Taj Mahal (ताज महल , تاج محل )
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.
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.
Mughal emperor Shan Jahan Mumtaz Mahal
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.
In a colourful ceremony amid songs and dance, Bollywood star Bipasha Basu announced Taj Mahal as one of the wonders. Agra Mayor Anjula Singh received the award.
Air, water 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.
Pollution in Yamuna River
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.
“Water in the river is an essential pre-requisite to maintain the massive foundation that supports a complex system of wells, arches and
wooden spoked wheels. Dry ambience could fragment and disintegrate the sal wood,” a retired ASI official said, requesting anonymity.
While many studies and independent investigations have been carried out on the mausoleum, the gardens, the structures flanking the main dome,
little work has been done to monitor or assess the damage to the foundation which is under constant pressure from increasing number of
visitors and the dry Yamuna.
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.
Now Tulsi 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
place a great attraction for tourists
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
heat and human load taking its toll 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.
Eco-activist Shishir Bhagat, president of Wake UP Agra, says: “The
number of vehicles in the city has shot up from just around 40,000 in 1985, when Firozabad was part of Agra district, to almost 800,000 now.
The air is loaded with pollutants.” The human-load is increasing every year and is taking its toll. Last
year more than four million people visited the Taj. The entry is free for children below 15 years.
Taj Mahal Agra map