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India - Agra - Taj Mahal at sunset - 800x450
 

India’s capital during the Mughal Empire, Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, considered by many to be the most beautiful building in the world.

This shimmering white mausoleum rises above the surrounding Persian ornamental gardens like a mirage.  20,000 skilled craftsmen created this glittering tomb, and its elevated position creates an illusion of floating against a backdrop of clear blue sky.  Precious and semi-precious stones in their thousands are inlaid in intricate patterns and light glances through the fretwork of marble screens.

The Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth, is the most magnificent monument to romantic love on earth.   Yet it is just one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Agra.  Agra Fort is one of the greatest surviving Mughal castles.  Its red sandstone walls are over 20m high and inside the citadel you can find pillared audience halls, fairy-tale palaces and white marble mosques.

Also UNESCO-listed is the Itimad-ud-Daulah, known as “the baby Taj”.  Often described as a “jewel-box”, this delicate mausoleum with its octagonal minarets sits prettily on the banks of the Yamuna River.

 

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