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  • Writer's picturePriyantha Bandara

Going to Photograph the Taj Mahal? Then read this first

Can you take photographs in the Taj Mahal? What kind of photography and equipment is allowed in the Taj Mahal? Read on to find out

When you say India there are a couple of things coming to your mind. And if the Taj Mahal is one of them, it's nothing surprising. And it is in the bucket list of many tourists and travel photographers. But, how much do you really know about the Taj Mahal and visiting it and especially taking photographs there? I write this article with my experience of photographing at the Taj Mahal and I'm sure this will come in handy for anyone with similar interests.

I'm not going to waste your time explaining how to get to the Taj Mahal. There are plenty of resources for that already.

But if one of your main goals is to capture the beauty of the place against the sunrise, then I don't have to tell you that you should reach the Taj Mahal before the sunrise time. And for its glory, the Taj Mahal is well known for its morning beauty and many tourists flock the place from early as 4.30 am so that they can beat the queue. However, from my experience, being in the queue before 5.30 am is good enough. Still, a fair warning is that the sunrise can be tricky at the Taj Mahal as the area is quite foggy in most mornings, and when the fog clears the sunrise is gone. This was my fate as well. But I had a good time shooting other stuff as sunrise is just a part of it.

ok to start answering the big questions. Can you take photographs in the Taj Mahal? Yes! it's obvious as the Taj Mahal is one of the most photographed locations in the world. But, the tricky part is what kind of photography and equipment are allowed there.

Basically, you can take any type of camera unless they are specifically made for commercial use such as big video cameras. While photography is allowed with certain restrictions, videography is completely restricted. When I say by photography with restrictions, what I meant was photography using tripods or drones are not allowed. This means if you are a landscape photographer who uses multiple exposures to do your craft, it will be difficult for you without the tripod. So be prepared to shoot without one. I left my tripod in the car and most of the time shot single exposures. And when there was a possibility I kept my camera on a wall or a bench to get some multiple exposures. Or I leaned my self against something to get the camera stable. But still seconds long exposures was a challenge. so that's pretty much it about the equipment. But I heard that you can take permission to shoot videos there but I'm not sure how long and what kind of a process you should go through.

So when it comes to the location and the photography opportunities, there are few tips I can mention. The building has 4 main areas if you cover the full round. First, you come to the gate. The West gate is the main gate that the majority of local Indian visitors enter through, and it generally has the longest lines. However, it's the preferred option at sunrise to avoid the crowds at the East gate. But the walk toward the gate and entrance has little to offer for photographers. But the walk itself will make you feel like a king.

Then you enter the amazing garden area with the walking path towards the main building. You will see ample photography opportunities from this point and just keep shooting forward as the view becomes increasingly magnificent as you get closer to it.

The third key area for photographers is the mosque. You will come across the mosque before you walk toward the main mausoleum building. The mosque is built with red granite (has the resemblance of the Jama Masjid in Delhi as they are from the same era) and it's old as the Taj Mahal itself. What's great about the mosque is that from inside of it you can see the Taj Mahal beautifully framed. And plenty of locals walkabout so that there are some great opportunities to include people in the shots as well. Otherwise, people against the Taj Mahal is not easy to capture as the Taj Mahal is huge. I took plenty of time in the mosque area.

The 4th and the final area you get to photograph is the upper area of the Taj Mahal also known as the Crown of the Palace, where the mausoleum is situated. You are permitted to photograph around the mausoleum, but photographing inside is not allowed. But, I urge you to go in and have a look, as it's one amazing architecture work there. I was jaw-dropped by seeing the beautiful craftsmanship.

And the mausoleum walls are made with white marble and crafted with mind-blowing designs using a variety of colorful granite pieces. This work of art is simply beautiful.

While the Taj Mahal is open till 6.00 pm I was not able to spend the full day there as I had other plans as well. So my visit with the full set of photographs took me few hours and by around 9.30 am I was done.

The Taj Mahal is a place that you might want to visit more than once. There is no amusement about it as the place looks beautiful and larger than you see in any of the photos. And what you should remember is to avoid Fridays, as the place is closed for tourists.

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