Lovers' Landmarks: The Tragic Love Stories Behind the Taj Mahal and Other Sites

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  • Mumtaz Mahal
    Mughal empress

As Mumtaz Mahal lay dying in bed after giving birth, her husband, Shah Jahan, made a promise: He would never remarry, and he would build the greatest monument the world had seen as a symbol of his undying love for her. The Taj Mahal is a lovers’ landmark, a place where true love and tragedy are immortalized into a legendary memorial.

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The Taj Mahal is the most famous, but not the only, lovers’ landmark (Photo: Thinkstock)

These destinations exist all over the world, waiting for young lovers to breathe a life of romance into the sites once again. Here are a few less famous but equally romantic spots.

1. Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

giants-causeway
giants-causeway

They look like rocks but they’re really a roadway to love… for giants (Photo by Jennifer Billock)

Learn the Lore: The basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway were said to be a highway for the mythical Irish giant Finn McCool. He courted a lover across the sea on the Scottish island Staffa and created the steppingstones to walk to her. Curiously, the Isle of Staffa has the exact same geological formations.

Find the Love: From Bushmills Village, take Whitepark Road north to Causeway Road and turn left. Causeway Road will lead you to the visitors’ center.

2. Vatuvula Peak on Wayasewa Island, Fiji

Vatuvula-Peak-Wayasewa-Island-Fiji
Vatuvula-Peak-Wayasewa-Island-Fiji

Did a lovers’ sacrifice calm the volcano? (Photo: Wikimedia/Msdstefan)

Learn the Lore: In ancient times, three maidens fell in love with three Fijian warriors. The couples were each bound together in an embrace and tossed into the volcano as a sacrifice to settle the fire within. The lovers solidified into a volcanic cap, and the mountain has not rumbled since.

WATCH: Planning a Honeymoon in Fiji

Find the Love: Fly into Nadi International Airport and take a cab to Denarau Marina. Then, board the Yasawa Flyer catamaran and head to Wayasewa Island (which is also called Wayalailai). You can take a lodge boat to the nearby Wayalailai Resort and hike from there.

3. Flowerpot Island in Ontario, Canada

flowerpot-island
flowerpot-island

Flowerpot Island: not the most romantic of getaways, according to legend (Wikimedia/pyzote)

Learn the Lore: Flowerpot Island, off the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, has a mystical past. Supposedly, anyone who touched its shores was never heard from again — and that’s exactly what happened to the lovers Shining Rainbow and Bounding Deer. The two were children of warring tribes and could never be together, so they fled in the middle of the night, unknowingly pursued by Shining Rainbow’s brothers. As the pair reached the island, their pursuers called out to them to stop. But they were so determined to be together that they boated up onto the shore and became two petrified figures on the beach.

Related: Oh, Canada — You Crazy! 12 Weird Adventures Up North

Find the Love: The island is accessible only by boat. Tours leave daily from Bruce Anchor Cruises in Tobermory from May to October.

4. Chocolate Hills in Bohol Province, Philippines

chocolate-hills-philippines
chocolate-hills-philippines

For a place with a name as fun as “Chocolate Hills,” there is one sad story behind it (Wikimedia)

Learn the Lore: Love always leaves a lasting impression, as it did in the case of the young giant Arogo. He gave his heart to Aloya, a mortal girl. When she died, Arogo was so overcome with grief that his tears turned into these hills, a permanent memory of his sweetheart.

Related: WATCH: Gorgeous Aerial Footage of Palawan, Philippines, That Feels Like Flying

Find the Love: From Tagbilaran City, grab a bus going to Carmen from the DAO Integrated Bus Terminal. Ask the driver to take you to the Chocolate Hills Complex. It’s a 10-minute walk from the bus stop to the hills.

5. Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil

iguazu-falls
iguazu-falls

What happens when you make a god jealous (Photo: Wikimedia/Tabetabe)

Learn the Lore: A canoe trip down the Iguazu River ended in tragedy for the Guarani Indian lovers Naipi and Caroba. Caroba, in an effort to run away with Naipi, fled their village with her in the canoe — but a forest god who had also fallen for Naipi saw them escaping and became furious. The forest god dissolved the land under the river. Naipi fell over the edge of the new waterfall and turned into a rock. Caroba was cursed to become a tree overlooking the rock, and now the two stand guard at the falls.

Find the Love: On the Argentina side, fly into Buenos Aires and catch a connecting flight to Iguazu Falls International Airport. Then take a taxi to the national park. You will be able to walk or take an in-park train to the falls. If you’re heading to Brazil, fly into São Paolo and get a connection to Foz do Iguacu. Take a taxi to the overlooks.

6. Big and Small Lakes in Pelister National Park, Macedonia

pelister
pelister

Small Lake (Wikimedia/MartinDimitrievski)

Learn the Lore: These lakes are the result of a lesson taught to two sisters. Both fell in love with the same man, Pelister, and each wanted to wed him. The girls’ mother did not approve of either union, and in a fit of rage, she sent the girls into the mountains, cursed to always be near each other but never within eyesight. When the heartbroken girls arrived at their new mountain homes, they began to cry. The tears formed the two lakes.

Find the Love: Take a bus or train from Skopje Airport to Bitola, and then take a taxi to Pelister National Park.

7. Singing Sands Beach in Bete Grise, Michigan

singing-sands
singing-sands

(Wikimedia/Yinan Chen)

Learn the Lore: The haunting song of a heartbroken Native American woman rises from the sand on the mile-long Singing Sands Beach on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is said that she lost her lover in Lake Superior, and visitors who stand upon the beach and smack the sand with an open palm will hear her melody calling out to him, waiting for his return.

Find the Love: Drive north on U.S. 41 to Gay Lac La Belle Road and turn right. Continue to Bete Grise Road and turn left. The road circles around to the beach.

Jennifer Billock is a culinary travel writer, editor, and author. She owns Jennifer Billock Creative Services, a boutique editing and writing firm focusing on magazines and book manuscripts.