Over the past decade, more than three million travelers have visited the Indian Taj Mahal each year. The white marble monument – completed some 15 years ago by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631 – stands on three acres of land on the Yamuna River in the northern city of Agra.
By the mid-1990s, the splendours of the Taj – such as the dome lined with 187-foot minarets, fronted by a reflecting pool, and surrounded by a walled garden – had deteriorated considerably, resulting in a multimillion-dollar Indian government-led restoration effort. .
The massive undertaking includes the washing of the marble exterior and the restoration of the massive main doors in red sandstone, including the replacement of the semi-precious inlay. The restoration is expected to take several years. Even before the scaffolding is lowered, visitors will find that the monument’s aura of serenity, long associated with this symbol of romantic love, remains intact.