Taj Mahal Dos and Don’ts: A Comprehensive Guide

I have compiled a useful guide about all the Taj Mahal Dos and Don’ts to help you plan your visit properly.

When we planned our trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra, India in January 2023, we felt that such a resource would have saved us plenty of time.

Taj Mahal Dos and Don'ts: A Comprehensive Guide pin picture cover

Here you will find official information from the ASI (Archeological Survey of India), from the local authorities and I have also added our personal experience and a summary of the info that we gathered during our visits

I visited the Taj Mahal a few times and in January, we made sure to experience the monument at two very different times of the day. One was done early morning during sunrise and our second visit was a busy sunset trip to the Taj.

I strongly recommend that you follow all the Dos and Don’ts so that you get to experience the Taj Mahal the best way possible!

πŸ“• Quick Info about the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is a large white marble mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal in Agra northern India. He was the 5th Mughal emperor, who ruled India for 30 years from 1628 to 1658.

The Mughal are decedents of Genghis Khan and Timurid the Lame who came from Central Asia. They were Muslims who were highly influenced by Persian culture and architecture.

Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal tomb built to honor his wife who had died during childbirth of their 14th child. His tomb is located right next to hers, inside the Taj Mahal.

taj mahal reflection in water in the garden
5 pm and it’s crowded on a Thursday

Today the historical site of the Taj Mahal complex is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites in Agra, and it’s also one of the 7 new world wonders.

You can expect to see typical Islamic architecture work with white ivory-white marble, intricate marble inlay techniques with precious and semi-precious stones, as well as sections of the Quran written out in large calligraphy. Symmetry and balance dominate the structure and gardens.

The fascination around the Taj Mahal and its unique beauty has continued across the ages. Many legends of the Taj Mahal have been retold and just add to the mystery and whole experience on your visit.

paulmarina standing in front of the taj mahal
Shortly after 7 am in January and you can take a picture without anyone in the background
Taj Mahal outdoor wall in lay work
Intricate marble inlay work at the Taj Mahal

β›© Entrance and Exit

The entrances and exits to the Taj Mahal are located away, a 10 to 15-minute walk, from the main Taj Mahal mausoleum structure.

You can enter the Taj area via either the West Gate or the East Gate. The third, the South Gate, can only be used as an exit point.

The South gate leads you directly to a poor and less developed area of Agra.

The ticket counters are located at the west and east gates, near the security check, and they open 30 minutes before sunrise. Tickets for the monument can be purchased online too.

As per 2023 rates: Local Indians and OCI cardholders pay 50 INR per adult, foreign tourists pay 1100 INR per adult to see the Taj Mahal. Children below the age of 15 are free (for both, Indians and foreigners).

Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries (neighboring countries to India including Thai Land) can get a ticket at 540 INR per adult.

Foreigners get a water bottle, an Agra tourist map and shoe covers for free with their ticket and the access to toilets on the monument premises is free for them.

The Great gate is crowded already at 9 am
The Great gate is already crowded at 9 am on a Thursday
Way to the Taj Mahal Museum
Way to the Taj Mahal Museum

With the regular entry ticket to the Taj Mahal is a visit to the Archeological museum included.

The Mausoleum area, that means the Taj Mahal interiors and the marble plateau it sits on, can only be accessed with a separate ticket. This ticket is priced for everyone equally at 200 INR per adult.

The Taj Mahal is closed to visitors every Fridays and when there is an official state visit. We couldn’t visit on Wednesdays because the president of Guyana was visiting the Taj Mahal. Look up, if an official state visit is planned to avoid inconveniences.

You can enter the Security check during sunrise and the last possibility in the evening is 30 minutes before the sun sets completely.

That means sunrise in December is at around 7 am, but in June, it’s at about 5 am. Sunset in December is at 5:30 pm and in June at about 7 pm.

You have to go through a security check and women and men are separated at this point. The long queues for the men are more chaotic at certain times of the day. The Indian army conducts a security check.

View from the Great Gate to the Taj Mahal
View from the Great Gate to the Taj Mahal at 4 pm

Dos and Don’t

  • Buy the Taj Mahal ticket online to save you some time and hassle. You get a QR code, which gives you a ticket to enter the Taj Mahal once. The QR code is checked with IDs at the security check at the West and East gates. OCIs need to show their OCI card to get in with the Indian ticket fee.
  • Come early if you want to avoid crowds. We visited at 7 am and got through the security check within a minute. In the evening we took about 30 minutes to get through.
  • The western gate is more popular, but it really doesn’t matter which gate you pick. Both lead to the same forecourt (aka Jilaukhana on maps) and whatever other guides tell you about the perfect sunrise point won’t matter 60% of the year because it’s very foggy in the early morning hours.
  • Men and Women are separated. Pay attention to the stuff and army personnel, they will direct you. Some of them are nice and others can be a bit rude. Just take it easy and move with the flow.
  • Security Check Process: Your queue starts at the ticket checking counter. Keep your bag at the scanner and walk to the human scanner. Women are checked by a woman officer, men by men officers. Children go with their parents either way. A foreigner ticket gets you through a fast track queue. Once you cross all that, you can move freely in the Taj Mahal compounds.
Security Check at the Taj Mahal
Security Check at the Taj Mahal

πŸ›‘ Bags and Prohibited Items

The rules are rather strict on what you can bring into the Taj Mahal at the security check.

There are some gray zones but most of them are very precisely set, and you have to stick to them as a visitor to the Taj Mahal to avoid fines or getting in trouble in India.

The experience is, that they will pat your body and pocket areas and open your bags to check what’s in it. They do open all the zips. This is all done in public outdoors, so there is no separate room or something.

We had a different experience at the security check in the morning VS the evening, but more to that after the Dos.

If they take some valuable belongings away from you at the security check, they will save keep without any extra charges. When you want to exit, keep that in mind because you will have to come back to the same gate to get your things.

Let’s start with the Don’t, that means all restricted items!

Indian army presence to keep the Taj Mahal secure
Indian army presence to keep the Taj Mahal secure

Don’ts – Restricted Items

  • Backpacks/big bags and booksβ€”Just leave them in the hotel because it just becomes a show, and you would rather not deal with a discussion. They take them away from you, and you will have to keep them in a save keeping room. They give you a small paper slip, which you better not lose and after the exit point, you can collect your belongings with that slip.
  • Devices such as drones and laptops. That also includes, headphones, battery packs, phone chargers.
  • Tripods – Any tripods, it doesn’t matter the size.
  • Food, liquor, soft drinks and even small candies, toffees and chewing gums. Any eatables in general, so that also means baby food. Also drugs, of course! Note that foreigners get a water bottle to go in, that’s the only thing you can take from them.
  • Smoking and tobacco in general. You can’t smoke on the premises, so no cigarettes and chewing tobacco (gutka pan) and also lighters and match boxes will be taken away.
  • Weapons – pocket knives and anything that can be used as a weapon (also pepper spray!). I don’t have to tell you that a gun, a knife, and a taser would put you in serious trouble.

Do’s

  • Use the payable lockers near the security check to keep your large belongings. They don’t cost the world, and you will save yourself a lot of stress.
  • Women can take in a small, phone sized handbags. You can also get in a tote bag to carry your jacket around.
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Mobile phones are allowed and so are DSLR Cameras.
  • Gimbals are somewhat allowed but without the tripod extension. More about that in the Photography section further below.

When we visited during sunrise at 7 am, we were practically alone and the stuff was all fresh and friendly. They even overlooked my wive’s mints in her bag.

Things were very different at 4 pm, sunset time. The stuff was much more stressed and due to the constant chaotic environment, they can get really petty about the most trivial things.

You can watch our video to see what it’s like at the Taj Mahal on a Thursday in January during sunset time.

🩳 Dress Code and Attire

Remember, you are in India and if you have made it so far in India, you will know how to dress appropriately in the cities.

The Taj Mahal is also a religiously important building to the Muslim community. Consider that when you dress up to go visit this monument.

That said, they are not as strict as you might think. In fact, they are more liberal than the officials in Italian churches. You can wear shorts at the Taj Mahal, in Italian churches they won’t let you in (read our experience at Florence and Venice).

Just don’t pick a beach or clubbing attire!

Don’ts

  • Avoid wearing very short mini shorts. Moreover, ladies may want to steer away from extra mini skirts, short spaghetti shirts and super short dresses.
  • Men can’t walk around uncovered without a t-shirt.

Dos

  • You can wear dresses, normal shorts, knee long skirts and overalls. You can also wear jeans and saris at the Taj Mahal! Slippers, non-noisy heals, and closed shoes such as boots and sneakers are all allowed (they may ask you to briefly remove your boots at the security check).
  • Dress warm in winter in the morning because it’s ice-cold, foggy, and windy. My wife wore a long dress in January so that we could take some great pictures for you, but she wore leggings under that. It was 46 Fahrenheit (ca. 8 Β°C) at 7 am in January!
  • Bring along a hat because the sun starts hitting when it gets through the fog. Always bring a hat in the Indian summer months (March to July).
  • It gets extremely hot in the summer months, so dress lightly. Linen material is known to be great in the heat and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
  • The Mausoleum plateau (the white marble area and entry point to the Taj) can only be accessed with shoes covers on the shoes. You have to put them on before you walk up. Non-foreigners can buy shoe covers at the entry point walk way to the west gate and east gate. Foreigners get them with their tickets.
  • Foreigner tickets come with free shoe covers, which you need to visit the mausoleum. Indian ticket holders have to buy them outside at the gates. They sell them easily for 30 INR each!
Wearing shoe covers to visit the Mausoleum and walk on the main marble area
Wearing shoe covers to visit the Mausoleum and walk on the main marble area

πŸŽ₯ Photography and Videography

You can take pictures and videos at the Taj Mahal, but there are some rules to be followed here too.

Be aware that there are a few guys standing around in the garden area near the Diana bench (especially in the morning hours).

They will want to take a picture of you with the Taj Mahal with your phone, and it doesn’t end with one picture if you never learned to say no.

They don’t do that because they are employed staff at the Taj Mahal. Not only that, but they hustle, and they are trying to make a buck or two to feed their family.

So, while we found one to be very helpful because we got some pictures done at least, and he recommended some great photo and filming spots, you shouldn’t be naive to think that they will do it for free.

Asking them how much they want for those few pictures will just result in them telling you “it’s up to you”. The more pictures they take, the more you can expect to compensate them.

We ended up giving one guy 500 INR, which may seem a lot to an Indian. Thereafter, he waited for us when we were done with the mausoleum to show us a secret awesome spot to take slo-mo videos and pictures, and we think that it was completely worth it!

Early morning photo shoot
Early morning photo shoot. The Diana bench is the one in the back.

Don’t

  • Drones and 360 cameras – Yep, we tried to bring in a 360 camera and while walking in the premises we were politely asked to delete the footage, which we did, of course. We were inspired by a 360 video of the Taj Mahal on YouTube, so we pointed that out to the officials. They explained that one or two may get through without them noticing.
  • Taking pictures and videos with some kind of tripod. Big no-no here!
  • Commercial video camera footage – you need to talk to the ASI office if you want permission to film anything in a commercial setting.
  • You can’t take pictures of the main mausoleum interiors. Not with your phone nor with your DSLR.
  • The Taj Mahal can be visited at night on 3 days during full moon. During this monthly event, you don’t get to bring in your mobile phone to take pictures. Only DSLR are allowed during full moon at the Taj at night, and you only get to walk up to the great gate (aka northern gate), not any further.
  • Just don’t take pictures of the army from the front, you will just piss them off.

Dos

  • Mobile phone and DSLR photography
  • Videos filmed with a cell phone or DSLR – Well, that’s a gray zone topic. You can acquire a ticket to film at the northern gate (the great gate) in the Taj Mahal complex to film from afar, or so we were told. That said, everyone is filming with their mobiles in the gardens and on the marbled Taj Mahal plateau (outdoors only). The main thing to take away is that as long as it’s just for private use, you are good.
  • Gimbals – another gray area object. They let us in with it, and we saw others using gimbals BUT only because we removed the tripod thing before they even saw it at the security check. Of course, that will only apply to mobile phone gimbals. Forget about taking in a DSLR gimbal!
There are men standing around asking to take photo of you in exchange for some money
There are men standing around asking to take a photo of you in exchange for some money (the guy on the left)
Photo shoot at the Minaret of the Taj Mahal
Photo shoot at the Minaret of the Taj Mahal

πŸ›• Ornamental Gardens and Monument

Let’s start with the don’t!

Don’ts

  • Don’t litter, you can get fined! It’s also just very filthy to litter and irresponsible in general to throw around garbage. Look out for garbage bins in the Taj Mahal complex.
  • Don’t enter or walk on the lawns. Keep your toddler and kids with you. Everyone likes well-behaved kids.
  • Don’t try to do anything with the water in the fountains.
  • Don’t walk without shoe cover in the mausoleum or on the marble plateau.
  • Keep your phone on silent in the interior and keep your voice down. There are Muslim caretakers, and they make some echo noise to show visitors, but they do that so that they can ask for β€œtips”.
  • Don’t give money to the caretaker guy in the mausoleum if he asks you!!
  • Act respectful towards the building. Avoid touching and scratching the walls.
  • Avoid scamy expensive tour guides. They mention stuff which they looked up online. The same tour guides take you on a day tour or two to other sights, such as the Agra fort, and to restaurants where they collect a cut for bringing you there.

Dos

  • Get a registered guide, approved by the Archeological Survey of India. They usually roam with a recognizable tag. It is advised to book one in advance. Guides for different languages can be booked for a private tour, and they can help you with everything else.
  • Walk over to the Taj museum to learn more about the monuments and their cultural significance.
  • Take your time at the Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal front entrance
Entrance to the Taj Mahal Tomb

🦽 Getting There and Accessibility

The ticketing counters at the east and west gate, can only be accessed via mini e-buses or golf carts, or you can walk there.

If you intend to come with your private car, you can do so by driving towards the east gate. You will see a barricade and large boards indicating the parking lot.

Park your car there and either walk to the east gate or take a golf cart ride.

The area around the Taj Mahal can only be accessed via e-mini bus or golf carts to reduce the pollution damage to the white marble building.

Wheelchairs can be borrowed at the ticketing entry point. The way to the Taj Mahal is built for wheelchair accessibility with ramps. BUT there are no ramps up to the Mausoleum and to the Taj Mahal marble plateau (the area where you have to pay 200 INR extra to see).

Accessible ramps for Wheelchair users at the Taj Mahal
Accessible ramps for Wheelchair users at the Taj Mahal

πŸ’­ FAQs

What is the best time to visit Taj Mahal?

Hands down morning hours if you want to avoid crowds and take some decent pictures.

How much time does it take to explore the monument?

Plan to spend at least 2 hours at the Taj Mahal monument and perhaps another 1 hour in the museum.

Is photography allowed inside the Taj Mahal?

No, you can not take photos of the interiors.

What is the security check process at the Taj Mahal?

Arduous, tight and long, if you are not used to crowded places and if you come during peak hours. Avoid the crowds and come early on.

Is there a dress code for Taj Mahal?

No, there is no set dress code at the Taj Mahal. BUT dress appropriately! You can wear jeans, skirts, shorts, dresses, open slippers and flip-flops.

How do you take pictures in front of the Taj Mahal?

Be at the gate for sunrise, and you will be able to take a picture in front of the Taj Mahal.

I hope I didn’t forget anything. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment, and I will answer it ASAP.

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