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Hemendra Chaturvedi, Agra: More than a year since the Taj Mahal began sporting scaffoldings on its minarets,
a mudpack on the famed monument of love to restore it to its ivory-white splendour will disappoint tourists over the next two seasons.
Set to start from next fiscal, the cleaning works can turn out to be a major eyesore till its completion in 2018.
It was in end-September 2015 that the ongoing maintenance work began on the 17th-century marble mausoleum to reverse the yellowing of the four towers. If the sight of the planks and poles distracted one from the famed picture-perfect sight, workmen will be next be seen scrambling over the dome.
“Scaffoldings on the cupola (dome) may come in the 2017-18 fiscal. We may start from its rear side,” said Dr MK Bhatnagar, who is in charge of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)’s chemical branch.
“We have to first assess the dome’s bearing capacity; how much weight of metal it can take,” he added, saying the current work pertains to one of the minarets on the eastern side of the mausoleum.
Bhatnagar further said the ASI “cannot predict” the time the scaffoldings will cover the dome. “It depends on the requirement of the work. Even the velocity of wind matters.”
The ASI initiated a cleaning project at the start of the 2015-16 fiscal, applying additives-laced Multani Mitti (Fuller’s earth). This anti-corroding and non-abrasive technique is more scientific as well as detailed than the ones the government agency employed in the past quarter century to clean parts of the Taj wall — in 1994, 2001 and 2008.
The dome is 240-feet-tall with a diameter of 58 feet and is built over a 17-acre plot. Originally ivory-white in colour, the 1653-constructed tomb alongside the Yamuna has been losing sheen due to increasing industrialisation in the area.