She stood there unblinking - in awe and daze While he blushed pink - under her unwavering gaze. The blue background brightened his garb in white This was the Sunrise at Taj Mahal - a look in the first light. This is how I would term my date with Taj Mahal at Sunrise. Discover how you too, can get to Taj Mahal at dawn with this practical guide to planning, ticketing and timings.
If it is your first time in India, there is no missing the Taj Mahal. For that matter, for those of us in India, if you are in Agra, there is no missing this monument either – even if you have seen it umpteen times. Classified as one of the wonders of the world, this UNESCO World Heritage site is just so magical that even on my third trip, I found myself as dazzled as I was the first time I saw it. While the monument itself is so captivating, I can promise you that the best time to visit Taj Mahal is at sunrise
It was during my 2018 visit that I first experienced a sunrise at Taj Mahal. It was one of those perfect dates when there was literally no one between us – just me and the Taj Mahal in the first ray of light. I managed a similar experience again in 2023 – again at dawn. It’s time I share my tips and tricks with you so that you too, can enjoy a relatively lesser crowded and great time with the Taj Mahal at Sunrise.
In this blog post, I will be sharing my own experience so that you know what to expect when you plan a Taj Mahal Sunrise tour. The guide will also, elaborate on the important tips – information on Taj Mahal sunrise tickets, the timings, dos & don’t, practical suggestions on getting there at dawn and more. In short, I have you completely covered for this mesmerizing experience at the Taj Mahal Agra.
Planning a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra?
In case you are looking for some quick links to tours, places to stay and travel accessories for your Agra trip, you can consider using these online options.
- Booking.com has several good Agra hotels listed on their site. You could use this link to browse and book the same.
- Viator.com offers several tours to the Taj Mahal as well as other attractions in Agra. You will even book skip-the-line tickets to the Taj Mahal and a Taj Mahal Sunrise tour from Delhi . Use the link to discover more like the private tour of Agra attractions, a combination of Taj Mahal with Fatehpur Sikri, transfers between Delhi and Agra etc.
- GetYourGuide has various local tours and car bookings available that you can use to explore Agra. Here too, you can book your skip-the-line tickets using the link given.
- For any of your travel needs or general shopping, consider using Amazon through this link.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
- 1 Planning to get to the Taj Mahal at sunrise
- 2 My experience of a sunrise at Taj Mahal
- 3 Ride along Yamuna for the perfect reflection of Taj Mahal
- 4 Capturing Taj Mahal at sunrise from Mehtab Bagh
- 5 Common FAQs about visiting the Taj Mahal
Planning to get to the Taj Mahal at sunrise
Getting to the Taj Mahal in the wee hours of the morning does need a bit of planning. If you want a relatively crowd-free experience, you need to get to the gates even before they open. Most people start pouring by 6:00 am and within the next 30 minutes or so, it does get quite busy inside Taj Mahal. Trust me – I realized this with my last visit when I got late by half an hour and missed my window of opportunity for some private time with the Taj.
With my hits and misses over the last two visits, here are the key things that you need to ensure you have in place for that perfect date with the Taj.
Plan to stay in Agra near the Taj Mahal
You will find plenty of Agra hotels located within a radius of 3 km from the Taj Mahal. These include budget-friendly ones, mid-priced hotels as well as luxury hotels – all of which you can see in the map widget above. (You use the widget to browse and book your hotel) During my 2018 visit, I stayed in one of the OYO rooms near the Taj Mahal while this time, I chose a mid-priced hotel Surasena Regal Vista. Both these places are around 2.5 km from either of the two gates of the Taj Mahal.
If you like a bit of luxury, you can consider The Oberoi Amarvilas which is within walking distance from the East Gate of Taj Mahal. Among the mid-priced hotels like Hotel Atulya Taj which is within 1 km from the Taj Mahal.
The closer you are to the gate, the better it will be for you in the morning. Walkable properties definitely take the stress out of looking for a conveyance in the early hours of the day.
Booking Taj Mahal sunrise tickets
Taj Mahal Sunrise tickets are the same as the normal tickets to the monument. These can be booked online or one can avail of them at the ticket counters located outside the two gates of the Taj Mahal (East and West gates). There is a cap of around 40000 visitors per day to this monument. This is largely to protect the monument and also, to avoid overcrowding.
Given that you need to be at the Taj Mahal before the crack of dawn, it is better to book your tickets online through the ASI site. You can also, avail these skip-the-line tickets through Viator or GetYourGuide. The physical ticket windows open 1 hour prior to the Sunrise entry of Taj Mahal and while there is no crowd, I would still recommend that you stick to the online tickets. It definitely takes away the risk of a possible window closure or a possible queue there.
The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays! So, make sure you have planned your Agra trip well around this day to avoid the disappointment of missing the Taj Mahal.
Pre-pandemic, there was just one single ticket for the Taj Mahal with which you could enter the mausoleum. However, now , you have to buy a separate ticket if you want to get close to the Taj Mahal and see the mausoleum. The basic entry ticket only allows you to the base of the monument. There are no additional camera charges.
The basic entry ticket prices for the Sunrise at Taj Mahal are as follows
- For an Indian- INR 50.
- For a SAARC national – INR 540
- For a foreigner – INR 1100
The additional ticket for the mausoleum will cost you INR 200 – irrespective of your nationality. I highly recommend you buy one, especially if this is your first visit to the Taj Mahal in India. It is something else to see the marble inlay work that makes this monument so admirable.
Mark the sunrise time in Agra
Taj Mahal opens half an hour before sunrise. From my experience, the sunrise is roughly between 5:15 to 5:45 am – depending on the season you visit. However, it is best to check once before your visit. While the internet is always an option, the one tip I have here is to consult your hotel front desk or staff. I did so on both my visits and got updated information on the counter opening time. Most of the hotel staff are either connected to authorities or know official guides who give you the best and correct time for opening of the Taj Mahal.
Packing for your sunrise Taj Mahal tour (Dos & Donts)
Taj Mahal is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a lot of security. Before you enter, you have to pass through a metal detector, a pat-check and run your belongings through a scanner. Trust me, this can definitely delay your progress – especially if you are carrying some of the restricted items. You will be asked to deposit them in the lockers and rejoin the queue.
This section is more about ensuring that you have packed well enough for a smooth and quick entry to the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Here is a list of things that you should avoid carrying with you –
- No drones, selfie sticks and tripods are allowed
- Avoid unnecessary electronic devices like headphones, chargers etc
- For some reason, no books are allowed inside the premises.
- No eatables or water bottles. There are plenty of drinking water stations inside the Taj Mahal premises
- Extra batteries or power banks.
Keep your camera and whatever else you might be carrying in small bags. Avoid the large rucksacks. Do not forget to carry your official government ID – passports, aadhar cards, voter ids etc. Prepare your bag at night so that you just have to grab it and head straight to the Taj when you wake up.
As for your clothes, there are no major restrictions. One tip that I have is to carry one light shawl or jacket for the early morning. Summers are not a big issue but if you are visiting any other time, it does get quite chilly in the morning. And yes, for the photos, contrast colors like red, yellows and oranges definitely stand out against the pure white of the Taj Mahal.
How to get to the Taj Mahal at dawn?
Alright, so you are all packed. The next thing is to get to the main entrance gates of Taj. There are two of them – East Gate and West Gate. For some reason, my last two visits have been from the Eastern gate (better if you want lesser crowd). From my hotels, I had to hire an auto or an e-rickshaw. Even at the unearthly hour of the day, these are easily available around the hotels. You can even use apps like Uber and Ola to book one. And if you are the cautious kind, you can pre-book a ride either through these apps or through your hotel travel desk.
Note that no fuel vehicles are allowed at the main gates of the Taj. Most of the auto or taxi rides will drop you at the last point – approximately 600 m from the gates. From here, you have to either walk or take the free golf cart service to the gates.
Getting a guide at Taj Mahal
For the first-timers to the Taj Mahal, I highly recommend hiring a guide. You can opt for the many guided tours that can be booked here. Alternatively, you can just hire a good Government appointed guide by calling the UP tourism office on (+91) 562 – 2226431 or the India Tourism office on (+91) 562 – 2226378. They can also, be booked using this Incredible India website. The UP tourism guides generally charge a little lesser than the India Tourism ones but both will give you genuine and factual information.
There are many touts and non-licensed guides that will approach you when you are in a queue to enter the Taj. Generally, these are not licensed guides – though they will show you ids and claim to be genuine. Trust me, most of the official guides work with hotels and tour companies – they barely have time to stand at the gate for clients.
The guide charges for a Taj Mahal for a group of 2 to 4 during my 2023 visit are –
- Local guides – INR 300 – 500. However, there is no guarantee on information.
- UP tourism guides – INR 1200 – 1500
- India Tourism guides – INR 1500 – 1800
If you are visiting the other places in Agra like the Agra fort and are also, going to Fatehpur Sikri, you can get a UP tourism or an India Tourism guide for all the monuments. The price for that will be a lot more affordable.
My experience of a sunrise at Taj Mahal
I have been super lucky to have literally been the first in the line to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise. It was almost as if destiny favored me – as if the Taj Mahal wanted that space with me only. As soon as the gate opened, I rushed along the large courtyard called the Jilan Khana, focused on getting to the main gateway called the Darwaza-i-Rauza to capture just the hero of the place – the Taj Mahal.
I was literally the first to greet the Taj Mahal that day except that I just stopped dumbfounded at its first sight from the gateway. For once, I forgot my camera. I just gazed at that monument of love – the white against the blue sky with shades of pink as the first rays of light fell on it. It was the moment – when it was just Taj Mahal and me and no one else.
I crashed back to reality as another visitor rushed passed me to the vantage point past the Darwaza-i-Rauza. I remembered that I needed to capture that moment quickly before the rest rushed in and thus, came into my “Shutterbug Mode”.
Being one of the first with an unobtrusive view of the Taj Mahal, I managed to catch the optical illusion that you can experience as you go past the gate. The Taj suddenly shrinks as you go closer. This is because of the refraction of light that happens owing to the Yamuna River.
The best part of getting to the Taj early is that I got to sit on the bench – popularly called Lady Diana’s seat and enjoy my private time with Taj (apparently, Lady Diana struck a pose here when she visited Taj Mahal). It was mesmerizing to see the Taj blushing pink under my gaze. As my private conversation with it continued, it changed colors again – this time to a golden yellow. As you get closer to the Taj Mahal, especially on the east, you can see spots where the walls actually glitter. They twinkle like stars.
The sunrise tour of Taj Mahal also, helped me zip through the queue that begins to see the mausoleum. Not only was I able to take my time appreciating the outer façade with its gemstone inlay work at leisure, but I was also able to enjoy the play of light and shadow through the jhali screen inside the Taj Mahal. Trust me, you can only enjoy this when the place is free of crowds. Of course, now you are not allowed cameras inside the mausoleum, so you can only capture these moments in your memory.
My 2023 Taj Mahal sunrise tour started 15 minutes later than I would have liked to and hence, there were a few people before me. While the sky was not as dramatic as my 2018 date, it was still amazing to see the Taj. For one, after its famed mudbath during the 2020 closure, it was whiter and this time, there were no scaffoldings interrupting the picture. 😉
Making the most of the photo spots inside Taj Mahal Agra
It is possible in the early moments of your Taj Mahal sunrise tour that the marble mausoleum is covered with haze or light fog. Even so, capture a moment or two for the Taj still sparkles white. Most of the time by sunrise, the fog tends to subside allowing you a clear view of the monument.
By around 6:30, you will see the crowd thickening. Hence, make the most of your early moments capturing the Taj Mahal without crowds. To make it easier for you, here are some of my most recommended photo points. You will find my Taj Mahal at sunrise photos from these points throughout this blog post.
- From Darwaza-i-Rauza or the main entrance to Taj Mahal
- The complete view of Taj Mahal with the Char Bagh (Mughal gardens)
- From Diana’s seat – a marble platform halfway to the Taj Mahal
- From the entrance of the guest house of Taj Mahal called Milman Khana (you will find this to the east)
Ride along Yamuna for the perfect reflection of Taj Mahal
It is possible to capture the Taj Mahal from the river Yamuna. However, you need to do a little more planning. There are several boatmen who are around the Taj Mahal. Some of your guides might know them or else, you can just walk behind the Taj Mahal to get their contact number. We managed to get one the previous evening and after my sunrise visit to the Taj, I got in touch with him for a quick ride to the center of the river.
Shining in the sun, with a little yellow now, contrasted by its two red sandstone neighbors – Mihman Khana and the Mosque, the Taj Mahal gazed back at me for those last few moments. Its beauty seemed to have magnified with the perfect light and its perfect reflection. Such were the last moments of my date with the Taj at sunrise.
Capturing Taj Mahal at sunrise from Mehtab Bagh
It might happen that for some reason you are not able to into the Taj Mahal for the sunrise. If so, your other option to capture the Taj Mahal at this golden hour is by heading to Mehtab Bagh. This place is the gardens right across the river. The gardens open at the same time as Taj Mahal and you can get a great view of the Taj Mahal from here. The only catch here is that you can only see the back of the Taj Mahal.
Trust me, this too is not such a bad option as I believe that the Taj Mahal from every angle looks just as beautiful. I, of course, managed to do this at sunset.
Well, I think I have you completely covered for the Taj Mahal sunrise tour. Trust me, it is well worth waking up before the sun to experience this surreal play of light at the Taj Mahal.
Common FAQs about visiting the Taj Mahal
Which gate is better for the Taj Mahal sunrise?
There are three gates to the Taj Mahal – East, West and South gate. The South gate is no longer open for visitors. Both the eastern gate and western gates are equally convenient for visitors. However, they do say that the eastern gate has a relatively lesser crowd for the sunrise tour of Taj Mahal.
Is Taj Mahal better at sunrise or sunset?
Taj Mahal looks amazing at any time of the day. At sunrise, you will be able to catch pink and golden hues of the Taj Mahal while at sunset, it appears bluish. However, in terms of the crowd, a sunrise at Taj Mahal attracts lesser crowd as compared to the sunset. Hence, it is better to get to the monument early during the day.
Is the Taj Mahal crowded at sunrise?
There is lesser crowd than the other times of the day at Sunrise at the Taj Mahal.
Can I wear shorts and sleeveless tops to the Taj Mahal?
There is no dress code for the Taj Mahal and hence, one can wear shorts or sleeveless tops. However, given that it is a mausoleum, you might want to give respect to the culture and avoid wearing these outfit or at least have a shawl to cover your shoulders.
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Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.
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