Mon, February 09, 2009
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Cracks appear in Taj Mahal

2009-02-09 08:13:31 GMT2009-02-09 16:13:31 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

Cracks are visible on the walls of India's historical monument Taj Mahal, raising serious concerns over the structural safety.

Cracks have become visible on the walls of India's historical monument Taj Mahal. With a distinctive white domed marble mausoleum at its heart, the 17th Century monument is visited by more than three million people every year. But a series of splits in its exterior are worrying experts, leading to worries over the structural safety of the 360-year-old monument

SCRIPT:

It's one of the most famous sights in the world, a monument to love guaranteed to melt the heart of the world's most jaded traveller.

But the Taj Mahal is under threat.

A series of cracks have appeared in the walls of the structure.

And local experts fear for its safety.

SOUNDBITE (Hindi) HARISH CHIMTI, SOCIAL ACTIVIST, SAYING:

"We need water from the Yamuna river to seep through to the Taj Mahal. The lack of water in the river is causing cracks in the stones. The pollution level in Agra is to blame."

The monument in Agra is 360 years old.

It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife.

It rests on huge wooden slabs placed inside deep wells which regularly fill with water to protect the foundations.

While some are concerned about a lack of water archaeologists also say there are other problems too.

SOUNDBITE (Hindi) D.N DIMRI, SUPERINTENDENT OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA, SAYING:

"The cracks have appeared because the iron clamps which bind the stones together have become rusty through exposure to water. We've removed the clamps and replaced them with copper and steel, so that they can't rust and the monument won't be affected."

20,000 people visit the Taj Mahal every day.

But it isn't just a marble mausoleum - it's an integrated complex of structures.

And if the cracks aren't repaired, its days as one of the world's most popular tourist destinations may be numbered.

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