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Taj Mahal (ताज महल , تاج محل )

  Taj Mahal (ताज महल , تاج محل )
 History
 Taj Mahal in new list of seven wonders
 Pollution rising near Taj Mahal
 Measures to save Taj
 Taj Mahal a place of tourists attraction
 Pollution, heat and human load on the Taj Mahal
 Taj Mahal Agra map

  Taj Mahal (ताज महल , تاج محل )

    Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal (ताज महल , تاج محل ) in Agra (India) is considered to be the finest example of Mughal architecture, its style combining of Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architecture. Historians say Shahjahan consulted experts from the Middle East and Europe while planning the monument. In 1983, the Taj Mahal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India. Taj Mahal is located 200 km (125 miles) south of Delhi , and is surrounded by ornamental gardens. One white minaret stands at each of its four corners and two smaller red sandstone buildings balance the postcard image on the banks of the River Yamuna (यमुना).

There are few places in the world that are more of a testament to the idea of eternal love than the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire world, it is a mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shan Jahan in honor of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal built in the year 1632–1653.

History

Mughal emperor Shan Jahan was married with a Persian princess Arjumand Bano who later became known as Mumtaz Mahal. In 1631 Mumtaz Mahal took his last breath giving birth to their 14th child. In the memory of her wife Mumtaz, emperor Shah Jahan determined on building a monument in his consort's loving memory that the world had never seen. After cosultation Ustad Isa, a Persian architect, was called upon to design the structure named Taj Mahal. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later.

It took 20,000 people over 22 years to build it. The government and the Archaeological Survey of India say it was finished in 1654, but some dispute this date. The surface of the monument has yellowed over the years due to pollution from vehicle fumes, factories, an oil refinery and funeral pyres at a nearby cremation ground.

Taj Mahal in new list of seven wonders

Taj Mahal today found pride of place in a new list of seven wonders polled by people around the globe. The most photographed monument is accompanied by The Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Statue of Christ Redeemer in Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru, Pyramid of Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Roman Collosseum in the list announced at a gala ceremony in the Portuguese capital Lisbon to coincide with the date 07.07.07.

        

  Mughal emperor Shan Jahan

   Mumtaz

   Mumtaz Mahal

Pollution rising near Taj Mahal

A new Indian government survey has revealed that the Taj Mahal, the nation's best-known monument, is again facing a major threat from Environment Pollution. The report, compiled by India's National Environment Engineering Research Institute, shows that measures taken after previous scares that the 17th-century tomb was being irreparably damaged by air and water pollution are failing. The survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Environment, found that pollution levels in Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, had risen over recent years as a result of growth in industry, traffic and population.

The effects of the pollution on the Taj Mahal were first noted when the façade began showing signs of yellowing in 1998, and measures were taken to prevent further damage from pollution. In fact, at the time, then-president Bill Clinton used the situation as an opportunity to discuss environmental issues, stating that pollution had done “what three hundred and fifty years of wars, invasions and natural disasters had failed to do begun to mar the magnificent walls of the Taj Mahal.”

The £90m government programme, launched between 1998 and 2000 after the monument's famous white marble was seen to be turning yellow, has had some impact, the report says, but not enough   to keep up with pollution around the site. Even President Bill Clinton saying that pollution had done "what 350 years of wars, invasions and natural disasters have failed to do [and] begun to mar the magnificent walls of the Taj Mahal".

The new report found that emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulates, for example, had reached levels higher than those that prompted a supreme court intervention to force authorities to act a decade ago. Environmental campaigners in Agra, said that the Taj Mahal was also threatened by dropping water tables and pollution from the river Yamuna, which runs alongside the structure. The water is heavily polluted due to the continuing discharge of effluents from industry and to rubbish clogging drains around the monument. 
  Taj Mahal is falling prey to rising air and water pollution, eight years after the government spent Rs 220 crore to reduce pollution levels. Levels of gaseous pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NOX), which can dilute the sparkle of Taj Mahal, have crossed the 1996 levels, a decade later, after showing a falling trend till 2002. NOX levels in 2006 had been recorded at 30 units per cubic meter of air as against 22 ug/m3 in 1996. Most historians and architects have been expressing fears that a dry Yamuna river could pose a threat to the Taj Mahal.

In 1993, disposing of a public suit filed by eco-lawyer M.C. Mehta, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Kuldip Singh ordered far-reaching structural changes to make the 10,000 sq km eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone safe for the Taj Mahal. The measures to be taken were based on the 20-odd recommendations of a high-powered committee headed by eminent scientist S. Varadarajan. Two decades after the judgment, Khandelwal says, "the situation is actually worse, going by pollution control board data. The Yamuna is a sewage canal, and increased traffic means heightened air pollution. The recommendations of the S. Varadarajan committee have been forgotten." 

The chemical laboratories of the Archaeological Survey of India in Agra suggest that the suspended particulate matter (SPM) level annually averages around 400 micrograms per cubic metre, against the safe level of 100.

  Measures to save Taj

The effects of the pollution have led to repeated attempts to use a clay pack treatment to maintain the shimmering, pristine appearance of the marble. The report added that measures such as a natural gas pipeline laid to supply clean fuel to industries in Agra, street-widening projects, the construction of a bypass, the replacement of diesel-run rickshaws by cleaner vehicles, heavy investment in a refinery to reduce emissions and an improved power supply that has meant less reliance on dirty diesel generators have had a positive impact, but could only mitigate the threat.

The restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court on the expansion and opening of new industrial units in the districts of Agra, Mathura, Firozabad, Hathras and part of Aligarh, to contain air pollution, which was harming the Taj Mahal and other historical structures in the region, according to REDCO (an organisation of real estate developers and colonisers) president K C Jain. Disposing of a public litigation filed by eco-lawyer M.C. Mehta, the apex court had ordered shifting of polluting industries, or switching over to natural gas.

Now Tulsi (Holy Basil) Plant will help Taj Majal to retain its pristine allure. Forest department has come up with a quick- fix project -- plant a Tulsi drive in Agra. The officers claim, has full backing from ancient texts which hold Tulsi to be the panacea for all problems from cosmic to cosmetic.

  The department is all set to launch the Tulsi plantation drive from January 2009. The public-private joint venture is expected to provide an eco- protection cover to sensitive Taj trapezium zone surrounding the 17th century monument. Tulsi (Occinum sanctum) chosen for its anti- pollutant  anti- oxidation and air-purifying properties making it an ideal ornamental shrub in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal.
    

  Taj Mahal a place of tourists attraction

Each year hundreds of thousands of foreigners pay around £10 each to view the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal attracts nearly 2 million to 4 million visitors annually, including more than 200,000 from overseas. Most tourists visit in the cooler months of October, November and February. Polluting traffic is not allowed near the complex and tourists must either walk from parking lots or catch an electric bus.

  Pollution, heat and human load on the Taj Mahal

The scorching summer heat is taking its toll on the Taj Mahal, the timeless monument of love, blasted by sand from the dry Yamuna bed and the dust-laden winds from the Rajasthan desert. However, conservationists say that the crisis the Taj confronts comes not merely from nature and pollution but also from people themselves — too many tourists and too many vehicles that bring them to Agra.

   Taj Mahal Agra map


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