A pinnacle of one of the four minarets of the Taj Mahal fell off on Monday afternoon during repair work, witnesses said. But officials said it was taken out because of its weak condition.
Superintending archaeologist Bhuvan Vikram of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told IANS that the pinnacle did not fall but was taken out because of its weak condition.
Chemical cleaning of the white marble Taj Mahal has been going on for the past few months.
The covers and scaffoldings around the minarets have marred the beautiful view of the 17th century monument, visited by thousands each day.
According to a report in IBN Live, ASI officials had removed the pinnacle to clean it as monkeys had spoiled the structure. Superintending archaeologist Bhuvan Vikram of the ASI said that the pinnacle has been removed and kept around the minaret for chemical clean up and that it would be placed back in its position as soon as possible.
Another ASI official, Ram Ratan, was quoted in an India Today report as saying that the upper part of the minaret and the crest was corroded and that they were taken down to install a new metal rod.
The removal of the pinnacle is routine work apparently and this time around a photograph of the maintenance process went viral on social media, portraying the ASI as being lax in their approach in preserving a heritage site, said Shamshuddin, president of Approved Guides Association while speaking to India Today.
He added further that the pinnacle was made of gold in the Mughal era, which was later replaced by a brass one during the British rule.
The Taj Mahal has been undergoing a chemical clean-up process for a few months now. The ASI is currently using mud-therapy, where they cover the monument in mud and wash it off later, as part of their efforts to protect the Taj Mahal from corrosion.
The India Today report also quoted Prahalad Agarwal, President of the Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber, as saying that while the ASI has been doing an admirable job in maintaining the monument, they must ensure that no photographs are taken during such times as it can easily be misjudged as carelessness which may eventually lead to damage to tourist trade and a subsequent blemish on the country’s image.
With inputs from IANS