India. Mark Twain, after visiting the Taj Mahal, said the world is split in two parts-those that have seen the beautiful monument and those that have not. I am now one of the lucky ones. Along with approximately 50,000 other visitors a day.
Considered by many (including me) to be the most beautiful building in the world, this World Heritage Site is at risk of being damaged by modern pollution. Built in 1632 with no electricity, power tools, trucks or other modern day conveniences, it took 20,000 workers (building and crafting 24 hours a day) over 20 years to build. It completely boggles my mind!
Yet in the last century, air pollution has been eating away at the white marble exterior and water pollution threatens the foundations on which the mausoleum is built. Pollution monitoring devices are everywhere, no gas powered vehicles are allowed within a half mile of the Taj Mahal and nearby coal based factories have been closed or converted to natural gas.
But alas, all the pollution monitoring devices don’t work without electricity, which was off routinely for 6-10 hours a day due to power outages during our visit. And when the power is out, diesel generators kick on to supply power which just adds to the pollution. Old meets new. With no easy solutions, it is an interesting juxtaposition (my lexicon for the day).