Taj Mahal by moonlight loosing charm

October 17th, 2008 - 5:10 pm ICT by ANI  

By Brajesh Kr.Singh
Agra, Oct.17 (ANI): Visiting the Taj Mahal, the magnificent monument of love in Agra, charms people from all over the world. That fascination doubles when an opportunity is provided to view the white marble monument under moonlight.
About 25 years ago, during Sharad Purnima, which occurs exactly a fortnight before Diwali, the festival of lights, people in thousands would converge to watch the marble wonder glowing under natural moonlight. It looks beguiling.
Sadly now, the number of people now converging to view this spectacle has reduced drastically. This time on Sharad Purnima only 260 visitors watched the Taj Mahal under moonlight.
Till 1984, thousands of visitors would throng the Taj Mahal compound every month on Purnima for three days of night time viewing. This practice was stopped after 1984 due to terrorist threats. The Supreme Court allowed night viewing again from 2004.
The practice of night viewing, however, is now more restrictive.
People can today visit the place in groups of 50 amidst heavy security. The view takes place between 8.30 to 12.00 in the evening for five days. Till 1984, night viewing was allowed for three days and till 4 a.m. Visitors now rue that they get only 30 minutes for night viewing of which 10 minutes are lost in security checks and for arriving at the closest permissible location, the Red Stone platform. This platform is 350 metres away from the main structure of the Taj.
“The security arrangements are very tight at the Taj and the distance between tourists and the monument is so big, that they are not able feel the beauty of it. They are not able to feel close to the monument. Thus, they are not able to enjoy the feeling for which they come here,” said Sandeep Arora, a hotel owner.
Visitors do wish that this pleasure of a lifetime is enhanced manifold. They would love to the Taj from Chameli Farsh, the floor from where the stairs reach the main structure.
In the last four years, only 12,353 visitors have come for night viewing. Before 1984, thousands of visitors would throng the place for night viewing in one night.
“I don”t deny that with the full moon (the Taj Mahal) is quite impressive and when it touches the (marble) it would be quite impressive monument. And, it seems that both together would be great, it would be very nice for more visits during the full moon for Taj Mahal. I think it would be a great opportunity for the tourists,” said David, a foreign tourist.
In November 2004 India’’s apex court set aside a ban to enable moonlight viewing of the 17th-century monument of love. Though night viewing was allowed for a few days in 2000, it was stopped again over concerns about the sites preservation.
The security measures include X-raying baggage and restrictions on video photography.
“It’’s not about the number of tourists. The Taj Mahal is a very important monument and the way the number of tourists is increasing and considering there is an atmosphere of terrorism all over, it’’s essential to beef up security at the Taj,” said Mahendra Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police.
Built by Emperor Shahjahan as a testament of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is considered to be the finest example of Mughal architecture, its style combining of Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architecture.
In 1983, the Taj Mahal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India.
Taj Mahal is located 200 km (125 miles) south of Delhi, and is surrounded by ornamental gardens. One white minaret stands at each of its four corners and two smaller red sandstone buildings balance the postcard image on the banks of the Yamuna river.
Historians say Shahjahan consulted experts from the Middle East and Europe while planning the monument. It took 20,000 people over 22 years to build it. The government and the Archaeological Survey of India say it was finished in 1654, but some dispute this date.
The surface of the monument has yellowed over the years due to pollution from vehicle fumes, factories, an oil refinery and funeral pyres at a nearby cremation ground. (ANI)

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