On Tuesday evening, social media went into a tizzy when news arrived that one of the brass pinnacles mounted atop the four minarets at the Taj Mahal had tumbled down.
Conflicting reports added to the confusion, as all eyes turned to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the organization that protects and maintains ancient monuments and archaeological sites. While some reports stated that monkeys had stolen the minaret, others suggested that it had “shattered” into several pieces.
ANI reported that the pinnacle fell down during its beautification process.
Agra: One of the minars of Taj Mahal reportedly suffers damage while beautification for the minars was underway. pic.twitter.com/smM6JeOjD0— ANI (@ANI_news) March 29, 2016
Beautification work was on for Taj Mahal minar, all of a sudden its pinnacle broke into two pieces: State Chief, Smarak Suraksha Samiti— ANI (@ANI_news) March 29, 2016
Finally, the ASI has dismissed all speculation and revealed that the pinnacle was removed as its structure had weakened, partly because of monkeys that managed to climb up there.
ASI's conservation assistant at Taj Mahal, Ram Ratan told the Hindustan Times: "The supporting iron rod within the minaret has become weak due to rust and it has to be replaced. Besides, fresh mortar would be used to hold the pinnacle at the top of the minaret."
Catch News reported that during the cleaning and restoration process of three of the minarets, the pinnacle on the south-west direction — located at a height of 250 feet — was removed to “protect it from monkeys”. The report also added that it was later replaced atop the minaret.
Last year, a 60kg British-era copper chandelier at the main entrance of the Taj Mahal crashed down, prompting the ASI to initiate a probe into the matter.
For several years now, with fairly long gaps in between, 'mud packs' have been applied to severely affected parts of the Taj Mahal in order to reduce the 'yellowing' caused due to the burning of garbage and dung cakes in nearby areas. Reports state that it will take about nine more years for the ASI to completely clean it.
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