One of the most iconic sights of India, a UNESCO world heritage sight and one of the 7 wonders of the world – The Taj Mahal.
Yes, this is achievable if you are in or around the Capital, New Delhi and want to visit this monument in a day. I have put together some tips from our recent trip which might help you plan your visit to the Taj Mahal in a day from Delhi. It is truely magnificent and more than one expects it to be. I kept telling my wife that there is a wow moment when you first cast your eyes on this beauty and even on my third visit I was astonished.
The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra one of India’s most populous states and roughly 250kms from the Capital city of Delhi. It is still visited by millions of people from India and the rest of the world everyday so plan accordingly.
It was built between 1631 and 1648 by over 20 thousand workers, under the instruction of the Emperor Shah Jahan, for the tomb of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan were married for over 19 years and bore 13 children.
History says that they had a deep and everlasting love, and were best friends. In fact, she was one of his closest advisors in all of his royal affairs, and often traveled with him. When Mumtaz died at childbirth, Shah Jahan was completely devastated and built this in her honour and love.
It is built from white marble which was brought to the site from Makrana over 300 km away in Rajasthan with floral decorations and bands of black marble Arabic calligraphy. The main tombs were decorated with precious stones and gems and some of the finest craftsmanship Artists and calligraphers as far as Syria and Iran were brought to work on the this monument which stands till date as an architectural splendour.
The Taj Mahal is easily accessible by car, bus, train or airplane. There are regular trains through the day from both Delhi and Jaipur and depending on the train you chose it could be anything from 2 to 5 hrs. Booking in advance for best rates is always recommended. But the fastest and most convenient way I worked out was by road using the Taj Expressway from Delhi.
Once you escape the mad traffic of Delhi which took us approximately 1 hour you hit this lovely modern expressway and off you go. A straight 2 hour drive and you are 2 kms away from the Taj Mahal. The expressway like any other Motorway in the west is a 5 lane patrolled well managed road with plenty of services to refresh yourself on. I was highly impressed with this and would recommend this to anyone looking to visit the Taj Mahal.
Recommend visiting the Taj Mahal from October to March to avoid the unbearable heat of the summer but you might get heavy smog during the winter months. December is the peak tourism season – both domestic and internationally so avoid a weekend and either visit early or late afternoon as we did.
The most recommend times for visiting the Taj Mahal are at sunrise, sunset, and at the full moon. It is said that the marble of the Taj shows off its beauty as the light reflects in different angles though the day and each view is spectacular. Full moon night views are usually two days before and after the full moon and tickets need to be booked in advance. The Taj Mahal is open all year round from sunrise to sunset, except for Fridays so plan accordingly.
Entry Charges: Foreigners: INR 1000 / Domestic/Indians: INR 40.
There are some advantages with the foreign tourist ticket which means that you can enter in the foreigner lines, which move much faster than the local’s line. It also gets you a free ride from the parking lot to the main entrance on an electric golf buggy and a bottle of water. You also get a free shoe cover unless you want to walk the marble bare feet as you are not allowed to wear your shoes if you want to get close to the monument.
To take a Guide or not? There is no simple answer to this question and up to your discretion. We went with the option and must say I was really happy I did.
For a mare INR 1200 our guide arranged to purchase our tickets, brief us about the do’s and don’t’s whilst at the Taj and Agra and some very interesting stories about the construction and the history of the Taj. From tips on the best photo spots to helping us avoid the long queues inside the mausoleum, it is something I would highly recommend specially f you don’t live in India and visiting. However, you don’t NEED a guide to see the Taj Mahal but I wouldn’t go without one after experiencing all the help provided and maximising our time spent where it was required rather then in the long queues or negotiating with the various vendors.
A very relaxed and fulfilling tour of the Taj Mahal in just over 2 hours and it was time to say are adieu to this beauty.
Next stop, a refreshing refuel break at Oberoi Amarvilas before our drive back to the Capital. This is a 5 star property from the famous Indian chain The Oberoi Group of Hotel and stones throw away from the Taj Mahal. It’s beautiful balcony over look the Taj and the service from the staff is unparalleled.
If you plan to spend the night in Agra then I would suggest this property (but it’s going to pinch your pocket) so check before you jump. Some fine darjeeling and cakes and we were back on the road on our way to Delhi.
Total cost of the trip – INR 13,000 which included (transportation by private car and chauffeur / Entry tickets / snacks and refreshments on route / high tea at the Oberoi).
Time spent – 10 hrs.
Experience – Unforgettable.