When is it open and when is best to go?
The Taj Mahal is open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day except Friday when it is closed all day. Once a month it is also possible to view the Taj Mahal in the evening when there is a full moon. You can check the night viewing dates here: http://www.tajmahal.gov.in/faq_taj.html. As tickets to the night time viewing are more limited they do book out quickly, so try to book in advance to avoid disappointment. If you want to see the Taj by night but your dates don’t coincide with the full moon, then I would highly recommend that you make your way to the other side of the river in the evening as you can still get a great view of the Taj Mahal at night from outside the walls.
It is often said of popular tourist attractions that the earlier you get there the better. In the case of the Taj Mahal, it is definitely something to consider. Our tour leader got us up super early and although I might have been grumpy at the early morning alarm call, every time I look back at my photos and compare the 8am photos, which hardly had any other people in them, to the people-packed photos taken at noon, I am extremely grateful. It is worth noting that it can sometimes be hazier first thing in the morning.
Before you go
If you are going around sunrise or sunset then I would recommend wearing mosquito repellent as the gardens do have several water features that attract the biting insects. Also don’t forget your sunscreen.
What to bring
If you can avoid taking a back pack then do, as the security can be time consuming and the list of contraband is a long one. Anything they deem to be unsuitable to take in will be confiscated, such as pen knives and marker pens. When you buy your ticket, you are given a bottle of water and shoe covers. On top of that you can take in one camera only. Video cameras and tripods require a special permit. No food, drinks, chewing gum etc are allowed inside, other than your bottle of water.
There is a small bench halfway down the gardens that Princess Diana was photographed on. It is a great location for getting the perfect photo as it is far enough away that you can get the entire Taj Mahal in the image, but close enough that you can pick up the detail, so obviously it is extremely popular. If you want that photo then go there first before you do or see anything. As we were leaving we saw lots of people queuing for the bench, it looked like they had a long wait!
As soon as you enter the gates, you will be bombarded with people wanting to act as your own personal photographer and of course they all claim to know the best places to have a picture taken. This knowledge obviously comes at a fee and I would highly recommend that you avoid them.
Allocate some non-camera time
When faced with a structure as beautiful and full of history and romance as the Taj Mahal, the tendency is to spend every minute taking more and more photos – one of them has got to capture it just perfectly, right? I think the best thing you can do is put your camera away and truly take in the wondrous sight that is the Taj Mahal.