To reflect an eternal love is rarely the basis for a building project today. But that was exactly what Emperor Shah Jahan had in mind in 1632 when, following the death of his wife Arjumand Banu Begum, construction began on the Taj Mahal, in the city of Agra in northern India. Some 355 years on, the Taj Mahal’s architectural beauty has still not been surpassed.

A work of passion and genius, it is believed that 22 000 workers and 1000 elephants helped to build this masterpiece, which is crafted out of white marble. It exhibits elaborate renditions of cut-stone architecture, flowing fountains, standing pools, water chutes and exotic plants, all carefully placed to stimulate the senses.

The Taj Mahal is that rare exception: a building that enhances the beauty of its natural environment, and, seemingly out of respect for it, assumes subtle variations of tint and tone at different times of the day. Like a spectacular jewel, the Taj Mahal sparkles under any light.

Today it is perhaps the most admired monument in the world, respected all the more for being both a celebration and a manifestation of love. Inspiring every visitor and rendering many speechless, it is a captivating example of design at its very best.

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