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Taj Mahal’s Tombs Are Being Cleaned for the First Time in 300 Years Just for Trump’s Visit

Authorities have also released fresh water to mask the foul smell of the Yamuna river, and put some long-tailed monkeys in charge of protecting the US President.
24 February 2020, 10:51am
Taj Mahal’s Tombs Are Being Cleaned for the First Time in 300 Years Just for Trump’s Visit
Photo by Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA (left) and Jovyn Chamb / Unsplash (right)

Donald Trump is kind of like that one US-based uncle we’ve all heard crazy stories about, spotted in embarrassing videos on social media and generally realised is more talk than action—and even though we’ve never met, we've put up with him anyway because he’s filthy rich and powerful. That is, until he decides to make a sudden visit to India, and suddenly the whole family is scrambling about to fix the flowerbeds, kick out the homeless people who’ve been squatting in the garage for years, repaint the walls, and most tiresome of all, make you clean your room for the first time since you moved in.

Ever since Donald Trump announced his India visit, the Indian government has taken on the role of the uptight Indian family who may not be meticulous but have to appear so when a guest visits. Not only has a wall been built to hide slums from Trump, flights been diverted and street dogs caged up as Ahmedabad prepped for the US President’s visit to the state for just a few hours, but even the city of Agra is getting a glow-up.

After enchanting the promised crowd of 10 million with his love for Hindus, Trump is expected to make his way to Agra after visiting Ahmedabad on February 24, the city that houses India’s most iconic monument: the Taj Mahal. So, just ahead of Trump’s visit, authorities released fresh water into the Yamuna river behind the Taj to take away its “foul smell” (a privilege that apparently could not be awarded to the locals actually living there). But this river isn’t the only thing that’s being made to look cleaner than it is.

Now, authorities have announced that the replica of the tombs of Taj Mahal will be scrubbed clean for the first time since they were installed about 300 years ago. These tombs will be getting the clay-pack treatment, which is not some influencer’s beauty routine straight out of YouTube, but is actually inspired by the beauty treatments used by Indian women to make themselves appear fairer. It involves a thick layer of clay being applied on the tombs, then washed with distilled water.

While the real graves of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, in whose memory the monument was built, can be found in a chamber below the replicas, apparently Trump doesn’t like to go down. Since this room is only five feet tall, Trump’s security team has insisted that the President “will not bow down”.

The most ironic part about this plan is that Trump, who has a history of making Islamophobic comments, even promising to ban all Muslims from entering the US, will be visiting the pinnacle of Islamic architectural tradition.

Meanwhile, sensing that secret service agents have got nothing on the small monkeys that surround the Taj Mahal and like to pop out to pull your hair or steal your snacks, five langurs (large-sized long-tailed monkeys) have been trained to protect Trump.

Trump’s first official visit to India promises many things—from a stronger defence relationship to better trade deals. But in the end, Indians will always remember this visit for one reason: for cleaning up cities faster and more efficiently than any Swachh Bharat scheme could.

Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.