The Taj Mahal is cracking under our pressure5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
The Taj Mahal is a timeless love story that is on the checklist of every tourist. Built in 1632 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz, this mausoleum attracts anywhere between 40,000-70,000 visitors every day.
Add that up and we have 25 million visitors in a year!
Tourism is great for our economy; it brings in money and helps thousands of people whose lives depend on the Taj Mahal (between 2007 and 2012, the Taj Mahal brought in 84.9 cr in revenue). But is tourism good for this monument? And if not, how can we all enjoy its beauty while preserving it for many centuries to come?
First, let’s discuss what problems are affecting the taj and how.
Let’s face it, the Taj is popular. A little too popular. There have been so many incidents of people fainting from crowd crush, heat, and exhaustion. Of course, there are the vandals who scratch their names and other things onto the white marble walls on in the tomb. But the biggest issue with tourists at this monument is their sheer numbers!
Monkeys and other creatures:
The monument is home to a band of monkeys who scavenge for food, destroy the gardens, and terrify the tourists! Another problem is the insect infestation because of Yamuna’s polluted waters. The insects live and feed off the stagnant water and leave greenish-black patches all over the marble and delicate inlay work. Basically, they’re pooping all over the Taj!
Acid and air pollution have begun to play havoc on the Taj Mahal and literally turned it yellow over the years! Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
To control damages and the effects of pollution, the Indian government created the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ). This is a 10,400 square kilometre area near and around the Taj where there are strict emission standards. This has been in place for a decade now. Despite this, the pollution levels near the area have reached much higher levels recently!
Water Pollution and the receding Yamuna water basin:
Did you know that the Taj Mahal is cracking? This is because of the lack of groundwater under the structure. The Yamuna river, once a loud, gushing force, has receded over the years at the rate of 1.5m/year. And this decline in water levels is rotting the wooden foundations of the monument. In fact, in 2011, it was predicted that the Taj would collapse in 5 years. Thank god that prediction didn’t come true!
Not only has the Yamuna decreased in size, it is also polluted. Refineries and other factories nearby are dumping their waste in it. Over time, this has also led to acid rain, which also affects the Taj’s structure.
A way forward
No one has a one-fits-all solution to protecting the Taj Mahal. The Government has taken a few measures over the years to preserve this monument but two glaring things, have only been considered recently and need pointing out!
Cleaning up the Yamuna:
While the help staff at the Taj have been scrubbing off the grime from its walls for many years, no one has worked on the root cause; water pollution. Cleaning up the Yamuna would not make the overall experience of visiting this world wonder more pleasant but also clear out the insect infestations, eliminate acid rain, and reduce grime. Maybe then the Taj can be restored back to its original colour; ivory white.
Cap on tourists:
The Government placed a cap on the number of visitors to 40,000 a day last year. This was further reduced to 5,000 people a day when the monument reopened after a six-month hiatus during the pandemic. This has probably hampered many people’s travel plans and dreams of visiting the Taj Mahal but is the first real step towards making sure it’s still around for our future generations.