India: Taj Mahal′s tombs cleaned for first time in 300 years for Donald Trump | News | DW | 24.02.2020
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India: Taj Mahal's tombs cleaned for first time in 300 years for Donald Trump

The famous tombs at the Taj Mahal are being given a special clay pack treatment in honor of Donald Trump's visit. The Yamuna river behind the Taj Mahal has also received 17 million liters of water.

After building a wall in Ahmedabad to hide slums, India is undertaking another project before US President Donald Trump's visit: The replicas of two graves inside the Taj Mahal, India's most famous monument, are being given a clay-pack treatment.

This is the first time the replicas of the graves are being cleaned since their installation more than 300 years ago.

The treatment involves the application of a thick layer of clay, followed by a wash with distilled water.

The clay pack is originally inspired from a traditional face pack Indian women apply to appear fairer. The Taj Mahal itself has been cleaned with a clay pack treatment five times, but the replicas of the graves were not cleaned. The real graves of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal are in a chamber below the replicas.

Trump, who is due to visit the Taj Mahal with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law during his visit to India starting on Monday, may not visit the actual grave because the entrance is just five feet high. The president's security team, which visited the Taj Mahal recently, said that Trump will not bow down, even if it is to see a 17th-century grave. 

Read more: Donald Trump visits India amid burgeoning defense ties

Indian graves

The original Taj Mahal graves are only opened to the public for three days a year, to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Shah Jahan, also known as Urs. Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, who claims to descend from Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, also visits the graves to affirm his lineage to the Mughals.

The chandelier above the graves is also being cleaned with tamarind water. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is undertaking this project, is to clean the entire monument to remove dark spots on walls and floors.

Trump's visit to the city of Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, is a high-security event that has brought a number of preparations with it.

The Yamuna river directly behind the Taj Mahal, which was until recently a parched lake, has received 17 million liters of water. Trump will reportedly be welcomed by dancers at the airport and the Taj Mahal is closed for tourists on the day of Trump's visit. The wall from the airport to the Taj Mahal has been painted with colorful depictions of India's cultural heritage. To protect Trump from monkeys in Agra, five langurs (large monkeys) will reportedly be deployed to scare off small monkeys on the route Trump will take to the Taj Mahal.

Trump is scheduled to visit India from February 24 to 25 to meet with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trump's first official visit to India comes at a time when the two nations share an ever-closer defense partnership, but also have sharp differences over trade and investment barriers. 

A billboard in the city of Ahmedabad in India before Trump's visit (picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Solanki)

A billboard in the city of Ahmedabad in India before Trump's visit.

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