Saturday, Aug 20, 2022
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Touching Up A White Dream

Engaging the world's best, the Tatas spare no effort to bring the sheen back to the Pearl Mosque

Touching Up A White Dream Touching Up A White Dream

If British Governor-General Lord Bentinck had his way, the world's most famous monument to love would now be in a London museum. He was dissuaded from shifting the derelict Taj Mahal back to England in pieces only when he learnt of the likely cost. Nearly 200 years later, the Tatas are sparing no cost, having already set aside an initial fund of Rs 1.87 crore, to restore both the Taj and its environs to their original glory.

When the Tata's Taj group of hotels agreed to collaborate with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in "improving" the Taj Mahal in June last year, following the department of culture's decision to harness private resources for cultural projects, the ASI's requirements in the MoU it signed with the group of hotels were typically modest: a few repairs like missing inlay work and disintegrating outer walls like the eastern one and the riverfront boundary, water treatment for the garden, better lighting, advice on how to redo the existing Taj museum, pre-recorded tour programmes, and even better restroom facilities. But the Tatas would have none of it: this was going to be a conservation project fit for the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's masterpiece, involving global conservation experts like James Westcourt, a world authority on Mughal gardens, and art historian Ebba Koch, conservationists from Getty Foundation and world experts on crowd and visitor management besides museum experts and architects from Intach, lavishing both money and time in designing a project that is likely to become a model for future conservation plans.

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