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We should have visited the Taj Mahal at the first part of our trip. We realize that now.

One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the renowned memorial to a Shah's dead wife, it is supposed to be the most beautiful monument of love on earth.

The quote about it that the Indian public seems to like most is that it is 'a teardrop on the face of eternity.'

It's an icon, the name of a blues singer, a metaphor for an act of love.

It's, well, it's pretty.

Really pretty?

Set in a lush garden of flowers, grass and trees (not part of the original plan, I overheard a guide say) and approached along a wide, fountain-dotted reflection pool, the Taj Mahal is a peaceful place to sit and look around.

The cool marble exterior takes on the color of the dawn and sunset. The dim interior is a hushed mausoleum.

But, I can't help but feel, despite its technical elegance, it's world-famous history (Boy meets girl, girl has too many babies, girl dies, boy is sad, boy's son locks him up to die alone), that it's just, well, pretty.

I contrast it to the mirrored palaces and pavilions of Udaipur, Bundi and Ajmer. The gardens in Bikaner. The marble work in Jaipur. Before we had seen these things, I think we would have appreciated this solemn place a little more.

**Click here to see photos from Agra**




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