• Treasures of Ancient India: The Other Side of the Taj Mahal (Getty)Source: Getty
As Treasures of Ancient India: The Other Side of the Taj Mahal reveals, there is another side to the worlds great landmarks. But so few of us take the time to explore the landmarks in their shadow.
By
Jeremy Cassar

4 Nov 2016 - 12:12 PM  UPDATED 4 Nov 2016 - 12:20 PM

If you’re ever planning a trip overseas and your people for must-see recommendations, chances are you’ll encounter a particularly grating kind of traveler. If everyone’s recommending you visit the Berlin Wall, this person would recommend a shorter, older wall that may or may not boast any historical significance.

These worldly folk are always ready to name-drop some overshadowed site that nobody has ever heard of, let alone considered visiting.

But they are onto something. It’s definitely worth seeking out alternatives for a unique experience.

This Saturday night at 7:30pm, Treasures of Ancient India: The Other Side of the Taj Mahal takes viewers beyond the iconic symbol that is India’s Taj Mahal, delving further into the wide array of societal and architectural feats carried out by The Mughal empire. 

In the spirit of discovery, we've compiled a list of landmarks overshadowed by their more famous counterparts.

Paris

The first time I saw Notre Dame I almost walked past it, as it came at the end of landmark overload that included many a church, but you’d think such an iconic structure would stop me in my tracks no matter how site-weary.

Compared to everything I’d seen that day, the best compliment I could muster was ‘it’s kinda cool’, which it definitely is, but the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) in the Île-de-France region leaves the relatively tiny twin-spiked church for dead.

Sydney

Perhaps I take The Harbour Bridge for granted, and if roles were reversed I’d probably be touting it in this list, but as it’s the bridge they usually cut to during a devastation montage in a disaster blockbuster, I’d say it’s hogging all bridge-related fanfare.

The Anzac bridge, while, due to its shape, it has earned some unfortunate nicknames over the years (stare at it for a while and you might see it), nobody can deny the minimalistic beauty of the thing, nor the almost kinetic experience of driving through the avenue of support wires. 

Scotland

Imagine if Stonehenge was reimagined by Salvador Dali or Alberto Giacometti, and youv’e got the Callanish Standing Stones. This ring of stones dates back to the Neolithic era, and have been interpreted to be a kind of ancient lunar observatory.

Scottish folklore explained away the stones as ‘petrified giants’ who would not convert to Christianity. Keep that in mind next time you’re on your way to Stonehenge and leaving Callanish for a next time that never comes.

Berlin

If you’ve been (un)lucky enough to visit Checkpoint Charlie, you’ll know it’s what looks like an abandoned tollbooth jutting out of a city road, manned by two social-media-friendly soldiers.

Yes, what’s important is the checkpoint’s history, but if you like history, why not travel 50km’s south of Berlin and visit what was once a Soviet airfield, and more specifically an oversized airship hangar named The Aerium.

Why? The monstrous hall has been converted into a tropical theme park. Now that’s how you pay respects to history.

Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid is a tiny, anti-climactic harbouside sculpture of the famous Hans Christian Anderson heroine, and better left to travel photographers to make the thing look better than it does in reality.

Instead, fans of the brilliant Danish series Borgen can visit a landmark that pertains to another of the nation’s heroines: the workplace of fictional Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg. The actual building is Christiansborg Palace which is home to all three branches of national government.

For more fascinating, non-tourist-y information on Indian history, tune into SBS this Saturday at 7:30pm when Treasures of Ancient India: The Other Side of the Taj Mahal premieres.

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