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Judges threaten to close the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as it turns green

Toni Hetherington and AP, July 15, 2018 7:00PM AP

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One of the most famous buildings in the world — the Taj Mahal. media_cameraOne of the most famous buildings in the world — the Taj Mahal.

environment

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Indian judges have threatened to close the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, because of extreme* environmental damage.

India’s Supreme Court said the 17th-century monument* built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a monument of love for his late* wife, was in serious disrepair with its world-famous white marble turning green, yellow and black.

Experts say air pollution and swarms* of breeding* insects are to blame for the change in colour.

“Either we shut down the Taj or demolish it or you restore it,” the two judges told the Indian governments.

Tourists visit India's famed monument of love, the Taj Mahal, in Agra. Picture: AP media_cameraTourists visit India’s famed monument of love, the Taj Mahal, in Agra. Picture: AP

They were responding to a petition* organised by environmental activist MC Mehta who was concerned over the worsening state of the popular tourist spot.

The Archaeological Survey of India, the agency responsible for taking care of the country’s monuments, has been coating parts of the Taj with a special clay that, when it is removed, also takes away the yellow, black and green colouring.

But Mr Mehta said it was not enough.

“The white sheen is disappearing and instead of that if the green colour, the brown colour, the other colours … are visible, then what is the reason? The reason is that the pollution has become alarming,” he said.

Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, is a major north Indian industrial centre and the city is often covered with a fog of pollution.

Taj Mahal reflecting in a river on sunset. media_cameraTaj Mahal reflecting in a river on sunset.

Mr Mehta said authorities had not followed earlier Supreme Court orders to protect the Taj by shutting down factories in the area.

In their observations* on the Taj, the judges compared it to the Eiffel Tower* and said it should have been bringing millions of tourist dollars to India.

“Eighty million people visit the Eiffel Tower, which looks like a TV tower,” the judges said. “Our Taj is more beautiful.”

The court said it was taking the matter very seriously and will hear daily updates on the bid to save the Taj Mahal from July 31.

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
The original Seven Wonders of the World were named by Philo of Byzantium in 250BC, and included the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the pyramids of Giza. (Of those ancient seven wonders, only the pyramids remain today).

In 2007, the new Seven Wonders of the World (listed below) were chosen in an online vote in which tens of millions of people voted. All are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

  1. The Great Wall, China
    Built from 220 BC to AD 1644 by several emperors and dynasties. One of the world’s largest building projects, it is thought to be about 8850km long.
  2. Taj Mahal, India
    Built in 1632-48. Commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It took about 22 years and 20,000 workers to construct the complex, which includes an immense garden with a reflecting pool.
  3. Petra, Jordan
    Built in 4th century BC to 2nd century AD by the Nabataean kingdom. Many believe it to be one of the places where Moses struck a rock and water gushed forth.
  4. The Colosseum, Italy
    Built in AD 72-82. Commissioned by Flavian emperors during the first century of the Roman Empire. A feat of engineering, the amphitheatre features a complex system of vaults. It was capable of holding 50,000 spectators, who watched many events including gladiator fights.
  5. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
    Built in 1926-31. This huge statue of Jesus, stands atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro and was commissioned by the Roman Catholic archdiocese.
  6. Chichén Itzá, Mexico
    Built in the 5th-13th century by the Maya-Toltec civilisation, this Mayan city has many temples and monuments.
  7. Machu Picchu, Peru
    Built in the mid-15th century by the Incas. Its purpose has confused scholars with some thinking it was home to the “Virgins of the Sun,” women who lived in convents under a vow of chastity. Others think that it was likely a pilgrimage site, while some believe it was a royal retreat.

GLOSSARY

  • extreme: very great
  • environmental: relating to the environment
  • monument: a building, structure, or site that is of historical importance or interest.
  • late: dead
  • swarms: large groups of flying insects
  • breeding: having babies
  • petition: a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authorities about a cause
  • observations: a statement based on something one has seen, heard, or noticed
  • Eiffel Tower: a tower in Paris, France

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many Wonders of the World are there?
  2. What is causing the damage to the monument?
  3. Why was the Taj Mahal built?
  4. What colour should the Taj Mahal be and what colours has it become?
  5. How many people visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris each year?

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Save the Taj Mahal
Design a poster or flyer to convince others that the Taj Mahal should be saved. Include why it is under threat, what needs to be done to save it and reasons it should be saved. Your poster should include a picture of the Taj Mahal and be set out in an eye-catching manner.

Time: Allow 40 minutes
Curriculum links: English, The Humanities — History, The Arts — Visual Arts/Media.

2. Extension
You have found a reference to the Taj Mahal in a tourist brochure. Using the facts about it in the Kids News article (and further research if needed) write a paragraph you might find with this reference.

Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English, The Humanities — History, Intercultural Capabilities

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text? Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb- make sure it still makes the context it was taken from.

Try and see if you can replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

QUESTION: Should India close the Taj Mahal? Explain your reasons why or why not?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking.

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