Located in Agra in northern India, this is an immense white marble funerary mausoleum built between 1631 and 1648 by order of emperor Sha Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, who died giving birth to her fourteen child.
How to go to Agra?
Agra is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, about 200 km from Delhi.
Plane: Approximately one hour flight from Delhi via Kingfisher Airlines and Air India Regional , both making the Delhi – Agra Jaipur tourist triangle. This is not the cheapest option and expect to delay.
Train: many trains connect Agra from the big cities of he country, but if you go there in December – January it is possible that the journey is very long due to the reduced visibility. Indeed at this period Agra and Delhi are covered by fog and the trains have to roll slowly for more security , but in normal time the train puts between 2th and 5th . From New Delhi the two best trains are the Bhopal Shatabdi Express and the Taj Express.
The main railway station is called Agra Cantt and is located in the south –west of the Taj and Agra Fort. From the train station you can take a taxi or rickshaw to a hotel (150 rupees/ 50 rupees).
If you arrive from the east of the country you may arrive at Agra Fort Station .
By Bus: about 4 to 5 hours from Delhi , with two bus stations in Agra: Idgah Bus Stand and ISBT (inter state bus terminal).
To move to Agra you will have to negotiate with taxi and rickshaw drivers, they may also take you to their cousin’s workshop to buy carpets or other , as they get a commission, so tell them Although you are not interested in shopping.
If you are several the most economical is to hire a taxi by the day by agreeing before on the total price and the place you want go.
Where to sleep and eat?
Note: in Agra beware of monkeys at hang around and do not hesitate to snoop in the rooms in the rooms and poke a stuff (be careful if you have a plastic on the street).
Sleeping : You will find plenty of guesthouses and other hotel around the Taj Mahal, for all prices. The most ex pensive offer a view of the Taj so ask the question before. If your hotel does not have internet you will find internet cafes without problem in Agra.
Generally the hotels near the Taj are of poor quality . It is up to you to see where you prefer to stay according to your feeling. Any way you will spend more time on the roofs spying on what is happening at the street level and admiring the Taj in the distance.
Eating : Same, full of restaurants, either in the guesthouse where you stay either next door, and prices increase more or less depending on the view of the Taj. Go where there are people.
How much does it cost?
The entry of the Taj Mahal costs 750 Rupees and gives only one entrance, if you go out and want to re-enter it will have to repay 750 rupees.
It is also possible to visit the Taj Mahal during the full moon, but the visit lasts only half an hour, between 20:30 and midnight, and you have to book your ticket one day in advance. Groups are 50 people maximum.
You can also hire an official guide for 900 rupees for a half day tour of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Un official guides will offer their services for less expensive but will probably want to take you to buy rugs at their cousin after the visit . Some can tell you that the guide service is included in the entrance fee, which is wrong.
When to go?
- The Taj open from 6 am to 7 pm every day except Friday. The best is to go early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid tourists and heat.
- If you go between September and April you will avoid the heat of summer which can rise up to 45 degree C.
- Better to ask your hotel at what time the sun rises to avoid having to wait several hours in the dark unnecessarily.
- In winter ( December – February) do not bother to get up early to see the sun rise as there is a lot of mist in the morning. You may also be cold in some guesthouses and hotels, especially since it is very wet.
- Basically, the best time to visit Taj is September/November and end February / March.
Discover the Taj Mahal and the other sites of Agra:
A few things to know before visiting the Taj:
- Do not forget to ask for protections for your shoes at the ticket office at the entrance .
- You will not be able to enter with a bag so leave your belongings at the hotel and just pick up your camera. There are lockers to the wicket where you can leave your bag but they are small , so be sure to leave everything at the hotel .
- It is forbidden to take food in the Taj Mahal.
- It is forbidden to make noise and take pictures in the mausoleum.
- Laptops / smart phone are allowed.
- The tripods for camera are forbidden
- Dress modestly : do not forget that this is a tomb, with mosques located inside the site.v e to zoom)
- It is also possible to admire the Taj Mahal from several other places : either on the other side of the Yamuna river, no need to pay ! The best is to go there at sunset; From the fort of Agra ( you have to zoom ) and finally , the best, from the cafes and hotels located on the roofs of the buildings around the Taj.
The Taj Mahal:
For all the architectural I invite you to go to the UNESCO site.
To put it simply , the Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built on a pink sandstone basement and surrounded by a garden with canals and fountains. It is about a hundred meters wide and 56 meters high and encrusted with semi – precious stones . Passages of the quran are also inscribed on it , which one does not necessarily see at first glance.
Several interesting facts about the Taj Mahal:
- It was built between 1631 and 1648 ( 17 years old). The mosque, guest pavilion and main entrance to the south as well as the outer courtyard and its cloisters were later added and completed in 1653 .
- It was built by Emperor Sha Jahan in memory for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal , who died giving birth to her 14th child!
- It is built entirely of marble of the finest quality from Rajasthan in India, China , Sri Lanka, Arabia , Tibet and Afghanistan.
- Its architecture is a fusion of Persian, Islamic and Central Asian style.
- 1100 elephants were used to transport the materials needed foe its construction, and 22000 workers worked to build it.
- It is said that the craftsmen and experienced workers who designed the Taj had their hands cut off so as not to repeat such a work (of nothing).
- The four minarets at each corner of the Taj Mahal are 40 meters high and are divided into three parts with a balcony at the top.
- They are constructed so as to collapse on the outside in the event of an earthquake.
- The pollution, due to in particular to the 1700 factories around Agra causes the Taj Mahal to become more and more yellow.
- According to the time of day and also according to the light of the moon it appears of different colors.
- It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
- A second Taj Mahal in black marble had to be built opposite it but its construction was canceled because of the wars between the emperor and his sons.
- It is visited by about 3 to 4 million people per year including 200,000 from different countries .
- The Taj Mahal was built on the banks of the Yamuna River.
- Geologists think that the Taj-Mahal is “sinking” because of its not solid foundations .
- Some historians believe that it was an Italian, Geronimo Veroneo, who designed the Taj- Mahal and not the architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
- The construction of the Taj Mahal cost 32 million rupees at the time, or about one billion euros at the present time.
- *Many precious stones were torn from the walls during wars and looting , but also by the British during the Indian rebellion in 1857.