Drought threatens the leaning towers of Agra

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The Independent Online

The minarets of the Taj Mahal are in danger of becoming the leaning towers of Agra. The government of Uttar Pradesh state has ordered an urgent investigation after two historians reported that the monument was in danger.

The minarets of the Taj Mahal are in danger of becoming the leaning towers of Agra. The government of Uttar Pradesh state has ordered an urgent investigation after two historians reported that the monument was in danger.

Lavish celebrations this year will mark the 350th anniversary of the Taj, the mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz, and long lauded as a monument to eternal love. But the festivities will be held away from the monument for fear of crowds causing further problems.

Two Indian academics say that while the building was designed in perfect balance with the Yamuna river, which runs alongside, the water level has been dropping, and this is endangering the monument.

Dangerous tilts in its minarets, first noticed in 1942 and mentioned in various reports, have increased. "They are caused by the dry riverbed," said Ram Nath, of Rajasthan University.

Agam Prasad Mathur, of Agra University, said: "Yamuna used to be full of water to maintain the monument's balance and absorb tectonic shocks."

The government of Uttar Pradesh has ordered experts to check one of the minarets, said to be leaning dangerously, and report in a week. The historians say the best way to preserve the Taj Mahal is to revive the river.

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