India is somewhere I have always dreamed of going and I would love to go and spend a good month travelling around the country, so have always put off going on holiday there until I know I can get enough time off work.
Recently though I got a Delhi trip on my roster with the airline I work for, so straight away my mind started planning what I wanted to do on my quick stopover in Delhi. It was a no brainier I knew I had to go and visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. It’s one of the most associated icons with India, I’ve seen so many photos and films of it over the years but wanted to go and see it with my own eyes.
The Taj Mahal was built in 1632 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it was built to house the tomb of his favourite wife – Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is set in beautiful landscaped gardens, and set on the Yamuna River. There is also a mosque in the Taj as well as the mausoleum.
The Taj Mahal is quite away from Delhi it’s about a 3-4 hour drive depending on where you set off from in Delhi and what the traffic is like. I had heard some other colleagues of mine had been to the Taj Mahal and booked through a local company called Taj Mahal Trip, and I messaged them on Facebook and decided to book with them. We only had 24 hours in Delhi so trying to squeeze the trip in was really tiring but so worth it!
There was only myself and another colleague that wanted to go on the trip, so the tour company sent a car at 3am which was an early start, but it’s best to get to the Taj early to try and beat the crowds and the midday heat! The car was really comfortable and the seats fully reclined so we took some pillows and slept most the way to the Taj, as we had landed straight into to Delhi and didn’t have much time for a nap before the tour pick up.
We arrived at the Taj Mahal for about 6.30am and it was pretty hot and humid even at that time of the morning. The driver parked in one of the car parks around the Taj Mahal and agreed where we would come and find him after our visit, we decided to just book a driver and not a tour guide as we wanted to wander around at our own pace. I normally tend to visit major sights without a guide and usually will look online for all the facts and information as my attention span isn’t the best, and find I don’t always remember a ton of information given to me at once.
We took one of the electric cars up to the Taj ticket counter and purchased our tickets which were INR1300 per person which also included a bottle of water and some shoe covers to wear inside the Taj Mahal Mausoleum. While getting our tickets there was lots of tour guides touting for our business but you just have to be quite firm with them if you don’t want a tour guide, if you do visit the Taj Mahal without a guide do expect to be approached quite a bit before entering.
When we entered the grounds of the Taj Mahal it was absolutely stunning and just how you see in the pictures. It has gorgeous well kept gardens and lawns, even though we arrived early there was still quite a lot of people, and I wanted to get a photo on the bench where Princess Diana had her photo taken but unfortunately there was so many people around it, it wasn’t quite the same!
We wandered around the gardens and took lots of photos, and then went up to the Taj Mahal and went inside the Moloseum which is all made from beautiful white marble. There was saw of monkeys running around too and there are also some amazing views over the River.
After we had wandered all around the Taj Mahal we went back and met our driver for the long drive back to Delhi which took almost 4 hours as traffic was a bit more congested. We also stopped for some breakfast too. While driving out of Agra there is lots to see we even drove past Agra fort and got to witness all of the hustle and bustle in the streets and of course saw plenty of cows, monkeys, dogs and lots of traffic and people everywhere. We slept most of the way back to the hotel too.
If your visiting India then a trip to the Taj Mahal cannot be missed it’s an absolute must and is so iconic to the country. I really enjoyed visiting and am so glad I made the long journey it really was worth it! I can’t wait for my next trip to India to do lots more exploring, and to experience more of India’s diverse culture and of course eat lots more delicious Indian food.
Food & Drink
Eating & Meeting Restaurant
After visiting the Taj Mahal we asked our driver if he could take us somewhere for something to eat and drink. He stopped off at Eating and Meeting Restaurant in Agra which has a huge choice on the menu, we opted for some paneer paratha bread and a paneer gravy style curry to go with it, and some mango lassi and tea which was all delicious. The restaurant doesn’t look much and is set on a busy junction but the food there was so tasty and the service was warm and welcoming.
Transport & Getting Around
The only way to describe India’s road and transport system is congested and chaotic! If your short on time and only on a quick trip then I would suggest getting drivers as they’re vehicles should have air con and comfortable seats, and the drivers will know and understand how the roads work. If your travelling India for longer then there is a whole range of various transport options available for getting around and to suit all budget types, although if you have the budget splurge out and pay a bit more for a nicer seat or cabin!
My top tip for the Taj Mahal would be to plan your arrival time to try and avoid the crowds and heat as much as possible and to get the best light to really witness the Taj Mahal in all its glory. I would suggest getting to the Taj Mahal for either sunrise or early morning or for sunset. I visited during July so it was extremely hot even at 6.30am it was mid 30s and very hot a muggy.