A day trip to Agra from Delhi to see The Taj Mahal
Agra is just a 2 hour train ride away from Delhi. Agra can easily be done as a day trip. Once there you can discover the wonders of the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Jahal Masjid, Jahangir Mahal and many other historic buildings.
Getting to Agra
From New Delhi train station we took a CC class train for 500R, which had air conditioning with seats arranged like airplanes. It wasn’t the cleanest of trains but it was comfortable and a light meal was included. The servers will ask for a tip, maybe even demand 100R which of course is not normal.
Our early evening trip back to Delhi was in a more expensive 1A cabin at 1200R which wasn’t as comfy as the CC for a day trip and still had rubbish and used blankets left over from previous guests. Cleanliness or lack of is something to get used to when travelling around India.
Getting around Agra
Tuk tuk and taxis are your two main options to see the tourist sights, public transportation does not serve the sights well.
To hire a tuk tuk for half a day and see the major sights of Agra will set you back around 350R during the off peak season.
We just wanted to see the Taj Mahal and the tuk tuk was 100R each way.
Entering the Taj Mahal
We entered via the south gate as we had read that this was a quieter and faster entrance. Before you get up to the gate, there are the stalls and shops to get past and numerous touts selling souvenirs and personal tours around the Taj Mahal. If you really do want a personal guide around the Taj Mahal there are plenty of government approved ones inside (check they have the appropriate badge).
For those inclined there are also photographers in the Taj that you can hire. We saw many families hire a photographer who would take them around to the best spots and have them pose in lovely ways.
Foreign visitors pay a little more for entrance as is normal for all sights and attractions in India (1000R) but you do get a bottle of water included and a pair of covers to wear over your shoes to avoid damaging the marble surface of the Taj Mahal. Also don’t forget that the Taj Mahal is closed to the general public on Fridays.
Experiencing The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal looks exactly as you remember from the countless pictures and photographs you have seen.
It’s currently going under some renovation works expected to last until 2018. This doesn’t really spoil your enjoyment of the Taj though as they are thoughtfully carrying out works on a small section at a time.
People are everywhere taking selfies and you have to wait your turn to get the right shot without people blocking the view. At first the Taj Mahal seems impressive but is it really a wonder of the world?
As we walked nearer and into the Taj Mahal which holds the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite wife of the Mughal emperor who commissioned the Taj Mahal – Shah Jahan. The magnificence of the structure became more apparent with its beautiful decorations and carvings inside and out.
As we walked around the grounds, the museum and exhibitions the grandeur and wonder of the Taj Mahal crept up on us and it was a truly a wonderful place to be.
When you get chatting to locals in India, one of the first questions they ask will be how do you feel in India? At the Taj Mahal you really do feel wonderful and relaxed at the same time.
Maybe because we were there during the high temperatures of off-peak season we could enjoy the place more than the packed peak season.
We even found a nice spot to have a nap to recover from our slight jet lag.
Don’t forget to wear appropriate clothing, i.e. shoulders and knees covered. Lighters and tobacco products are also not allowed to be taken into the grounds. If you do smoke a kind stranger will offer to look after them for you, which is a tactic to get you into his shop after your visit to the Taj Mahal.
For more details of dos and don’ts at the Taj Mahal check the official Taj website.
If you are just visiting the Taj Mahal 2 hours is probably enough. A half day trip will allow you to see all the major sights around Agra if you have hired a tuk tuk.