As mentioned earlier, it’s important to not set your expectations too high when visiting the Taj Mahal. We all see these glossy, amazing tourist photos with no one in the background and expect we will all have the same experience.
When I set my alarm clock for 5am the night before, I was sure that I was going to beat the crowds! But, in reality, it won’t matter what time of day you visit – you will still be joined by hundreds of tourists who are eagerly awaiting a glimpse of this beautiful place!
We arrived at the security queue just before sunrise with our tour guide. It was hot, sticky and crowded and I had women literally holding on to my back. Again, definitely not how I imagined it.
I was wearing a traditional Indian lengha which I bought from the Janpath market in Delhi and had it re-tailored on the street. I figured, I may as well go big or go home for my first visit. Although it was a pretty dress, it was made out of synthetic material and jewels and weighed around 3kgs. There was no way I was running around in the 36 degree heat trying to get photos before the crowds came in full force later in the morning!
When I made my visit, they were busy cleaning the Taj Mahal. This meant one of the pillars was covered in scaffolding. I had been following hash tags on Instagram to double check that it was still only the one pillar covered up, praying it wouldn’t be two or worse, the top was covered (which was rumoured). More so, I was hopeful that it had miraculously been taken down over night.
But, on reflection, all these things (although I would have done them anyway) were useless. I couldn’t know how many people were going to be there and I couldn’t help what construction was going on. You just have to make the most of it and accept the experience for what it is.
Luckily, the mist of the morning made way for beautiful sunshine which made a gorgeous gold glow all around the Taj and the gardens. It was a spectacular sight! The Taj was gleaming white, there was a buzz in the air from everyone and I just enjoyed taking it all in.
Truth is, you are going to have people in your photos. Especially, if you’re taking them in the super tourist positions. Best advice I can give you if you really don’t want it, is to get creative! Have a wonder around the gardens and get an alternative view.
Personally, in the end, I didn’t care. The photo’s are still some of my most treasured of my visit to Agra. With, or without, the crowds. You see, I still blocked out that pesky pillar with my head! Problem solved.. ;)