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6:29pm on Tuesday, 1st July, 2008:

Places I'm not all that Fussed about Visiting #6


Continuing the occasional series...

The Taj Mahal.

Yes, it's quite pretty; yes, it's the pinnacle of Mughal architecture; yes, and I'm sure it's a lot bigger in real life than it looks in the photographs; and yet, what's inside? You never see pictures of the interior of the building, just the exterior. Apparently, there's a pair of exquisite, jewel-encrusted tombs in there, but do you know what they look like? (This, if you're interested).

Nevertheless, everyone knows what the outside looks like. You can close your eyes and describe it. There's a long, straight reflecting pool with trees down either side, occasionally with Princess Diana sitting in front of it, and there's this white, domed building with the four minarets, covered in intricate-from-a-distance marble decorations. Of course you know what the outside is like!

So, you know what's round the back, then? Well, have a look. That's the thing about the Taj Mahal: if you haven't been to see it, all you ever remember about it is that one, defining view. When you do go to see it, well, you already know what the best bit is: that one view. Can you climb up any of the minarets? Can you get to the roof near the dome? Why would you even wonder if you can do that — you're going for the view, right?

Well, I'd go for the view if I happened to be in the area. I wouldn't expect a great deal beyond that, though, maybe the odd ornate carving here and there. Some people go to India for a holiday, and for them the highlight of their stay is a visit to the Taj Mahal. Me, OK, it's not bad, but I've seen the pictures so many times I'm really not all that fussed.

Still, 4,000,000 people annually disagree with me...

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).