All that you need to know before visiting Taj Mahal

A trip to India is not complete if you do not visit Taj Mahal. And this is not an over-the-top statement. In fact, the very beauty of Taj Mahal has inspired Dubai to build a bigger replica of it. Famous as a symbol of love, this magnificent monument has been making onlookers turn green with envy since ages. In short, regardless of whether you are from this country or from overseas, one trip to Agra and feasting your eyes on Taj Mahal is a must, at least once in your lifetime.

There is a catch though! It is good to know certain things before heading to this spot to avoid any dampener. Here are the tips to make your visit to the Taj a memorable one.

There are different entrance gates 
There are three gates to lead you to the monument—East, West and South. If based on your online research you decide to opt for the South Gate, you will have lesser crowd. The South Gate is the least-used gate, reason why you will not have to wait in a longer queue as compared to the other two gates.

The West Gate, which is the main gate, is used by a majority of local visitors. It sees the longest queue of people throughout the day. If you use this gate, the best time will be during sunrise when you can expect fewer crowds.

The East Gate is mainly used by the foreign visitors, especially because it is closest to a number of hotels. If you get your ticket in advance, this will be the best option to use for an entry to the Taj.

Avoid visiting the Taj Mahal on Fridays
Taj Mahal is normally open to visitors from 6 AM to 7 PM every day, except on Fridays (as it remains closed for prayers). The monument keeps its gates open for night viewing every full moon from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, plus two days after and before the full moon, i.e., for a total of five days.

During the holy month of Ramadan, night viewing is suspended in Taj Mahal. So plan your visit accordingly.

If you are in Agra for a few days, visit Taj last
Here is a catch to save some extra bucks. You get an entry ticket to Taj at a discount at other Agra attractions, such as Agra Fort. But make sure to check the date stamp on your ticket, as it remains valid only for that particular day.

Ticket prices differ for different people
Because of disparity in income of locals as compared to the foreign nationals, the ticket price of entering the monument also varies.

Entry fee for foreign tourists is INR 1100, which includes a water bottle, a map of Agra, a bus or golf cart service at the entry gate, and a pair of shoe covers (walking around the Taj Mahal with your shoes on is not allowed and shoe covers are provided to prevent the marble from getting deteriorated).

For Indians, the entry ticket price is INR 50, and entry for children below 15 years of age is free.
For night viewing, foreigners need to pay INR 750, whereas it is INR 510 for Indians. Also, children aged between 3 to 15 years will have to pay INR 500. You can buy these tickets one day in advance, between 10 AM and 6 PM, from the Archaeological Survey of India office on Mall Road.

Taj Mahal free entry days!
If you plan your visit to this monument on the morning of Eid or during World Heritage Week, you will enjoy free entry. But bear in mind, it will be busier than the usual times. If you are savvy and know the details, you can take advantage of this.

If in case, you missed capturing a shot of Taj Mahal during a full moon, sunrise or sunset, you can get a better shot from the Yamuna river. The view from there is magnificent and entry is free. There will be very less crowd to disturb you, and you can even use a tripod.

Things you cannot carry inside the Taj
There are certain things that you will not be allowed to carry inside the Taj Mahal due to security reasons. In case you carry something, the checkpoints near the entrance gate will not allow you to pass through. Huge bags are not allowed; you can carry only a small bag having essential items. Tripods, mobile phone chargers, smoking items, food, drinks, and tobacco items are not allowed inside the Taj. There is, however, a locker room at the entrance, where you can submit the items in case you carried them by mistake.

You are only allowed to take with you a mobile phone, a water bottle and camera, which is included in your ticket.

Best time to visit the Taj
Avoid winters as the Taj will shadowed by fog, i.e., from the months of November to February. So early summers, i.e., from March to June is the best time to visit the monument. And the best days to plan a visit are between Monday and Thursday.

Just in case you are planning a trip to Taj Mahal, take note of these tips. Hopefully, these will help you to navigate around the monument easily and plan your trip better.