If you have seen or visited the Taj Mahal lately, you may have noticed the worrying color, faded décor, and general state of disrepair. You may even have been alarmed at the lack of action taken, and the way the iconic landmark has steadily declined over the years. Rest assured, you are not alone. Recently, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the state government, and the administration of Uttar Pradesh, to close down the infamous site if they are not going to take the steps necessary to repair it.
The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century, using marble. It was a once-gleaming white monument built by Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor. It was intended to be a mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Maha, who died during childbirth. Hailed as one of the seven wonders of the new world, it has become a highly sought-after tourist destination and a site of importance to Indian historians.
Its General Decline
The building began turning yellow in the early 20th century and has since started to fade to brown and green – a far cry from the brilliant shade of white it once was. Experts believe that a number of factors are working together to create this effect, including industrial pollution and air pollution caused by smoke and toxic effluents. The prevalence of kerosene and diesel as fuel sources in the area are also likely contributors. Insects known as Chironomus calligraphus are also contributing to the issue and are probably responsible for the greenish hue the Unesco World Heritage Building has recently assumed.
The Supreme Court
Fed up with the state of disrepair, and worried for its future, the Indian Supreme Court feels that the time has come to order significant action. Not only is this a very popular tourist attraction bringing in a lot of money to the local economy, it is also a historic site. There is an obligation to preserve it for future generations. The Supreme Court felt that efforts already made by the government to clean up this monument are insufficient, taking too long, and may have little effect given the urgency of the situation. They had made a previous direction in May and have now become fed up with the government’s inaction. This led to the final ruling issued this past week, which ordered the government to “demolish it or restore it.”
Residents of India and tourists alike hope that the Indian government takes these directions from its Supreme Court seriously and starts to work on ways to improve and restore the monument. Something of that beauty and elegance deserves to be seen and appreciated by all generations to come.