While popular tourist spots aren’t the end-all and be-all of travel experiences, they are a good place to start.
The Taj Mahal, being one of the Wonders of the New World, is without a doubt India’s most popular attraction. It took 22 years for Emperor Shah Jahan to build the white marble mausoleum especially for his fourth wife in the 14th century (and I can’t even get a text back! #foreveralone)
Here are my top tips for seeing the famous white marble tomb:
1. Wear comfortable footwear
The walk from the parking lot to the actual monument itself is mostly unpaved and uneven. At most, it is paved with brick roads. Your Louboutin red bottoms might be cute on the runway, but not so cute when you’re stumbling to take photos. It’s likely you’ll be standing in line to get tickets, then standing in another to see the inside of the monument.
Once you set foot on the marble portion of the site, you are required to cover your shoes with coverings to minimize damage to the structure. You’ll spend some time strategically cropping them out of your photos anyways, so shoe junkies and sneakerheads will have to take an L on this one.
2. Wear conservative clothing
Make sure your legs are fully covered. A cute maxi dress or full length trousers will work just fine. There is a mosque at the site where you should cover your head, so make sure to bring a light shawl or scarf with you. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to accessorize your outfit!
3. Watch where you’re going!
I almost ran into a cow while walking to the building! Ask Jay and Diana if you don’t believe me. I know – only in India. When documenting your experience, stop and take your time when taking photos. You might be surprised at what pops up in front of you the second you peel your eyes off your screen!
4. Learn to say no and be unapologetic about it
I’m not sure where the fascination with foreigners comes from, but it’s definitely there. Expect that locals will ask for a photo with you (which begs us to question what exact purpose they are going to use the photos for). Some travelers find it flattering. Some find it annoying. Learn how to politely refuse photos with locals and be assertive when you say so – otherwise, you’ll wind up spending way more time at the Taj Mahal than you originally planned.
5. Be wary of myths
There’s a popular myth going around that the Taj Mahal will be collapsing in about 5 years because its wooden foundations are deteriorating as the Yamuna River – which runs adjacent to the monument – nearly runs dry. However, a senior official at the Archaeological Survey of India claims that this rumour is a totally untrue claim and the government is doing what it can to preserve the sacred site, according to the Wall Street Journal (read the full article HERE). So if you can’t make it out to this Wonder of the World in the next few years, don’t worry about it too much.
6. Plan your visit on a weekday
Our tour guide informed me that the best time to see the Taj Mahal is during weekdays, first thing in the morning. The lines are shorter and the light at dawn makes for better photographs! Note that the site is closed on Fridays.
7. Avoid unnecessary lineups by booking your ticket online
There is only one official website where you can book your ticket to the Taj Mahal: Archeological Survey of India. Ticket prices range, depending on your citizenship. (FYI, Canadians and Americans pay 1000 rupees!)
Is the Taj Mahal on your bucket list? (Click here to see what other destinations are on mine!)