Around 70% of the population drinks contaminated water, exposing them to a variety of health risks. The Taj is built on an elevated platform on top of a hilltop that is supported by wells beneath it. The water used to wash the stones came from nearby lakes or from underground sources.
Yes, the Taj Mahal is built of marble extracted from around 80 miles away in Agra. It took more than 20 years to build this magnificent monument for Shah Jahan by orders from the emperor. The original project was started in 1632 but wasn't completed until nearly three decades later. The building activity stopped because Shah Jahan was busy fighting wars and building forts.
The white color of the Taj Mahal is due to the use of crushed coral as a binding agent in the mortar. Before this method was discovered, the buildings of the time were mostly colored in red or yellow - even the parts that are now white once belonged to other colors.
The main attraction at the Taj Mahal is not its exterior but its interior design and architecture. There are three large courtyards inside the Taj Mahal with many small rooms connecting them. Each room has been carefully designed with artisanship at work: carvings, paintings, calligraphy, you name it!
The Taj Mahal is created with magnificent gardens and trees that add to the mausoleum's visual attractiveness; yet, all of this shrubbery and plant life requires frequent watering, which is made simpler by placing the Taj on the banks of the Yamuna, which is a source of plentiful water supply. The builders of the Taj Mahal knew that without a constant flow of water, the plants would die and the beauty of the monument would be destroyed.
The Yamuna River has two branches: one flowing into the Hindon River and the other into the Ganges. It is this second branch that flows through Delhi where it is sometimes called the "Ganga" because of its connection with the Ganges River. The Yamuna River is only about 30 miles long but it passes through many villages and towns along its route before it reaches the Ganges.
During construction of the Taj Mahal, workers used wood and other materials that were available in the area so prices were low and supplies could be found anywhere in India. However, the cost of building the structure was extremely high - estimates range from 8 to 12 million rupees (about $160,000-220,000 in today's dollars) - and this caused problems for the builder because he had no way to pay for his work.
Aside from cleaning the Taj, recent measures to rescue it have included the construction of a new dam to assist restore the flow of water to the Yamuna river, the closure of some of the 52 discharge pipelines that dump trash into the water, and the improvement of local sewage treatment plants.
The government has also initiated a campaign to educate people about the damage plastic does to the environment. The tourism ministry has offered to reimburse anyone who commits to not throw away any more plastic bags in exchange for visits to their sites.
In addition to these efforts, the government has approved a project to install air-conditioning units that use solar power at the Taj Mahal. The plan is for this technology to be used during the summer months when temperatures inside the monument can reach up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
Finally, the government has announced a plan to protect other important buildings and sites around the world that are similar in design and style to the Taj Mahal. Some of them include Red Fort in Delhi, La Défense in Paris, and Forbidden City in Beijing.
These structures are considered landmarks and they should be protected because many old buildings have been destroyed over time due to wars, natural disasters, or development. However, some people argue that the Taj Mahal is just a piece of decorative stone and nothing more.
Illegal encroachments, industries, and activities are proliferating throughout the area. The CCTVs are inoperable. All of the drains on the property are plugged. And the Yamuna, which cradles the Taj, is withering, threatening the mausoleum's foundation. Insects flying out of the river are contaminating the monument. The smell of sewage permeates the air.
In 2005, the government announced a plan to restore the site. But there have been no further developments since then.
The Taj Mahal is a popular tourist destination. Its location near Delhi makes it vulnerable to pollution. High levels of arsenic were found in one of the wells at the site. This metal can cause cancer if it is ingested over a long period. Arsenic also causes skin lesions and blindness if it gets into water sources that people rely on for food and drink.
There have been efforts to protect the site but they have not been successful enough. A new government policy aims to make the Taj Mahal a "heritage city", but this has not been implemented yet.
The funding required to maintain the site is very high. In addition, there are legal hurdles that need to be overcome before any repairs can begin. For example, the government of India does not own the land under the tomb. It belongs to two religious trusts known as the Aga Khan Trust and the J&K Muslim Trust.
Pollution is compromising the Taj Mahal's structural integrity, causing local officials to look for methods to protect the iconic structure. The neighboring Yamuna River is polluted, and the land beneath the Taj Mahal may be in danger of eroding. In addition, the large numbers of tourists visiting the site each year are a concern because they can damage the grounds surrounding the tomb.
The main challenge of constructing the Taj Mahal was finding a way to build a monument that would last forever. The builders of the Taj Mahal knew that stone buildings were common at the time but only a few other structures were made out of marble, including the Italian Renaissance palaces being built in India at the time. They also knew that gold was used in religious symbols and monuments back then, but only kings could afford to wear such expensive jewelry. So, the architects of the Taj Mahal created a building out of marble that would stand the test of time.
They accomplished this by choosing very specific locations for different parts of the building and by using many different types of marble from around the world to create an almost perfect replica of a human body. Inside the mausoleum, the artists placed mirrors along the walls so that people inside the room would see themselves as if looking into a mirror.