A trip to the Taj is like a dream come true, especially for anyone who is visiting for the first time. The most recognized monument in the world, an ode to love reminiscent of the Mughal era, a structure so beautiful, it has consistently made it to the list of the Seven Wonders of the World, The TajMahal very clearly needs no introduction.
Drawing nearly seven million visitors each year, its not just the structure but the story behind it that creates a timeless appeal and attraction that no one can stay untouched from. Creating a travel itinerary for the Taj will depend upon the kind of trip that one is planning.
If traveling into Agra just for the visit and not staying, then the larger focus will be on how to get to the destination. As opposed to this, if one is staying in Agra and let’s assume- looking for an Agra luxury hotel, then that element has to be considered too.
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Either way, here’s a quick lowdown.
Getting to Agra from Delhi, one can drive in by road as the distance is about 200kms from Delhi. Other option includestrain and is also preferred by a number of people.
Talking about accommodation, a 5 star hotel in Agra is a good option given you’ll get top-notch facilities and this is even more advisable when traveling in the summer months. The heat can get unbearable but it’s nothing that an Agra luxury hotel cannot tackle as most are equipped to deal with the consequences.
The hours of opening are between 6:00am to 7:00pm and these apply all days except Fridays. For those who want an ultra romantic experience, there is also moonlight viewing between 8:30 pm and 12:30am but this only happens two before and after each full moon.
Fee is about Rs 750 all up for Foreign nationals and Rs 20 for Indians.
Once there, things to look out for are as below:
-Avoid carrying big bags and on most days only one mobile phone and one camera per person is allowed.
-When accessing the complex, there are three entrances called the West, South and East gates. The best and the easiest entry point is the east gate and if you have a driver dropping you, Shilagram parking is where you should be getting off. This is where you buy tickets. If you are staying at a 5 star hotel in Agra, check with the concierge desk as they sell tickets too. This will help you avoid the long queue.
-The earlier you get there the better. This is particularly to avoid crowds.
-Once inside, the complex is very easy to navigate. It’s open and approachable with lawns and waterways.
-You do have the option of choosing a guide but this depends upon the kind of experience you want. A guide can sometimes be a distraction with his/her incessant talking and if you are looking for a quieter feel, one option is to take a hand held audio guide from the ticket counter instead.
Once in, most people wrap up in about three hours but that is a personal choice. You can spend as much time as you like up to closing hours. Passing through the big gate leads to the chaos being left behind and a kind of serenity engulfing the atmosphere. This for some is the magic of the Taj that they take back with them.