Taj Mahal damaged in deadly India thunderstorm

Workers assessing the damage at the Taj Mahal after parts of the complex were damaged in a heavy storm last Friday night. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Workers assessing the damage at the Taj Mahal after parts of the complex were damaged in a heavy storm last Friday night. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

AGRA (Uttar Pradesh) • A deadly thunderstorm that rolled across parts of northern India damaged sections of the Taj Mahal complex, including the main gate and a railing running below its five lofty domes, officials said yesterday.

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, India's top tourist attraction has been shut since the middle of March as part of measures to try and combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Photos from Agence France-Presse showed workers assessing the railing of the main mausoleum, after the storm last Friday night battered Agra city in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

"One sandstone railing which was a part of the original structure has been damaged," superintending archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India, Mr Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, said.

"One marble railing which was a later addition, a false ceiling in the tourist holding area and the base stone of the main gate have also been damaged."

He said there was no damage to the main structure of the monument to love - built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth in 1631.

Local media said thunderstorms and lightning killed at least 13 people in two Uttar Pradesh districts.

Fatal lightning strikes in India are relatively common during the June-October monsoon season.

Last year, at least 150 people were killed by lightning in August and September in Madhya Pradesh state in central India.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2020, with the headline 'Taj Mahal damaged in deadly India thunderstorm'. Subscribe