Visiting the Taj Mahal – Facts and Information

In my last trip to India, I had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal for an afternoon.

I’m quite a fan of India as a country, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a peek at the Taj Mahal and see what it was all about.

The Taj Mahal is certainly inspiring I thought and a great place for taking taking photos to impress your family or friends back home.

Taj Mahal by night
Taj Mahal by night (Source: Prasit Chansareekorn, Flickr)

I’d have to say, if I was asked, that the ivory-white marble mausoleum was my favorite part of the Taj Mahal – of course all of it is impressive, however.

I’ve written all about what I learnt, facts and information in the paragraphs below to help you, if you’re considering visiting the Taj Mahal.

History of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is widely known as “Crown of Palaces”, and is basically an ivory-white marble mausoleum located on the south bank of the Yamuna stream in the Indian city of Agra.

It was first built in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan; as he wanted somewhere to house the tomb of his favorite spouse, Mumtaz Mahal.

Taj Mahal front view
Taj Mahal front view (Source: Rckr88, Flickr)

She passed away during  the birth of their 14th child named Gauhara Begum in 1631.

The actual grave is the centerpiece of the 42-acre complex, which also consists of a mosque and a visitor house, and set in formal gardens surrounded on three sides by a crenelated wall.

While the planning  and building of the Taj Mahal started in 1632, the marble mausoleum was finished in 1643 and the adjoining buildings and garden were completed about five years later.

The Taj Mahal was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the pride of Muslim art work in India”.  And described by the Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, as “the tear-drop on the cheek of time”.

Taj Mahal inside
Taj Mahal inside (Source: Javier Peleteiro, Flickr)

It’s considered by many as the best example of Mughal architectural mastery and a symbolic representation of India’s vibrant historical past, and attracts 7-8 million guests a year.

Lastly in 2007, it was announced a winner of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

You can find a longer description of the Tak Mahal on the Taj Mahal Wikipedia page.

Facilities in Taj Mahal

Cloak room

The cloakroom is open  8:00 A.M To 5:00 P.M. and cloakroom available in the following locations:

  • Taj Mahal Western Gate :- Lockers are available at Taj Shopping Complex, near Western gate. (Fee is charged)
  • Taj Mahal Eastern Gate:- Lockers are available at shilpgram. (About 750 meters from Eastern gate of Taj Mahal) (No fee is charged)
  • Taj Mahal Southern Gate :- Locker are available at Southern gate. (No fee is charged)

Video Locker
A video locker is available inside the Royal Gate, where guests can store their video equipment securely.

Taj Mahal Entry Fee
1. Foreign tourist : 750/-
2. Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries : 510/-
3. Domestic/Indian : 20/-

Taj Mahal Visiting Hours
Sunrise to Sunset and Friday it’s closed

Taj Mahal Location
Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001

7 Things Everyone Should Do in Pai

When you consider where to travel in Thailand, Bangkok is usually top of the list and Thailand’s various tropical islands.

But, Thailand has other destinations that might suit other types of people, since not everyone loves the beach and water.

Just outside of Chiang Mai you’ll find an untapped Thai town to experience, which is off the beaten track, called Pai.

While it’s not that well known about in tourist circles, it is popular in the backpacker community, and has evolved slightly in that direction in terms of its vibe: european-chic or 60’s hippie.

Pai is definitely worth vising if you’ve the chance on your next trip to Thailand or if you’re planning to go to Chiang Mai.

We’ve put together a list of seven of the top things to do in Pai below to keep you on track.

Seven of Pai’s Best Attractions

1. Pai’s Canyon

You’ve probably heard that Pai Canyon is just like the Grand Canyon in the US. It is, but just on a smaller scale and less red looking.

Pai Canyon (Source Darrell Nieberding Flickr)

What you’ll notice about Pai Canyon is just how scenic it is as you explore the various trails it has to offer. While the actual trails snake and wind through the narrow canyon.

2. Walking Street

Shopping in Pai centers around Walking Street, just like in other Thai towns and cities. This is the place to go to buy any toiletries and to get discount clothing suitable for traveling.

There are also various street vendors selling Thai street food – Pai’s Pad Thai is particular tasty if you’re not sure what to try.

Walking Street is also the main drag where the night market happens, which starts at 3pm and carries on until 3am.

Note, there are a lot of bargains to be had at Pai’s night markets, however, be conscious of what you’re buying as it may more than likely be fake.

3. Thom’s Elephant Camp and Elephant Trekking

Something different to do in Pai is Elephant trekking if you can stand riding on top of a five tonne animal.

Thom’s Elephant Camp (Source: hmigliaccio, Flickr)

Elephant trekking tours in Pai are available for one-offs for an hour or optionally as whole day tours for around 1500 baht.

4. Pai Nightlife

Pai also has an active night life and much to offer any type of traveler or tourist. It’s commonly thought to be better than Chiang Mai’s nightlife too.

The only downside is a lot of the bars close early due to a curfew that’s in place.

A few recommended places to try are: Why Not Bar, Punk Blah Blar Bar and Don’t Cry Bar.

5. Pai Hot Springs

As well as trekking opportunities you can relax a little in Pai. The Tha Pai Hot Springs come highly recommended.

These are about 7 kilometers north of Pai. And, where you can bathe in the hot spring and then cool off in the stream nearby – all while you’re surrounded by Thai jungle and forestry.

6. Pai Land Split

The Pai Land Split, or Pai Land Crack depending on who you’re talking to and the translation from Thai, is worth seeing too.

It’s basically a gaping hole in the ground that appeared one day out of nowhere in a farmers field.

The farmer decided to turn his misfortune into a positive thing by creating the “Pai Land Split” tourist attraction.

6. Pai Waterfalls

Pai has two waterfalls that are both worth seeing, and trying if you fancy getting a little wet and experiencing a scene like “The Beach” movie.

Mhor Phaeng

This waterfall is just how you might picture a waterfall to be in your mind’s eye. The water is loud and flows into a large pool below, all amidst a tropical jungle setting.

You can’t go wrong visiting this waterfall, and if you’re short on time, this is the better of the two.

Pembok

This waterfall is smaller than the other one, but is probably more suitable for swimming and having a little fun if you’ve children with you.

There is a large rock towering over the pool below you can jump off, while the jungle nearby has hiking trails you can also try with a tour guide.

How to get to Pai

The only way to get to Pai is by bus from Chiang Mai unless you drive.

Most tourists don’t hire cars in Thailand and get public transport instead so we’ll mention how to get to Pai by bus only.

The mini buses that go from Chiang Mai depart daily and cost around 250 baht, while the trip there takes around 3 hours.

Note, the bus stops only once for bathroom breaks.

Pai bus station is near Pai Walking Street for going back.

The Benefits of Traveling and How it Changes You (Part 1)

This post is about the benefits of traveling and how seeing the world can actually make you a better person.

Before taking the plunge and getting a plane ticket to some exotic destination I was a recluse.

I stayed in my room and played computer games, surfed the internet and fiddled with car mechanics, a little, every now and again.

Then I met a girl. It wasn’t the girl I planned on meeting. But, when I saw her friend I froze up, so I made a bee-line for the other one.

The one I ended up with and speaking about here.

The setting is even stranger: we met on a dance floor that rotated, and it was on a former cruise ship which had been converted into a nightclub.

Very strange, I know.

Even stranger was I had been consuming a lot, indeed pint glasses full, of vodka and Skol (lager). If that is even a drink. Who knows.

But, it gave me enough courage to meet the other friend, regardless.

The girl was named Claire I found out in between all my grinding and pretty much forcing myself on her, and finger pointing to the fact “Brown Eyed Girl” was playing and she had brown eyes.

It turns out later she had blue eyes in the light of day. That’s vodka and Skol for you.

Anyway, fast-forward three months, and we’re pretty much inseparable and planning the rest of our lives together.

Next thing, we’ve booked a holiday to Rhodes in Crete to see one of the seven wonders of the world.

It’s my first trip abroad. I even had to get a passport for it. And, also the first time I’ve been on an airplane.

So already, before even actually traveling I’m a changed man, perhaps more evolved, and worldly I should say.

This is just the start too of my travel adventures though.

In the next post, I’ll continue with this discussion on the benefits and how traveling changes you.