Environment

India’s cleaning quandary: How to scale the Taj Mahal dome?

Authorities in India are trying to figure out how workers will scale the Taj Mahal’s majestic but delicate dome as they complete the first thorough cleaning of the World Heritage site since it was built 369 years ago.

Work on the mausoleum’s minarets and walls is almost finished, after it began in mid-2015.

They’ve been using a natural mud paste called fuller’s earth to remove the yellow discolorationand bring the marble to its original brilliant white.

But the metal scaffolding used so far is too heavy and rigid for the dome, said Bhuvan Vikrama, the superintending archaeologist from the Archaeological Survey of India. He said they’re considering other options, including designing and constructing the special bamboo scaffolding.

Vikrama said that the rain was enough to clean most of the Taj Mahal in the past but air pollution over the last 25 years has taken its toll.

“It became visibly clear it was all yellow,” he said. “It has even started becoming black in the shaded areas not washed by rains.”

The work has prompted Fodor’s Travel guide to include the Taj Mahal on its list of places not to visit next year.

“Unless your dream Taj Mahal visit involves being photographed standing in front of a mud-caked and be-scaffolded dome, maybe give it until 2019 at the earliest,” the guide recommends.

“If the tourism even fluctuates, we should not bother about that,” he said. “Tourists should also appreciate they are witnessing the work going on, the right kind of efforts for the preservation of monuments.”

The Taj Mahal typically attracts between 7 and 8 million visitors a year. Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, people are attracted as much by the love story as the spectacular architecture.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 8:13:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/indias-cleaning-quandary-how-to-scale-the-taj-mahal-dome/article21288745.ece

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