200 for foreigners as of December 2016.
2. Yamuna River
If only there’s plenty of time. We would’ve crossed this river by a boat and take Taj Mahal photos from a different perspective. Better to take it on a Friday too so there’s no people in it. If you did, share it with us.
3. From the Mosque
There are two mosques surrounding the Taj Mahal. I saw a lot of photo on Instagram using the mosque walls to be the frame of their photos, just like this one from the amazing couple Murad and Nataly Osmann who popularized the hashtag #followmeto.
4. From the Gardens
The huge complex surrounding the Taj Mahal is for you to explore. Walk in the gardens and use it to add some color in this white building.
5. Sunrise or Sunset
I guess whatever the time of the day is Taj Mahal will look beautiful but let’s admit it, there’s a magical touch if it’s sunrise or sunset. Again, we failed to do this one so we would love you to show it to us, tag us on Instagram.
6. Explore the grounds
After taking hundred photos of the Taj Mahal, why not explore its surrounding?
7. Look closely
Don’t forget to look close or look up and capture the great details of this stunning architecture.
8. Keep Shooting
Rain or shine or fog. Whatever the weather is, use it to your advantage. You’d be surprise when you see the awesome effect it creates on your photo.
Useful Tips in Visiting the Taj Mahal
- First thing we proved is the high level of security here, you cannot sneak in a tripod even the smallest one! And if you forgot this rule and your accommodation is far, there are lockers for a fee for you to leave it. Like all security checks in India, women and men are separate. Women are searched behind a curtain.
- Book your ticket online here. Or buy it from the ticket offices a few meters away from the Taj (about 10 minutes walk). There are separate local & foreigners ticket counters. Tickets for tourist cost INR 1000 as of December 2016.
- Food is also not allowed so don’t bother bringing as it will be thrown out and increase the time you are searched at security. Other items that are not allowed include mobile phone chargers, smoking items, tobacco products and drinks other than the water included in your ticket.
- Note that the Taj Mahal is closed every Friday to anyone not attending prayers at the mosque.
- Cameras and videos are permitted but you can’t take photos inside the mausoleum itself.
- Shoes are not permitted in the mausoleum itself. Along with your ticket you will get shoes cover or simply take off your shoes and go barefoot. But carry your shoes with you if they fit in your bag, as there is no proper storage.
Now, if you’re thinking to skip the Taj Mahal when you visit India, you’d probably lose the chance to be mesmerized and just live in the moment upon seeing it. Our trip to this country certainly made us exhausted but I’m telling you, it’s really worth it.