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The glorious Taj Mahal, the ultimate symbol of love and devotion and an architectural marvel, is in trouble.

On July 7th – 07.07.07 in any calendar – the names of the New Seven Wonders of the World will be announced from a short list of ten nominated monuments. But the magnificent Taj had just scraped through to be the last name on that provisional list sometime ago. And now it needs votes to stay in the race.

Bernard Weber, a Swiss man, set up the foundation, New Seven Wonders of the World (N7W) in May, 2001, as an extension of his efforts to save the Bamiyan Buddahs – giant statues carved into the Afghan cliffs that were destroyed by the Taliban. And what was initially an initial list of 21 nominees for the “Seven Wonders” award has now been narrowed down to ten names – the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor is also one of them.

The voting system is simple: Send a text message via your phone or vote online at the new7wonders website. With only 18 days to go, the countdown has begun and the competition is getting hotter between the Taj, the Acropolis, Rome’s Coliseum, King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein Castle (the model for Disney’s fairy-tale castle) and the Sidney Opera House.

To get a “Seven Wonders” designation – and the prize money that comes with it – the Taj still needs a lot of votes. Of the fifty million votes cast it had received only four hundred thousand till a couple of days ago. And that’s a pity.

It’s a pity not so much because the grand marble monument is struggling to make the cut, which frankly is no reflection of its brilliance. It’s a pity because the Indians couldn’t get their act together and give the Taj the votes it needs, for if there’s one thing India has, it’s numbers. The country’s population is over a billion, out of which there are roughly ninety million mobile phone users and over twenty one million Internet users. Not only that, millions of Indians are logging onto the Internet via their cell phones, so it is somewhat inexcusable that the Taj is left clutching at straws to prove itself a wonder.

Photo by Steve Evans

Taj View

If you’ve been to the Taj you’ll know why I say this. It’s truly splendid and any picture of it, no matter how beautiful, does little justice to its glory of its architecture and its grounds, which really hit you as the sun sets and you stop to admire its grandeur. The crowd around you fades into oblivion and as you focus on is the grand mausoleum built by Muslim king Shah Jahan for his beautiful wife Mumtaz.

The Taj has mesmerized visitors – common tourists and celebrities alike – for generations. The famous bench in front of the monument has been photographed with the likes of princess Diana and Bill Clinton sitting on it, with the Taj forming a perfect backdrop.

But there is a bigger reason to support the Taj. The N7W Foundation claims it wants to restore and reconstruct world heritage and will use half of all net revenue raised to fund restoration efforts worldwide. The Taj could use this money and effort, since, horrific as this sounds, it’s showing signs yielding to the pollution that surrounds it, it’s once-clean white marble is turning yellow.

Back in 2000 Bill Clinton had made a plea while at the Taj to control environmental pollution; the idea, long a cause in India, got some attention but then faded. So the Taj is still at risk.

The N7W list will be announced in Lisbon on the 7th of July. I’ve done my part and voted for the gracious landmark. I’m hoping you’ll join me.

Share  Posted by Gopika Kaul at 10:50 PM | Permalink

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