Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Emperor's New Taj

My childhood friend I've known well for her whole life recently presented a BBC programme about Indian history.

Sorry, but the Taj Mahal. It's rubbish. This is not a cheap joke about the local curry house. Yes I do mean the "real" one, the supposedly wonderful marble building in Agra.Some people say that pictures of it do not do it justice. That you need to see it for yourself. I have.

It's dull. It basically just looks pretty much like a big mosque. Not really ugly. But not really "better" in any significant way than the big mosques or other examples of Islamic architecture in Delhi, in Cairo, in Istanbul, in countless other places.  And not half as impressive in my view as Renaissance art or even ancient Greek stonework.

I'm primarily referring to the architectural design and build here.  Of course there is a famous back story to its conception and construction. It's a true tale of obsession and megalomania. Yes that is fascinating. But that only means the mausoleum is a valuable historical "listed building" to be protected and maintained. Of course it should be.  But that doesn't make it "better" than any other ancient constructions, even within within a few miles I recall both Fatepur Sikri and Jantar Mantar being far more  "beautiful" and inspiring. If touristing is your thing then those two are far more worth seeing.

The Taj Mahal. Boring. Expensive.  Overrated.


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