Agra’s Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Along with its captivating beauty, the history and myths surrounding this grandeur lure millions of tourists every year. This seventh wonder of the world is a testament of undying devotion to an emperor’s wife. It took 22,000 people, 17 years and 1,000 elephants to build this marble iconic architecture.
Here’s how to get to Taj Mahal in Agra if you’re coming from the New Delhi International Airport.
1. Take the airport train express (DMRC) located outside the Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3 Arrival area. Walk outside and follow the arrow pointing into the subway train. Get down at the last station – New Delhi Metro Station (4 Stations). Cost: 60 INR single journey.
2. Take the regional train (NDLS Station) just outside the metro station (New Delhi). There are two stations near Taj Mahal – Agra Fort and Agra Cantt Station. We took the Agra Cantt route (4 hours).
3. We had the crazy idea of buying tickets inside the station at the day of our trip. It was a big mistake. Do not do this unless you are ready to experience what we went through.
- We were given a General Ad ticket (90 INR).
- We did not inform the lady for a first class or a second class ticket.
- The ticket did not have a platform number.
- We went crazy asking people which platform to wait for the train.
The General Ad was full. Horribly full! So, we just went inside the 2nd class coach/car and stand in between the two coaches near the toilets! At that point in time, I was already expecting an awful Indian experience. The inspector talked to us and told us to sit inside the cabins. We were half relieved! The coach/car has sleeping bunks and four locals let us stayed on their bunks. We were fortunate to met these decent guys because both left and right (separate cabins), guys were looking at us with uncomfortable stares.
We thought the inspector will not charge us anymore but in the middle of our travel, the new inspector asked us to pay 400 INR plus a penalty of 20 INR. Our cabin mates tried to argue with the new inspector to just let us off the hook but he was insistent. We were cool with paying the fees because it was the right thing to do. Still, I was grateful for these strangers coming to our rescue. When we got off in Agra Cantt Station, Ahmad went down the station for 5 minutes to talk to the locals (in Hindi) and point us to the exit/taxi stand. These short travel stories make everything worth the trip.
5. Trains are expected to be delayed even up to 2 hours. Be prepared and don’t be surprised.
6. In NDLS station (New Delhi), it has no departure boards showing train details so ask around. If you have an internet connection, you can download an Indian train app or check from the net . No wifi on stations. We did not have an internet so we did the charming way of asking around. Locals are helpful, just be nice and friendly.
7. Be careful inside the train cabins. On our way back from Agra to New Delhi, someone snatched the bag of one of our cabin mates (an old local lady). The thief jumped off the moving train!
8. Taxis are safe in Agra. But, if you wanted to feel secure, get a taxi from the accredited taxi counter just infront of the railway entrance (you will see a sign, so don’t worry). They will get the driver’s information so it makes you feel safer but comes with a 20INR charge. Taxi cost: 100INR to city center/ Taj Mahal.
9. Entrance fee of Taj Majal is 1,000 INR for foreigners with free water and shoes’ wrapper (for entering the temples).
10. Queues are long during weekends. So be early. Opening time is 6 am to 630 pm. It is closed on Fridays for prayers. The area is very crowded. It’s a skill to find a place for photo opportunity.
11. The security is tight. No selfie sticks, food, cigarettes and lighter.
12. Winter is the best time to visit the City. It’s relatively cold so you can walk around without sweating. Last January, the temperature was 16C.
13. Don’t forget to taste the local food dishes. Agra is known to have one of the best Indian cuisines.
14. Being a coffeeholic, try their local coffee with fresh cow milk!
I may not be going back to Agra in the near future but I am definitely going back to India this April to visit its northern border Kashmir (borders with Pakistan, China and Tibet). It’s going to be another memorable travel to Ladakh’s Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake.
If you need a visa, check my post on how to secure an India’s e-visa.