Taj Mahal – what else?
Taj Mahal in Agra
We finally arrived at the Taj Mahal about 2 1/2 hours before total sunset. Ravi, our driver, had to drop us at the Taj Mahal Western Gate. It is not allowed to park there and we appointed that we will send him an SMS when we are ready to leave.
It is just a short walk from the gate to the real entrance, but you can also use the offered transportation possibilities for tourists by vehicles pulled by horses, camel, tuk tuk, motorcycle or men. You cannot really imagine how far away the entrance is, when you arrive at the gate, and you have to be stubborn if you really want to walk, as you find the „same procedure as everywhere“. The „commercially active part of the indian residents“ 😉 want you to leave your money in their pockets. We decided to use a vehicle pulled by horse for the way to the entrance, but on the way back we walked. It is a short walk! If you also walk the way to Taj Mahal or the way back to the Western Gate, be careful with the gibbons living in the park next to the walkway. They are pretty naughty and will take whatever they can get!
After arriving at the entrance, you have to buy your ticket. Some people may tell you that you need a guide or that it is cheaper to get inside with a guide. It is not! Ravi warned us again and so we bought our tickets at the international desk and used the queue for international tourists to go inside. The entrance fee includes shoe protection for entering the marble platform of the Taj Mahal. This is necessary to protect the marble floor. You, as international tourist, will get the shoe protection inside on the left side of the platform by showing your ticket. It is not necessary to buy extra shoe protection, although somebody will try to sell it to you!
Before getting inside you and your bag will be closely examined when you are at the entrance. There are different queues for men and women. Something very important you should know is that it is not allowed to take the following inside:
„Eating and smoking is strictly prohibited inside Taj Mahal. Arms, ammunitions, fire, smoking items, tobacco products, liquor, eatables (Toffees), head phones, knives, wire, mobile charger, electric goods (except camera), Tripods are also prohibited. Above mentioned list of prohibited items along with mobile phones are banned for night viewing of the Taj Mahal. Video camera, extra batteries are prohibited though still camera is permitted after the security check.“ (source: webpage of the Taj Mahal)
I forgot that I had a mini tripod inside my bag – really mini – but I had to leave it outside! To be exactly I had to throw it away, because I could not just go back to the car to deposit it there. So leave everything on this list in your car!!! After entering the terrain we saw the Great Gate on the left side, where we entered the garden.
I don’t think that there is a time where you will be alone inside, but you need to know that there are hundreds of people together with you visiting this special place. For me it didn’t matter. After entering the Great Gate the first view is overwhelming and visiting this special place was something I always wanted.
You can walk through the garden, stop at the water channels or relax at a bench. Sitting on a bench is sometimes difficult as there are a lot of clever guys taking pictures of pairs or families using this benches ;-). For entering the marble platform you have to turn left. As foreign tourist you get your shoe protection on the left side. It is not allowed to take photos inside the Taj Mahal and it is always extremely crowded! I was not particularly overwhelmed by the inside of the Taj Mahal. For me the outside architecture, the details and of course the story of the Taj Mahal are the most important things.
The Taj Mahal Story – history and romantic story
Do you remember the overview over the Mughal Empire in my New Delhi article? I mentioned the 5th Moghul – Shah Jahan. He build the Taj Mahal to honor his wife Mumtaz Mahal after she died giving birth to their 13th child. Mumtaz Mahal was his third but most favored wife. It is said that her death so crushed the emperor that all his hair and beard were said to have grown snow white in a few months.
At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son, Aurangzeb. It is told that Shah Jahan was detained until his end of life at Agra Fort. He said to have died lying on his bed in Muasamman Burj, a tower of the Agra Fort with a view of the Taj Mahal.
The story about the Taj Mahal is a wonderful romantic legend of never ending love! It is said that the Taj Mahal is the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tomb in the world. Taj Mahal means „Crown Palace“ and it is UNESCO World Heritage since 1983.
The Taj Mahal Facts
- the mausoleum was build 1631-1648 by Shah Jahan and the gardens were finished 1653
- build with ivory-white marble
- the tomb is the centerpiece of a 42-acre complex
- situated next to Yamuna river in Agra
- about twenty thousand workers and 1000 elephants were recruited, about thirty-seven men who formed the creative unit: sculptors from Bukhara, calligraphers from Syria and Persia, inlayers from southern India, stone cutters from Baluchistan, a specialist in building turrets, another who carved only marble flowers,…
- about 7–8 million visitors a year
If you are interested in more informations about the Taj Mahal I can recommend the official Taj Mahal page!
Videos about the Taj Mahal
My Conclusion for visiting the Taj Mahal
We had about 2 hours from drop off at the Western Gate and I would say that this was enough time for us. Visiting the Taj Mahal for sunset is definitely a good decision. The only thing I would have liked to do was to see the Taj Mahal from the other shore of the Yamuna River – the Mehtab Bagh – for sunrise. But inside the Taj Mahal terrain we had enough time.
Jaipur – coming soon