It’s a classic love story. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love and marries girl. Boy builds girl a monument made entirely of white marble and 28 different types of precious stones that becomes a World Heritage Site. Classic. Okay, so we omitted a few downer details, like girl dies and monument is actually a mausoleum. But the moral of the story is, we all express our love differently. Some people buy flowers. Others buy diamond rings. Mughul emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal (such a show-off). But hey, if you had $1 billion lying around—the price it would cost today to build the “jewel of India”—you might make the same call. Especially on Valentines day.
Why Now: It’s Valentine’s Day, and the Taj Mahal may just be one of the most romantic overtures in the history of the world. And we all love a good love story.
If it isn’t on your Valentine’s Day agenda, good news is that from November until April, the weather is optimal for a visit Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, and the world will be opening up again this year. Whenever you make it to India, the Taj Mahal is a primary attraction, in what will be the trip of a lifetime.
Good For: Couples, friends and families. Single travelers can get a lot of enrichment out of the trip, but make sure you have a solid guide. As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, a visit to the Taj Mahal makes a strong case to be on your bucket list.
- Checking into the Oberoi Amarvilas Agra, one of the iconic hotels in the world, which directly overlooks the Taj Mahal. The property itself is stunning, with its swimming pool and terraced, lavish grounds serving as the foreground view to the Taj Mahal. There is something deeply moving about standing on your balcony, champagne in hand, getting that first glimpse of the monument.
- Waking before dawn, to be one of the first people in the door to take in the overwhelming beauty of the Taj Mahal.You’ve seen it in photos, but nothing beats the experience of walking the long promenade to the main attraction. If you’re lucky, the light mist will subside and you’ll get a sunrise that lights up the monument to create that perfect romantic moment.
- Just the experience of being in India, which is one of the most fascinating places in the world for seasoned travelers. It’s chaotic, gritty and exhilarating – everything you want in a lifetime experience.
Suggested Stay: 2 Days
What to Know: The main attraction in Agra is the Taj Mahal. This is the part of the trip where you can take a break from what will be a frantic pace of touring the country, and chill out for a day and spend the other making your pilgrimage to the Taj Mahal. We recommend you spend the night in Agra, if only to experience the Oberoi Hotel. Right outside the gates of the Taj Mahal, it clearly has the best location of any hotel in the area. The grounds of the hotel are stunning, making them an attraction in itself. Restaurant options are solid, where breakfast is a standout with all the puri and dosas you can eat. Shopping options at the hotel are top notch, and surprisingly won’t break your bank. Gem Palace, the famed jeweler from Jaipur, has a perfectly edited outpost, and the hotel gift shop has gorgeous textiles and pashmina scarves. On site is also a ceramic shop with rich colored pillow covers and a marble store where you know if you decide to ship home, they’re good for it. If the Oberoi is booked, the ITC Hotel is a suitable option, and easier on the pocket.
No matter how seasoned of a traveler you are, India is not a place you want to navigate on your own. And if you want to do it up right, there is only one company to plan your trip: Greaves. You know that well-connected friend who always gets the table at the hottest new restaurant during Friends & Family? Who has been going to the Aeolian Islands for ages on their “boat”? And somehow always scores that first class upgrade (when they fly commercial)? Well, that’s essentially Greaves. Owned by the Cambata family, who has built generations of high-end connections in India, they will show you the way to the best shopping with a society lady as your guide, have a university professor personally tour you through the Amber Fort and have a culinary expert take the adventurous to eat street food, that won’t have you on sick bay for the remainder of your trip. Even in Agra, where there’s little to do outside of the Taj Mahal, they get the curious into the best marble maker in the country. After all, if it’s good enough for the Taj, we’re sure you’ll make do. Besides viewing the most beautiful marble tabletops and keepsake statuettes, those with their Greaves guide get entrée into the artisan’s personal art collection. Think about it as a mini-museum, with many works of art that are worthy.
For those who are really short on time, Greaves is the only luxury outfit with their own private plane. And access to government military landing strips, not available to anyone else. So fly in for the morning, and make a day trip out of the Taj Mahal. Then, as the sun comes up, lean over and whisper in that special someone’s ear that one day, she’ll have a monument of her own. Because on Valentine’s Day, it’s really the thought that counts.