Monday, January 30, 2012

Fears over Taj Mahal's leaning tower

Taj Mahal's leaning tower
Taj Mahal, Wonder of the World
An urgent investigation was ordered today after reports that one of the four minarets of the 17th century Taj Mahal - India's fabled monument to love - has tilted slightly.

Mohammed Azam Khan, urban development minister of the northern Uttar Pradesh state, said a panel of government experts has been asked to report within a week on whether a tower had leaned outward by 8.5 inches.

'This is a grave matter so I impressed upon the Cabinet not to delay action in the matter,' Khan said in Lucknow, the state capital.

India is celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Taj this year. Khan said Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, the state's top elected official, had ordered the inquiry, which will be conducted by officials from the federal Archaeological Survey of India and officials from the state government's public works, water, culture and construction departments.

It was not immediately clear whether the investigation would affect the government's decision to open the monument next month for night viewing after a 20-year ban.

Night viewing was prohibited in 1984 because of fears of an attack on the monument by militant Sikhs, who were then fighting the government for the independence of neighbouring Punjab state.

The Taj Mahal was built from 1632 to about 1654 by Mugal Emperor Shah Jehan as a monument to his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

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