The Taj Mahal, designed by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, was built between 1632 and 1653.
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Some amorous souls write poetry. A few compose love songs. Emperor Shah Jahan took romance to another level, building one of the world's most exquisite structures in tribute to his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to the couple's 14th child. Begun in 1631, the project took 17 years to complete and required more than 20,000 laborers—not to mention the 1,000 elephants that delivered marble, jade, and other precious materials from across Asia.
Every year some 2 million travelers journey to the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, to admire the building's decorative calligraphy, graceful minarets, and imposing onion dome. Those in the know arrive at sunrise, when the mausoleum's translucent white marble glows rosy pink, or during a full moon, when semiprecious stones in the exterior shimmer in the moonlight. Even if the effect lasts only a moment, the emperor's message of eternal love stays with you for a lifetime.
Photography courtesy of Wikipedia
This article was first published in January 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.