One glance at the Taj and you know you are experiencing something surreal, other-wordly. Even after over 400 years since it was built, this breathtaking poetry in white marble is still one of the most fascinating pieces of architecture ever known to mankind. When Rudyard Kipling described the Taj Mahal as ‘the embodiment of all things pure’, he echoed the romance, the beauty and the glory of this masterpiece that shone brilliant on full moon nights, and threw up an evocative reflection in the still waters of Yamuna when the sun was high. For Rabindranath Tagore, Taj was ‘a teardrop on the cheek of eternity’, and like Tagore millions of tourists even today find a reason to visit the Taj Mahal each year, and stand in awe before its eternal beauty.
The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child. Mumtaz, Shah Jahan’s third wife, was known for her exceptional beauty, and the emperor was known to be mad about her. Crestfallen by her sudden death, the emperor, it is believed, turned grey-haired in just one night. Work on the Taj began in 1632, but it wasn’t until 1653 that the whole monument came together in its current form. But as fate would have it, soon after the Taj was built Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangazeb who held him prisoner in the Agra Fort, where he spent the rest of his years yearning for the Taj. Shah Jahan after his death in 1666 was buried beside his beloved Mumtaz in the Taj Mahal.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 for being the “jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”, an army of 20,000 artisans from across India, Central Asia and Europe were employed to work on the Taj.
The ornamental gardens designed on the lines of the typical Mughal Charbagh, is a square garden dissected by water bodies with an ornamental marble plinth running through its center. To the northern end of the complex is the elevated marble platform on which the main mausoleum stands. The raised podium is to lift it above the other structures on the complex, as if reaching out to the very skies. A 40-metre-high white minaret adorns each corner of the marble platform, and call it an engineering masterstroke, the towers each slightly lean outwards. This was so that they fall away in case of an earthquake and let the superstructure remain unperturbed.
The main entrance to Taj is an ornate Mughal structure predominantly made of white marble with tomb-like archways. The arches are rich in calligraphy and have vaulted ceilings and walls with geometric designs. On the other end of the structure there are two identical red sandstone buildings, the western building is actually a mosque, and its prototype, a jawab (answer).
Built in semi-translucent white marble with intricate carvings and inlay work of precious and semi-precious gems, the four identical sides of the mausoleum is majestic in its detailing. There are four small domes topping the central structure with one large bulbous dome in the centre. Right below the main dome lies the cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal with gorgeous jaali and inlay work in marble, and beside it the cenotaph of her husband. The construction is such that sunlight streams in directly through the jaali and falls on the cenotaphs. But the actual tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz are in a chamber in a basement room that is not open for public viewing.
- A 1000 elephants were used to transport building materials for the construction of the Taj.
- The brilliant white marble came in from Makrana in Rajasthan, the jade and crystal came from China, the jasper from Punjab, the turquoise from Tibet, the Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan, the carnelian from Arabia and the sapphire from Sri Lanka.
- The famous inlay work on the marble has about 28 varieties of precious and semi-precious stones.
|Taj Mahal Entry Gates||Taj Mahal Opening Hours|
|Western Gate (Main Gate)||An hour before sunrise and about 45 minutes prior to sunset|
|Eastern Gate||An hour before sunrise, and 45 minutes before sunset|
|Southern Gate||Only Exit|
To enter through this gate, you can buy the tickets near Saheli Burj. Taj Mahal opening hours for this gate are an hour before sunrise and about 45 minutes prior to sunset. This is actually the main entrance to the mausoleum and looks out to the Agra Cantt and the city at large. Outside this gate, don’t miss the beautiful red sandstone structure ‘Fatehpur Begum’, dedicated to another of Shah Jahan’s wives. Sprawled out across an open terrace, the courtyard of the building is fit to accommodate about 200 people at a time who wish to offer Namaz.
The tickets are available at this gate itself. Again, the Taj Mahal visiting hours remain the same; an hour before sunrise, and 45 minutes before sunset. Facing Fatehbad, there is a domed tomb here nestled on an elevated plinth, also known as ‘Sirhi Darwaza’. This too is a tomb to another of Shah Jahan’s wives, Sirhindi begum. The main structure is an architectural marvel what with its 24 arches, a giant hall and courtyard, and built in a unique eight-sided style.
You can only exit from this gate; no entry is allowed. Meant for pedestrians alone, this gate faces the old town, Mumtazabad. There is a tomb here too of red sandstone complete with a rambling courtyard and a dome. The grave is believed to be of a maid of Mumtaz Mahal’s who always kept her company and looked after her.
Be apprised of the fact that there are separate queues for domestic and foreign tourists.
The Taj Mahal is located in Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh - 282001.
The Taj Mahal is open for viewing to the general public on all days of the week except Fridays.
|Nearest Airport||The Agra Airport|
|Nearest Metro Station||NA|
|Nearest Railway Station||Agra Cantt Railway Station|
|Nearest Bus Stand||The Idgah Bus Stand|
From the NCR, you can drive down the 165-kilometre-long Yamuna Expressway connecting Greater Noida with Agra. Agra is 235 kilometre from Jaipur and 125 kilometre from Gwalior.
As of now the Agra Metro is under construction, and this Mass Rapid Transit System in its first phase is likely to roll out by 2020. The city of Agra and its various places of tourist interest are going to be well-connected by it.
The Idgah bus station is Agra’s biggest and most prominent bus terminal. It is in close proximity to the Idgah railway station and also the Agra Cantt, Agra’s main railway station. The UPSRTC (Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) operates regular deluxe, semi-deluxe buses from here to different parts of the city. Alternately, you can hire a taxi and reach the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is approximately six kilometres from the Idgah bus stand.
Agra Cantt is the prominent railway head in Agra, and at a distance of approximately six kilometres from the Taj Mahal. It is well-connected by taxis and other local modes of transport like state buses. To get to Agra Cantt from India’s capital, take the country’s fastest train, the Gatimaan Express departing from Hazrat Nizamuddin at 08:10 am and arriving into Agra Cantt in a cool 100 minutes by doing an average speed of 112 km/hr. Alternately, you can also take the second best option, the Shatabdi Express that departs from New Delhi at 06:00 am and brings you to Agra Cantt by 08:00 am. There is the Taj Express too which makes the journey in an average of 2.5 hours between the cities. This train too like the Gatimaan and Shatabdi Express now goes all the way to Gwalior and then Jhansi.
The Agra Airport is a military base and also serves as a public airport. You have flights between Delhi and Agra, which you need to book at least a couple of weeks ahead for better rates. There are two flights daily between Delhi and Agra, and the popular airlines serving the route include Air India, SpiceJet, and IndiGo. A nonstop flight takes about 3 hours to get you to Agra from Delhi. From the Agra Airport, the Taj is approximately 13 kilometres, taking you about 40 minutes by road.
|Entry Fee (Indian)||INR 45 ( Additional INR 200 to see the main mausoleum)|
|Entry Fee (SAARC and BIMSTEC)||INR 535 ( Additional INR 200 to see the main mausoleum)|
|Entry Fee (Foreigner )||INR 1050 (Additional NR 200 to see the main mausoleum)|
|Entry Below (Children Below Age 15)||Free|
The Taj Mahal entry ticket for Indian tourists is INR 45. For citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, the Taj Mahal entry ticket price is INR 535. And if you are a foreign national, the Taj Mahal entry ticket price is INR 1050. For both domestic and foreign tourists, no entry fee is charged for children below the age of 15.
Aside from gaining entry to the Taj complex where you can marvel at its unique Charbagh garden setup and the breathtaking central dome, you need to shell out an additional INR 200 to view the Taj Mahal main mausoleum. Placed right under the white marble central dome are the replicas of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan’s graves rich in their jaali and inlay detailing.
A ticket for the Taj Mahal mausoleum can be purchased at the time of booking the Taj entry tickets and you can save yourself the hassle of queuing up separately for this. The Taj Mahal main ticket with mausoleum entry for foreigners is INR 1250. But if you are a visitor from a BIMSTEC or SAARC nation, then the Taj Mahal entry ticket with mausoleum fee is INR 735. Although, the main mausoleum or the graves of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are in the basement of the structure barred from public viewing save for the three days of the annual Urs fair.
The entry tickets for night viewing can be bought 24 hours in advance. You can buy the tickets from the Archaeological Survey of India office on Agra Mall Road between 10:00 am and 06:00 pm. The price for an adult Indian tourist is INR 510, and for an international tourist is INR 750. Children between 3 and 15 years need to pay INR 500 to gain entry.
However, at a time a total of 400 tourists are allowed inside the Taj complex. These 400 are further categorised in eight batches with 50 members each. Nighttime viewing of the Taj is available only five days a month on a full moon night and two days ahead and two days post the full moon, with the exception of Fridays. The night visit duration is 30 minutes between 08:30 pm and 12:30 am.
You can book your Taj Mahal online ticket from the Archaeological Survey of India website, which gives you a list of monuments under ASI whose tickets you can book. Select the monument, enter your name, age, gender, the type of ID proof you are offering, from passport, Aadhaar card, driving license to voter’s card, including the unique ID number. A maximum of 20 adults and 10 children are allowed per booking. Head to the payment gateway, enter card details and confirm your booking. The e-ticket will be sent to your email id. You then need to take a print out of the Taj Mahal ticket and keep the same for producing at the entry gate. You can get a discount of INR 5 per Indian ticket, and INR 50 per international tourist ticket if you book online.
There are ample accommodation options available in Agra with some really exclusive properties around the Taj such as the Amar Vilas on the Eastern Gate, Mughal Sheraton on Fatehabad Road, Trident Hilton, among a string of conveniently located budget hotels and guest houses. Little wonder, Taj Mahal is a great excursion for a cross-section of travellers from within the country and even outside.
Some hotels near Taj Mahal are Four Points by Sheraton Agra, Orient Taj Hotel and Resorts, Crystal Sarovar Premiere - A Sarovar Hotel, Jaypee Palace Hotel & Convention Centre Agra and Hotel Parador Agra.
Some of the major things to do in Agra are shopping at the Shilpigram market area, taking the Mughal heritage walk, and watching the light and sound show at Kalakriti Cultural And Convention Center.
You can now book Taj Mahal tickets online by visiting Yatra.com. It offers online ticket options for 141 museums and historical monuments in India. No more standing in queues, buy your tickets online for a hassle-free experience.
Q. Who built the Taj Mahal and Why?
Q. What is Taj Mahal famous for?
Q. What is the ticket of Taj Mahal?
Q. What is the timing of Taj Mahal?
Q. How to Reach Taj Mahal?
Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001
Monsoon : July To August
Summer : Average Maximum Temperature: 47°C (116°F )
Winter : October to March, December and January are the coldest months
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