Skip to content
60 Essential Safety Tips for Solo Travel Get it Now

What to expect visiting the Taj Mahal as a woman

Disclosure: My blog contains links from Affiliate programmes. At no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase from these links, I earn a small commissionThank you for supporting my work and the site!

I’ll start with the most important part about visiting the Taj Mahal: It’s awesome. It is, in the words of the UNESCO Heritage people “the greatest architectural achievement in the range of Indo-Islamic architecture.” In my own words, it’s the greatest monument to love I’ve ever seen. The Taj Mahal was by far the most incredible place I visited on my first trip to India. And the #1 thing that makes me want to return.

Just want my Essentials for visiting the Taj Mahal? Click here.

Is it safe to visit the Taj Mahal as a woman? I was fortunate to visit the Taj Mahal in a group as part of Intrepid Travel’s Women’s Expedition to India. This was an incredible way to see India in general and we had a lovely bonding experience together. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a small group tour.

What about solo travellers? Would I go back to the Taj alone? Yes..

As a woman visiting the Taj Mahal I felt safer than anywhere else in India. Even when I was wandering alone around the grounds. I absolutely look forward to the day when I can go back to spend even more time there on my own.

If the Taj Mahal isn’t on your bucket list yet, and you have an opportunity to travel to the Northern part of India, I say you simply can’t miss it. But there are some things you should be aware of.

Here’s what I learned visiting the Taj Mahal as a white woman foreigner.

The Taj Mahal in Agra India
Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu via Unsplash

What is the Taj Mahal?

The Taj is a love story for the ages carved in stone.

The fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had the Taj built as tribute for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th (!!) child. It took 22 years and tens of thousands of workers to complete. In today’s dollars, what it cost to build would equal about 35 billion.

Physically, it’s a marvel of engineering and art. An immense mausoleum of white marble inlayed with precious and semi-precious stones and relief carvings of flowers. It’s surrounded by formal gardens, a reflecting pool and more, all set on 42-acres on the bank of the river Yamuna in the city of Agra. Depending on what time of day and season you visit, the colours of the sky will light up the marble in different hues.

Portrait of Mumtaz Mahal
Mumtaz Mahal

Soon after the Taj Mahal’s completion, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his third son Aurangzeb then put under house arrest at the nearby Agra Fort. Imagine! Guy had nothing to do but pine for his dead beloved and look out the window at the Taj. Upon Shah Jahan’s death, Aurangzeb buried him in the mausoleum next to his wife.

If you pay extra to enter the mausoleum you will see two sarcofagi. They are empty. The actual remains of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are at a lower level, inaccessible to visitors.

Is it worth visiting the Taj Mahal?

Absolutely. If you are anywhere close, or have the money to fly in from elsewhere in India, it’s a must-see.

The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra, about a 4-hour drive or bus ride from Delhi on what my guide called the best road in India. There are also many trains, including one that is allegedly under three hours. Most people I talked to say there’s no reason to stay overnight in Agra, and many visit as a day trip on organized tours, returning to Delhi at night.

We arrived in Agra from Jaipur in a private vehicle, visited the Taj at sunset, slept overnight and then took a perfectly fine coach bus back to Delhi after seeing the nearby Agra Fort in the morning. That was already plenty packed. But if I had less time, I would still do this as a day trip.

The West Gates entrance to the Taj Mahal
Entrance to the Taj. Photo by Naman Pandey via Unsplash.

Is the Taj Mahal safe for solo women travellers?

As I wrote in my post about travelling safely in India as a woman, there are challenges in this country I can’t ignore. But here visiting the Taj Mahal I felt very safe.

The place is packed with many women and families from all across India. They treat this place with incredible respect, and I did not fear being pick-pocketed, groped or any of those things women travellers do have to worry about, unfortunately.

That said, the area outside the Taj entrance is chaotic. Touts selling souvenirs are aggressive. Groups of men will stare at you, absolutely. Many will ask for to pose with you for selfies—which can be an opportunity for unwanted touching. Keep your wits about you and don’t engage. This is probably the worst place to buy souvenirs, price-wise and hassle-wise.

Crowds visiting the Taj Mahal
Despite what Instagram might lead you to believe, you’ll never be alone at the Taj Mahal

In my experience I found three places especially crowded that might make some women feel uneasy. I think it’s easier to manage if you know these things in advance:

First, the ticket entrance and turnstile are crammed, but foreigners are herded into a separate area from locals. (Kind of unsettling, I know, but it is the way it is.) The security area where they check your bags is gendered. Women are separated and checked by a female security staff. If you buy a ticket to enter the mausoleum chamber itself, you will be in a tight queue that moves slowly. If alone I recommend waiting until you can go in right between two women or families, and not single men.

What should women wear to the Taj Mahal

If you’re travelling to India as a woman you’ll likely read advice to dress conservative. I echo this. In fact, what I thought was my conversative dress was probably too much cleavage, in hindsight. At minimum, you’ll want to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the Taj Mahal.

But the best advice I can give is to dress up! This is a special place, and if you’re someone who likes to wear dresses, or fancy things, you will fit right in with locals who dress in what Westerners would call “their Sunday best.” And if you would like stunning pictures against the white marble, photographers recommend bright colours.

There are lockers outside the gates where you can pay to store things if you want to dress up just for the Taj Mahal but not the rest of your day.

Visiting the Taj Mahal in a sari

Is it OK for a foreign woman to wear a sari to the Taj Mahal?

In short: Yes.

This was a major question for me. Our tour group activities included visiting local women for a lesson on wearing saris – the traditional outfit for women in India. Saris are gorgeous! The women allowed us to borrow these for visiting the Taj Mahal and I felt very privileged to have this experience.

I must admit I worried about what is appropriate versus what is appropriation. We talk a lot about “my culture is not a costume” here in North America as we reckon with years of colonialism and racism, and I wanted to tread lightly on anyone’s feelings in the host country. I asked a lot of questions about this on the ground, and I was repeatedly reassured that this would not be offensive.

In the end, wearing a sari to the Taj Mahal was one of the highlights of my trip to India. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that our group of foreign women did attract a lot of attention in these outfits. Most of it was positive. Anyone who gave me a weird look, I simply ignored. There is after all a world wonder to look at instead….

Classic view of the Taj Mahal from the entrance

Some important basics about visiting the Taj Mahal for anyone

  • Up to 40,000 people per day visit the site! You will not be alone and you will be crowded. Pack your patience.
  • It’s closed on Fridays.
  • There are no set opening and closing hours. Because there is no artificial lighting at the site, it goes by the sunrise and sunset. Gates open 30 minutes before sunrise and close at sunset.
  • The Taj Mahal is also open at night! On the full moon, and two days before and two days after the full moon you can book a ticket for a 30 minute viewing. (Numbers are very limited. Check availability and details here.) 
  • The Taj Mahal has two entry gates: East and West. They both lead to the same place. We entered at the West Gate, which is apparently the most crowded. The East Gate is near many budget hotels. The South gate is currently closed.
  • Tickets in 2023 cost 1050 INR/$17 CDN (for foreigners) and it’s an extra 200 INR ($3 CDN) to visit inside the mausoleum. You can purchase tickets in advance on-line or on site. (Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries pay less. Indians pay 50INR.) Children under 15 of all nationalities are free.
  • Your “foreigner” ticket includes a small water bottle, an Agra tourist map and shoe covers and access to toilets.
  • Shoe covers? Yes, you cannot walk on the marble with your street shoes. So they give you little disposable booties like at the hospital.
Prohibited Items at the Taj Mahal
Don’t even think about trying to bring any of this stuff inside
  • Security is tight. Men and women go through separate baggage checks, so if you are with a man expect to be separated.
  • You can’t bring anything inside expect water, your phone/camera and ID. No food or other beverages, no gum, no pens, cigarettes or lighters, chargers, tripods of any kind, make-up, no playing cards or books, no backpacks…anything really. Pack super light or use the lockers outside the gate.
  • Because pollution was turning the Taj Mahal yellow-brown, the Indian government set up a 10,400-square-kilometre area around the monument where strict emissions standards are in place. This is why you can’t take a taxi right up to the gates. You can either walk from parking areas or catch an electric bus.
  • Agra has many hotels for all budgets if you want to stay overnight. If you’re tight on funds a clean room can be had for as little as $20, many within walking distance of the East Gate. A nice chain hotel with pool and amenities will cost around $100 CDN. If I had unlimited funds my first choice would be the majestic Oberoi!
  • If you want to hire a guide, do it in advance through a trusted company or your hotel. There are many scam artists and lecherous men who pretend to be official guides and you’re risking more than just poor service. If you do hire a guide you will likely here some “fun” stories about legends of the Taj I won’t spoil for you here.

However you choose to get there, however long you stay, the Taj Mahal is beyond beautiful and worth any effort!

I hope this guide to visiting the Taj Mahal as a woman was helpful. Please let me know if you went and what you thought!

4 comments on “What to expect visiting the Taj Mahal as a woman”

  1. The Taj Mahal is more than just a monument; it’s a poetic ode to love and craftsmanship. Having visited it recently, I can attest to the sheer grandeur and the emotional resonance that this iconic symbol of India carries.

    1. Liisa  on March 3, 2024

      I’m glad you had the chance to see it! Thanks for reading.

  2. I have read somewhere that taj mahal is so touristy so i was going to skip it . But seems like it should be in the bucket list after reading your experience . I will try to do it same day though . It is so wonderful , can’t want to visit the taj next year . Thank you for sharing your experiences , Liisa .

    1. Liisa  on March 3, 2024

      Thank you for reading. The Taj is %100 crawling with tourists. But for a good reason. I found it truly wondrous. I hope you get to see for yourself. Cheers!

Submit Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *