- Title: INDIA: Aging Taj Mahal gets beauty treatment
- Date: 24th February 2008
- Summary: (BN08) AGRA, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA (FEBRUARY 20, 2008) (REUTERS) TAJ MAHAL IN THE BACKDROP AS WORKERS REPLACE THE DAMAGED STONES FROM ITS COURTYARD A WORKER CHISELING THE STONE WITH HIS HAMMER FACE OF THE WORKER FOREIGN TOURISTS SITTING AND WATCHING WORKERS APPLYING MUD PACK ON TO THE TAJ MAHAL A WORKER STANDING ONE OF THE ARCHES OF THE TAJ MAHAL UNDER RENOVATION LABOURERS BRINGING STONE SLABS ON A CART
- Reuters ID: LVAA19RJZ5F3FKMYVBJR6GUZQBFA
- Location: India
- Country: India
- Duration: 00:00:58
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: India's fabled monument of love, the centuries-old Taj Mahal, is getting a makeover aimed at removing the yellow tinge from its glistening exteriors.
Archaeologists have started applying fuller mud to the 17th- century monument to restore the gleam to the architectural wonder after a parliamentary committee said last year that airborne particles were being deposited on the monument's white marble, giving it a yellow tinge.
Devki Nandan Dimri, the chief archeologist in Agra, said scientists selected clay packs as treatment to prevent the discolouration because it was non-corrosive and non-abrasive.
"After intensive research, the scientific division of the archeological survey of India has come to this conclusion that mud packs are the most suitable for cleaning the Taj Mahal because the fuller mud does not contain any chemicals that can harm the marble or the monument," Dimri said.
He said work started on the exterior last week and would take about five months before the entire monument was cleansed.
The mud packs will remain on the marble for about two or three days and then peeled off. Then the monument would be given a distilled-water wash to give it a new look, Dimri said.
The Taj Majal received a similar mud pack treatment in 2002, he said.
The renovation will be done by a team of around 150 people.
The monument, located in the northern city of Agra and about a four-hour drive south of the capital, was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during child-birth.
Taj Mahal was built by an army of 20,000 stone masons, gem cutters, marble fitters and labourers who toiled for 22 years. It attracts millions of tourists every year.
In spite of the dirt and pollution, the Taj's magnificent appeal has not diminished and every day nearly 20,000 tourists walk past its manicured lawns.
Last year, in a global poll, it was voted as one of the seven new Wonders of the World. Artuk, a tourist from Turkmenistan said the monument almost felt surreal.
"What do I say, I am speechless. It is so beautiful -- I have seen such beauty very rarely in my life. How do I say -- it is so beautiful that it almost feels like a fantasy," a mesmerised Artuk said.
Yet other tourists are disappointed that pollution was deteriorating India's cultural icon.
Martin, a software engineer from Germany, said he was very disappointed with the level of smoke and amount of filth around the Taj Mahal.
"It is quite nice but I am a little bit disappointed by a few things like the smoke here in Agra and you know the surroundings when you go to the side of the Taj Mahal," he said.
Taj Mahal flanks a stinking, garbage-infested river and is almost always enveloped by dust and smog from belching smokestacks and vehicles.
Authorities have made various attempts in the past to keep the area around the Taj Mahal pollution free, including setting up an air pollution monitoring station in Agra.
However, while air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide gases were generally within permissible limits, "suspended particulate matter" had been recorded at high levels except during the rainy season.
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- Embargoed:10th March 2008 12:00