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Best time of the year to visit Taj Mahal
Agra, the city that hosts Taj Mahal, is dry and extremely hot from April to June. That’s probably the worst time to visit Taj Mahal unless you’re used to such climate.
Then there’s the monsoon season coming, from July to September, with plenty of rains. The road conditions may be seriously affected by the weather, though it is usually less crowded than during the high season.
High season (with more comfortable conditions for sightseeing) lasts from October to March. The weather is cooler, but be ready for higher hotel rates!
October, November and February is the best time to visit Agra, though the crowds are usually at their highest.
September is a great option in terms of weather/crowds ratio: it may be still a bit humid, but mornings and evenings are great, while you’ll be able to get better deals before the start of the tourist season (Oct 1). And the Taj is not crowded at all!
March is another great period to avoid lines and crowds.
Try to avoid visiting in December and January, or if you do - visit Taj Mahal in the day: because of the usual night smogs during these months, the view of the Taj may be completely obscured in the morning.
Photo credits to Connie Ma via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Tips to avoid crowds
There are 100 Indian tourists for every foreign tourist in Taj Mahal! Here are some ways to get the most of your visit:
1) Avoid visiting the Taj on public holidays. That’s when a huge number of Indians travel, and many of them head to Taj Mahal:
- Republic Day (26 January),
- Independence Day (15 August),
- Gandhi Jayanti (2 October),
- Holi festival (February-March),
- Durga Puja / Navarathri/Dussehara festival (September-October),
- Diwali festival (October-November).
2) Avoid weekends. There are plenty of Indian day trippers, and they tend to invade the place on weekends. Coming during the week will make your visit much more comfortable.
3) Come on Thursday. That’s usually the calmest day, followed by Wednesday and Monday.
4) Avoid peak times. Most visitors arrive in the afternoon, Taj Mahal is the busiest between 3 PM and sunset time. Sunrise time is popular among the photographers, but is much less crowded. Try to be at place before the gate opening or about an hour later (to avoid the first “wave” of visitors). Anyway consider that the place gets really crowded already by 9 AM.
5) Choose the Gate in advance: there are three Gates to enter the Taj Mahal. The Western Gate sees the longest queues, the Southern Gate is located nearer to Taj Ganj, the main area for budget accommodation, and the queues are shorter, but these gates only open at 8 AM. That means you’ll have to choose another gate if you plan to arrive at sunrise. The Eastern Gates sees the shortest queues, but the ticket office is quite far from the Gate. Choose this entrance if you come with a pre-purchased ticket.
6) As sunset time is very popular and often overcrowded, we recommend taking Taj Mahal’s photos at sunset from Mehtab Bagh - a park just across the Yamuna River. The view is also incredible, but the park is much less tourist-infested.
7) Book your ticket online or buy it in advance. Tickets to the Taj may be purchased at any of the other monuments in Agra—but be sure that the date stamp is for the day of your visit or it’s an open-ended ticket, otherwise you won’t be let to enter!
8) You may visit Taj Mahal during the night - this tour is available five nights in a month: the Full Moon night, two days before and two days after, except Fridays and the month of Ramzan. The Taj may seem empty and all to yourself at this time, as the tour is limited to 50 persons only at a time. The reverse of the coin is that your visit is limited to 30 minutes only, and you may only purchase there tickets in the Agra’s office of Archaeological Survey of India a day in advance. To check if your travel dates fall on Full Moon night, click here.
Photo credits to Ross Huggett via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Taj Mahal is closed for visitors every Friday.
Avoid bringing camera accessories, any writing materials or books. You will have to leave them outside in the locker. At the Eastern Gate, for example, the lockers are located 750 meters from the Taj Mahal gate, you may lose time while tinkering with your belongings.
- Indian visitors: Rs.20
- Foreign visitors: Rs.750
- Children under 15: free
Photo credits to plaits via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)