All the monuments in India are among the best in the world for their archaeological value, design and historical significance but it is a disturbing fact that we have not looked after these monuments properly. The majority of them are in a bad shape. Even the most famous of them has been neglected. When, during the British rule, some precious stones and lapis lazuli were chiselled out of the walls of the Taj Mahal by some officials, it was understandable because the Britishers could not have much attachment with our monuments.
Moreover, the time was such that it could not be stopped by the Indians. But now when everything is in our own hands, why are we neglecting the Taj? The Taj Committee has time and again expressed apprehensions that the smoke fiom the nearby factories is damaging the white marble as wei1 as stones of which the Taj is principally made. There are evidences of spots at some places in walls and the floor. But neither the state government nor the central government has paid any attention. The factories and industries abound around the Taj and give out smoke day and night.
The Taj is situated on the banks of river Yamuna at Agra. The river is so polluted that it looks more like a drain. People keep on throwing garbage in it. The industrial effluents and sewerage water flows into the river. Dirty waters of the river do not add to the beauty of the Taj, but reduce its charm. The authorities have not paid any attention to desalt and clean the river despite tall claims and announcements of plans.
New Delhi, the capital of India is an ancient and historical city. It has a large number of world famous monuments like Lai Qila, Jama Masjid, India Gate, Humayun Tomb, Qutub Minar, Jantar Mantar, Iron Pillar, Lotus Temple, Akshardham Temple, the Old Fort and many other buildings built during the regime of Muslim rulers. Most of these monuments are famous for exquisite Muslim architecture. However, their condition is deteriorating fast because of gross neglect. In Lai Qila the stones have come out at several places. The inner walls of some parts like diwan-e-aam, diwan-e-khas need repair. General cleanliness in and around Lai Qila is missing. Many parts of this monument are being used as offices instead of preserving them on heritage.
The condition of nearby Jama Masjid is also similar. The biggest mosque in Asia has been surrounded by congested shops and other buildings. Rickshaws, buses, cars and other vehicles keep standing around it, making the access and reach narrow and difficult. Qutub Minar has been the most sufferer of neglect. The nearby area has not been developed at all. As a result few tourists are attracted towards this historical monument. Some time ago its uppermost story fell down but no attempt was ever made to rebuild it. Many stairs are broken.
People engrave their names or other words on its outside and inside walls. Nobody stops them. In most of the other monuments, the stones or bricks have come out. They have either not been repaired at all, or if they have been repaired, the difference of material and design is clearly visible. It becomes obvious that they have been repaired by ordinary masons not by experts and designers. Beggars at the gates of monuments annoy the visitors. The food available at shops around these sites is dirty and contaminated.
The arrangement of drinking water is absent while sanitation facilities are not available at all if this is the state of affairs who will come to visit them. Delhi’s Jantar Mantar despite being in the central part of the city, i.e. at the Parliament Street is an example of gross neglect. It does not look like a monument at all. The observatories and other structures within it are withering fast. No expert tends to them; no guide is available to tell about its history. People keep on sleeping, eating, spitting and littering within the premises.
Most of the monuments in the central part of India, i.e. in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, viz. Bandhavgarh are in ruins. They are isolated and secluded apart from being grossly neglected. Very few people dare to visit these ruins which once were forts. The Ajanta and Ellora caves attract a large number of visitors but there is no arrangement to save them and the statues inside from general wear and tear. The facilities are as old as they were decades ago. The condition of transportation, restaurants and hotels nearby has improved but very little.
There is no protection from rain, hot sun and other weathering agents. The monuments of South India also suffer from neglect. The old temples and churches are becoming weak and dull due to weathering and the effect of pollution.
Taking care of the monuments is an important duty that devolves on the respective state government as well as the central government. It needs funds to engage people who can look after it, ensure that the miscreants do not harm it, as also to get the damaged portion repaired from expert designers and engineers. The government must provide adequate amount of funds for each monument. Wherever possible the amount of entry fee should be increased-not to earn revenue but to spend the collection on the upkeep of the monument.
The committees formed to look after the monuments must be made answerable if some damage is caused. Pollution is a big issue. It cannot be checked until people at large are made aware of the sustainable practices and their importance. The industries and factories must be shifted away from site of the monuments to reduce the effect of smoke. There should be a proper system of disposal of garbage, and proper drainage system for waste water as well as industrial effluents. Anybody damaging the structures or walls of the monuments must be punished.
The committees of experts should be formed to study the present condition of each monument and the steps need to be taken to protect them should be initiated. Proper care of the monuments enhances their life. The infrastructure around the monuments must be adequate so that the visitors find it convenient to visit them and stay there for at least some hours.
The monuments represent our tradition, history, art and design. They are related to historical events. They are also the symbols of our architectural skills. The authorities should pay proper attention and save them from ruining away.