Just like you can’t visit China without visiting the Great Wall or Nepal without seeing the Himalayas, you just simply can’t visit India and pass up seeing the infamous Taj Mahal, meaning ‘crown of plalaces’. It is beyond breathtaking with its intricate details and sprawling garden grounds. Take note Jeremy, this is how you pay tribute to your wife! Granted it was just one of emperor Shah Jahan’s many wives (no thank you) and it was after she passed away while giving birth to their 14th child (ouch). Same same right? The gorgeous sites are enough to book a plane ticket on their own but what about the pictures? Here are some helpful tips for visiting the Taj Mahal and capturing photos that guarantee a hassle free visit plus are sure to get you drool worthy photos to guarantee friends and family back home a small dose of wanderlust.
Morning Fog. If you go during dry season, beware! If you’re not, you can skip to the next tip. During dry season there tends to be much more fog and clouds which doesn’t exactly condone the best views and pictures of the Taj Mahal. We decided to get up before dawn and get to the Taj Mahal around 6:30 in the morning. It was a little foggy but only grew worse as the morning went on. At one point we were standing literally right beside it and couldn’t see a thing because the fog was so thick. Thankfully the nice guards at the entrance let us re-enter later that day when the fog had lifted. Below you can see what a difference just a few hours can make. Even though there were far more crowds in the afternoon, the better views were well worth the trip back. Plan your timing according to the weather and check with the front desk for their opinion on what time you should go.
Dress Appropriately. Thankfully we didn’t have any problem with this since it was fairly cold when we were there (not what I expected when visiting India!) But remember that you are in a very conservative country and should try to cover up as much as possible while visiting national and religious monuments. Granted, there is no enforced dress code at the Taj Mahal but out of respect I would recommend trying to cover your knees and cleavage if possible. Maxi skirts, long dresses and the popular loose thin trousers found in India are great choices. I also try to carry a scarf with me just in case I need to be even more covered up. If you want more ideas of what to wear in India check out this blog post.
Crowds. On the reverse, if there’s no fog (the fog usually goes away by the end of January) make sure to go early! By the afternoon, I’ve heard horror stories of the thousands of people in the complex. Not shocking seeing as how over 3 million people visit per year and about 15,000 people visit per day. Even by the time we left around 1pm we could see the warms starting to file in.
No Tripods. Yup, it’s true. There are no tripods allowed in the Taj Mahal or most public monuments in India. I’m not really sure of the reasoning behind it but it’s better to just leave it in the hotel room rather than have to go through the hassle of renting a locker for a few hours, even though that is a good option if you forget to leave it behind. But don’t worry, see all those friendly people with the really nice cameras? Wait till they’re done taking their photos and I’m sure they’d be more than happy to oblige in taking your photo for you.
Check Pinterest. Not exactly the traditional advice huh? Before a big trip I always like to check Pinterest and look for photos of a certain attraction we are going to. Often times you will find areas not well marked on a map, different angles to try out or inspire a completely different idea for really unique photos. Simply take a screen shot of the pictures you like so you can pull them up on your phone without wifi when you are there. And to go along with that, try playing around with different shadows, angles and areas. Even though the fog was a real bummer early in the morning I actually really like how some of them turned out because it added a whole other aspect to the building that I hadn’t seen before. You might be surprised what aspects you thought would be a negative actually make for a great photo.
Mahtab Bagh. This is a place you can’t miss. Take a tuk tuk across the river from the Taj Mahal and to the Mahtab Bagh garden. Here you have one of two options. In front of the gate (not entering the garden) take a right and go all the way to the end of the street until you reach the river. This provides a great view of the Taj Mahal from the back side but you can’t get directly in front of it. If you want a better view, pay the $1.50 admission fee and enter the gardens and go directly to the back for a truly amazing view. We went at sunset and I would highly recommend the same time frame to snatch some pictures that are sure to be your favorites.