Historians have warned that the 358 year old Taj Mahal could collapse in the next five years because the monument’s foundations are rotting, according to reports.
The tomb, which was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India” and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.
But the river Yamuna that runs alongside the Taj Mahal is highly polluted as a result of the growing number of industries and deforestation.
According to researchers, the mahogany-base foundation of the monument - which is joins the river via a well - has become very brittle. Cracks appeared last year in parts of the tomb, and its four minarets are reportedly beginning to tilt.
Campaigner Ramshankar Katheria explained, “If the crisis is not tackled on a war-footing, the Taj Mahal will cave in between two and five years. The architectural wonder of the world is losing its shine, and if this persists the minarets may also collapse since the wooden foundation beneath the wells is rotting.”
He added “No one has been allowed to go into the foundations for the last three decades. If everything is fine, what have they got to hide?”
The marble mausoleum, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, is one of the most popular attractions in India, attracting four million visitors each year to Agra.