The Taj Mahal has always been an attraction highly raved in India. One of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was erected as an ode to love. Not only does it tell the heart-wrenching love story of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it is also a beautifully constructed monument that is universally admired.
In our recent trip to India, we visited the Taj Mahal as we backpacked through Agra and it is certainly a sight you cannot miss. Possibly the most photo-worthy place in India, the Taj Mahal promises not to disappoint. If you’re big on photography like I am, here’s a Taj Mahal Photography Guide to taking great photos with a hassle-free experience!
1) Where are the best places to shoot the Taj Mahal?
That “One” shot you pictured in your head? Yeah, everybody wants that shot too; the quiet reflection of the Taj Mahal at the foreground, the magnificent white marble structure standing tall in the background. Somehow, no matter how many times you’ve seen that classic shot, it still takes your breath away.
Get creative and move around! There’s more than just a pool of water. Most people will probably be standing on the platform at the centre, fighting for the best spot. Why not play around with the reflection of you AND the Taj Mahal by quietly standing at the corner, away from the crowd?
If you’re there in the morning, you’d definitely want to be on the east side of the Taj Mahal for photos. That’s where the sun hits, illuminating the Taj Mahal in hues of gold and orange. But hey, it won’t hurt to walk around the monument for varying shots either!
When you’re done exploring the Taj Mahal and admiring it up close, why not head down to Mehtab Bagh park nearby? Located just across the river, behind the Taj Mahal, Mehtab Bagh lets you observe the Taj Mahal from afar, away from the endless crowd streaming into the monument. This time, you can immerse yourself in the serendipity of the park and take your time with your shots. If you’re lucky, there should be some water body that hasn’t dried up, which you can use to capture a different angle of the Taj Mahal and its reflection too 😉
2) When is the best time to visit the Taj Mahal?
Agra lies in an arid and subtropical climate with extremely hot and dry weather during summer. Typically, temperature from April to June can go up to 50°C. Travellers may be more prone to getting heatstroke and dehydration during this period. So remember to stay hydrated if you’re there during this time.
But from July to September, Agra experiences monsoon season and receives a lot of rain. During this period, it may not be feasible for photographers to visit due to the limitations posed by the rainy weather. (Although the water puddles does contribute to interesting shots!)
The best time of the year to visit Taj Mahal is during the winter season, from October to December, or before their summer, from February to March. During these periods, the weather conditions are gentler and clearer.
The best time of the day to visit Taj Mahal is definitely in the early morning to catch the sunrise. As the sun inches up the horizon, the Taj Mahal, made up of an ivory-white marble, gives off a warm golden glow as the morning light is casted against it. Another HUGE plus point is that the Taj Mahal is the least crowded early in the morning. That would mean higher chances of getting less tourists in your photos during your visit at sunrise.
And of course, visiting at sunrise lets you beat the insane heat if you’re there in the summer too.
If you’re a big fan of night shoots, here’s a tip. During the 5 days of full moon, the Taj Mahal is open in the evenings for free! So you should definitely plan your visit to the Taj Mahal then. i.e. on the night of the full moon and
on the 2 days before and after (except Fridays and the month of Ramadan). Check online for the full moon dates to plan beforehand.
Tickets for night entry into the Taj Mahal must be purchased at least 24 hours before your visit, at the booking centre of Archeological Survey of India (Address: Agra Circle, 22 The Mall, Agra). Buy your tickets early though, because only 400 visitors are allowed into the Taj Mahal during each of those nights. And the duration of each night viewing visit is restricted to a maximum of 30 minutes. So be sure to plan your shoot early and make it quick while you’re in there!
3) What gears should I bring to Taj Mahal?
My advice is, bring only what you need to the Taj Mahal. This should save you from your worries of having to throw any prohibited things away. Here are some of my essentials for shooting at the Taj Mahal.
I decided to bring this lens along to capture the Taj Mahal up close, against the backdrop of the vast sky. Needless to say, the results were superb!
This one is optional, great for shooting portraits. Personally, I didn’t put the prime lens to good use while I was at the Taj Mahal. But if you’re interested in the intricate details and portrait shoots, then prime lens will be great for you!
I’m not kidding about this one. Phones make a very good camera option when you just can’t seem to capture what you want on your camera. Believe of not, this shot was actually taken using an iPhone. The colour and framing of photos that comes out from an iPhone can look as good as (sometimes even better than) those from your camera!
This is a bonus. We wore sarees to the Taj Mahal just for the fun of it. But it turns out, the colours of the sarees stood out so strikingly against the backdrop of the monument! I felt that it was definitely worthwhile to have our shots taken in sarees, since it adds a little more twist and creativity to it too 😉
4) What not to bring to Taj Mahal?
There are many items that you’re prohibited from bringing into the Taj Mahal. Here are some of the main things that you should NOT to bring with you when you’re visiting the Taj Mahal:
- Tripods of ANY kind (They are VERY strict about this)
- Batteries (Even those hidden in your torchlight!)
- Portable chargers
But in case you’ve brought any of the prohibited items by accident, you can always store them in a locker at the ticketing booth.
5) Where to stay near Taj Mahal?
We stayed at Zostel Agra, which is located on Taj East Gate Road and is a walkable distance away from the ticketing booth. Not only does the Taj East Gate Road lead to the east gate of Taj Mahal — which has the longest opening hours, from sunrise and sunset — the ticketing booth is also located along this road.
- There are three different gates leading into the Taj Mahal – east, west and south gates.
- The Taj Mahal is opened on all days except Fridays, where it is closed to anyone who’s not praying.
- Opening hours of the East and West gates are from sunrise to sunset, while the opening hours of the South gate is from 8:00am – 5.30pm.
To sum it up, shooting at the Taj Mahal isn’t all that hard. With some preparation, research and a well thought out plan, you’re pretty much set to go! Of course, getting the best shots at the Taj Mahal will require some patience and possibly agility. But while you’re there, don’t forget to enjoy the intricate marble carvings and inscriptions at every corner of the Taj and appreciate the story behind the monument. Just a fun fact for you: The inscriptions that frame the main Taj Mahal door seems to be of uniform size. In reality, the calligraphers skilfully created this optical illusion by gradually lengthening the size of the letters the further they are from our eyes. Mindblown yet? The experience at the Taj Mahal will truly be an unforgettable one! 😉
Scoot to India
Scoot is flying to more destinations in India! With flights to Jaipur from October, you can visit the Taj Mahal with greater ease! India now feels so much more connected to the world. The Golden Triangle is literally just a click away. You can gaze in awe at the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, via Jaipur and much more! North or south, Scoot’s flight to Jaipur now connects you easily to other parts of India. But really, spend some time exploring Agra. After all, Agra is more than just a Taj and go 😉
Been to the Taj Mahal recently? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!