The Taj Mahal is one of the most impressive sites on Earth, one with a well-earned place on many bucket lists. A visit to this site is, for most people, a once-in-a-lifetime experience and should therefore be maximized to guarantee the most memorable trip possible. The following tips can help you make the most out of your trip while avoiding potential blunders.
Built by Emeror Shah Jahan as a symbol of his love for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is a massive complex of gardens, reflecting pools, religious buildings and the distinctive marble mausoleum with its domes and minarets located at the center. The monument is not only a resting place for the Emperor’s wife, but one of the most treasured sites in India. Due to the solemnity of the site and the harsh effects of pollution on this man-made marvel, the grounds are well monitored and following the rules is a must.
It is said the best time to view the Taj Mahal is at sunrise when the air is crisp and the light is best, not to mention it is too early for the throngs of tourists that will overrun the grounds as the day goes on. Arriving early is a great way to get the best photographs possible, as when the crowds get overwhelming, it is nearly impossible to get a good picture without dozens of random strangers in the shot.
There are many classic photo ops, such as in front of the famous reflecting pool with the monument in the distance. Remember these shots are not only desired by you, but every other person you are sharing your visit with, so get an early start and have patience when trying to get that “perfect shot.”
Get a guide. The insights of a tour guide can provide a much more in-depth understanding of this architectural marvel and can ensure that don’t make a cultural misstep by misunderstanding the rules. Local tour guides are well-trained and often know details that won’t be in the informative signs located on the grounds. The concierge services at most Indian hotels are helpful and will happily find you a reliable tour guide, but if you don’t procure one ahead of time, there are plenty of guides available on site waiting to offer their services.
Allow yourself plenty of time. The monument is open from dawn to dusk and there is no limit to the length of time visitors can stay. The grounds are extensive and there is no need to rush if you want to absorb its beauty to the fullest.
Shoes are prohibited in the mausoleum unless they are covered by cloth booties. Many people simply go barefoot or in their socks but, if you are uncomfortable with this, make sure you grab a pair of free booties from the ticket station to wear over your shoes instead.
If you’ve only got a few days in the area, don’t save the Taj Mahal until the last day. Although it is currently open Saturday through Thursday, it may be closed at the whim of the government for a variety of reasons, such as visiting foreign dignitaries. Ask your hotel or tour guide to check ahead of time, if possible, for closures.