The Taj Mahal has made it to the top five of a prestigious new list of the world’s best tourist attractions.
Lonely Planet’s “Ultimate Travelist” ranks the historic mausoleum built in Agra by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as the fifth most attractive travel hotspot in the world and describes it as a “magnificent Mughal masterpiece”.
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According to the list, the architectural perfection is reached beginning with “acres of shimmering white marble. Add a few thousand semi-precious stones, carved and inlaid in intricate Islamic patterns. Take a sublime setting by a sacred river, in jewel-like formal gardens. Apply a little perfect symmetry, and tie up the whole package in an outlandish story of timeless love. And there you have the Taj Mahal”.
It notes that there’s no other building in India that so perfectly encapsulates the attitudes and atmosphere of its era.
The Temples of Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage site in northern Cambodia, tops the list as a complex of more than 1,000 temples, shrines and tombs which attracts more than 2 million visitors annually.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia comes in at number two, the Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru at number three, and the Great Wall of China at four.
Travel writers and Lonely Planet staff were invited to submit ideas before voting on their favourites.
Voters were asked to consider which sights enthused, inspired, and excited them the most.
The one UK entry was the British Museum, which came in 15th on the wish list.
To celebrate the release of the new book, some of the world’s finest sand sculptors will recreate five sights from around the world on Peter’s Hill near St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London later this week.