Agra is famous throughout the world for the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is one of the new seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. Everyone has heard of it and its on plenty of bucketlists so it was an easy choice to visit Agra after celebrating Holi in Mathura.
Getting to Agra
Buses and trains run frequently from just about everywhere in India to Agra. Its one of most popular destinations for tourists both foreign and Indian locals which means there are plenty of ways to get there.
The cheapest and fastest way is an unreserved train which I took from Mathura. If you prefer to reserve the seat you will need to create an account on irctc.co.in.
Buses leave regularly from just about every city but word on the street is you will literally need to run to get on. They slow down but don’t stop!
3 Best Photo Locations for the Taj Mahal
A little online and local research helped me find the best photo locations for the Taj Mahal. My favorite photo is this panorama that I took at sunset in Mehtab Bagh. At 200 INR entrance its much cheaper than entering the main Taj Mahal complex (but you should do that too!) Mehtab Bagh is across the river from the Taj Mahal giving you a beautiful back view perfect for an evening viewing. Sunset comes and brings a golden glow to the Taj Mahal and Mehtab Bagh is much less crowded than the main complex.
If you’re really interested in getting the best photos then you’re going to need to get up early for sunrise like we did. Tickets will cost you 1000 INR and another 1500 INR if you want a guide. The guide will help you cut the ticket line (which is at one of the 3 gates to the Taj Mahal a few hundred meters away) and provide loads of great info during you tour.
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The most famous photo spot for the Taj Mahal is front and center with the gorgeous reflecting pool leading up to the symmetrical mausoleum. This is a great photo but hard to take since the crowd often gets in the way. If you work together with the other tourists (like my new friend Adam did) then you can get a system going where everyone can snap the perfect shot, but it’ll be tough unless you can direct a crowd of strangers like he can!
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For a much less crowded shot head to the mosque on the left side. The side view is still gorgeous and if you’re coming for sunrise the sun will be perfectly placed near the Taj Mahal. You can frame the shots beautifully with the intricate archways of the mosque and if you’re lucky you might even get a random monkey in your photo!
The Taj Mahal was built Shah Jehan as a tomb for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Although she was his 3rd wife she was the first wife that he married for love and the first to bear him children. She perished during childbirth of their 14th child but drew such love and affection from Shah Jehan that he had the Taj Mahal built just for her!
What to do in Agra
- Taj Mahal
- Mehtab Bagh
- Baby Taj
- Agra Fort
The #1 thing to see in Agra is the Taj Mahal. But what else is there to do? You can easily hire a tuktuk for 600 INR for a full day or 400 for a half day.
They’ll take you anywhere and everywhere you want to go but be wary for buying goods from a shop that they take you to since its likely they get commission.
There are 3 gates, East, South and West where you can buy tickets and enter the Taj Mahal. Tickets will cost 1000 INR and should be bought at the ticket booths a few hundred meters from the gates. For 5 nights every month (before and after the full moon) the Taj is open for night viewing too! Scroll up for the best photo spots at the Taj Mahal!
As I mentioned earlier Mehtab Bagh is a great spot to see the Taj Mahal. Its only 200 INR to get in and perfect for an afternoon or evening. There is plenty of history at Mehtab Bagh too since Shah Jehan planned to build a Black Taj Mahal as his own tomb right here. Due to a family feud and some money problems the Black Taj Mahal was only barely started. You can still see the foundation as you admire the gorgeous Taj Mahal across the river!
The Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah is often referred to as the “baby taj” and is full of beautiful architecture and inlay designs just like the main Taj Mahal. At 200 INR the Baby Taj is 1/5 the price of the big one and you’ll find almost no tourists there too! Baby Taj is great for strolling around the gardens and tomb; you can find lots of secluded areas to snap some great photos or just enjoy the view of the river and beautiful tomb!
Agra fort is another hot spot but sadly I missed this one. Admission price for Agra Fort is 550 INR accord in to the government website. The fort is another UNESCO world heritage site and full of beautiful red brick. If you’ve been or head there please comment below and tell me what I missed out on!
Where to stay in Agra
Backpacker Panda Hostel was my favorite place in Agra!
There are dozens of hostels, guesthouses and hotels to choose from ranging from $2 to $2000/night. If you are traveling alone or in a small group like I was I highly recommend staying in a hostel. I stayed at Backpacker Panda for $5/night. The rooms had a hot shower and there’s a great roof to hang out on. You can even see the Taj Mahal from the top! The staff is nice, speaks English and offers free henna lessons.
If you want something a little more upscale then check out booking.com for some amazing deals!
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Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. Clicking them will help me keep traveling at no extra cost to you. The views expressed here are my own and the information is accurate as of March 2017.