This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019
Beep…beep…beep! I groggily opened my tired eyes to turn off the alarm on my phone. I quickly remembered that today was the day I was going to see the breathtaking Taj Mahal in Agra, India. This sudden realization caused me to jump out of bed and frantically get ready. It was almost impossible to contain my excitement.
A Pink Saree
While I was in Jaipur, I bought a beautiful pink saree. My hope was to wear it for this special day at the Taj Mahal. Bringing the saree with me wasn’t without making a compromise though. I’m a digital nomad and everything that I own has to fit in my 40L backpack. So to make room for the saree, I gave up my running shoes to the girl sitting outside my hotel.
As I was getting ready for my big day at the Taj Mahal, I tried to remember how to tie the saree material. The salesman had made it look so easy! After watching a few YouTube videos, I still couldn’t get it to look right. As I looked at my watch, I realized it was time to give up and opt for normal Western clothes instead. I felt slightly dejected, but still excited for what waited for me.
Our experienced tour guide, with TAV Tours, told us the exact time our driver would be at the hotel to pick us up. In my mind, I was thinking we should get in line at 5am, but he calmly laughed and said that arriving at 7am would be perfectly fine. I was anxious to see the Taj Mahal without the obnoxious tourists.
With normal Western clothing, I hopped in the car outside my hotel at exactly 6:45am. The driver whisked us through the hustle and bustle of the traffic in Agra. Right at 7am, the guide expertly navigated us to the ticket line, where he joked with a few other tour guides and secured our group tickets to the Taj Mahal.
Note: The Taj Mahal isn’t open on Fridays. Don’t ruin your trip by not checking the schedule.
As we approached the gates there were four lines, separated for men and women, then separated again for tourists and Indians. The Indian queue was much longer than the one for the tourists and slower moving, which I found a bit backwards. After a careful search through our belongings and a pass through a metal detector, we were on the other side.
History of the Taj Mahal
Our guide began to tell us the history of the infamous Taj Mahal. It was built in 1632 by Shah Jahan to house the remains of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal (the favorite of his three wives). Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth after giving the King their 14th child together!
After a quick history lesson, we entered the pedestrian entrance called the Royal Gate. As you walk through the dark tunnel, you begin to see the opulence of the Taj Mahal in the distance. Our guide led us through the grounds and took us to the best spots for photos. I even got my picture taken on the Princess Diana bench!
We went inside the mausoleum, which (in my opinion) was less dramatic than the grandeur of the beautiful, white marble on the outside. My favorite part was when we were left to our own devices and I was able to wander around the building and admire the intricacy of the gems precisely laid into the marble. Another item crossed off my bucket list, but many more to go!
End note: The next day I was able to wear my beautiful saree! Our driver took us to a tailor who made it easy for me to get in and out of the fabric without untying it.
I’d like to thank Colleen Kinsey for contributing this guest post. Colleen is the CEO of Kinseyco and creator of Travel Meets Happy. She continues to build her business while empowering other women to pursue solo travels around the world. Follow her adventure on Instagram – @TravelMeetsHappy
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This is on my bucket list!
Beautiful photos! And a lovely account that took me back many years to my own first visit to this magnificent monument!
This is such good timing! we are going to India next year and I have just finished a homeschooling project with my daughter about the Taj so I was really interested to see if I could remember my facts! The photos are lovely. I cant wait to see it for myself!
I love your pink sari, it’s beautiful 🙂 I was there at the Taj Mahal at pretty much the same time the right tower (minar) was under renovation and I was so disappointed that my pictures got spoiled because of it 🙂 But I see your pictures look amazing!
And Colleen looks very regal on the Princess Diana bench too! What a photo to cherish. I’ve never been. Months and months in India and never been to the Taj Mahal. Really should visit, thanks Colleen for the insight.
What an incredible experience – and I’m so glad Colleen got to wear her sari on the second day! Visiting the Taj Mahal is on my Bucket list too – I imagine seeing such an incredible, iconic and beautiful structure in real life would be incredibly moving.
Very nice article!! I visited the Taj for the first time early this year, and it was most impressing! Reading through your article made me feel there again a little 🙂 Thanx!
I’ve heard about the legendary architecture here. I can’t wait to see it in person when I get to India.
This is so useful as I’ll be seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time in a couple of weeks, super excited! Good tip to know it is closed on Fridays too! Thanks for sharing!
First view of the Taj is surreal, I agree. But the most fascinating part is…the more you see it, the more you fall in love with it. My next plan is to see Taj by moonlight. 🙂
I haven’t been to the Taj Mahal but I can identify with your sari struggles. I have tried to put on regional clothing, including a sari in Sri Lanka and more recently a kimono in Japan. Both look easy but take a long time to get good at doing! Hopefully you get a chance to wear it another time.
A visit here has been on our “bucket list” for a long time. Your article has lit that fire once again. Thanks for the tip on getting there early but not too early.