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Travel to Peninsular India: Aurangabad: Photo 1

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Although tourists arrive chiefly to see the caves at Ellora, the city has its own chief attraction, the Bibi ka Maqbara. It's the tomb of Rabia Daurani, Aurangzeb's wife, and it was completed only 25 years after the Taj Mahal, which it closely copies. James Fergusson, often a very shrewd judge, wrote in the 1870s that the tomb "was intended, it is said, to reproduce an exact copy of Shah Jahan's celebrated tomb, the Taj Mahall. But the difference between the two monuments, even in so short an interval, is startling. The first stands alone in the world for certain qualities all can appreciate; the second is by no means remarkable for any qualities of elegance or design, and narrowly escapes vulgarity and bad taste. In the beginning of the nineteenth century a more literal copy of the Taj was erected in Lucknow over the tomb of one of its sovereigns. In this last, however, bad taste and tawdriness reign supreme. It is difficult to understand how a thing can be so like in form and so unlike in spirit; but so it is, and these three Tajs form a very perfect scale by which to measure the decline of art after the great Mughal dynasty passed its zenith and began its rapid downward career." (History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, 1876 (1910), ii, 322)

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