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Written by Savi, 95 Comments

On photographing the Taj Mahal, Agra

We would be millionaires if we had a penny for every time any one asked us which camera we use for our photos. Truth be told, photography is about scouting for locations, being patient, spending time (lots of it!) on capturing perfect frames. GoodΒ equipment can lend a helping hand but ultimately it’s your vision of a photograph that lends it that special something.

This is nowhere truer than at a place that boasts of being the most visited and most photographed monument in the world – THE Taj Mahal. How can one photograph the mighty Taj Mahal in ways that pay homage to the sheer splendour of the monument? I won’t lie – in the process you might have to walk through grubby alleyways, mucky passages, or sit on rickety boats that could give way any second πŸ˜‰ But that’s how you find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Luckily for you, we did the dirty work (quite literally – there were quite a few soiled shoes at these excursions) and dug up our favourite places in Agra for clicking photographs of the Taj Mahal.

Sunset at Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh Gardens
Perfect sunset scene at Taj Mahal πŸ™‚

 

Getting to the Taj Mahal from New Delhi

The Taj Mahal is an easy four hour drive from New Delhi on the Yamuna Expressway. The highway is in great shape and there are tons of public toilets and restaurants along the way. Expect to pay INR 415 (Β£5) as toll tax.Β 

The Taj Mahal makes for an easy day trip from New Delhi but we would suggest staying in Agra at least for one night. This is because sunrise and sunset are the best times to photograph the Taj Mahal.Β Here are five of our favourite places to photograph the Taj Mahal:

 

I) The compound of Taj Mahal for capturing it up close

You’ve paid the entry fee, walked around the complex of Taj Mahal, marvelled at the intricate carvings on walls, and it’s time to leave. But you don’t have a single photo that does justice to the sheer scale of the Taj Mahal. Fret not – just head to either of the two red mosques (preferably the one on the Β that flank the main ivory building inside the Taj Mahal complex.

 

While the main building is swarming with people Β at most times of the day, you’ll be surprised to know that less than 1% of these visitors make it to the brick-coloured mosques on either side of the Taj Mahal. The doorways and arches of these mosques provide the perfect frame for capturing the Taj Mahal. This makes for the ideal photograph of the monument.

 

girl at Taj Mahal mosque
Enjoying the gorgeous view of The Taj

 

If you are one of the first few people into the Taj Mahal when it opens at sunrise, you can get a perfectly symmetrical shot with the fountains in the front. Just remember that at any time one of the minarets of the Taj is under repair, which means scaffoldings might spoil the photograph. We got this shot at noon:

 

Taj Mahal fountains and gardens
Classic shot of Taj Mahal πŸ™‚

 

Entry fee for Taj Mahal: INR 40 Indian nationals, INR 1000 (Β£12) for foreigners. Food and camera tripods are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal.

 

II) Hathi Ghat for photographing Taj Mahal at sunrise

I will preface this one with a warning – this is only for serious photography enthusiasts. Tourists rarely make their way to Hathi Ghat because it isn’t on the regular tourist trail and comprises a muddy field that doesn’t have much to offer. EXCEPT a spectacular view of Taj Mahal at sunrise. The barren river bed is distinctly underwhelming during the day but I promise you this – it is the perfect place to photograph Taj Mahal at sunrise. The first rays of the sun shine on the Taj Mahal in the distance and create magic. See for yourself:

 

Sunrise behind the Taj Mahal from Hathi Ghat
One of the most gorgeous sunrises πŸ™‚

 

Sunrise at Taj Mahal from the river bed of Yamuna
What a sight! πŸ™‚

 

Entry Fee: Free but you might lose a pair of shoes to muck in the process – consider yourself warned πŸ˜‰ You can ask any cabbie or tuk-tuk driver to take you there.

 

III)Β Mehtab Bagh for photographing the facade of Taj Mahal

These gardens, right opposite the Taj Mahal, are perfect spot for clicking the Taj Mahal during the day. Legend has it that Shah Jahan thought of the gardens as the perfect place for viewing the Taj Mahal and absorbing the beauty of the mausoleum. He was right because the gardens offer a great vantage point for absorbing the beauty of the Taj Mahal. Mehtab Bagh is great at any time of the day but we suggest visiting the gardens in the evening and sticking around for sunset.

Sunset at Mehtab Bagh Gardens Taj Mahal Agra
Enjoying the sunset. Le Sigh!

 

Sunset at Taj Mahal Agra
Gorgeous hues πŸ™‚

 

Entry Fee: INR 15 for Indian Nationals, INR 200 (Β£2.5) for foreigners

 

IV)Β Photograph the Taj Mahal from a hot air balloon

The Taj Balloon FestivalΒ is a relatively new phenomenon and takes place in November every year. Of course we had to go check it out for ourselves. Of course, one barely needs any persuasion to hop onto a hot air balloon when the mightyΒ Taj Mahal is part of the photo. But this hot air balloon ride offers so much more.Β 

Β Despite the infamous layer of smog in Agra, we loved gazing at the Taj Mahal and River Yamuna snaking its way through Agra, from the comfort of our hot air balloon. But the real fun started after that! Hundreds of little kids waved at our balloon from rooftops of houses, schools, and shops. Dozens of them actually followed our balloon as it landed in the countryside and came to say hello. We’ve been on plenty of hot air balloon rides before but this was inimitably Indian and truly special. We loved it and got some great photographs of the Taj Mahal too.

 

Hot air balloon over Taj Mahal Agra India
A hot air balloon takes off for its flight over the Taj

 

Hot air balloon ride over Taj Mahal and Yamuna river in Agra
Gorgeous view of Taj Mahal and Yamuna from the sky

 

Entry fee: Taj Balloon Festival is still in its nascent stages but flights are expected to be priced around INR15000 (Β£180)

 

V)Β A whole new way of photographing the Taj Mahal – from a boat!

Go against the grain. When you’re standing at the entrance of the Taj Mahal, turn right. A short ten minute walk will take you toΒ Dussehra Ghat at the banks of river Yamuna. It’s just 10 minutes away from the hustle bustle of the Taj Mahal but it seems like another world. There is rarely anyone except a couple of security guards, priests, and stray monkeys here.Β 

The view of the Taj from the Yamuna Riverbank is pretty cool, so you could click a few photographs here. Or you could amplify the experience to another level and take a short boat ride on a decaying old-school boat. There is just one boatman by the name of Manoj here as this isn’t a ticketed attraction – we went back twice to find him but it was worth it πŸ™‚ It’s easy to click the Taj Mahal while floating and gliding on the waters of River Yamuna but Manoj happily obliges by clicking a few shots if you want to be part of that photograph too.

 

boat ride on Yamuna to see Taj Mahal
Best way to start the day πŸ™‚

 

Reflection shot of Taj Mahal in waters of Yamuna river in Agra
Perfect reflections πŸ™‚

 

Entry fee: This isn’t a formal ticketed ride but expect to pay INR 200-300 (Β£3-5) for a 15 minute boat ride.

Accommodation in Agra

If you want to be close to The Taj Mahal and enjoy gorgeous views of the monument right from your hotel whilst indulging in some luxury, go for either Oberoi Amarvilas (just 600 metres from Taj Mahal) or ITC Mughal (close to the West Gate of Taj Mahal). Alternatively you can find plenty of hotels in AgraΒ to suit all budgets here.

 

Taj Mahal mosque photograph
Gorgeousness framed πŸ™‚

 

Hope this gives you some nice ideas for photographing the Taj Mahal. Do remember to take a few moments without your camera to absorb the magic of Taj Mahal and its surroundings πŸ™‚

Planning on travelling in India? Read all our articles on India for some offbeat and luxurious suggestions πŸ™‚

95 thoughts on “5 BEST ways of photographing the Taj Mahal, Agra

  1. Beautifully written and extremely well articulated article.You almost make me feel that I am there, right by your side exploring the by lanes of Agra for a good shot of the Taj Mahal. The accompanying pictures are unique in their own way – a work of art!

  2. Hi Savi&vid, I really love to read your articles ;)When are you coming to Johor,Malaysia? I would love to meet you πŸ˜€

    1. We’d love to meet you too πŸ™‚ No immediate plans of visiting Johor but we’ll love to head there sometime later this year!

  3. Your photographs of the Taj Mahal leave me speechless, they are so breathtakingly beautiful. Every time I thought I had found my favourite I found another. The sunrise photos are truly spectacular as are the ones taken from the boat. I would love to see this myself someday.

    1. Hey Sarah,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. We had an amazing time clicking all these photos of The Taj Mahal – we wanted to get away from the crowds and were happy that we came away with some really cool shots πŸ™‚

  4. What an interesting post. I really want to learn how to use my camera better this year, but I think I’ll also have to start thinking more about the composition of photos.

  5. My husband is a photographer and often talks about the fact you might have to take 50 pics to get 1 good one lol. Im blown away by the quality of the ones featured on your post, they are incredible and really transport you there in mind, great work x

    1. Hey Jess – You’re right – given the going rate in the rest of the world, the balloon ride over Taj Mahal is actually quite cheap πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Katrina – hope you make it to Taj Mahal soon. It is quite touristy but it really helps to go off-the-beaten-path, especially if you enjoy photography πŸ™‚

    1. India is a bit of a sensory overload but most visitors love the colour, food, and monuments once the initial shock (mostly at the chaos) settles down πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Anne – the Taj Mahal can be overwhelming but these are definitely 5 of the best ways to photograph it and escape the rush πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Charlotte – Good to know you like the classic shot. I feel like it’s a bit overdone, but I do enjoy it nevertheless πŸ™‚

  6. Great ideas! I love looking at posts like these before visiting somewhere. My favourite has to be the first shot with the birds!

    1. Thanks Laura – that’s definitely the best way to gauge the kind of photographs you can click at a particular place πŸ™‚

  7. These are some fantastic shots ? I especially love the ones taken from the hot air balloon and the boat! You guys get serious points for creativity ?

  8. This is fantabulous , I Loved loved loved every picture. Taj mahal is on my list from Such a long time . And I am sorry, But I am going to copy last pic of yours whenever I do visit Taj πŸ™‚ .

    1. Hey Stefania – that’s so true. We loved clicking photographs of the Taj Mahal from different angles and just couldn’t get enough πŸ™‚

  9. Breath taking pictures! I’ve seen tons of pictures of Taj mahal but haven’t read an article that is remotely close to this one! I don’t think anyone could articulate it better than you guys! Very helpful article. Will definitely keep all these points in mind while visiting Agra. I’ll also post the photos and tag you when I make it (but I don’t think my pictures will do justice to the monument the way your pictures do)

    1. Dear Sindhu,

      So happy to hear you enjoyed reading the article. Yes please, do share your photos with us when you visit πŸ™‚

      Cheers!

    1. Hey Suneet,

      The boat ride doesn’t happen “officially” but you can always request the boatman to take you for a short ride πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words…feedback like this really eggs us on and we want to always give it our best shot!!

    1. Hey Deepika,it feels so good to know that you enjoyed going through our pics- Taj Mahal was actually enthralling and we are glad we were able to capture just a bit of the magic:)

  10. Amazing post and incredibly useful. Thanks for sharing such great tips. Before I end, must say – stunning pics of the Taj Mahal, few never seen before.

    1. Thank you so much Chandan-it makes us happy to know that you loved reading our post on Agra-it was enchanting to capture the images in my camera.

  11. Hello Savi Vid ..m a huge fan of u both…my fav. Travel couple… I am an engineering student as well as a passionate traveller… I was planning to click The Taj n i always used to wonder how to click it from a view wich is uncommon… Thank u so much for dis blog its very helpful sir …. M ur regular follower of ur Insta profile..love u bith keep travelling

    1. Hey Soravh, we really are so glad that our blog post on Agra was of help to you.And a very big thanks to you for your love-we really value it πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. The Taj Mahal is magical in its beauty…so go visit it TrΖ°Ζ‘ng quang phΓ‘p. And do share your experience with us πŸ™‚

  12. These photos are making me wanna catch a flight now and head to Agra to see the ‘Taj Mahal’ (its 01:47am here in the UK and if I leave right now, my parents will get a heart attack lol)

    It’s crazy that being an Indian, I haven’t seen the Taj yet but I hope to make this dream come true soon. The sunrise over Taj gave me goosebumps. Such a spectacle

  13. I have been an ardent follower of Bruised passports. But today I am in awe and respect for you two with this article, ‘On photographing the Taj Mahal, Agra’.
    Now, visiting Agra and capturing it with my lenses is definitely on my checklist!

    Thank you once again and wish you two a magical Travelogue ahead !!

  14. just stumbled upon your article and MY GOODNESS the boat pictures and the mosque tip…SO GOOD! thank you thank you thank you. my instagram will blow up with this πŸ˜‰ haha. is the boat guy there everyday all day?

  15. the photograph taken from boat is stunning. I have visited Taj Mahal once when I was a kid. I will try the boat ride next time I am there for sure.

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