One of the coolest things about India's Taj Mahal, considered one of the most iconic structures in architectural history, is how it's able to change color, depending on time of day and amount of sunlight. But the white-marble that's responsible for that visual transformation is losing its charm as the famed mausoleum is starting to show more permanent shades of brown, green and yellow.
Much of it is due to the Taj Mahal's proximity to the Yamuna River, which is deemed as so polluted, it's incapable of supporting plant and fish life. Yet the water's filth is enough to attract flying insects known as being part of the Goeldichironomus species. Those same creatures, which are similar to mosquitoes, are dropping loads of excrement over the legendary structure, located just off its banks. The bacteria in the droppings have over time taken the luster out of the marble, hence the nauseating shades on the exterior, which was enough to anger India's Supreme Court.
A May 2 session of the court had Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta up in arms over the Taj Mahal's conditions, which were brought to their attention by environmental lawyer M.C. Mehta, who provided pictorial evidence of the mausoleum's degradation over the past 30 years and has been in a lengthy legal fight to clean up the archeological attraction. Mehta has long accused the Archaeological Survey of India and the federal government of neglecting the accumulating spots on the marble.
The court agreed. Echoing Mehta's arguments, the justices charging the accused parties of using the Taj Mahal as a money-making tourist draw, while ignoring its historic value. They also ordered the ASI and the government to find experts outside India to help find a way to clean the mess on the famed structure that took 20 years to build after Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ordered its construction in 1632 to store the remains of his late wife.
"Earlier it was turning yellow and now it is becoming brown and green," said the justices. "It is very serious. It seems you are helpless. Even if you have the expertise, you are not utilizing it. Or perhaps you don't care."
Just a day after the court ruling, a World Health Organization's report came out, citing Kanpur, a municipality roughly 170 miles from the Taj Mahal, as the world's most polluted city. The report, which focused on air pollution, include 13 other cities in India on its list.