Security at the Taj Mahal
Strict security is in place at the Taj Mahal and there are checkpoints at the entrances. Your bag will be scanned and searched. Large bags and day packs are not allowed inside. Only small envelopes containing essential items are allowed. This includes one cell phone, one camera and one bottle of water per person. You cannot bring in edible products, tobacco products or lighters, electrical items (including phone chargers, headphones, iPads, flashlights), knives or camera tripods. Cell phones are also banned during night vision sessions, although cameras are still allowed. Luggage storage is provided at the entrance gates.
Guides and audio guides
If you want to marvel at the Taj Mahal without the distraction of having a tour guide with you, government-approved AudioCompass provides an official and inexpensive Taj Mahal audio guide on its mobile phone app. It is available in many foreign and Indian languages including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese.
See the Taj Mahal without going inside
If you don’t want to pay the expensive admission fee or fight the crowds, you can get great views of the Taj across the river bank. This is ideal for sunset. Once this place is Mehtab Bagh – a 25-acre Mughal garden complex directly in front of the monument. The entrance fee is 200 rupees for foreigners and 20 rupees for Indians, and it is open until sunset. Unfortunately, an unsightly barbed wire fence has been erected next to the river to prevent tourists from wandering along the river.
It is possible to take a rowboat on the river. Walk down the path along the east wall of the Taj Mahal to the riverside temple where you will find the boatmen.
There is also a little-known abandoned watchtower on a sandy field on the eastern side of the Taj Mahal. It is an ideal spot for a great sunset view of the monument. Reach it by heading east from the East Gate and turning right at the fork. Pay the official 50 rupees to enter.
Uttar Pradesh Tourism’s Taj Khema hotel also offers remarkable views of the Taj Mahal from its gardens. In early 2015, a new marble bench was installed on a mound, mainly for visitors. Sip tea and watch the sunset! The hotel is located approximately 200 meters from the monument, on the eastern side. It is a government run establishment, so don’t expect great service.
Another option is the roof of the Saniya Palace hotel on the southern side of the Taj Mahal.