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If you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to India, chances are you will want to include the Taj Mahal on your itinerary. It is described as the most beautiful building in the world and after seeing it in person, we all agree. On our first trip to India we only visited Kerala and southern India, but on our most recent trip, we knew we couldn’t visit India again without seeing the Taj Mahal.
The most common India itinerary is the Golden Triangle, with visits to Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal) and Jaipur in Rajasthan. This gives you a great taste of northern India and is a great introduction to the India.
There are three ways to visit the Taj Mahal with kids and in this post we will explain each of them. But before we do that, here is a little history of this majestic building.
- 1 Taj Mahal History
- 2 When to Visit the Taj Mahal
- 3 Tips for Visiting the Taj Mahal with Kids
- 4 How to Visit the Taj Mahal with Kids
- 5 Other Sights in Agra
- 6 Where to Stay in Agra with Kids
- 7 How to Get to Agra
- 8 Our Verdict
Taj Mahal History
The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Most people don’t realize before they visit that the Taj is in fact a tomb to Mumtaz. The building is pure perfection with its swaths of white marble, intricate floral designs made out of precious stones and calligraphy. The complex took 21 years to complete and shortly thereafter Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son and imprisoned at the nearby Agra Fort.
In 1983 it was awarded UNESCO Heritage status and over 3 million tourists visit each year. Since the early 2000s, restorers have worked diligently to remove the discolouration caused by pollution. While there is no substitute for viewing the Taj Mahal from inside the grounds, there are numerous places in Agra to see magnificent views of the Taj. Rooftop cafes in Taj Ganj, Agra Fort, Mehtab Bagh park and looking up from the south bank of the river are all great places to get a different view.
When to Visit the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal can be visited at any time of year. Fridays the Taj is closed to anyone not attending prayers at the mosque. Crowds develop quickly and therefore sunrise and sunset are the best time of day to visit for crowds and lighting.
Tips for Visiting the Taj Mahal with Kids
Read: General tips for visiting India with kids
- Arrive early – less crowds
- Hire a guide to get the most out of your visit
- Be patient and be prepared to queue
- Its okay to say no to selfie requests
- There are quiet areas for kids to play on the grounds
- Eat before you come (no food allowed inside)
How to Visit the Taj Mahal with Kids
While we usually travel independently, we find that a good guide can really engage our kids and we all get way more out of the experience. A family-centric tour or private tour is best for visiting the Taj Mahal with kids.
The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, 240 km from Delhi. You can visit on a day trip from Delhi, but it will take 2-3 hours each way in a car or train to get there. If you are short on time, this tour is a good option because your it includes express train from Delhi, which is an experience in itself. Kids love train travel and it is a much more comfortable way to get to Agra.
However, we recommend basing yourself in Agra for a few days so you don’t have a really long day visiting the Taj Mahal. You can organize your transport by train or car through an agency and take this private tour of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Alternatively, this 2D,1N tour of Delhi and Agra is a great way to see a lot in a couple of days.
Another great way to visit the Taj Mahal with kids is on a packaged family tour. Intrepid Travel has a fantastic 10-day tour designed just for families that visits the Golden Triangle, including the Taj Mahal. This tour includes lots of kid-favourites like tiger spotting in Ranthambhore National Park, riding the trains of India, and visits to exotic temples. India can be overwhelming and a packaged tour is a great way to visit India with kids with less hassles and planning.
You don’t need a guide or tour to visit the Taj Mahal with kids and in typical 5 Lost Together style, we visited independently. With our trusty Lonely Planet as our guide, we spent a morning in awe of the Taj Mahal. Remember, that you cannot visit on Friday and for the best views and least crowds, sunrise is a great time to visit. Our kids couldn’t bear another early morning and we wanted to have breakfast with our homestay hosts, so we set off a bit later.
You can enter from the east, west or south gates. We had hired a tuk tuk driver for the day (500 rupees) and he dropped us off at the west gate. There are lots of touts trying to sell you things and offer their services as a guide. Foreigners pay a much higher admission (1300 rupees/adult ($25 CAD), kids free) but it allows you to skip the long lines that locals have to queue in. Your ticket entitles you to a free bottle of water, shoe covers and discounts at other Agra sights. You do have to queue by gender for security and you cannot bring any food into the grounds. Bags any larger than a money belt are not allowed inside, so leave your backpack at your hotel or use the complimentary bag storage at the west gate. You can hire a guide, pick up audioguides (120 rupees) or tour around independently.
Once inside, we joined the swell of crowds flowing towards India’s most popular sight. Words cannot explain the feeling of your first glimpse of the Taj Mahal as you go through the red sandstone gateway into the ornamental gardens. While there were certainly lots of other visitors, it didn’t take away from the experience. We did get numerous requests for the kids to pose in photos and we let our kids choose when they wanted to oblige.
The whiteness of the Taj Mahal is incredible and after taking it in from afar among the gardens, we headed closer for a better look. This is where you will need to don your booties as you walk on the marble and you see the incredible detail of the building with carved flowers and inlaid designs of precious stones. You will queue to go into the central dome and see the Cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal with its intricate marble screen inlaid with precious stones. Our visit probably lasted 1.5-2 hours and was definitely one of the highlights of our time in India.
While you are in Agra, another great way to enjoy views of the Taj is from the many rooftop cafes in Taj Ganj. We followed the Lonely Planet’s recommendation and had an early lunch at Saniya Palace Hotel.
Other Sights in Agra
There is more to Agra than just the Taj Mahal and that is why we suggest spending at least a night or two there. We visited Agra Fort, one of the finest Mughal forts in India with gorgeous red sandstone combined with beautiful white marble. The complex is massive and you could spend hours wandering this city within a city.
If you have time, other interested highlights of Agra include:
- Fatehpur Sikri, a Mughal palace complex
- Mehtab Bagh, gardens with views of the Taj
- Itimad-ud-Daulah, the baby Taj
- Akbar’s Mausoleum
- Kinari Bazaar – Agra’s hectic main market
Where to Stay in Agra with Kids
It can be hard to find accommodation for families in India. Families with younger kids can get away with staying in one room, but if you have older children, it is often cheaper and easier to stay in two rooms.
Taj Hotel and Convention Centre – With an infinity pool with view of the Taj, the whole family will love this modern hotel, away from the bustle of the city centre, but still within walking distance. There are family-friendly rooms with two double beds. Click here to check the latest prices. Click here to check prices and book.
Radisson Hotel Agra – this hotel offers excellent service, a great pool for the kids and good food options. The view of the Taj from the roof top restaurant is great and its reasonable prices are a great way to experience a luxury stay in India. Click here to check prices and book.
Sai Homestay – some of our best memories of India are the experiences we have had staying in homestays. Sai Homestay has a family room that is basic, but well located and inexpensive. But, what we loved the most was the incredible hospitality we were shown. The Sethi family cooked us wonderful food, gave us great tips for our visit and excellent conversation. Our kids played with their granddaughter, we bought gorgeous home made clothes from Simi and kept in touch after we left. Click here to check the latest prices.
How to Get to Agra
The best way to get to Agra is by private car or train. We think taking the train in India is a must-have experience and the way we recommend you get to Agra. For both a private car or train, the easiest way to organize it is through your hotel or another reputable travel agent.
Booking trains independently is possible and we have done it many times, but be prepared to invest a lot of time, energy and patience into the process. Our first day in Delhi, we spent half the day camped out at the train station booking all of our trains for our month-long stay in India. Unfortunately longer distance trains in India fill up quickly and you can rarely book the train you want. You can book trains online before arriving in India, but unfortunately the process didn’t work for us. You can read more tips on how to book train travel in India online from my friend Kyla here.
The Delhi to Agra train takes 2-4 hours depending on which train you choose and leave frequently throughout the day. This train can be booked the day of or day before without difficulty. You can view the train schedule here.
Visiting the Taj Mahal is definitely a bucket list travel experience and it didn’t disappoint. We often shy away from a destination’s most popular sights, but this is a sight you do not want to miss. India can be an overwhelming place to visit and for that reason we wanted to give you a variety of ideas on how to visit with your family. Visiting the Taj Mahal with kids is an experience we will all remember!
You might also like to read:
- Our Complete Guide to Jaipur
- Celebrating Holi in India
- A Camel Safari in Jaisalmer
- Experiencing Rural India
- Kerala Highlights and Itinerary
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