Ok so after an amazing time at the monkey temple (see more about that on the Jaipur post here) and an all day drive we arrived in Agra late Wednesday. We were supposed to be getting to Agra on the Thursday until we found out the the Taj Mahal isn’t open on a Friday! Hence why we re-jigged our plans.
You only need 1 max 2 days in Agra, there is literally nothing else to do or see but the Taj.
WHERE WE STAYED?
We stayed at the Hotel Taj Resort which was the closest hotel to the Taj. Also because it was so close the traffic wasn’t allowed down there which meant it was really quiet. Something so rare in India! The hotel had a roof top terrace with a restaurant and bar and you could take your drink up to the very top of the roof where you had a very distant view of the Taj Mahal.
OK, so first things first get up early! We were up at 4.30am and on our way by 5am. It was probably a 10 minute walk which was lovely because it was cool and so tranquil.
Also as I mention in the India post the Taj Mahal is closed all day on a Friday so make sure you plan around this because other than the Taj Mahal there isn’t a huge deal going on in Agra.
You need to get a ticket from the ticket counter which is a building around the corner to the entrance. Some women behind us didn’t see the ticket counter and were sent back which isn’t ideal when it’s 5am, the lines are huge and your trying to get in to see the sunrise!
The tickets are around £13 each and you will also get a bottle of water with that. A good little tip is that there are mens and womens lines, the mens lines are long but there was never a line for the womens so you can nip right on in. There is also a mens and womens line for getting into the Taj so just make sure you’re in the right one!
Also FYI there are a bunch of prohibits items, all the usuals, weapons etc but one I wasn’t expecting was a tripod! I had one with me but you can leave it at the ticket counter for a small fee. Also food isn’t aloud.
GETTING THAT INSTA WORTHY PICTURE
When you first walk in you will notice everyone stops and trys to get that gorgeous long shot of the Taj (see below, it was before sunrise so still quiet dark!), my advice would be to keep walking! You will get a much lovelier shot (with less people in it!) if you continue on down the steps to either side. It’s huge so you won’t miss it! I loved the pictures we got from the side and with the beautiful gardens.
On either side of the Taj there are temples. One of my favourite photo (see below) of our trip is taken from these temples. The temples are huge and have 3 or 4 archways so you can find your little spot away from other visitors to get a fab snap! Also another great spot was to the side of the entrance, there are some pretty stone benches and it’s away from the crowds. Or if your a comedian like Greig you snap pictures like this, he thinks he got my good angle!
The Taj Mahal and the grounds are so quiet and peaceful, I could have stayed and people watched all day. We spent maybe 4 hours there and then headed back to our hotel for breakfast.
You can also go on a night time and get ticket to watch the sunset over the Taj from the other side of the river. We didn’t but that’s always an options if you’re not an early bird!
Also another thing I absolutely wasn’t expecting, the building you walk through to get the the Taj Mahal is nearly as beautiful as the Taj itself! I had never seen it before.
Our driver VeeJay was so lovely, no man has ever opened so many doors for me! Just a few things to know when your are traveling with your driver.
- They will not eat with you. We asked VeeJay at ever food stop and meal if he would like to join us and the answer was always no. Drivers are very respectful of your time and space and don’t want to encroach. At all restaurants there was a drivers/workers kitchen where they could get something to eat. VeeJay agreed to have dinner with us on the last day of our journey which was lovely!
- Your driver will not stay at your hotel as this is usually to expensive, they stay at boarding houses which is a much more affordable accommodation.
- If they buy you something do not offer them money. Along the journey VeeJay would stop on the road and buy us a strange vegetable or sugar cane juice and Greig tried to pay him back which he refused. He said we were traveling together as family.
On the Friday we travelled back to Delhi which was an all day drive and extra terrible because I had eaten dodgy fish the night before and had been up vomiting all night. One thing you don’t want in 40+ heat, is vomiting and a car journey! Remember about my little medical bag I brought, seriously that was a life saver don’t forget it!
We arrived back in Delhi ready to catch our flight down to Goa the following morning!
THINGS NOT TO MISS IN AGRA
- The Taj Mahal-which is closed on Fridays!
Honestly there isn’t a lot else there, 1 day to see the Taj is enough.