- Type: Churches/Religious Sites, Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
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Plain and simple: This is the reason you come to Agra. The Taj Mahal is a majestic tomb built in the Mughal style, which combines Indian, Islamic, and Persian architectural principles. Visitors marvel at the intricate Quran inscriptions, the structure's perfect symmetry, the ornate accents, and the surrounding manicured gardens. But this monument's enchantment goes beyond its arresting visual appeal: The story behind its creation has drawn romantics for centuries.
According to legend, Shah Jahan fell instantly in love with his favorite wife Arjumand Banu Begum upon first sight. They shared such an intense passion for one another that he renamed her "Mumtaz Mahal," or "Chosen One of the Palace." After many years of happy marriage, Mumtaz passed away during the birth of her 13th child. To commemorate their undying love for one another, the Shah built the Taj Mahal as an elaborate tomb. Over 20,000 workers labored over the site for more than 20 years.
While most visitors have seen pictures of the monument and heard the lovers' tale, coming face to face with the Taj Mahal remains a unique and awe-inspiring experience. "Words cannot express how it feels to actually see it and be there," says one TripAdvisor user. This UNESCO World Heritage Site welcomes between two and four million visitors per year, and hardly any of them leave disappointed. That said, the one thing that can disrupt the serenity of the Taj Mahal is overcrowding. Be sure to visit at sunrise or sunset to avoid peak times.
There are three entrances to site: the Western, Eastern, and Southern Gates. Food and drinks (even water) are not allowed inside. You'll want to put any non-permissible items in a locker, which are available (free of charge) at the Southern Gate between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. There are additional lockers near the other two gates; however, they are not as convenient and may charge a fee.
If you are not visiting the Taj Mahal on an organized tour, you can easily take a short taxi ride from central Agra as the Taj Mahal is located just east of downtown. The Taj Mahal welcomes visitors from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day except Friday. The entrance fee for international travelers is 750 INR (about $13.50 USD). For more information, consult the Taj Mahal's official website.