Cheated (But still Impressed) at the Taj Mahal

By Mark Wiens 51 Comments
The stunning Taj Mahal in Agra, India!
The stunning Taj Mahal in Agra, India!

Probably the most famous attraction in all of India is the Taj Mahal.

Like the Egyptian pyramids in Cairo, just about everyone, whether they like to travel or not, wants to see the Taj Mahal in person at some point.

While traveling through North India en-route to Delhi, I was finally able to visit Agra, and check out this majestic structure.

750 Rupees for a ticket
750 Rupees for a ticket

The Cheat…

Because I travel a lot, doesn’t mean I’m immune to being ripped off or cheated!

At 750 Rupees per person (for foreigners), entrance fee to the Taj Mahal doesn’t come cheap.

To purchase your ticket, you go to one of the ticket offices located outside of the gates, line up, and get your ticket. Along with your ticket you’ll get a map, shoe covers, and a bottle of water.

It wasn’t until hours later, when I was about to pay for dinner after spending hours at the Taj Mahal, when I noticed how I got cheated.

I was shorthanded change when I purchased our tickets… and not just by a few bucks, but by a full 500 Rupees ($9.26)!

Now it’s slightly possible that the ticket vendor made a mistake, but it’s more likely that the vendor shorthanded me on purpose and received a very nice tip for himself.

One of the reasons I presume this is because the same exact thing happened to me multiple times later at Delhi attractions like Qutub Minar. After paying for my ticket I was shorthanded change by a few hundred Rupees, and after counting my money, I went back to the ticket vendor who didn’t even say anything but just handed me the change I was supposed to get, while looking away (even if the ticket vendor succeeds 50% of the time, he’s making some serious tips).

Anyways, rather than focus on the negative, it’s a positive reminder that it’s OUR job to check if we’ve been given the correct change (don’t slack, like I did)!

Famous view of the Taj Mahal from the gate
Famous view of the Taj Mahal from the gate

I proceeded on through the tight security, and yes, I had to take that famous shot through the gate that everyone who visits the Taj Mahal takes.

On my way to the restroom
On my way to the restroom

Another tip: If you go to the restroom at the Taj Mahal (and you’re a foreigner), don’t pay to use the toilet. There’s a big sign that says foreigners don’t need to pay to use the toilet (while Indian national do have to pay). However, I saw one instance where someone was standing blocking the sign, and then I saw a foreigner go into the toilet while asked to pay the small fee. Don’t pay!

Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Back over to the beauty of the Taj Mahal!

Beautiful colors with the Taj Mahal in the background
Beautiful colors with the Taj Mahal in the background

It was a busy weekend afternoon when I set foot into the Taj Mahal.

This white marble mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan, in memory of his wife – that’s the reason it’s so well known as a symbol of love.

The Taj Mahal is a masterpiece of Mughal Islamic architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and occasionally makes the top man-made wonder of the world lists.

My new shoes!
My new shoes!

After walking around the gardens, it was time to enter the mausoleum, which is where the shoe covers come into use. Since the Taj Mahal is made from marble, marking it up with rubber soles wouldn’t be a nice thing.

Photo taking is the most popular activity at the Taj Mahal!
Photo taking is the most popular activity at the Taj Mahal!

On the top deck of the Taj Mahal, it was again a photo snapping frenzy as everyone waited (or didn’t wait), their turn to get the perfect portrait with the famous structure in the background.

We entered the mausoleum, and actually it was so busy the day I went that I could see the tombs, but other than that it was just a large dark cave-like interior.

Despite the strictly no photo taking policy inside the tomb, hundreds of people were flashing their cameras and cell phones shamelessly.

Marble carvings at the Taj Mahal
Marble carvings at the Taj Mahal

Though we often see the view of the Taj Mahal form a distance, if you stop to notice the detail, you’ll also be amazed. The marble carved decorations are truly remarkable as well.

Viewing up at one of the archways at the Taj Mahal
Viewing up at one of the archways at the Taj Mahal

All the patterns and the geometric shapes on such a huge scale were amazing to see.

Taj Mahal detail
Taj Mahal detail

Here’s another shot of some of the details on the Taj Mahal, including some floral designs and colorful flowers.

Mosque at the Taj Mahal
Mosque at the Taj Mahal

On two sides of the Taj Mahal are mosques, huge and nicely designed structure as well. You can walk around them, but there’s not much to see apart from the far off view.

Here’s a video of my time at the Taj Mahal:

You can also watch it here on YouTube.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Taj Mahal, Agra, India

So, is the Taj Mahal worth visiting?

A huge yes, in my opinion!

Despite the hype (and the temporary horrible feeling of being ripped off) that the Taj Mahal receives, I really did think it was an amazing, mind blowing attraction to witness. The craftsmanship and the magnitude is unbelievable. I was almost in a dream the entire time I was there!

Have you seen the Taj Mahal, or would you like to?

51 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Raimon

    7 years ago

    Hi, Mark. I just was last week in Agra and I back angry about scams and attempts of scams. I suffer the scam that you describe in Taj Mahal and attempts is Red Ford (Delhi) and Fatehpur Sikri. In Taj, ticket vendor give me the ticked with no change while he was explaining me things about water, shoe covers, cloak room, etc, and I did’t relize. But worse in Agra are rickshaw drivers and other touts going after you all the time. I’m a solo traveller and, perhaps, is even worse. I’m staying three months in Delhi and are not so pushy even in touristic areas.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Raimon, sorry to hear you had some bad luck with the scammers too. Hope you’re still enjoying your time in India. I really like Delhi!

      • Mayank

        6 years ago

        It is next to impossible you got cheated. This is because in india you have 50 100 rupee notes,500 rupee notes, 1000 rupee notes. The charges for entry to Taj mahal are 750. The maximum amount you would hand over for this would be 1000. You would either give a 1000 rupee note or two 500 rupee notes. It can be seen that you did get some money back. you were shortchanged by someone else, or just made a calculation mistake. No way anyone would pay with three 500 rupee notes in order to pay 750.

  • Amit

    8 years ago

    if you think you are being cheated you must complaint to Authorities.

  • Pepperlam

    8 years ago

    Mark, the expression on your face when you eat is priceless. You really physically express your enjoyment of each food. I can never get use to your enjoyment and the verbal description of the foods. With each video, I’m totally impressed. Keep eating and enjoying!

  • Donna Brown

    8 years ago

    We loved the Taj and the baby Taj. I hope you took time to visit the fort. It was incredible. I loved it all…

  • Gaye @ Pinay Travel Junkie

    8 years ago

    We’ve only been to Tamil Nadu and we were never ripped off the whole 8-day journey. Guess we’re lucky. Definitely coming back for Taj Mahal and will keep this tip in mind, fo sho.

  • Anil

    8 years ago

    Sorry to hear about the cheat, but I agree with you that the Taj Mahal is one of the world wonders that really lives up to its high expectations.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Yes Anil, good to hear you think highly of the Taj Mahal as well!

  • Marx

    8 years ago

    Is it true that you have to purchase admission ticket to Taj Mahal at least a day before?

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      No, not in my experience Marx. I purchased right before entering.

  • Arti

    8 years ago

    Its sad to know that you were fleeced but glad to know that you thoroughly enjoyed the magnificient Taj!! Wonderful snaps of the most visited place in India 🙂

  • Julio Moreno

    8 years ago

    Man, it happens. Try to look at it on the bright side. You will hardly miss 10 bucks, and you saw a world icon.
    Pictures look amazing. Despite the Taj Mahal’s prestige, Ive never seen a picture other than right in front of it… so nice to see the other pics too.

  • fred mucai

    8 years ago

    Indians under Shah Jahan may have thought the Taj Mahal to be an extravagance but i think it has recouped its original cost a million times over. Great post.

  • Jens

    8 years ago

    hehe, classic cheating 🙂 I had the same experience in Hanoi a multiple times. Also the experience of getting a rigged meter taxi (more or less my own fault, ended up at Hanoi Central Station early in the morning from Sapa, and took one of the taxis who came forward to me saying taxi? The funny thing is, I would never take one of those at Hualampong, I know all to well how they work, and a fare to Phra Nakhon that should cost 60 baht will be 120-200 baht.

    Anyway, although it’s annoying to loose money, I still find this kind (the cashier handing back too little) quite harmless. There are way worse scams around, and from your expressions in your videos I guess you are quite good at avoiding them, or possibly good at keeping a good spirit 🙂 (or perhaps the bad spirit is only seen outside of cam, haha 😉 )

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Jens, thanks for sharing about your experiences, yup it happens to us when we travel! I agree, it’s annoying, but at least it’s harmless and no ones gets hurt. It’s just a reminder to look out!

  • Bama

    8 years ago

    I’m really sorry for what you went through at Taj Mahal, but I guess such thing happens in many other places, taking so many different forms. I remember watching a TV documentary on the monument of love and I was amazed with how meticulously designed it was. I guess this is one of the places in the world which will always be worth the visit despite the crowd.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Bama! Yes, the love story behind the Taj Mahal is truly amazing and I think you’re right, it will always be one of the top places to visit in the world.

  • Andy

    8 years ago

    Despite the bad experience, you still able to enjoy the magnificent view of Taj Mahal. I hope many people will able to learn from your experience and take full precautions for themselves.

  • Anwesha

    8 years ago

    Hey Mark, as always, I love your post.
    I have a few observations:
    1. Yes, my India is a poor country and to people looking for an easy buck, foreigners make for easy prey. But this is the case with more ‘advanced’ countries like Italy too, is it not? When you are travelling abroad, you have to be extra careful, period.
    2.Foreigners pay more at all Indian monuments which are internationally famous because the entry fee for them is kept at par with other famous attractions the world over. This also helps reduce the entry fee for Indian, most of whom otherwise would not be able to afford visiting the heritage sites of their own motherland. In returns, perks like free toilet use, etc are included in the foreigners’ ticket. 🙂
    I am so happy always to read about your travels and your wonder and joy at all things new. I also subscribed to your YT channel and that is such a source of pleasure for me.
    Ahhh, long comment. Till next time 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Anwesha, thank you so much for following and for you insights. Yes, I agree with you, we need to be alert travelers no matter where we are!

  • narisra

    8 years ago

    Impressive historical site with fascinated architectural details. I was there December 2013. It was a bright day with clear blue sky. Very cleaver and well thought out location ,engineering, and architect. One should visit once.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Great to hear from you Narisra, glad you enjoyed it too!

  • Nash

    8 years ago

    Hi Mark how are you doing, I am from India, North India has the biggest cheats in India and New Delhi, even the temple priests are cheats, if they think you have money or your in a tour group they will hound you for your money and if they dont thing you have given them enough well run.
    Next time visit the Southern part more well educated people and less cheats, but watch out for the 3 wheel taxi drivers in Chennai they are the next biggest cheats. Mumbai everyone is good no need to worry.

    cheers

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing Nash. I would love to visit South India on my next trip!

  • Noel

    8 years ago

    Sorry to hear that you were short-changed, but kudos on going back to get your change back. And thanks for reminder us about it. WOW! The Taj Mahal is a beauty. It’s one of the last 2 new seven wonders of the world I haven’t been to. Can’t wait to go there soon.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thanks for reading Noel, hope you can visit soon!

  • Dean

    8 years ago

    I don’t think a place like the Taj Mahal could ever be disappointing. I have a real problem with remembering to count my change when I travel. I think I’ve been ripped off a few times in that way.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Dean, I agree, it’s just amazing. It was a wake up call for me too!

  • Stevej

    8 years ago

    I would love to go back to the Taj Mahal, it’s just a pity you have too put up with Indians trying to rip you off at every corner.
    I live in Australia and we are branded racist when someone with different coloured skin gets in trouble or gets ripped off, yet when in asia everything is two price’s, one for locals and one for foreigners. If that happens here, all hell breaks loose and the racism card comes out, and yet, when catching a taxi anywhere, guess which nationality the driver is and guess how many times they try and rip you off?

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Stevej, it is definitely unfortunate, especially in such an internationally visited place.

    • Aahna Saxena

      7 years ago

      How can you compare yourself with an Indian? Rs 750 is 10% of an Indian’s average monthly income, whereas for you it’s just 0.1 to 0.2% of your monthly income. A very few Indians can afford Rs 750 to watch Taj Mahal.

      If we charge same amount from foreigners, how will we manage the monument ?

      • David

        7 years ago

        Not all Indians are poor and it is racist to charge foreigners more. Imagine doing that in the UK! We would be in jail for it. Then I guess we are more civilized.

  • Max neumegen

    8 years ago

    Did my first post get to you? I cannot see it here. Ugg
    Iphone Facebook random ability !

  • Max neumegen

    8 years ago

    Was there anyone singing or reciting the Koran inside when u where there? Or just toooo many people? Now that place does have beautiful acoustics. I sat for hours listening to the echo. I wish I had video ability way back then in 1978. Ahhh , but few people then. Memories.

  • Max neumegen

    8 years ago

    See, you could have just walked in on the two side entrances by moon river.
    Pity the gardener’s private garden is not there any more on the left corner through the second entrance. You would have liked that. One of the most beautiful peaceful places I have had the pleasure to discover in our little world.
    One of many things that has gone from this world, Ever changing to make more room for the “tourist”.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thanks again Max, that would have been so cool!

  • Barbara

    8 years ago

    They have shoe covers at the Taj Mahal now??? What a great idea. I actually had my shoes stolen from outside the Taj Mahal. The barefooted walk back to my hotel was a bit grim but the Taj Mahal itself just blew me away. I was also amazed by the small details. I loved it so much I stayed until sunset, watching the way the buildings changed colour as the light changed. The I got up before dawn the next day and went across the river to watch the colours change again as the sun came up. I would go back there in a flash if I could afford it!

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Barbara, and glad you loved it too, even when your shoes disappeared!!

  • Heather

    8 years ago

    I’m fairly certain I was short-changed in Vietnam, but it was so hard to keep track since I was literally walking around with millions of dong in my pocket. This is a good reminder to always count your change. Glad you still enjoyed the experience!

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thanks Heather, I’m sure it’s happened to all of us many times (both on purpose and not) and we never noticed… and that’s what those guys bank on, that most people will never notice. It is a good wake up call to always count our change!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    8 years ago

    I’ve read that part of visiting India is accepting that at one point or another, you are going to get scammed. I hope that this was the only instance of it in your case! It actually reminds me of when we were in Hue, Vietnam, visiting one of the emperor’s tombs as we had the exact same thing happen. When I realized we had been shortchanged by about $10, I was so distraught and actually started to cry. (We had had another rotten thing happen that day, so it wasn’t just about the money.) We decided to just go and explain to the ticket seller what had happened though we assumed we’d still be out the money as we hadn’t counted our change right at the counter. Miraculously, when I said that we were actually owed another $10, the seller just gave us the owed amount with no hassle at all. I assume she was pulling the same scam that they do at the Taj Mahal since for every person who calls her on it, I’m sure there are many who don’t! Glad to hear that despite the fleecing the TM is still worth a visit; it’s on our list for sure!

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Steph, unfortunately this was not the only scam we fell into, but other times I did get out of them. Little scams, luckily most of them are not harmful, are very common in India, so they are something we’ve all got to be aware of. Thanks for sharing your story, sounds almost the same as what happened to me. Hope you can visit the Taj Mahal!

  • Fred Perrotta

    8 years ago

    Some landmarks that you’ve seen in pictures thousands of times fail to offer much more in person. The Taj Mahal is not one of them.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Well put Fred!

      • Jose

        8 years ago

        May i ask what Camera you are using ? the shots are nice and crisp, and i assume these photos didn’t pass through enhancement .