They say no trip to India is complete without a stop at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. After living in India for 21 years, and visiting India more times that I can count, the Taj Mahal still remained on my bucket list. So when the opportunity to visit India with my husband became a reality, this was naturally one of the top places we decided to see. It was really special that my husband got to visit the Taj Mahal on his very first trip to India. This was truly a dream come true for both of us!
India is a vibrant and lively destination that attracts people from every corner of the world. I don’t think you can ever check off all the amazing places and sights this country has to offer. India is a beautiful land enriched with deeply rooted culture and traditions, and I’m proud to call it my home country.
I asked my soul: What is Delhi?
She replied: The world is the body and Delhi its life. — Mirza Ghalib
Delhi was our first stop in India. The city is popular for its cultural heritage and hosts some of the most famous historical monuments. Most intercontinental flights land in the early hours of the morning, so we tried to rest as much as possible on the flight and started exploring Delhi first thing in the morning. We spent two days in the capital city of India and covered a lot of the main attractions.
Our next stop was Agra. The beauty of Taj has won the hearts of one and all. Being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it attracts huge crowds throughout the year. However, there is a lot more to the mesmerizing city of Agra, such as Agra Fort and Mehtab Bagh. Agra is about 3-4 hours from Delhi by road. You can attempt to cover Agra via a day trip from Delhi, but we highly recommend spending 1-2 days in Agra.
“The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time.” —
We are excited to share the details of our trip and our recommendations. Before we get into the details, here are a few pictures that were taken on other side of the Yamuna river at the Mehtab Bagh park. The view of the Taj Mahal from here is truly spectacular!
What to see?
- Taj Mahal — Taj Mahal is an Ode to Love. A magnificent embodiment of Shah Jahan’s deep affection for his wife. This mausoleum is one of the seven wonders of the world. It features stunning architectural elements and ornate gemstone decor. Taj Mahal, is an Islamic ivory-white marble mausoleum on the banks of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (‘the exalted one of the palace’); it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history.
Is there a sight more iconic, more beautiful or more spectacular than the Taj Mahal? Quite honestly, we can’t think of one. Nothing prepares you for seeing something you’ve seen a thousand times in pictures. To see it with your own eyes feels unreal. After reading about the history of the monument for so many years, coming face to face with the Taj Mahal was an awe-inspiring experience!
- Qutub Minar — The Qutub Minar is a minaret and victory tower that forms part of the Qutub complex, which lies at the site of Delhi’s oldest fortified city, Lal Kot, founded by the Tomar Rajputs. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of South Delhi. Qutub Minar is a 240 ft. high tower made of red sandstone and marble. It’s the highest brick minaret in the world and also one of the most famous historical landmarks of India.
- Red Fort & Jama Masjid — Masjid-i Jehan-Numa aka Jama Masjid of Delhi, is one of the largest mosques in India. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1650 and 1656. Jama Masjid is Delhi’s principal mosque, the place where the city’s Muslims traditionally gather for Friday communal prayer. Jama Masjid is Arabic for Friday mosque. The mosque is near the Red Fort, yet another of Shah Jahān’s buildings. The Red Fort or Lal Qila is a historic fort in Old Delhi, Delhi in India that served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors. Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned construction of the Red Fort on 12 May 1638, when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Jama Masjid and its courtyard stand on an outcropping more than 30 steps higher than the street, giving the mosque a commanding view of the surrounding area. The longer name, Masjid-i Jahān Numā, translates to “world-reflecting mosque” or “world-displaying mosque.” The mosque was built by a crew of some 5,000 workers. The principal construction material was red sandstone, but some white marble was also used.
- Mughal emperor Humayun’s Tomb — Humayun’s tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi, India. The tomb was built in the 1560’s, with the patronage of Humayun’s son, the great Emperor Akbar. Persian and Indian craftsmen worked together to build the garden-tomb, far grander than any tomb built before in the Islamic world. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s chief consort, Empress Bega Begum, on patronage of her step-son Akbar, in 1558, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son, Sayyid Muhammad.
- Ugrasen ki Baoli — Agrasen Ki Baoli aka Ugrasen Ki Baoli is a 60-meter long and 15-meter wide stepwell in New Delhi. This is a historical stepwell believed to be originally built by king Agrasen in the 14th century. stepwells were of significant importance in India as away to store water from 7th to 19th century. If you’ve watched the Hindi movie, PK, this should look very familiar. Agrasen ki Baoli is definitely an architectural marvel. It has three stories and 108 steps which goes down to the well. Agrasen Ki Baoli also has a resemblance to the stepwells in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
May we recommend?
- When to visit the Taj Mahal — The summers in Agra‘s heat can be brutal, and we happened to visit during the peak summer, which should be avoided if possible. The weather is warm and pleasant from February through to April and again from October to the cool December. Plan your visit to the Taj Mahal so you can get a view of the Taj in the moonlight, for a truly special moment.
- Best locations to take photos — Get pictures immediately after you enter. As soon as you pass through the gates, you’ll encounter a railing that overlooks the beautiful gardens and reflecting pools that ultimately lead to the famous mausoleum. You can also get great pics from the west side of the complex that offers absolutely stunning views of the Taj. Another secret location that most people are not aware of is on the other side of the Yamuna river called Mehtab Bagh park. We did our photo session at this beautiful park, and the view of Taj Mahal from the other side of the river is truly spectacular.
- Don’t visit on Friday’s — The Taj Mahal is closed every Friday to allow practicing Muslims to come in and worship at its mosque. It’s located directly to the west of the main mausoleum structure, which is closest to Mecca.
- Stay an additional day in Agra — I wish we had spent a bit more time in Agra to catch the moonlight tour, and also visit the Agra Fort, which is arguably just as stunning as the Taj.
Get there early — This is a general piece of advice that we follow for any travel destination. Get to the ticket office early, so you won’t have to wait in crazy long ticket or security lines, and there won’t be crowds of people pushing past you. You’ll also get to see the beautiful marble structure aglow in the early morning light — it is truly special to see the first rays of sunlight crawl up the complex, with almost no one else around.
If you’re traveling to India, visiting the Taj Mahal should be on your bucket list. It is one of the most romantic and opulent monuments on the planet, and one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. You’ll always cherish your visit to the Taj Mahal, and the city of love — Agra. No matter how many times you’ve seen pictures of the Taj Mahal, nothing compares to the overwhelming feeling of bliss that you feel when you see it for the first time in your life. Traveling in India can be a colorful, inspiring and interesting experience. It can also be confusing, chaotic and frustrating. Many love it, some are challenged by it, but no one can come back indifferent. So what are you waiting for? Let your travels bring you to the land of mystery and diversity!
As we always say, Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer!