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The Taj Mahal Struggles to Keep its Luster

Illustration for TIME by Daryll Collins.

If you're lucky enough to get a room with a view, you'll see it right away. A shimmering monument of white, it floats above the shabby city of Agra. From afar, the Taj Mahal is as beautiful as the poets promiseŚa glowing tribute to obsessive adoration and a symbol of India around the world. But up close the picture begins to crumble. Acid rain and condensation from the former Mughal capital's coke-fueled factories and, environmentalists say, a nearby oil refinery are eating away the marble and turning what remains the color of unloved teeth. The famous canals and watercourses stink. Garbage...

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