The Taj Mahal is more than just a mausoleum – it is has been described by the poet Rabindranath Tagore as a “teardrop on the cheek of eternity”. As an expression of the height of the Mughal dynasty’s architectural genius in the Indian subcontinent, as the symbol of a bereaved emperor’s love for his empress, and as an inspiration to countless photographers and artists who have tried to capture its many subtle nuances of light and shade, the Taj Mahal continues to captivate people worldwide with its history, its design, and its symbolism of eternal love.
About the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is an integrated complex of structures that include a white marble mausoleum containing the tombs of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1592 – 1666) and his third wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631). The Mughal dynasty built many mausoleums in the Indian subcontinent but the Taj Mahal is undoubtedly the finest. The mausoleum is built entirely of white marble, set on a high base or plinth which includes four tall minarets, one on each corner. On either side of the tomb are a mosque and a guest house, while the tomb faces a garden laid out in the “charbagh” style, with a central walkway with fountains and viewing platforms with green spaces and trees on either side. The entrance to the complex is through a grand ornamental gateway, inscribed with Quranic inscriptions and the calligraphed line “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you.”
Location of the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is located on the banks of the River Yamuna and is easily accessible by road.
How to Reach the Taj Mahal
Agra is about 200 km from Delhi (165 if you use the Yamuna Expressway) and is easily accessible by flights, roadways and train services. The travel time from Delhi to Agra by road is around 3 hours.
In order to minimize the effects of pollution, vehicles are not allowed in the immediate vicinity of the Taj Mahal. Cars and buses have to park in parking lots a short distance away from the mausoleum complex and tourists can board non-polluting electric buses to reach the Taj Mahal.
You can travel from Delhi to Agra, see the Taj Mahal, and return in one day. However, if you wish to see more of the sights of Agra and shop in the city’s markets, then it is a good idea to stay overnight.
Best Time To Visit the Taj Mahal
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is in the autumn, winter and spring months from October to February. The peak summer months of May to July are best avoided because of the hot weather. The months of October and November, after the monsoon, offer the sight of the Taj at its mesmerising best, as the gardens are lush with greenery and the Yamuna river flows proudly past the Taj Mahal, swollen with post-monsoon rain. Both these factors enhance the overall experience of viewing the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal Timings
The Taj Mahal complex is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on all weekdays, with the exception of Friday. On Fridays, the mosque in the Taj Mahal complex is open for prayers from 12 noon to 2 p.m. At this time, tourists are not permitted to enter the complex.
On full-moon nights, and one night before and after a full-moon, the Taj Mahal complex is open for visitors who wish to view the Taj by moonlight – a truly spectacular sight. The moonlight viewing sessions are not permitted during the month of Ramadan and on Fridays.
Now, the Archeological Survey of India has given its nod to open the east and west gates of the spectacular monument half an hour before sunrise and will be shut half an hour before sunset. It is for the convenience of tourists who want to view the Taj Mahal during sunrise. The ticket booking counters will be opened an hour before sunrise and will be shut 45 minutes before sunset. The timings of the south gate will be same. It will open at 8 am and will close at 5 pm.
While travelling to the Taj Mahal complex, do note that security restrictions apply at the complex and the only items a tourist may carry into the grounds are the following: mobile phones, still cameras, small video cameras, small purses carried by ladies, and water in transparent bottles.