Visiting the Taj Mahal by Moonlight involves bureaucracy, tight security, the risk of fog in January and February and you aren’t even allowed to get very close, but the silvery gleam of the white marble and the shimmer of precious inlay stones through the darkness makes it all worthwhile.
The Taj Mahal is open at night for five nights a month when there is a full moon, and for 2 days before and 2 days after except on Fridays when it is always closed for prayer and during the month of Ramzan (Ramadan).
You have to apply for tickets the day before you want to go, you cannot buy them for the same day – and the ticket office is at the Archaeological Survey of India office at 22 Mall Road, telephone 0562 222 7263 or 222 7261. To get there you go to the Shilpgram parking lot (from the eastern gate of the Taj Mahal it’s past the Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel) between 10am and 6pm, and from where you will be collected and taken by van to the office. You will need to take your passport so that your name, date of birth, nationality and passport number will be recorded, tickets cost 750 Rupees and are not transferrable. Each evening, 400 people in 8 groups of 50 are allowed to the first platform which is about 350 metres away from the main building, for 30 minutes between 8.30pm and 12.30am, but you must get there half an hour before the time on your ticket for security checks and x-rays. You can bring binoculars and cameras but not video cameras, handbags, tripods, tobacco, matches, food or mobile phones.
Full moon dates in the rest of 2011 and 2012 are as follows, so you can apply to see the Taj Mahal by moonlight on these dates plus 2 days before and 2 days after;
10 November 2011,
10 December 2011,
8 January 2012,
7 February 2012,
8 March 2012,
6 April 2012 (NOTE that the 6 April is a Friday and the Taj Mahal is closed on that day),
5 May 2012,
3 June 2012,
3 July 2012, (NOTE the full moon of 1 August falls during Ramadan and so there is no moonlight viewing),
30 August 2012,
29 September 2012,
29 October 2012,
27 November 2012 ,
27 December 2012.
If you would like to visit the Taj Mahal by moonlight but are not able to buy tickets 24 hours in advance, ReadyClickAndGo can arrange the entry tickets for you as part of their selection of private day trips in Agra with your own guide, car and driver. If you are not staying in Agra you can book a same-day Agra tour from Delhi, and a comfortable, air-conditioned car will pick you up from your hotel in Delhi and take you to Agra where you meet your guide for the day. After exploring Agra Fort and the ‘baby taj’ you can enjoy viewing the Taj Mahal before returning to your hotel in Delhi. Email Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com