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Seven Wonders of the World without the Wait

by Isabel Sterne and Dana Fraser

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Crowd source: Mark Twain once wrote: "I saw it in the daytime, I saw it in the moonlight, I saw it near at hand, I saw it from a distance; and I knew all the time, that of its kind it was the wonder of the world." Clearly Twain wasn't at the Taj Mahal in 120-degree heat, pressed bodily against the more than 3 million people that surge annually through its gates.

The shortcut: The Taj Mahal opens at 6 am every day except Friday (when it's closed for prayer). Tour buses don't start arriving in earnest until mid-morning, so to have the spiritual experience most imagine, be waiting at the gate when it opens. But what most people don't realize, India expert Bob Payne says, is that if you check the lunar calendar, you can visit by moonlight. For two days before and after the full moon (except if it falls during Ramadan or on a Friday), the Taj Mahal is open from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am, after the day-trippers have boarded their buses and trains back to Delhi. And there's no better way to see a temple of love than with the proper mood lighting.

Next: Leave the crowds in ruins >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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