Lonely Planet Writer

Insect droppings blamed for turning the walls of the Taj Mahal in India green

The Taj Mahal in India is known as a symbol of eternal love and for its shining white marble walls, but a new threat to the monument’s ivory exterior – bug excrement – may be turning it green.

The Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal. Image by chuvipro

Located in Agra, the monument brings in millions of tourists each year who want to catch a glimpse of the historic building, which is made of white marble and carved with flower motifs and inlaid with semiprecious stones. The building was built by Shah Jahan, as a last resting place for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631.

The World Heritage Site has long been impacted by air pollution, leaving it with yellow and brown stains, and it was recently reported that the building would need nine years of mud packing to reduce the staining. But the latest threat to the monument is swarms of insects leaving green and black waste on the walls, reports the Guardian. The insects are breeding in a stagnant nearby river, but archaeological experts say regular scrubbing of the walls to get rid of the green smears will damage the building’s surface.

Dawn stroll at the Taj Mahal.
Dawn stroll at the Taj Mahal. Image by Janet Marshall

Instead, the authorities are looking for a way to address the culprit, which is apparently a type of long fly that looks like a mosquito, according to the Telegraph. Tourism guides are also calling for something to be done about the waste, with a fear that the building’s current less-than-perfect appearance may turn off travellers and affect guides’ livelihoods, reports ABC in Australia. The government has noted that the issue is of great concern.