Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Taj Mahal in wonder of world poll

Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Taj Mahal is a memorial to the Mughal ruler Shahjahan's wife

India's Taj Mahal is among 21 sites short-listed in a global poll to decide the modern world's seven wonders.

The New Seven Wonders Foundation, a privately-funded Switzerland-based organisation, is asking people to vote for their favourite during 2006.

The final seven sites will be announced on New Year's Day, 2007. Half the money raised will go towards restoration.

An early mission is to recreate the giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan, destroyed by the Taleban.

Man-made heritage

The Taj Mahal and the other top 20 new contenders were on an original list of 77 sites whittled down by an expert panel headed by former Unesco chief Frederico Mayor.

The 17th century marble memorial, built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan for his wife, also figures in the UN cultural agency's World Heritage list.

Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan, a file picture
Bamiyan's Buddhas were destroyed by the Taleban in February 2001

The seven wonders of the ancient world were listed by Philon of Byzantium in 200 BC.

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is the only ancient wonder still standing - and the only one to be included in the new shortlist.

To be included on the new list, architectural wonders have to be man-made and completed by 2000. They also have to be in an "acceptable" state of preservation.

The Great Wall of China, Athen's Acropolis, the Coliseum in Rome, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Stonehenge in the UK, the town of Petra in Jordan and the Inca city of Machu Pichu in Peru also figure on the list.

More modern structures - like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Statue of Liberty in New York, Sydney Opera House and the Kremlin in Moscow - have made it to the shortlist.

The foundation says the global poll is aimed at alerting the world to the destruction of man-made heritage worldwide.

video and audio news
The contenders for the new Seven Wonders of the World

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