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Mud bath proposed for yellowing Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is getting dirty, and some want to get it even dirtier as a step towards restoring its white facade.
(FILES) In this picture taken 25 October
Even with air pollution curbs in recent years, India's Taj Mahal has continued to yellow.AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Taj Mahal is getting dirty, and some want to get it even dirtier.

The 17th century mausoleum is renowned for the paleness of its marble, but these days it looks more yellow than white.

A report Monday by a parliamentary panel blamed air pollution, saying the Taj Mahal is encrusted with "suspended particulate matter," or granules of dirt and soot found in high levels in the air around the site in the city of Agra.

"The deposition of SPM on the shimmering white marble of the Taj Mahal imparts yellow tinge to the marble surface," the report said.

To restore the monument to its pristine glory, the panel recommended packing it in mud, a process used on the Taj Mahal in the past.

The treatment takes about two months and involves caking the domed edifice in mud and letting it dry before washing the clay off. As the mud dries, it absorbs the dirty buildup.

The restoration costs $230,000 and will need to be repeated every two or three years, said P. Dayalan, superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India in Agra, which maintains the monument.

The Taj Mahal was built by the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan between 1632 and 1654 for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It houses their graves and a mosque, as well as several other graves of lesser Mogul royalty.

Some 3 million tourists visit the mausoleum every year.

To prevent pollution, visitors must park nearly two miles away and take battery-run buses or horse-drawn carriages to the site.