Once described by Rudyard Kipling as 'the embodiment of all things pure', the Taj Mahal is an enduring marble masterpiece regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world.
Arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, a visit to Agra's Taj Mahal is not to be missed. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, he claimed it made 'the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes' due to its magnificent beauty. His wife, Mumtaz Mahal, unfortunately passed away giving birth to their 14th child in 1631, leaving him heartbroken. He began construction on the mausoleum the following year, in total taking eight years to build, with the help of specialists from all over the world to work with the marble and semiprecious stones that make up this architectural marvel. When it was completed, his son, Aurangzeb, overthrew him as Emperor and imprisoned his father in Agra Fort where he could only gaze at his beloved creation. When he died in 1666, he too was buried here alongside his wife. Now designated a World Heritage Site, it stands immaculate and timeless as one of India’s most iconic sights.
How to see it with Kuoni
The Taj Mahal can be accessed by one of three gates; west, south or east. We highly recommend the south gate as it often has shorter queues and has the most impressive entrance through a 30m red sandstone gateway, inscribed with verses from the Quran. At all three gates, expect separate queues for men and women. Larger luggage can be stored beside ticket offices and for the price of your ticket you'll receive a bottle of 500ml water and shoe covers. Expect to be greeted with manicured gardens and reflective watercourses to begin with. If you are keen to walk away with the most recognisable photograph of the Taj Mahal with its own reflection, then stand at the end of the main watercourse.
Once you’ve walked among the gardens, the Taj Mahal is built at the northernmost end of the grounds next to the Yamuna River. Raised by a marble platform, the only backdrop it has is of the sky - an intentional architectural feat. The identical building you may see to the east has been built for symmetrical purposes, whilst the red sandstone mosque to the west is an important gathering spot for Agra's Muslim community. Each face of this icon is identical, right down to its carved flowers and inlaid semiprecious stones. Directly below the main dome is the Cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal, beside it is the Cenotaph of Shah Jahan, another point of symmetry - light only permeates here through finely cut marble screens.
Good to know
The Taj Mahal is closed every Friday to anyone not attending prayers at the mosque. Cameras and videos are permitted except for inside the mausoleum itself. Videography is limited in other sacred areas too.
Open dawn-dusk Saturday-Thursday.