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Inside the Taj Mahal, India: 12 Facts + 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 inside Taj Mahal.

1. Surprising things NOT allowed inside the Taj Mahal:

There are all sorts of items you are not allowed to take inside 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 inside 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 to get inside the Taj Mahal is not actually long.

First, YES, you CAN go inside the Taj Mahal building! Second, see the ridiculous line wrapping around and around the famous building in the photo below? If you have a “High Value Ticket” (as you likely will), you completely skip that line and go right to the center of the Taj Mahal inside the mausoleum itself, 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 when you visit the inside of the Taj Mahal building, you will be given little white paper elf boots to protect the historic 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 from the Taj Mahal inside walls.

Taj Mahal inside walls
I love how this embedded marble Arabic writing looks: Taj Mahal inside walls.
Walls inside the Taj Mahal
Check out that perfectly embedded marble decoration inside the Taj Mahal.

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, inside and out. 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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