Visiting the Taj Mahal in India can be a seamless and easy experience with this guide to exploring the mausoleum. Whilst my own experience at the Taj Mahal was on the harrowing side (we’ll get into that later), the site itself is beautiful and well deserving of its inclusion into the 7 New Wonders of the World list.
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What is the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal might be one of the world’s most beautiful buildings, however it does have a tragic symbolism. In fact, the whole complex is a giant tomb; a tribute to the Emporer’s wife.
Rabindranath Tagore referred to the Taj Mahal as “the teardrop on the cheek of time” and the dome of the mausoleum itself is tear shaped, forever rolling down the cheeks of the sky behind it.
Built in 1632, the Taj Mahal is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site as well as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, making it a massive tourist drawcard worldwide.
Where is the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra, about 3-4 hours from Delhi depending on your mode of transport. Often in India, the trains are a quicker option as the roads can become very congested.
Agra was the second stop on my tour through India after a stay in Delhi. Prior to the tour kicking off, I’d been to Kerala and Goa and still to come were stops in Orchha, Varanasi and then onwards to Nepal.
Catching the train to the Taj Mahal
To catch the train from Delhi, you’ll need to leave from New Delhi Railway Station and travel towards Pune.
Alight at Agra Cantt (4 stops). The easiest thing to do from here is to catch a taxi to the Taj Mahal, which will take around 10 minutes and cost less than $5 AUD.
Where to stay in Agra
Because it is a major tourist attraction, Agra boasts a wide range of accommodation options from the budget to the luxe. At the luxurious end of the scale, the impressive Oberoi Amarvilas Agra features 4 restaurants and a fantastic resort-style pool.
For the more money-conscious, three-star Hotel the Soft Petal by Four Apple Group is rated extremely highly.
Admissions to the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal opens 30 minutes before sunrise in order for eager tourists to catch the first rays of light over the majestic structure.
Tickets can be purchased from the Eastern or Western Gate and for foreign tourists the price of entry is 1100 INR plus an additional 200 INR for entry to the main mausoleum. Children under 15 years will be able to enter free of charge.
Online tickets come at a discount of 5o INR and can be purchased here. As this is a very busy tourist attraction, booking in advance is always a good idea. The online ticketing website also offers the opportunity to purchase entry to other major Agra attractions such as the Agra Fort.
What to expect at the Taj Mahal
Visiting the Taj Mahal is truly one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had. From the minute I walked through the archway into the garden the sight of the white domes, the four minarets proudly surrounding the main structure and the turquoise water of the pools leading up to the mausoleum rendered me almost breathless.
This part of the tour was the most touristy part of my India trip and I hadn’t actually given today much thought – I was much more excited about seeing the rural parts of India – but seeing the Taj Mahal (even on a cloudy day) standing tall against the sky floored me in a way I hadn’t expected.
It’s truly a stunning display of architecture. There’s something about actually being there in the flesh to experience an image that I’d seen so many times in the media that almost makes the whole situation feel unreal.
My best advice for visiting the Taj Mahal is is not to rush your day. The building is wonderful viewing from any vantage point and taking enough time to wander through the grounds and notice how the building changes colour subtly in the sun light is something that needs to be experienced.
There will be hordes of tourists, of course, but the grounds are spacious enough that you will have room to walk around in peace and really reflect on the beauty and solemnity of the place.
My story – Eat, Pray Dumped
The Taj Mahal might be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, but it is also a place of sadness. When I visited on Christmas Day, I had no inkling that my six year relationship would be ending as we wandered the grounds of this amazing place together.
This was the moment that my travel partner and boyfriend decided to break the news that he wasn’t in love with me any longer.
As we walked around this incredible place full of solemnity, majesty and beauty we were splitting up our possessions. Inside the tomb when others were marvelling at the architecture we were mourning.
In the perfectly manicured gardens we were wondering how we’d gotten to such a state of disrepair.
In addition to this, we were wondering how on earth we would be able to stick out the rest of this 15 day tour that we were one day into. In this place of beauty, how did things ever get so ugly?
We made it through the tour and upon arriving back in Australia we went our separate ways. I moved out and took nothing with me except for my personal belongings. I didn’t want anything we’d jointly owned because I didn’t want to hold any part of him (great in principle, less so in reality). This meant that I was effectively homeless for months, sleeping on a sofa bed in a friend’s garage whilst I found my feet.
It hurt. It took time, but eventually I realised that he had never loved me the way I needed him to. And more than that, because he didn’t love the way I needed or wanted my own sense of self worth had deteriorated to a point where I was seriously lacking in some self-love.
I’m still working on it and I still feel pangs every time I hear of anyone visiting India or seeing their selfies at the Taj Mahal. But, as Elizabeth Gilbert, writer of Eat, Pray Love says “balance, my darling, is not letting anyone love you less than you love yourself.”
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