But the river crucial to its survival is being blighted by pollution, industry and deforestation. The Taj Mahal, near Agra in India. Experts have said it could be in danger of collapsing within five years because its wooden foundations are rotting Campaigners believe the foundations have become brittle and are disintegrating.
Cracks appeared last year in parts of the tomb, and the four minarets which surround the monument are showing signs of tilting. Its romantic image has attracted film stars and royalty, including Princess Diana, who posed in front of the building after the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles.
A campaign group of historians, environmentalists and politicians say time is running out to prevent a 'looming crisis'. The year-old tomb is built on mahogany post foundations sunk into wells fed by the nearby Yamuna River. That river has now run dry, and cracks appeared in the walls last year Ramshankar Katheria, the MP for Agra who is leading the campaign, said: If everything is fine, what have they got to hide?
The river is a constituent of its architectural design and if the river dies, the Taj cannot survive. The Taj Mahal, built by Mogul emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in childbirth, gets around four million visitors a year The Yamuna River has fallen victim to India's soaring growth.
Large numbers of businesses draw water from the Yamuna upstream of the Taj. Pollution has increased as trees have been cut down to make way for new roads. The trees also protected the city from the worst effects of regular dust storms which now blow over the Taj unimpeded. Around 70 per cent of the population is drinking impure water, and consequently suffering from several health hazards.
The four 40ft high minarets balance the platform, and are designed to tilt slightly outwards, to prevent them crashing on top of the tomb in an earthquake. Environmental campaigners also believe a tree-planting campaign and a water pipeline may improve the situation. The sinking water level is also affecting India's capital, New Delhi, which is at risk of suffering water shortages.
The Indian government has set up body to deal with the Taj Mahal's preservation. Officials connected with eight projects say the national and state governments are now working together to deal with the issue.
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