Poet Rabindranath Tagore described it as a 'teardrop on the cheek of eternity'; for its creator Emperor Shah Jahan, it was a love poem in marble. Every year, tourists throng Agra to catch a glimpse of this beautiful monument, the Taj Mahal. Over the past few years, however, the beauty of this pristine white marble mausoleum could be seen only in the picture perfect postcard images, or miniature souvenirs. As a result of pollution from factories around Agra, the marble is losing its sheen, turning yellowish–even yellowish black–at certain parts. The Archaeological Survey of India, responsible for maintenance of the monument, is planning to restore the beauty of the monument using mud therapy.
The mud therapy involves pasting a pack of fuller's earth on the top dome of the Taj Mahal. The mud pack is said to absorb dust and pollutants from the marble. Once the mud pack flakes off, the dome will be washed with distilled water. This technique is considered safe for the monument as it does not involve use of artificial chemicals and other mechanical processes. The fuller's earth, commonly known as multani mitti, is a popular face pack among Indians who use it for cleansing and to restore the glow on their faces. Multani mitti is a very good absorbent of dust and dirt.
This is not the first time the monument is to receive this kind of treatment. Prior to this, the monument was partially covered in mud in 1994, 2001, 2008 and 2014. This process, however, will take a while and a scaffolding will be erected around the top dome for almost an year, thus hiding it from the public view.
Local tourism industry fears that hiding the dome could negatively impact the number of tourists who visit Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and to photograph themselves with the picturesque monument in the backdrop. So if you are planning a trip to the Taj Mahal, this might not be a right time to do so.