AGRA, India (AP) — Rising water from the Yamuna river on Wednesday reached the outer boundary walls of the iconic Taj Mahal and submerged one of its adjacent gardens after record monsoon rains swelled rivers across northern India over the last three weeks.
The flooding at the 17th-century white marble monument in Agra city came as heavy floods had killed at least 100 people in parts of north India, swept away houses and bridges and resulted in deadly landslides.
On Wednesday, the red sandstone boundary walls of the Taj Mahal were surrounded by brown, muddy water, even as a flock of tourists thronged the historical monument left untouched by the river. Water from the overflowing Yamuna, however, flooded some low-lying houses near the monument, prompting officials to move residents to safer places.
Local residents and officials said the river last touched the boundary walls of the monument in 2010.
In 1978 the flood water seeped into the monument’s basement, but a recurrence of that event is unlikely this time, officials said.
A spokesperson of the Archaeological Survey of India, which manages the Taj Mahal, said the increased water levels pose no threat to the iconic monument.
Prince Vajpayee, conservation assistant at the Taj Mahal, told the Press Trust of India news agency that the monument is built on a raised structure and the flood water did not pose any threat to it at the moment.
The famed Taj Mahal, often called a monument to love, was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan on the southern banks of the Yamuna river in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz. The complex houses both their graves, a mosque, and several graves of other Mughal royalty.
The monument, acclaimed for its delicate latticework, is India’s biggest tourist draw, attracting millions of visitors every year.