Taj Mahal’s gates damaged in overnight thunderstorm
The Taj Mahal’s gates suffered minor damages in an overnight thunderstorm in Agra on Wednesday.
Winds blowing at 130 km/h brought down pillars of the royal and southern gates of the Taj, a Mughal-era monument which has been declared as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A north-west pillar on top of the royal gate and a flower vase in stone and a brass filial were brought down in the thuderstorm, said Ankit Namdev, conservation assistant of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Taj Mahal.
Similar loss happened at the southern gate too, he said, adding that a portion of the wall of Rewti Ka Bada got damaged when a tree fell on it. A red sand stone flower vase at Sahindi Begum Makbara also broke and fell.
No damage has been assessed yet on the main monument made of white marble.
“We are assessing the damage and restoration measures would be planned accordingly after having full details of damage,” Namdev said.
Similar assessment will be done at other heritage structures in Agra district, which has 198 ASI-protected structures including three world heritage listed monuments — the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
The heavy rainfall and thunderstorm which started around 7 pm caused eight deaths in Agra, four in Mathura and two in Firozabad — all fall under Braj region.
In rural Agra, Gauri Shankar (75) and Hamid Khan (55) died in village Mahua Kheda under Tajganj police station. Lambardar (40) and Angoori Devi died in Doki area after being trapped in debris of a wall which fell on him. Thakur Dass, also from Doki area, died in a wall collapse.
Nirmala Devi (30), Chandrawati (35) and Kalua (30) of Achhnera area also died due to the rains and thunderstorm.
In Mathura’s Jhudawai village, children of two brothers, Mahesh and Naresh, Karan (7), Visakha (3) and Tillu (3) were killed when the roof of the house fell.
In the same village, Resham Devi (70) was killed when a water tank fell on her.
In Firozabad, Sonti (10) of Ballarpur village under Sirsaganj police station and Sunil under Line Par police station were killed.
The sudden change in weather caused traffic snarls on several roads, including the MG Road and the National Highway 2 which connects Delhi and Kanpur. Uprooted trees and electricity poles added to the woes of commuters while power outages were reported in many localities throughout the night.
Standing wheat and barley crops were damaged in rural areas of Agra, Mathura, Firozabad, Kasganj, Mainpuri and Etah. This is the second time a thunderstorm has struck in a week, the last one being on Friday.