Taj Majal

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Day Trip to Taj Mahal

Guide to Agra

Taking a day trip to Taj Mahal is one of top things most people have on their bucket list when coming to India. It's located in the small city of Agra, which isn't a very nice city to say the least. Nonetheless, our Taj Mahal guide will tell you how to get to Agra, where to stay, and how to get into Taj for free!

Agra is along India's Golden Triangle route between Delhi and Jaipur, the Pink City. If you're wondering how to get to Taj Mahal, there are several options to choose from based on your budget.

A journey from Delhi or Jaipur will take at least 3-4 hours so we recommend booking one night in Agra. This way you can be there for the best time to see Taj and take full advantage of your day.

How to get to Taj Mahal

If you wondering how to get to Taj Mahal you will first need to get yourself to Agra, the city where this world famous building is located. There are a few ways to get here, however the cheapest way to get to Agra is either by bus or train. Alternatively, it is possible to take an Uber all the way to Agra from either Delhi or Jaipur.

In order to book a ticket online through IRCTC (Indian Railways) you'll need an Indian Phone# and ID. Unfortunately, booking train tickets online is quite difficult and buying them in person isn't much easier either. Fortunately we made friends with an Indian guy, Jolly, who helped us book tickets in person at the train station. We definitely lucked out by making friends with a local, but the guys at Wanderer's Nest were also quite helpful.

How to get to Taj Mahal by Train
Jaipur Train Station
Taj Mahal Guide Sunrise
Sunrise at Taj
  • From Jaipur:
    • Cost*: ₹105-700+ ($1.5-10+USD)
    • Travel Time: 4.5-6 Hours
  • From Delhi:
    • Cost*: ₹90-1010+ ($1.30-14.50+ USD)
    • Travel Time: 4-5.5 Hours

We opted to take a train to both Agra and onward to Delhi. After taking a bus all throughout Vietnam, we didn't feel like doing it again in India.

Traveling by train is actually quite cheap in India, but quality varies vastly between the different coaches. We decided to do 2AC (Second Class with AirCon) for ₹430/person ($6.20 USD).

3rd Class (3A) and Sleeper (SL) are the cheapest options but they looked absolutely miserable. Bars on the windows instead of glass, no AirCon, and packed full.

  • From Jaipur:
    • Cost*: ₹200-2500
      • ~$3.00-36+ USD
    • Travel Time: 4-7 Hours
  • From Delhi:
    • Cost*: ₹285-2450
      • ~$4.00-35+ USD
    • Travel Time: 4-18 Hours

To be frank, after spending over 72 hours on buses in Vietnam we were not willing to sit on one again for a half day trip to Taj Mahal. We highly recommend taking a look to see whether or not your mode of transport will have AirCon. We definitely suggest traveling in a coach with A/C because overall India is very hot.

If you're really keen to take a day trip to Taj Mahal from Jaipur or Delhi it's also possible to take an Uber. According to Uber, it's approximately 18/Km for long distance one way trips from Jaipur. We have heard of people leaving while it's still dark to make it to sunrise at Taj Mahal, but that didn't sound like fun.

It might sound a bit crazy, but if you're willing to split a car with a few other people taking an Uber is fairly affordable. In theory, the quickest way to get to Agra is by car since it won't as often as a bus or train. We can only recommend Uber if you're willing to split it with at least 2-3 people to make it worth your while. Public transport is still cheaper in most cases.

Our Train Experience

How to get to Agra by Train - 600 16x9
2nd Class AC Train to Agra

We took a Train with 2AC (2nd Class with Air Conditioning) seater car from Jaipur to Agra for ₹430/person ($6.15 USD). It wasn't the cleanest experience but it comfortable enough and the seats had outlets.

The train is our preferred option since it has overhead storage above our seats plenty big for big backpacks. Our smaller packs could easily fit on the floor under our feet with plenty room to spare. People come around to the different carts selling bagged snacks, water, and chai tea.

We were meant to arrive in Agra at 9:20PM, but the train ran slower than scheduled and we got in about an hour late. Heed our warning - the Agra train station is intense.

There are animals (monkeys, goats, cows, dogs, cats, etc) and people lying on the ground. Tons of Tuk Tuk and taxi drivers will try and hassle you into a ride, not to mention the stench of urine. We quickly called an Uber to the hostel.

There are animals (monkeys, goats, cows, dogs, cats, etc) and people lying on the ground. Tons of Tuk Tuk and taxi drivers will try and hassle you into a ride, not to mention the stench of urine. We quickly called an Uber to the hostel.

Best Time to see the Taj Mahal

The best time to see the Taj Mahal is at sunrise. You’ll want to get there early, like 5:30AM, if you want to beat the crowds. Yes, there will still be people waiting to get in before you. But there's really no better time to see the Taj, especially since the temperature is perfect in the early morning.

There no comparable experience like walking through the front gate and seeing the Taj Mahal with a pastel blue, pink, and yellow sky behind it at sunrise. There's a small window of serenity before the tourists begin falling over each other to get a picture inside the Great Gate. We snapped a couple shots and started making our way through the garden up to the mausoleum.

Taj Mahal Sunrise 1 - 600 4x5

When we arrived at the entrance to the mausoleum, we took our shoes off and carried them. Alternatively, there is a free shelf to put shoes on before the entrance queue but we couldn't be bothered. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait too long to get in because after the sun comes up it gets hot!

Upon entering, tourists first go down a stairway that leads down into a tomb with two coffins. Men were chanting in the room with the tombs covered in flowers and colorful cloths. Walking down the stairs, the temperature immediately increases and the air grows more dense.

What you don’t see in the photographs on social media are the two identical red buildings on either side of Taj Mahal. If you’re facing Taj, you'll see Kau Ban Mosque and the Taj museum on the left. Apparently there's another way in, but finding the entrance might prove to be tricky.

What you don’t see in the photographs on social media are the two identical red buildings on either side of Taj Mahal. If you’re facing Taj, you'll see Kau Ban Mosque and the Taj museum on the left. Apparently there's another way in, but finding the entrance might prove to be tricky.

We walked up one ramp that said entry, only to be turned away by the guard. Apparently the entrance to the Kau Ban Mosque and Taj Museum is only accessible after exiting the mausoleum. At this point we were exhausted and decided to head towards the exit instead of waiting in the growing line.

We walked up one ramp that said entry, only to be turned away by the guard. Apparently the entrance to the Kau Ban Mosque and Taj Museum is only accessible after exiting the mausoleum. At this point we were exhausted and decided to head towards the exit instead of waiting in the growing line.

The Early Bird gets the Worm
Day Trip to Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal Sunrise 2 - 800 16x9

On our way out, I (Molly) got one final glimpse at Taj as the birds flew by over head and let out a big sigh of relief that we were leaving when we were. It was starting to get really busy and by 8:30AM, musicians were already playing at the entrance.

The line starts to thicken as the heat grew more intense. I definitely recommend going right when it opens, especially if you’re high maintenance like me and don’t like crowds. We got in just before 6:00AM and were out by 8:30AM. Two and a half hours is be more than enough time to get the full experience (unless the museum is open and you’re into that sort of thing).

What to Bring/What to Expect

In order to get into the Taj Mahal, there are a few things you'll want to have and a few things you'll need to leave behind. The line to get in is similar to an airport security check; it has a metal detector, x-ray machine, and armed guards.

What to Bring
  • Comfortable walking shoes (and shoe covers)*
  • Sunscreen/Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Passport or ID (optional)
What to Leave Behind
  • Food
  • Tripods
  • Large bags
    • There is a place to lock small bags outside, if you wish

Apparently tripods are forbidden from Taj Mahal, which we found out while taking some photos. Shoes are also not allowed inside the mausoleum; there is a place to put your shoes outside and walk barefoot or you can bring your own shoe covers.

While we were inside the mausoleum, a guard yelled at us for carrying a small GoPro tripod with us. There are signs everywhere stating no photos are allowed on the inside, which we compiled by having the camera off. It was ripped out of Josh’s hands as a guard yelled at us, “We tell you once and you don’t listen no tripods!! Now I have to confiscate it with your passports!”

To be honest, we didn’t even have our passports on us. I wouldn’t let go of the tripod. We hadn’t taken any photos, and we had no idea that tripods were not allowed. He continued yelling at us until another person caught his attention. On our way out we saw that the same guard was having a physical altercation with another tourist. Some people are just power hungry. That being said, I would advise all to be conscious of their belongings and just try to mind your own business.

*Tip: Shoes are not allowed inside the mausoleum so you will either need to go barefoot inside or bring shoe covers.

How to see Taj Mahal for Free!

If you're wondering how to see Taj Mahal for free, you'll have your chance once per year. Sometime between March-May, Urs of Emperor Shah Jahan is celebrated in the mausoleum. This is an annual event that takes place to commemorate the Urs (death anniversary) of a person of great importance like an Emperor or Saint.

In 2019, the afternoons of April 2-3 were free and the entire day of April 4 also had no entrance fee. Coincidentally, these three free days of entry to Taj Mahal give Agra a boost in tourism so it may be a bit busier than normal[1]. Nonetheless, it's best to check to see when the Urs of Emperor Shah is celebrated in India if you want figure out how see the Taj Mahal for free.

Where to stay in Agra

Wondering where to stay in Agra? We highly recommend Joey's Hostel since it's 5 minute walk from Taj Mahal. This way you can wake up for sunrise at Taj Mahal and be as close as possible! Joey's also accepts bookings last minute if you don't want to plan ahead.

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

Dorms: $5.02+ USD

Private Rooms: $14.36+ USD

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Luggage Storage, 24 Hr Reception, Walking distance to Taj

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: $4.30+ USD

Private Rooms: $10.05+ USD

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, 24 Hr Security/Reception, Cafe

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Private Rooms: $2.87+ USD

Amenities: Free Wifi, 24 Hr Reception/Security, Restaurant, Luggage Storage, Tours/Travel Desk, Tea/Coffee

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

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By |2019-11-06T09:19:09-05:00April 4th, 2019|Asia, Day Trip Guides, India, Travel Guides|0 Comments

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