The twilight of the Taj Mahal?
In five years time, the Taj Mahal could be reduced to a pile of rubble, albeit, a monumental pile. According to a group of historians, environmentalists and politicians based in Agra, where the Taj is located, the wooden foundations of India's greatest structure are rotting due to lack of water. The Taj was built 358 years ago at the edge of the Yamunda River, which has now run dry. Cracks began appearing in the tomb's marble walls last year, which the campaigners, led by Agra MP Ramshankar Katheria, have causally linked to the river's desperate state.
The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The romanticism of its origins are matched only by the site's luminous environs: a large dome constructed of white marble dominates a a symmetrical composition balanced at the edges by four tall, slender minarets, which were designed to tilt slightly away from the central structure in the event of an earthquake. The minarets, along with the domed tomb, may come crashing down if the foundations' problems are not resolved. Yet, the solution may require more than reshoring, says Katheria, who cautions, "If the crisis is not tackled on a war-footing, the Taj Mahal will cave in between two and five years."
Photo: Flickr user joru5
The destitution of the river is indicative of India's worsening environmental state, brought on by growth and rapid urbanization. Pollution is rising as natural resources are being overdrawn to meet demands, while the severe threat of water shortages is palpable throughout the country, especially in Agra, where 70% of the local population do not have access to clean drinking water. Katheria believes that constructing a barrage on the river that will help regulate water levels along with planting trees and installing a water pipeline may improve matters. The Indian economy cannot risk the eventuality of the Taj Mahal's collapse, so it is expected that the site's preservation will be given utmost priority. In any case, it wouldn't be premature to launch a "Save the Taj Mahal" twitter account...
[via The Daily Mail]