The Magnificent Taj Mahal – Agra, India

After watching the sunset at a secret hidden spot in Agra the day before, we set out early to the Taj Mahal to watch sunrise and see it with the changing light. It’s a must do in India and might be one of the most impressive sights you’ll ever see. While many guides recommend you go early to beat the crowds, this wasn’t exactly the case. The people were there, and will always be there. It’s just the way you look at it that can change the way you experience things. It’s better to go early with the mindset of trying to appreciate the changing light on the white marble. The color of the light reflecting on the white marble changes how the palace looks subtly. Different each moment, and strikingly beautiful.

 

This is how the Taj Mahal really looks at 6:30 before the sun comes up and with all the other people wanting to get there early. It’s better to wait for photos in other spots further in and to take in the first majestic view.

Just twenty minutes later and the color of the Taj changes completely.

If you go to the right side of the Taj, you’ll find it more empty and the left is even more empty actually. The light from sunrise directly hits this side first.

It’s the size, the perfection, and the detail that makes it so grand. Each look at the building and you can see something new and interesting.

You’re not allowed to bring in tripods or other electronics other than a camera and phone, so we traded one couple to take their photo and they could take ours. I think they did a good job. 

By the time we got to the other side, the clouds came in and it was perfect in the sky. Ask me for a time-lapse clip that I got from my phone. 

Being a foreigner, Julie was approached by many different people wanting a photo with her. This group of ladies (which I am not sure where they are actually from – but likely some other district in India), wanted some photos together. The clothes that they wear are so colorful and suit them well. We were amazed.

This man started to do a local dance, which we all enjoyed. 

There were some quiet moments and we were able to get time to ourselves. 

Here’s a happy Trenton after visiting the whole palace.

And then here’s a happy Julie & Trenton after exploring the Taj Mahal. See below for some of the major tips & things to know before you go.

Visiting tips:

  1. Use this link to buy tickets online and not wait in the queue: https://agra.nic.in/service/taj-mahal/ 
  2. The hours are from 6am and check if you are in high or low season. Low season you can leave later.
  3. Do go ahead and purchase the Mausoleum ticket, which is an additional 200 rupees, and affords you access to the upper level and inside the palace. We were hesitant at first but it’s worth it.
  4. The Taj is closed every Friday, so plan accordingly to your schedule. 
  5. Plan on entering the East Gate. This is close to Joey’s Hostel, which is one place that we recommend for staying in Agra. 
  6. Pack your things the night before and bring only a few essential things, otherwise you’ll have to put it in a locker. Make sure not to have snacks, tripods, odd camera accessories, books, pens, tobacco or any other prohibited items. The security does check thoroughly. 
  7. Do enjoy the people watching and know that others are wanting to see the world just like yourselves. We were happy with the moments we shared with some of the more local visitors and even foreign visitors too.

Location:

The Taj Mahal is located in the heart of Agra, about 20 minutes Tuk-Tuk from the main railway station. It’s also close by to the bus station if you decide to take a sleeper bus or regular bus to the next city. We stayed at Joey’s Hostel, which isn’t as great as Delhi’s Joey’s Hostel, but it fits the bill and has everything you need to explore close by. 

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