Words can do little justice to the Taj Mahal, one of the most spectacular sites on our planet. It’s a place that always made me wonder how anyone could feel a love so deep that their devotion will one day be turned into one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Like you may or may not know, the famous Taj was built in 1652 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22 years, 20,000 skilled workers, and more than 1,000 elephants (for transporting materials) in order to finally complete this jewel of Islamic and Indian architecture.
Today, Taj Mahal is one of the most visited places on the planet, attracting millions of tourists every year. In fact, an average of 12,000 people visit this spectacular site every day. You might think that like many other places on Earth, the Taj must have lost its charm after having so many visitors every day. However, you couldn’t be farther away from the truth. The Taj is one of the best-maintained monuments in India despite being surrounded by the trash and chaos of Agra and is certainly worth visiting despite hosting thousands of tourists every day. Wherever there are so many people, you can expect to find a lot of long queues. And no one likes waiting in the queue and we all want to find a way to skip it, right? Well, in Taj Mahal’s case, that’s completely possible and that’s exactly what I’ll show you in this article.
Before we start, you should also check out this article to see what’s the most convenient ways to reach Agra from Delhi (most travelers come to Agra from Delhi).
You don’t have to wake up early
One thing you can always do is to get there before everyone else. The Taj Mahal opens at 6 AM and if you can be there at 5:30, you’ll probably avoid the crowds. Plus, you could also catch the marvelous view of the sunrise over the legendary Taj Mahal. I would recommend you get there early in the morning because of the view. But you can still skip the long queues without getting there early in the morning! You will find multiple tourist agencies in Agra that sell “skip-the-line tours” but they cost $45 or more. Additionally, tickets for foreign citizens cost 1,000 rupees (around $20), while Indians only need to pay 20 rupees for entrance. The alternative that I’m talking about will not cost you more than 800 rupees ($12 USD), including the ticket.
So, how did I do it?
I actually discovered this method during my second visit to Agra. Having visited once already, I had some friends in Agra and they introduced me to Amit. Amit was a local guide that not only managed to buy a ticket for me for 20 rupees (the price Indians pay) but he also guided me through the crowd and through the security check without losing a second waiting in the queue. Additionally, he knew the best spots to take some amazing pictures of the Taj from and even made sure that there weren’t any people in the frame when I was taking the pictures.
Of course, there was a small fee I had to pay to Amit but it was completely worth it. At first, he asked for 1,500 rupees but I managed to bargain the price down to 750. It was a win-win for the both of us! I paid only 20 rupees for entrance instead of 1,000 and didn’t have to wait in the queue. Amit got a nice tip for an hours work. You will be able to find guides like Amit roaming around the ticket section. However, they are being careful and they don’t approach everyone. I found Amit because, as I said, I had friends in Agra.
Related: the most unusual religious festivals in India
How can you skip the lines at the Taj Mahal?
Even if you don’t have a common friend you can still approach them and offer them a big tip if they can get you an Indian ticket and help you go through security. Most of these guys can do that because they are friends with the security stuff and I believe they give them a share of the tip. Finally, don’t forget to bargain! The starting price these guides will ask for is always much higher than what they would accept.
Related: what is life like in India
Are you one of those people that think the Taj Mahal is overrated?
I normally don’t get very excited about historic monuments, especially ones that are visited by thousands of people every day. So, if you’re thinking that the Taj Mahal is overrated and you are planning to skip it during your trip to India, I understand where you come from. However, I would still strongly suggest you reconsider that. To put it simply, the Taj Mahal isn’t one of the Seven Wonders of the World for no reason. Clearly, it has an amazing history but it’s also one of the most fascinating pieces of architecture in the world, even today 400 years after its construction. Take a moment to think about the 20,000 workers who built this marvelous site by using these tools
Transporting marble from destinations 100 of miles away like this:
To finally build a building made of the whitest marble you could ever find. A marble so clear that it changes the mausoleum’s colors from pinkish in the morning to milky white during the day and golden during sunsets.
So, no I really couldn’t say the majestic Taj Mahal is over-rated.
Have you ever heard about this Taj Mahal ticket hack? Do you have any other useful tips for visiting the Taj Mahal? Share your experience in the comments!