Dry Yamuna giving Taj Mahal that sinking feeling?

LUCKNOW: When Shah Jahan decided to build the Taj Mahal on a wooden base on the banks of the Yamuna, he got everything right from design to science. Except for one thing: he never factored in the Yamuna going dry.In the Mughal era, wood was used to lay solid foundations. And Shah Jahan did not stint on the ebony which props the Taj up. But even the finest ebony in the world needs a steady stream of moisture to ensure it does not expand or contract, posing a grave threat to the structure.That is where, experts say, a dry Yamuna could play havoc with the Taj’s foundation, making a solid love story in marble wobbly at the base. In the past decade or so, the ‘perennial’ river has been completely drying up in the summer months in Agra, posing a potent threat to India’s most famous monument.

Fearing the worst, a Save Taj campaign has gathered momentum in Agra with everyone from environmentalists, activists, politicians and businessmen joining hands. Agra MP R S Katheria (BJP) went knocking at the door of Rashtrapati Bhavan last month. On March 23, Katheria led a delegation to President Pratibha Patil and pleaded for ”a decent water level in Yamuna”.Quoting from a recent latest book by professor R Nath (another Taj activist), Taj Mahal History and Architecture, he claimed that the depleting water would eventually dry up the wood, make it shrink and crack, and spell doom for the edifice.The MP is now rooting for an independent agency to inspect the boarded and barred basement of Taj Mahal. ”No one has been allowed to enter the 16 underground chambers for more than three decades and we have only ASI’s word that all is well.” – TOI