Many people have tried to describe the Taj Mahal’s beauty. Shah Jahan, the buildings creator said “it made the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.” Rudyard Kipling said “It is the embodiment of all things pure” and Rabindranath Tagore described it as a “teardrop on the cheek of eternity.” Although this may seem like hyperbole, If you were to ask me what I considered to be the most beautiful building I have ever seen, there would be no contest; the Taj Mahal reigns supreme. I’m not alone in this. Each year, over 4 million tourists pass through the complex’s enormous, red sandstone gates in order to catch a glimpse of India’s most visited tourist site and I’m sure that they would tell you the same. Most visitors already know countless facts about the Taj Mahal and the story of its construction; Built by Shah Jahan in 1631 as a memorial for his 3rd wife who died in childbirth, the main mausoleum took just 8 years to complete, but it wasn’t until 1653 that the finishing touches were added to the complex as a whole. Because of this, it is often described as the world’s greatest monument to love. However, what most people don’t know is that you don’t necessarily have to enter the complex itself to get a great view of the buildings glistening white onion dome. If you want photographs or viewpoints of the Taj Mahal that are a little unique, here are my favourite alternative spots to visit in order to see the white-marble masterpiece. MEHTAB BAGH One of the most mesmerising views of the Taj Mahal is from the Mehtab Bagh gardens on the Yamuna river’s north bank. Mehtab Bagh is beautiful; a long, lush green lawn dotted with flowering bushes designed to mirror the Taj Mahals own decorative gardens. Legend says that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan long planned an exact copy of the Taj to be built in the spot as a tomb for himself, only made entirely of black marble. The idea originates from the fanciful writings of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a European traveller who visited Agra in 1665. It was suggested that Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son, Aurangzeb, before it could be built. The perfect time to visit is just before sunset, settling in for a view of the Taj as daylight fades, casting an orangy pink glow on the building’s marble dome. I spent a beautiful evening, sat in complete silence with dozens of other people, gazing in awe at history’s greatest monument to love. Although it is only a few hundred metres from Agra’s centre, getting there and back is a 16 km round trip, taking 20 minutes each way and costing around 150 rupees on an overpriced tuk-tuk. It requires travelling a few kilometres west of the city, crossing the Ambedkar bridge, and then making your way back eastwards to the Taj Mahal viewpoint.

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