India’s iconic Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is facing a unique challenge as green stains, attributed to the excrement of an insect named Goeldichironomus, are coloring its pristine white marble. This phenomenon, though recurring since 2015, has taken an unusual turn by appearing in the winter months of October and November. Conservation experts are expressing concerns about the impact on the monument’s aesthetics and structural integrity.
The timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, is under an unusual threat as green stains mar its iconic white marble. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials and experts attribute this phenomenon to the excrement of an insect called Goeldichironomus. While green staining has been noted since 2015, the occurrence in October, typically a winter month, and its reappearance in November after cleaning, raise concerns among conservationists.
Raj Kumar Patel, the superintending archaeologist of Agra Circle, ASI, expressed the anomaly of the situation. “Greening of the Taj Mahal is a recurring phenomenon. However, this year, it occurred in October, which is strange. Another strange thing is despite the remedial measures, the greening took place again in November, which is worrisome.”
The greening is particularly prominent on the walls facing the Yamuna River, and experts emphasize that this is a consequence of the insect’s excrement. Goeldichironomus, attracted to the white marble, leaves behind a green stain due to the chlorophyll in their bodies.
ASI officials initially addressed the issue through cleaning, but they are now focused on tackling the insect menace to preserve the Taj Mahal’s grandeur. Conservationists are worried that the frequent occurrences may compromise the monument’s pristine white color.
Dr. Girish Maheshwari, head of the School of Entomology at St John’s College, Agra, first studied the greening phenomenon in 2016. His research revealed that the larva of Goeldichironomus, which feeds on river algae, is attracted to the Taj Mahal’s white marble. The excretion of these insects leaves a green stain, a process influenced by the high phosphorus concentration and sediments in the river.
Dr. Maheshwari’s report also highlighted the impact of Goeldichironomus on other heritage structures globally, emphasizing the need for addressing the rising pollution of the Yamuna River, which contributes to the insect’s population surge.
As conservation efforts continue, the Taj Mahal’s battle against the green invasion underscores the delicate balance between preserving historical monuments and environmental challenges.