Every single year for the past 10 years or so, more than three million travelers have frequented India’s Taj Mahal. The white marble monument—completed around some 15 yrs by the emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631—rises on a 3-acre site on the Yamuna River in the northern city of Agra.
By the mid-1990s, the Taj’s splendors—such as the 187-foot, minaret-flanked dome, fronted by a reflecting pool and surrounded by a walled garden—had deteriorated markedly, prompting a multimillion-greenback restoration work spearheaded by the Indian government. The substantial endeavor involves scrubbing the marble exterior and a restoration of the substantial purple sandstone main gates, such as the replacement of semiprecious inlay.
The restoration is expected to acquire quite a few several years. Even before the scaffolding will come down, on the other hand, website visitors will uncover that the monument’s aura of serenity—long involved with this symbol of intimate love—remains intact. Right now, accessibility to the website is regulated by the use of timed tickets visitors stroll among the gardens and gleaming interior areas in an atmosphere closer to the tranquillity envisioned by Shah Jahan himself. This major preservation job, states Bonnie Burnham, president of the Earth Monuments Fund, demonstrates the progress that can be accomplished by “general public-personal partnerships.” Extended-expression ideas, she adds, involve a re-creation of the site’s original gardens.
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