With monuments run by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) closed due to a spike in Covid-19 cases, the central government organisation will use the time to carry out conservation work at Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri premises in Agra. The aim behind carrying out such work was to make the monuments more beautiful for the tourists when once they reopen, a senior ASI official in Agra said on Saturday.
On April 15, the iconic Taj Mahal and other ASI centrally protected monuments, sites and museums were shut till May 15 by the Ministry of Culture due to the rise in coronavirus cases across the country. Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Agra Circle, Vasant Kumar Swarnkar told PTI, “As monuments have been closed till May 15 due to the spike in Covid cases, we will utilise that time in conservation of Taj Mahal premises, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.” He added, “During the closed period, mud pack treatment will be applied to the main dome of Taj Mahal while conservation of minars in the monument will be done.”
“The old stones of pietra dura art at the royal gate will be changed and the royal gate itself will be given a new look,” Swarnkar added. Mud packs have been regularly used by the ASI to remove yellow stains that have appeared over the years on Taj Mahal’s white marble facade. The treatment is believed to help in restoring the natural shine and colour of the monument.
The senior official said renovation of the fortification of walls of Agra Fort is also in the list along with other renovation work of Amar Singh Gate, Diwan-e-Aam, Musamman Burj, etc. In Fatehpur Sikri, the ASI will carry out conservation of Todarmal Baradari, Hamam and Samosa Mahal inside the Mughal-era premises.
During the time of renovation and conservation, the guidelines of Covid-19 will be followed, Swarnkar added. “The budget for the renovation and conservation of the monuments’ premises was about Rs 1 crore and that was proposed in the last financial year,” the ASI official added.
Vice-president of Tourism Guild of Agra Rajeev Saxena appreciated the step and said, “It will give a new look to Taj Mahal and other monuments. The initiative would give a ‘Wah Taj!’ experience to visitors when the monuments will be reopened based on the government guidelines.” He added that the Indian railways had last year utilised the pandemic-related lockdown months in renovation and other development works for better experience of travellers. Similarly, the step taken by ASI, Agra would make a good impression on tourists, Saxena said.