One Glimpse of the Taj Mahal Will Leave You in Awe
A Sight Unlike Any Other
Before I saw the Taj Mahal, I had no idea a building could be so beautiful.
Rising up like a dream in the distance on a hot Agra morning, it looked too perfect and symmetrical to be real. The curved white domes reflected in the mirror-like pool, the pillars stretched up to the sky.
The mathematical symmetry was so perfect that it was almost disorienting, each facet and side completely identical. When the light hit the marble it almost became translucent, glowing warmly in the brilliant sun.
The first glimpse from afar stopped me in my tracks, but the closer I got the more impressed I was. I examined the walls carefully, my fingers tracing the cool stone. Within the delicate patterns of flowers and geometric shapes were countless gemstones including tiger’s eye and lapis lazuli. Each square inch was an intricately detailed work of art.
I had seen many photos of the Taj Mahal, but I didn’t really understand it until I saw it up close.
Visiting the Taj Mahal was one of my favorite experiences in India. However (as is the case for traveling India in general) it’s not always easy. Here are some things you should know that will make your visit go more smoothly.
Get There as Early as Possible
Not only will getting there in the morning help you beat the crowds, it will also allow you to avoid the intense heat of the afternoon. We were there at 8:00 a.m. and even then it was already starting to get warm.
The gates open at 6:30 a.m. and most of the tour buses don’t arrive until 9:00 a.m.
Don’t forget that the Taj Mahal is a sacred site, so dress appropriately. Make sure you cover your legs, chest and shoulders.
It’s always a good idea to be cognizant of the cultural customs of the destination you are traveling in. As such, it’s worthwhile to dress conservatively everywhere in India, so you don’t draw attention to yourself.
Avoid the Carpet and Jewelry Stores
Unfortunately, many of the day tours to Agra that include the Taj Mahal will also include a visit to a carpet shop or a jewelry shop where you will be given the hard sell and pressured into buying souvenirs.
Remember that you are not under any obligation to buy anything. However, you will want to let your guide take you to the marble shop, as you will get a fascinating demonstration of how the intricate inlay designs on the Taj Mahal were made.
Take the Best Photos
Position yourself to take the best photos of the Taj. The South Gate is a great place to take photos, as you can capture some gorgeous silhouette shots.
You can also take some shots near the reflecting pool, so you can see the building reflected in the water. Then, head over and take some close up shots of the walls. The beautiful and intricate semi-precious gemstone designs are gorgeous and make for an excellent background to portraits.
Another great viewpoint is the Mehtab Bagh, a public garden known as the moonlit garden. If you are viewing the Taj Mahal at sunset this is one of the best spots from which to take photos. You can get there via tuk tuk or car from the main site in around 20 to 30 minutes.
Hire a Guide
Hiring a guide is highly recommended when visiting the Taj Mahal. They will be able to give you history and insight and point out features you might have missed if you visited on your own.
Also, when you already have a guide this will stop you from getting hassled by the other tours on the site.
These are just a few tips you can keep in mind to ensure your visit to the Taj Mahal goes smoothly. This unique and stunning building will take your breath away and is an essential stop on any visit to India.