Heavy rain brings Taj Mahal pillar tumbling down
12 April 2018
A heavy storm and rainfall damaged the stone minarets on the south and royal gates of the Taj Mahal on Wednesday night. The 12-foot metal pillar at the entry gate known as Darwaza-e-Rauza came tumbling down as winds with velocity of over 130 km per hour swept the city.
Reports are conflicting on the exact time of the incident, but it likely happened between 7:30 pm and 12:30 am, when the minaret and its dome fell and broke into several pieces.
The Darwaza-i-Rauza is one of the components of the monument complex, which includes the mausoleum, the mosque and the guest pavilion. The first sight of the Taj Mahal is usually from this gate. Also called as the ‘Great Gate’, it is the gateway to the gardens which symbolically represent paradise.
There seems some confusion on who is responsible for the upkeep of what is unarguably India’s best-known monument. It has long been known that it is suffering from pollution damage, and this was a disaster probably waiting to happen.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board to show documents signed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who had it constructed, to prove that it owns the Taj Mahal.
"Who in India will believe that it the Taj belongs to the Waqf Board?" asked the bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, and added that such issues must not waste the time of the top court.
The Archaeological Survey of India told the top court that Taj Mahal was taken over by the British and since Independence, the authority has been maintaining the Taj Mahal.
The Supreme Court on 23 March directed the Uttar Pradesh government to place before it a draft of vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal and environment in the Taj Trapezium Zone.
The Uttar Pradesh government informed the top court that it was working on a vision document which would help in the protection and preservation of the 17th century mausoleum. It sought four weeks’ time from a bench of justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta for completing the work on the vision document.
In January, the ASI after a study said the Taj has been losing its sheen and the structure is suffering due to increased pollution levels in Agra. Experts said the abrasive nature of the particulate matter in the air is damaging the surfaces of the Taj.
The ASI, in October 2017, temporarily stopped restoration work at the TaJ Mahal and sought help from engineers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Some experts are of the opinion that repeated use of mud packs to clean the white marble may be weakening the structure.
Rain lashed Agra and other cities of Uttar Pradesh including Kanpur, Mathura, Kannauj, Farukkhabad, Etawah and Mainpuri on Wednesday for nearly 30 minutes, claiming three lives in Mathura district when the tin roof of a one-room house collapsed.
A large area of crop has been laid waste by the rain, IANS quoted an official as saying. The potato harvest, which is already hit by poor marketing and bad pricing, is set to take a beating by the rain, he added.
Power outages have also been reported owing to the strong winds blowing across many areas. The weather department informed that there is a low-pressure depression in some parts of the state which is leading to the rains.