The instant anyone looks at the TAJ MAHAL, words fail to describe its beauty. The location on the river banks of the Yamuna, its colour, the finest designs of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture, the list would go on and on. What can anyone say- it’s a breath-taking view, a wonder worth-visiting again and again.
The combination of the symbol of love and the famous sweet delicacy, Agra ka petha, has lured millions of tourists year after year. But now the ivory-white marble mausoleum which is also famous for its rich heritage and history is in danger of losing its colour.
Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1631 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan and in 1983 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The pristine white colour of the monument was known to turn yellow earlier. It has raised even the concerns of SC with its colour now turning to brown and greenish. SC has questioned whether proper steps are being taken in restoring and maintaining the historical wonder. SC has asked the respective authorities whether even they care or not and has directed a verdict to take the assistance of experts of India and Abroad. Will this be enough to solve the problem?
Are only the authorities to be blamed? What are the reasons for the discolouring of the monument? Yes, there are natural reasons. It is known the Marble does not exist in pure form and oxidize over time. Even the deforestation, in and around Agra for “the modern development” is to blame. Agra is a place in the semi-arid zone where the temperature reaches 50-degree Celsius. The hot dusty winds, as a result, is known to have abrasive effects.
At the same time, the major factor is air pollution. Research to find the causes of color deterioration was done by Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and Archaeological Survey of India. They found 3% of the deposits to be black carbon, around 30% organic carbon (or brown carbon) and most of the rest dust. Professor S.N. Tripathi at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur states the pollutants released from fossil fuels and biomass burning to be the major cause. These are known to release black carbon and organic carbon into the air causing a large scale air pollution.
Knowing the cause and problem is an important step for finding the solution. Aren’t any steps being taken? In fact, from 1994 the monument is being given a mud pack treatments using lime-rich Fuller’s Earth (Multani Mitti) to remove the pollution stains. The main problem still remains ‘air pollution’. The man-made problem can only be decreased by authorities and citizens taking their own responsibility. We all together can curb this menace of air pollution. Let us join hands to preserve this castle in the Air.
Bayard Taylor, American Novelist (for Taj Mahal)
“Did you ever build a castle in the Air? Here is one, brought down to earth and fixed for the wonder of ages.”