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Commonwealth Games 2002

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SERVICES 
Saturday, 29 December, 2001, 10:14 GMT
Taj Mahal 'to be camouflaged'
The Taj Mahal
Security was stepped up following 11 September
The Taj Mahal, one of India's most famous landmarks, is to be covered with dark cloth as protection against possible bombing raids in the event of war with neighbouring Pakistan, officials say.

Local tailors in Agra were reported to be stitching more than 400 metres of khaki, black and green cloth, to be strung across the celebrated monument to love.

Officials said they would try to hide the 17th century mausoleum's dome and four minarets and dome from any Pakistani airstrike.


The Taj could be a target

Local tourism official
An Indian air force base is located in the city.

"The Taj shines as far as 40 kilometre (24 miles) away, and is visible especially on moonlit nights. It could be a target," tourism official MS Juyal was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Workers also have started building five bunkers to house armed guards around the monument, the agency reported.

A source from the Archaeological Survey of India told French news agency AFP that ladders had already been arranged around the monument and special ropes were being brought in.

"These are precautionary steps being taken to meet the situation in case it arises," the source said.

Security precautions

The Taj Mahal is revered as one of the world's most beautiful buildings.

Taj Mahal
The mausoleum took 22 years to build

Resting on the bank of the Yamuna River in northern India, it was built by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth.

Construction began in 1631 and took 22 years to be fully completed.

Security was stepped up around the Taj following the 11 September attacks on America.

And in 1984 Sikh militants threatened to blow it up.

See also:

22 Jun 01 | South Asia
Hotel group bails out Taj Mahal
10 Nov 00 | Media reports
Taj Mahal disappears under magic spell
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Taj Mahal pollution plea
24 Dec 99 | South Asia
Full moon vision of the Taj
17 Dec 99 | South Asia
Taj nights face legal challenge
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