Visiting the Taj Mahal with young kids

The Taj Mahal requires no introduction. There have been countless writers before me who better describe its beauty and allure. It is one of perhaps only a handful of places in the world which is instantly recognisable and features on almost everyone’s bucket list. But how do you go about visiting the Taj Mahal with young kids?

Visiting the Taj Mahal with kids

As we are living in India and despite our boys being so young (aged 2 and 3), we considered it criminal not to visit. We had shown them photos of the Taj Mahal and seen it on an episode of Go Jetters, but unlike for adults, it holds no preconceived ideas of grandeur and personal reflection. Kids this age won’t especially care why or who it was built for and are certainly unlikely to marvel at the architectural intricacies. So you need to be well prepared and plan to ensure they appreciate the visit and give you at least some time to enjoy this magical place yourself.

When to go

Travelling India with young kids can be challenging at the best of times. Ease daily parental struggles and respect the seasons. Temperatures in Agra can sore above 40 degrees. Very uncomfortable. Avoid visiting during the intense summer heat and monsoon rains between the months of May and August. November to February is peak season and it can get incredibly overcrowded. The best months to visit are the shoulder seasons of March/April and September/October.

Doors open at sunrise; although don’t expect to have the place to yourself, everyone else is now in on the trick to get there early. But the early start beats the heat and provides the best light for those once-in-a-lifetime photos. We didn’t do it ourselves, but you might find it a good idea arriving about twenty minutes after sunrise – once they opened the gates, the queue started to move quite quickly.

Please note that the Taj Mahal is CLOSED ON FRIDAYS for general viewing.

You can also view the Taj for five nights around the Full Moon. Buy tickets a day in advance in person from the Archaeological Survey of India office.

Getting there

There are only two gates open for sunrise – East and West. The Southern Gate opens at 8am. We did some prior research and apparently the East Gate is popular with tour groups and it is a bit of trek from the ticket window to the entrance, so we opted for the West Gate. Your car or auto will drop you just a 260 metre walk away (see map below).

Visiting the Taj Mahal with kids - getting to the West Gate

Tickets

Purchase your tickets from the Ticket Window to the left, before joining the queues. There are separate windows (and prices) for domestic and foreign tourists. Foreign adults are Rs1000, domestic adults are Rs530 and children under the age of 15 are FREE.  You will be provided with water and shoe covers, which look like shower caps (for use in the mausoleum).

Security

Men and women have to queue separately to go through security, so arrange to meet inside. The usual obvious items such as firearms, knives, cigarettes, matches and lighters are not allowed. Tripods, battery packs and electrical goods (except cameras) are also prohibited.

But the worst prohibited item for parents with young kids is FOOD! With an early start for sunrise, it’s unlikely you will have had time for breakfast. We expected our visit to last about two hours, so I hid some cookies at the bottom of my bag. Unfortunately they didn’t get past the rigorous security checks and were confiscated. MI6 hiding skills are required here parents! There are no shops or kiosks once through the gates.

Getting the shot

You are going to want to get ‘the shot’ of the family in front of the Taj Mahal. Yes, it’s a cliche, yes there are a thousand other people trying to the same thing, and yes your kids won’t appreciate the significance of the moment, but you have to get it done. It’ll be one of the photos you look at again and again over the years so follow these tips if you can.

Don’t stop as soon as you get in; the best shots are further along near the ‘Princess Diana’ seat. If you’ve arrived early, the plinth won’t be too crowded yet (trust us, when you leave in a couple of hours, it’ll be a throng of selfie-taking people, fighting for space). Wait your turn, but don’t let anyone push in front of you – people tend to be quite good about keeping out of the way within reason. If possible, find another family and offer to take their photo if they take yours. Ask them to take as many shots as they can, in the hope that one of them will have everyone smiling/not blinking/not fighting. We didn’t really manage it too well as the boys were going through an ‘episode’, but we got a funny one of them wrestling, and a couple of acceptable shots where at least 75% of us looked human.

Visiting the Taj Mahal with kids

In some ways, maybe that’s for the best as it captured us as we were at that moment – we’ll have plenty of time for perfectly posed photos in the future.

If you want to capture the completely crowd-free shot from the South, then arrive 45 minutes before sunrise so you’re at the front of the queue. You then have to run to the spot as soon as you’re in to beat the throngs behind you. Personally this seems like way to much effort if you have kids.

So here’s our tip. If you walk ahead to the mausoleum and walk up the slope to the right hand side, there will barely be any tourists about. It’s not the classic ‘front on’ shot of the Taj, but with the sun behind your selected photographer, the colours will be intense and you can take your time getting that family photo (although the boys are still pulling funny faces in ours!)

Visiting the Taj Mahal with kids

Exploring around

Once the pressure is off for that perfect shot, head around the back to the Western side of the mausoleum. Here you’ll find some nice shade to cool off and space for the kids to run. Us parents then took it in turns to marvel at the architecture, walk around the mausoleum and take it all in, whilst the other told stories to the boys about the Taj, pointed out monkeys and squirrels, and refereed the the continuing wrestling match.

Visiting the Taj Mahal with kids

Take your time walking back through the gardens, ideally through the trees in the shade, taking frequent stops to look back and take it all in.

Selfie requests

We have heard of some families with fair-coloured children being hassled for selfies at the Taj to the detriment of their visit. This can happen, so be prepared. We did have a number of requests, but no more than we do anywhere else in India. In fact I think we receive more when we visit our local park (Lalbagh) in Bangalore. Maybe we were just lucky.

However, as always, take direction from your children. If they are happy to oblige that’s fine. If they are not, or seem distressed, be polite but firm and say no. They may still take photos as you walk away, but try to ignore.

Breakfast

As the heat of the day intensifies, it’s likely that everyone will be feeling rather hungry (especially if you couldn’t get your snacks past security!) If you walk out of the South Gate you will find a plethora of roof top restaurants amongst the alleyways with superb rooftop views back to the Taj. Menu-wise, they’re all much-of-a-muchness. So take your pick, and enjoy those views with your eggs and chai.

Visiting the Taj Mahal with kids

Was it worth taking the kids to see the Taj?

Absolutely! If only to bring out the photo of them wrestling in front of the Taj on their 18th birthdays. We’re firm believers that even if they don’t remember their visit to this iconic site, it still leaves some kind of imprint on them. They will smile at these photos in years to come and it will spark memories and feelings of their time in India.

Nevertheless, as we walked out of the South Gate that day, our youngest said, “Bye-bye beautiful Taj Mahal” and when they now see photos on TV, adverts or the internet, they get excited, point to the photo and say, “Taj Mahal! We’ve been there!”

Where we stayed

We scored a fantastic deal on booking.com at the Double Tree by Hilton Agra; just £40 per night! As our boys are still little, we could all comfortably share the huge double bed and enjoy all the luxury and service you expect from a Hilton hotel. There is also a rooftop infinity pool to cool off!

They even allowed us a late check out of 3pm, meaning we could enjoy a long nap after our visit to the Taj. We then popped to visit Agra Fort before we caught our the Gatimaan Express, the fastest train in India, to Delhi. You may like to read Our Northern India itinerary with young kids.

Agra Fort

Arguably, our boys enjoyed their time more at Agra Fort. With darkened corridors, mysterious doors and secret rooms to explore, we armed them with a Peppa Pig book to use as a pretend treasure map and imaginations were sparked. Agra Fort is one of the finest forts in all of India, with it’s massive red-sandstone structure and harrowing tale. This is where Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal for his wife, was imprisoned by his son when he seized power in 1658. With views over the river Yumana back to his masterpiece, this is where he spent his last days. It’s a fascinating place and very worthy of a visit.

[Entry is Rs500 per adult if you show your Taj Mahal ticket, saving Rs50. Children under the age of 15 are free.]

Other things to do in Agra

The majority of people only visit Agra for a day or two, to see the Taj and perhaps Agra Fort. In fact we met a young family on our train to Delhi who had visited the Taj as a day trip from Delhi! However, we are all for promoting slow travel, especially when travelling with young kids. If you have more time in Agra, these are all worth a visit; Itumad-ud-Daulah (nicknamed Baby Taj), Kinari Bazaar (for some shopping) and Mehtab Bagh (a lovely park with gardens and more special views of the Taj).

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To read more about travelling India with young kids, head to our India page.


Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet

You may also like to read:
Our Northern India itinerary with young kids
Travelling India with young kids – is it worth it?
Kochi with kids: top 5 things to do

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70 thoughts on “Visiting the Taj Mahal with young kids

  1. This Blog should have been in the Sunday Times travel section, it’s that good, full of humor and facts.The information provided will be invaluable to first-time visitors with or without kids.

  2. I love this article, how wonderful you were able to take your kids there. Ive been just once, and plan to go again with my family for that cheesy shot in the front. My parents have one just like it with our family when we were toddlers. Great tips about the food situation and the hotel recommendation!! I find it so funny that people request to take photos of you, i know how strange that is, but being an Indian myself, I totally know that its acceptable there and they do it without any shame. Lol. You’re a really good sport about it.

    1. How wonderful you have a pic of you there as toddlers. Must be lovely to look back on.
      The selfie thing is really difficult for westerners. People can get quite forceful about it – my little ones have been forcefully pulled away on occasion, even though they’re screaming no. Quite awful 😦 But the majority just ask and then seem fine when we say no. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  3. Not being able to bring food in would be a challenge for us. We have to bring snacks everywhere we go for our kids. And we had our first experience of people wanting to take selfies with us a few weeks ago (at Disneyland of all places) and I felt it a little odd, yet amusing. #citytripping

    1. It was indeed a huge challenge for us. My boys got VERY hungry. Still, we felt we spent the right amount of time there. We treated them to chocolate pancakes from the rooftop restaurant afterwards. Which Disneyland were you at? The selfie requests here in India can get rather tiresome.
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. These are such great tips – and I love that you went and did this with two young kids. If that doesn’t prove family travel is possible, I don’t know what does! I had no idea they were so strict about snacks (though makes sense) – and fab photos to remember. The Taj Mahal episode of Go Jetters has stuck in my daughter’s mind so I know she’d be jealous. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  5. Friday is usually one of my favorite days for sightseeing, how unfortunate that the Taj mal is closed on that day. Thanks for sharing such an insightful article! I am a huge lover of historical and religious monuments.

  6. To be honest, when I go and visit things with kids it is from pure selfishness – they have to come because I want to go! They do often get a lot out of it though – as yours clearly did. Great! And I agree that actively trying to avoid the tantrums means I enjoy it more! This is a very down to earth, useful guide. No snacks though! Not sure mine would survive!

  7. You did so well with the photos. Love the wrestling photo- definitely one for their 18ths! It’s such a landmark building and it’s great that they recognise it in print or TV. Useful to know it’s closed Friday’s too! ‪#familytraveltips‬

  8. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    This is such a great read – so informative with tips and the little map too. I love the photos of your boys – you will all love looking at them in years to come.
    Great deal on the hotel – it looks amazing.
    #MondayEscapes

  9. How could you not take them to the Taj Mahal?!?! And your pictures of it are amazing! The most frightening part would be to go without snacks! LOL! My little guy carried around a snack cup with cheerios for most of our month in Norway!

  10. Wow – gorgeous photos and must have been such a great place to visit. One of the places I want to visit one day! I suppose kids don’t really appreciate these things that much (mine always whines ha ha), but it is still fun to visit amazing places like this with them – at least they will have the pictures when they are older 🙂 #citytripping

  11. travelingchristie

    Such gorgeous photos as usual, I would so love to visit, its incredible how busy it gets but no doubt so worth it, I cant believe how cheap the Hilton is ! Thanks so much for linking up #Mondayescapes x

  12. Lisa (Travel Loving Family)

    Isn’t it amazing that our kids have heard of places we would have had no idea about as kids because of programmes like Go Jetters! Great article Jenny. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  13. Wow, as always I’m totally fascinated by your wonderful adventures. The Taj Mahal looks beautiful and I agree with you that it’s totally worth taking the children there. Two hours is a long time without food for little ones isn’t it? It sounds like they coped well though. Your hotel looked beautiful as well, we stayed in a doubletree by Hilton recently and they’re fabulous.
    Thanks for linking up to #FamilyTravelTips
    Nat.x

    1. Thanks Nat. We have such wonderful memories of this trip and still giggle at the image of the boys wrestling infront of the Taj. Rather annoying about the snacks, but we survived and had the lovely Hilton DoubleTree to retreat to. Thanks for reading 😊

  14. Great to read about your experience and what an important guide to going to the Taj – with and without kids. The no food policy must be quite tricky (knowing my two) but all worth it. Absolutely love the photo of the boys wrestling. That’s what it’s all about…making travel memories and capturing a moment in time.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. The Go Jetters Taj episode was on recently and they both got excited, pointing to the tv, saying “we’ve been there!” As for the snacks – I really should have hidden them better…

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  18. These are brilliant tips to encourage families to visit the Taj Mahal. I’d love to visit India but we may wait a few years until our son is a bit older. And I’d be one for getting up early to get “the shot”. Pinning this post for future reference! #fearlessfamtrav

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