The crown of all palaces – Taj Mahal (and some tips on photographing it)

The Taj Mahal stands as an eternal epitome of romance leaving a lot of what we do for our lovers in its massive shadow.

Built by the Shah Jahan for his wife, who died while giving birth to their fourteenth child (yes, I know…), this is usually on every traveler to India’s list. No matter how and when you go, this is an awe inspiring monument and will leave you breathless (as well as everyone else you show your travel photos).

Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal as seen from the many structures within its complex

Speaking of photographs, it does take a little bit of planning to add that extra oomf to your photographs of the Taj Mahal. Here are some tips that I hope will help:

  1. Get into Agra a day early. The Taj Mahal is best visited in the early morning to capture that epic scene when the doors first open. Since this happens at sunrise, you will need to get in a day early. Use the extra time to capture the Taj at sunset from Mehtaab gardens. The gardens are situated across the Yamuna river and exactly opposite the Taj.
  2. Foreign Tourists pay extra. Get your ticket in advance (your hotel should assist you with this) which will include a bottle of water and booties to wear over your shoes. There is a dedicated tourist queue, which is further separated into one for men and another for women.
  3. Travel light. There is a security check at the entrance and NO tripods are allowed. Selfie sticks and monopods are also not allowed. There are no locker facilities and they will not mind your equipment for you. Avoid carrying a big bag and you will breeze through security.
  4. Run like hell. Once in, run all the way to the main doorway to the Taj. If you are one of the first few, you will get a superb uncluttered capture of the Taj framed by the doorway. If you aren’t one of the first, don’t linger around the doorway – carry on in and get shots of the Taj without people around. You can always come back to the doorway later (as the crowds are not going to reduce.)
  5. The Taj is not white. Well it is not as white as it looks and because of its sheer brilliance, your camera will possibly compensate on auto. If you are a manual shooter, adjust your EV positively to compensate for that. If you shoot auto, choose a darker scene preset to get the colour right.

The entire complex has many awesome spots to capture the Taj. Don’t rush yourself. Soak it all in and plan what you will be doing for your lover next.

The Taj has it’s own website (http://www.tajmahal.gov.in/home.html) and has more information on opening and closing hours as well as days of operation. The Taj complex houses a mosque and thus is closed to non-worshipers on Friday. Due to this reason, please also dress modestly so as not to offend anyone.

Where did you last travel to an what are your top travel tips to that destination?

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