The Taj Mahal, the nearly four centuries old statue of Agra to love, is beginning to show its age. Air pollution is turning ivory with ivory white. The heavily polluted river Yamuna, on the shores of the Taj lies, is a breeding ground for insects that leave green patches on its marble arch.
The past two years have seen the busy restoration of the monument, built in 1631 by the emperor Mughal Shah Jahan, as a grave for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The scaffolding surrounding the turrets was prominent in the background when the Duke and Duke of Cambridge visited India in April 2016. Not far from the distance was the exact way of handling used to clean the wonders. Great: mud packages, similar to those slapped on Faces around the world, and pursue the same youthful effects.
Work on the dramatic main dome was meant to have started last month – not something those here for the once-in-a-lifetime view would relish – though this has been postponed. Officials now say the dome won’t be covered until the end of 2017 at the earliest, as during the summer the mud dries too quickly and will not clean so effectively.
Bhuvan Vikrama, a superintendent with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), said the treatment consisted of applying Fuller’s earth – a clay traditionally used to clean marble – to the entire structure of the Taj.
Clay forms a thick clay layer that attracts dirt, grease and animal dung, and is washed with distilled water, making the surface relatively pristine. However, this process takes a long time. So far, we have completed three towers and three vertical surfaces, “Vikrama said.
Tour operators have expressed concerns about treatment that could affect India’s most famous tourist-monument demand – getting eight million tourists a year, but Vikrama claims it is. Business as usual.
“A small part of one side is covered and cleaned, then we move on to the next section, so the whole relic will never close.” It will be open as usual for tourists, “grandfather.
However, it is inevitable that some tourists will be unlucky when their visit with the main dome treatment, and the scaffolding will be a continuous feature until at least next year. But there is no doubt that treatment needs to be carried out, and the long-term benefit of cleaning up is greater than any short-term frustration. “There is a clear difference between untreated and treated areas,” Vikrama said.
He declined to comment on the cost of the project, but said the Taj had become expensive in the past decade, in part due to the crushing influence of millions of tourists walking the site every year. In August, ASI has proposed a maximum viewing limit of two hours per day, but this measure has not yet been implemented.
By: Anna Lee