Alexander Cockburn seems to show some kind of aesthetic failing (to editorialize) here.
“I’ve never cared for the Taj Mahal, depicted on the biscuit tins of my childhood. And after seeing Akbar’s first palace compound at Fatehpur Sikri, I feel this more strongly. Kitsch is emotional blackmail and the Taj Mahal, blaring Shah Jehan’s bereavement, seems to me the very essence of kitsch. Part of the problem is Shah Jehan’s snobbery about red sandstone. Both here and a mile up river at the Fort he ordered white marble and in the case of the Taj Mahal the result is a sort of airless sterility. The manic symmetry amplifies this. Also, the Taj Mahal is just too big. Akbar’s tomb, a few leagues back down the road towards Delhi, though large, seems proportionate. But the vast Taj Mahal diminishes its skeletal contents, ensconced in two sarcophagi at its core. Shah Jehan was locked up by Aurangzeb in the Fort, a mile upstream, and spent many years looking down the river at his wife’s mausoleum, apparently squinting in a little piece of mirror at night to catch the reflection. When he died Aurangzeb shipped him downstream to join Arjumand in the comity of the sepulcher, though symmetry is for once controverted since his stone coffin is slightly larger and higher than hers. These days the river is shallow and dirty. In the mid seventeenth-century it was clear and twenty feet deep.”