Site of the Taj Mahal is getting a face lift…and a Ferris wheel?

Posted by Sara Elghobashy

August 4, 2009

I’ve always said, “You know what the Taj Mahal needs? A Ferris wheel.” Well lucky me, my dreams may come true after all.

The Telegraph reports that officials in India are attempting to spice up tourism by adding ropewalks, a suspension bridge, cable cars and a Ferris wheel within 800 meters of the Taj Mahal. These additions, according to officials, will “highlight” India’s most popular landmark.

These plans have incited some angry protests from conservationists, thank goodness, who believe the new additions are the “most insensitive imaginable.” Insensitive? Is that a euphemism for tacky? However, Tanveer Zafar Ali, Vice-Chairman of the jazz and sparkles committee, thinks the tourism industry “needs a face lift.”

The Taj Mahal was built during the Mughal Empire and consists of a 500 meter site on which the beautiful building stands. Approximately 2.5 million tourists visited the Taj Mahal last year, but officials were hoping to increase that number by linking it to the surrounding historical buildings in Agra. Plans also include adding an Agra Eye – modeled after the London Eye – so that tourists could increase their spending in India.

Conservationists opposed the new plans on several grounds. They believe it will destroy the beauty of the building and ruin India’s cultural heritage. O.P. Jain, an advisor to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, said “Tourism is not everything. The people who come to see the Taj are not the kind of people who like to go by ropeway or see it in front of a Ferris wheel.”

The plans are still awaiting the approval of the Supreme Court and the Architectural Survey of India. However, Tanveer Zafar Ali believes that “neither will be opposed to keeping up with the changing times.” Let’s hope he is wrong on that one.



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