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Inside the Taj Mahal, India: 12 Surprising Facts About Visiting

Fun fact: You will be egged on to take this photo.

You WILL be egged on to take this photo at the Taj Mahal, and may do it as badly as we did.

Inside the Taj Mahal, is it as beautiful as everyone says?

What are surprises and tips about visiting that we learned during our 2012 India teacher tour? Without further ado, here are 12 things to know about visiting the Taj Mahal: the world’s most famous monument to love, built by emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 in memory of his wife.

Don't even think about taking crayons into the Taj Mahal.

Don’t even think about taking crayons into the Taj Mahal.

1. Surprising things NOT allowed inside the Taj Mahal:

There are all sorts of items you are not allowed to take into the Taj Mahal. Study the sign above and see if you agree that some are more bizarre than others. Motorcycle helmets? Books? Garlands of flowers? What else do you see that surprises you? I can’t even identify some of the prohibited goods!

See the blond foreigners zipping through in the "High Value Ticket" line?

See the blond foreigners zipping through in the “High Value Ticket” line?

2. Different lines to get inside for different tickets…

You will have a totally different experience at the Taj Mahal depending on whether you purchase a “High Value Ticket” (as all foreign visitors seem to), or a “General Ticket.”

This begins from the very moment you walk in the door to the main courtyard: High Value Ticket-holders slide into the yard in minutes, while the General Ticket line stretches for blocks.

Yay, Taj Mahal! But wait -- This isn't the best photo spot!

Yay, Taj Mahal! But wait — This isn’t the best photo spot.

3. There is one perfect Taj Mahal photo location.

Don’t do what I did in the picture above and take a hundred photos before you reach the best background! The ideal photo spot is centered directly in front of the Taj Mahal, with the blue pools stretching behind you, as in the picture below.

Me and my little brother posing at the best Taj Mahal photo spot.

Me and my little brother posing at the best Taj Mahal photo spot.

4. How clear people away from a Taj Mahal photo:

In India there is a person working to do every job imaginable, and in the case of the Taj Mahal, there are men who, for a small tip, will clear away all the annoying people in the background of your photo! It’s totally worth it. Without that man’s help, our photos were basically just our heads peeking above a crowd.

Don't forget about the beautiful side arches leading up to the Taj Mahal.

Don’t forget about the beautiful side arches leading up to the Taj Mahal.

5. Beautiful structures are AROUND the main building.

Don’t neglect the stunning side hallways and smaller buildings surrounding the Taj Mahal. They’re gorgeous, too! Look at that astounding corridor pictured above.

Doing my signature "L" backbend and almost hitting another tourist in the face.

Doing my signature “L” backbend and almost hitting another tourist in the face.

6. Your photos may be hazy due to smog (or “mist”).

Like China, India has some serious air pollution. As a result, it’s hard to even see the Taj Mahal in some of my photos! Be prepared for this to be the case for your pictures. It is worth it to edit the photos afterwards to turn up the clarity and turn down all that white.

What's behind the Taj Mahal? A wet swamp and mist-draped nature.

What’s behind the Taj Mahal? A wet swamp and mist-draped nature.

7. What’s behind the Taj Mahal?

Speaking of “all that white,” I was entranced by the view behind the Taj Mahal: WHITENESS. There’s a river or swamp there, but it was completely shrouded in mist our entire visit. I found it touching that such a famous work of architecture and well-visited monument has a completely wild “back yard.”

I like the look this woman is giving me. "Hey, you think you got enough photos of that swamp?"

I like the look this woman is giving me. “Hey, you think you got enough photos of that swamp?”

I was entranced by the cloud-covered nature behind the Taj Mahal.

The cloud-covered nature behind the Taj Mahal is entrancing.

8. The line inside the actual Taj Mahal is not actually long.

See the ridiculous line wrapping around and around the Taj Mahal in the photo below? If you have a “High Value Ticket” (as you likely will), you completely skip that line and go right into the mausoleum, just as you skipped the line to get into the main doors to the courtyard.

The General Ticket line was so long!

The General Ticket line was so long!

Your Taj Mahal experience is very different depending how much you paid for a ticket.

Your Taj Mahal experience is very different depending how much you pay for a ticket.

People in the "Low Value Ticket" line laughing with a guard holding a huge gun.

People in the “General Ticket” line laughing with a guard holding a huge gun.

9. Shoe coverings inside the Taj Mahal…

Upon walking into the mausoleum, you will be given little white paper elf boots to protect the ground from your footsies. They look great.

You need to wear these silly booties to walk in the inner Taj Mahal to protect the historic floor.

You need to wear these silly booties to walk in the inner Taj Mahal to protect the historic floor.

10. Foreigners don’t pay for the bathroom, but Indians do.

This was upsetting. See the sign below.

Locals have to pay for the bathrooms, while foreigners don't.

Locals have to pay for the bathrooms, while foreigners don’t.

11. Look closely at the walls inside the Taj Mahal.

I’ve always known the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, but I wasn’t prepared for how stunning the tiny details all over it would be. Ogle these unbelievable feats of marble inlay.

I LOVE how this embedded marble Arabic writing looks.

I love how this embedded marble Arabic writing looks.

Check out that perfectly embedded marble decoration.

Check out that perfectly embedded marble decoration.

12. The Taj Mahal completely lives up to the hype.

Like the Great Wall of China or the David statue in Italy, there is some trepidation when heading towards a world-famous place. Will it be as great as everyone says? Hands down, the Taj Mahal is awesome. It is utterly worth it, so do what you can to go!

Thanks for a great visit, Taj Mahal!

Thanks for a great visit, Taj Mahal!

Hotels near the Taj Mahal, Agra:

Happy travels, and do feel free to leave comments with your experiences and questions!

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Roshan Kumar

Tuesday 10th of November 2020

great post. TajMahal is one of the seven wonders of India. You have described the inside view of Tajmahal in such a nice way through amazing pictures. Thanks

Lillie Marshall

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Roshan!

Heidi

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

The tickets have more to do with the caste system that determines what a person is allowed. You may have noticed there were places into the Taj Mahal that had wood to walk on whereas other places had the marble. Only the higher castes are allowed to walk on the marble, even with booties. It is the same with the restrooms, and the long lines both into the courtyard and into the Taj Mahal itself. There are four castes that define what your "place" is in society and everything in your life is determined by which caste you are born into from where you can go, what you are allowed to do for employment, and even what kind of vessels you are allowed to drink or eat from. There is another tier of caste and that is the casteless, the untouchables, or the Dalits. These are the very poor of India. The belief system of reincarnation and of "karma" determines your place so you might come back in another life in a better or worse caste based on how "good" you are. The Dalits do not have any rights in India, they have no justice system that protects them and are subjects to the other castes. The system was one way to manage the incredible amounts of people who live in India yet has led to a great deal of racism and abuse. It is an interesting study and well worth learning about.

Lillie Marshall

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Heidi, thank you for taking the time to write this out. Very helpful!

Sakhi

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

It's not a swamp at the back. It's the Yamuna river.

Lillie Marshall

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

Thank you for that important clarification, Sakhi!

Sarah

Thursday 6th of June 2019

Agra is just an amazing travel destination, I have been there twice. I would love to go back again and again. I love the Taj a lot.

Thanks for your amazing travel guide and your photos are mind-blowing.

Lillie Marshall

Thursday 13th of June 2019

Thanks, Sarah!

Roslia santamaria

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

Really nice blog and beautiful pictures would love to visit!! One of the best informative articles I have read on Taj-mahal. Your photos are amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Lillie Marshall

Monday 6th of May 2019

Thank you, Roslia!

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