Photo Essay: The Taj Mahal + 5 Things You Don’t Often Hear About It

by Ekua on March 13, 2011 in captured on memory card,India,why i travel

1. You can see the Taj Mahal from the roof of many nearby hotels. Many of them have conveniently placed (overpriced) restaurants on their rooftops. I got my first glimpse of the Taj Mahal while having lunch on my hotel’s roof.

2. At the main entrance, the Taj Mahal ticket office is not next to the Taj Mahal. As I was walking towards the Taj Mahal’s south gate, I ran into the Aussies I’d met at the train station in Varanasi. They asked me if I’d gotten a ticket. When I said no, they told me to turn around. The ticket office was not only behind me, but beyond my hotel. Make sure you have a ticket before you get to the entrance to avoid delays.

Two men taking the “I’m grabbing the tip of the Taj Mahal!” photo.

Me taking the obligatory “Yes, I was really there!” photo.

3. Be prepared for paparazzi. Most of the tourists at the Taj Mahal are Indian. If you look very non-Indian, people will ask to take a picture with you every ten minutes or so. Between me and the two blonde Australians I was hanging out with, we took pictures with dozens of Indian people. I often turned around to find someone taking a picture of me on their cell phone camera and one man even asked me if I could shake his son’s hand.

Colorfully dressed women and children waiting in line to go inside the Taj Mahal.

It’s hard to pick just one favorite photo of the many pictures I took at the Taj Mahal, but I think this is it.

4. Yes, you should go. Amongst frequent travelers, I hear the Taj Mahal catch a lot of flack for being overrated. Sure, there are more impressive monuments in India and beyond, but the Taj Mahal is truly beautiful and worth seeing. Much of its beauty is encompassed in its details — the smoothness and precision of the marble bricks, the floral design, the symmetry that’s fantastically skewed by a change in perspective and offers so many ways to view it…

5. You don’t have to go first thing in the morning. Most guidebooks and information you find online tell you that you should go to the Taj Mahal at sunrise for the ultimate experience. I wanted to visit it at sunrise, but with my train getting into Agra seven hours late, that was not possible. But I thought sunset was a fantastic time to be there and I imagine it’s equally as beautiful as sunrise — as long as you are prepared to deal with the congestion.

If you get there at sunrise, the heat and the crowds will grow as your day goes on. At sunset, the crowds eventually begin to disperse, the monument looks more beautiful than your first glimpse of it, the chaos of the experience fades, and it’s a wonderfully quiet way to end the day.

One last glimpse of the Taj Mahal as the light fades.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Sunee March 14, 2011 at 12:34 am

I was given a jigsaw puzzle of the Taj Mahal when I was 10 years old. I came to know the traditional view of it (your 2nd last picture) very well and have always wanted to go see it in person. I love your close-up picture – I never knew it was so beautifully detailed!

Is it possible to go inside and if so, what’s on the inside (I assume one isn’t allowed to take pictures)?

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Ekua March 14, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Yes, it’s possible to go inside… our experience going inside was a whole separate story which I’m not quite sure how to go about explaining yet!

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Rebecca March 14, 2011 at 3:52 am

Such a beautiful building – bet seeing it was worth it after that 20 hour journey!

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Ekua March 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Well the 20 hour journey was an event in itself! It was kind of one of those, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” type of things. But yes, I think seeing a glowing Taj was probably enhanced by not being in a train or at a train station :P

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neha March 14, 2011 at 3:59 am

I’ve never been. Love the photos, especially you with the taj behind – so pretty!

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Ekua March 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Thanks, Neha :)

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures March 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I cried when I 1st saw it peeking behind the red arches. It is a MUST see! Gorgeous photos of a gorgeous place and I agree with all 5 of your statements.

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Ekua March 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Thanks, Andi. As someone put it when I asked whether or not they would recommend visiting the Taj Mahal, “If you’re going to India and like to see beautiful things, you should definitely go.”

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Naaz March 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Your Taj Mahal photos are incredible! The first photo I ever saw of it featured my father in his heyday, proudly perched on a ledge or something of the sort with a rebellious expression, “I am here”, across his face . I later found out that he ran away with a friend to see the country where his father was born. I blame my wanderlust on my father :-)

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Ekua March 14, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Thanks, Naaz. I definitely think wanderlust is inherited, whether those who passed it on to us want to believe it or not ;)

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Globetrottergirls March 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Love these pictures. I had no idea you could see the Taj Mahal from the rooftop of the hotels that are nearby. I will keep that in mind for when we finally make it to India!

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Ekua March 16, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Thanks! I didn’t expect that either until I started searching for hotels and some said they offered a “Taj view”. I was thinking it would be more hidden than it turned out to be.

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Angela March 18, 2011 at 2:54 am

The “ultimate monument to love” – truly beautiful :)

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Ekua March 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Yup, I think for some, the history of it enhances the appeal.

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Mezba March 22, 2011 at 7:00 am

Agra (and the Taj Mahal) was indeed one of the highlights of my short India tour. We ended up reaching the Taj around 11 am and it was quite busy – but still it was an amazing building to tour. And to think, it was made over 400 years ago, and took 22 years to build! How often do such wonders get made nowadays!

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Mezba March 22, 2011 at 7:00 am

Although the Taj Mahal is known throughout the world as a symbol of love, did you know it was built in honour of Emperor Shah Jahan’s THIRD wife, who died giving birth to their FOURTEENTH child ? :-)

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Oneika the Traveller April 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Wow, these pics are fab! I really need to make it over there… Someday (soon)… My boyfriend went to the Taj Mahal with his red-headed sister and he said that there was a line of Indian people wanting to take their picture that went around the block!

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Ekua April 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Thanks… it’s such a photogenic place and the light was fantastic when I was there. It was crazy how many people wanted us to take pictures with us. If we said yes to one person in a group, all of a sudden we’d have a huge group crowd around us and they’d take pictures with several cameras. I can only imagine how many FB photo albums I appear on.

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Lola April 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

I can truly feel its grandness within these shots. So beautiful. The intricate detailed shots as well as the lowlight ones and of course, the one with you in front of it.

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Ekua April 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm

It is truly grand. The reflection pictures don’t do it justice!

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Greg Goodman April 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm

OMG, I think I have about a dozen photos of myself and my fiance with random groups of Indian tourists. By the end of our hours there, we actually had to start saying no, just so we could get out of there and go get a thali!

(shameless self-promotion) http://www.adventuresofagoodman.com/agra-and-the-taj-majal/

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Ekua April 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm

We were so swamped that we didn’t even get to take pictures with people on our own cameras! By the end we also started turning people down because we wanted to get dinner, but that’s when the even stranger requests like, “Please shake my son’s hand” started to roll in.

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ram saran August 5, 2011 at 1:29 am

NEVER TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF ON TAJ MAHAL , OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE TO COME BACK BARE FOOTED LIKE ME AND MY WIFE AS OUR SHOES WERE STOLEN THERE.

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Ekua August 11, 2011 at 9:11 am

Hehe, I did take off my shoes and was really nervous about what I’d come back to. Luckily, my shoes were still there!

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Ana Lucia Silva January 7, 2012 at 6:42 am

interesting post. thanks for sharing ;)

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Dinesh K Takyar July 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

The Taj Mahal is an amazing monument. The beauty is so mesmerizing. I had to hold a friend of mine from New York for eternity (it seemed) because it appeared she had attained ‘nirvana’ on viewing it!
Thousands of people from the state of U. P. in which Agra lies visit the Taj Mahal and also people from all over India particularly the southern states. They are mostly simple people and want to ‘show off’ by being able to tell thaier friends that they met many foreigners at the Taj – that’s the reason they wish to be photraphed with black and white people.
Of course, like at all popular tourist spots you need to take care of your shoes, money and cab (rickshaw) drivers!

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nipun June 16, 2013 at 10:30 am

agreed , well said.

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sangram Acharya July 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

when i went to taj mahal it was really a fantastic place for spending your vaction and i enjoyed very much
Thousand of people from the different states visit the taj mahal and also people from all over india particularly the southern states .They are mostly simple and wants to show off by being able to tell their friend that they are mostly like it

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Weez Wit February 1, 2013 at 8:43 am

Fabulous photos….I’m heading there next week – can’t wait. Quick question – I read that you can’t take mobile phones in, yet I use my camera on my mobile phone when I travel – should I leave my mobile phone at the hotel and make sure I pack my proper camera? Thanks and happy travels :-)

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