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Architectural grandeur – Taj Mahal

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Architecture


Source: Indian Express, BBC

Context: The apex court has repeatedly called attention to the failures in protecting the Taj Mahal known for its architectural marvels – intricate lattice structures and designs from various forms of pollution.


About Taj Mahal:

  • The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum of white marble built by the Mughal emperor, Shahjahanin memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It stands on the banks of the river Yamuna.
  • It is also a brilliant representation of the pinnacle of Mughal architecture and grandeur.
  • The construction of the Taj Mahal was completed within a period of 17 years from 1631 to 1648 AD.

The Taj Trapezium Zone case and increasing pollution

  • SC in M.C. Mehta case (1996): In order to protect the monument from pollution, the central government had demarcated an area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj, called the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).
  • It also directed the 292 industries operating in the zone to switch to natural gas as an industrial fuel or relocate from their area.
  • In 2010, a report submitted by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) found that despite various government schemes to reduce pollution in the TTZ area, the iconic Taj Mahal continued to face a threat from water and air pollution.

Damage caused by insects

In a Report on Insect Activities at Taj Mahal and Other Monuments of Agra’, Mehta stated that green and black patches had developed on the marble facade due to the presence of a specific type of insects, mainly on the northern side of the Taj Mahal.


Additional Information: About Jaali Works (from BBC)

 The term jaali, meaning net, is used in Central and South Asia. Cut from marble or red sandstone in ornamental patterns, jaali was a distinct architectural feature in India between the 16th and 18th Centuries (including the Taj Mahal).

The Hawa Mahal, or “Wind Palace”, built in 1799 by Rajput rulers in Jaipur, has 953 windows with lattice screens designed to let in a gentle breeze.

Now, in their search for sustainable cooling solutions, architects are reviving this ancient design to construct comfortable, low-carbon buildings.

 Jaali’s cooling feature relies on the Venturi effect in a similar way to an air conditioning unit. “When air passes through holes, it picks up velocity and penetrates afar. Due to the small apertures, the air gets compressed and when released it gets cooler,”.


Insta Links:

Indo-Islamic Architecture


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Q. Discuss the architectural and cultural significance of the Taj Mahal. 10M