The Taj Majal at Sunrise: A Photo Essay

Before leaving India I knew I’d have to make one last stop- the Taj Majal.

The Taj Majal is located in Agra, a few hours south of New Delhi. Built in memory of the Emperor’s third and favorite wife Mumtāz Mahal, the Taj Majal is one of the world’s most beautiful examples of Mughal architecture in the world. But you already knew that, right?

Honestly, I didn’t really want to see the Taj Majal. I kind of resent “the things you have to see while traveling” because the list is just so damn long.

So we awoke before dawn to see the Taj Majal in all its splendor. Impressions? It was smaller than I thought but the early morning light turned the marble a pretty shade of pink-orange conch shell. And dawn turned out to be an excellent time to visit, as the temperature is cool and the crowds are minimal.

Of course, we took the super touristy optical illusion and Princess-Di-on-a-bench shots. Obviously.

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And okay no, the Taj Majal isn’t my favorite tourist attraction in Asia. (I’m looking at you, Angkor Wat.) But I’m still glad to have laid eyes on it, and am especially grateful we went at dawn.

Mini Taj Majal Travel Guide:

Where we stayed: the ITC Mughal. It’s a steal with SPG points!

Where we ate: Peshawri. Amazing!

How we got there: We hired a private car from Le Meridién and it was a huge rip-off- something like $80 a person! Unfortunately all the trains were booked weeks in advance so we couldn’t take a train. The highways were an absolute joy though- a world away from the dirt roads on the way to Rishikesh!

Is the Taj Majal on your bucket list?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

40 thoughts on “The Taj Majal at Sunrise: A Photo Essay”

    • Yeah India’s intense- it makes Southeast Asia look like child’s play, at least as far as getting out of your comfort zone is concerned. But it’s worth going- at least for me, I think out of every country I’ve been to changed me the most, and made me a better, more confident person.

  1. Lovely photos! It pleases me to see that it is possible to be there without a horde of people clogging up every shot. I’m such a sucker for ‘must-see’ attractions – I can hardly ever say no if they’re nearby, even if my heart isn’t really in it. Generally, they are quite pleasant and I end up glad that I went.

    It just occurred to me that I’ve never seen photos of the interior of the Taj Mahal. Can you go inside?

    • I know I do the same! Otherwise I get home and say to myself- I was so close, how did I miss out? I did go inside- the detail in the marble is gorgeous. I probably should’ve put some photos, whoops…

  2. It looks stunning in your photos. I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time at dawn after driving overnight on a bus. It was beautiful and much less crowded!

  3. I am so, so not a morning person – until I travel, and then I will get up early for anything just to avoid crowds. Looks like morning was the perfect time to go! Beautiful photos :)

  4. I always have mixed feelings about the “must-see” places. I absolutely hated the Forbidden City in Beijing and only went because its a big deal… but then I always worry that I’m missing something important if I don’t see it…. Your pictures are lovely either way.

  5. I too did the sunrise at the Taj. I feel I did so many sunrise things… but this is what this part of the world begs for. As you say… it just colours the world just so. Very apropos for an already colourful place like India.

  6. I was also kind of mehh about the Taj. I mean yes it’s amazing and gorgeous but I had seen so much “stuff” already and was kind of touristed-out… but I actually took a local bus just a short 4 hours I think from Delhi and it was quite a nice ride for something like 30 rupees – they go all day from Delhi & also if you don’t want to go tooooo local you can get a tour company bus (Volvo) and pay about 200-300 for a round trip and they wait for you. PS love your outfit here.

  7. Seeing the Taj Majal is definitely on my to do list, but I understand how you’d feel like it’s not the most impressive site in Asia. Angkor Wat is one of my favorite places in Asia — it’s really tough to beat those amazing temples. The Taj Majal does look magnificent though. Apparently going at sunrise was smart because it looks surprisingly uncrowded!

  8. So beautiful! I should learn to do my sightseeing this early in the morning — the light looks amazing and there are barely other tourists in your shots! I especially adore the photo with the white flowers!

  9. I’m also not a huge fan of must-see travel – usually because the crowds are so thick you can hardly move. But the Taj Mahal at sunset has definitely been added to my list because it’s so beautiful!

  10. Yep, definitely in my wish list. Simply because I’ve always been fascinated by Indian architecture and the Taj Majal has always intrigued me. Thanks for the pictures! So beautiful.

  11. That’s amazing how uncrowded it was! When I went back in March it was so so crowded (undoubtedly because we went at sunset), but still an amazing experience! I actually really enjoyed Taj Mahal! x

  12. Gorgeous photos! I visited the Taj Mahal a couple of years ago and the first time I went it was so foggy we couldn’t even see it! We could barely see a few metres in front of us, let alone the full view. It was so depressing after making the effort to go all the way there! I had some spare time in Delhi a week later, so I made a second trip, and luckily got to see it in all its splendour. Phew!

  13. Beautiful photos, as always! I want to go to India so badly it’s stupid. This only makes my India-lust that much stronger!! Going at dawn seems like a pretty genius idea to me. I’m always trying to find ways to avoid crowds (especially for the sake of getting good photos!)

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