How it is pre­served

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -


ASI started us­ing fuller's earth with a mix­ture of alu­minium sil­i­cate and mag­ne­sium trisil­i­cate to re­move tarry/greasy par­tic­u­late mat­ter in 1984. To­day, ASI claims it has stopped us­ing harm­ful chem­i­cals and only adds glyc­erol, cel­lo­solve and sodium bi­car­bon­ate to the mud pack in sum­mers to en­sure that it does not dry out fast.


An alkaline so­lu­tion of am­mo­nia is used to clean the red sand­stone. ASI uses a spe­cial bio­ci­dal treat­ment for the sand­stone por­tions that are hid­den from sun and gather moss and al­gae be­cause of hu­mid­ity. Preser­va­tives are also used to in­crease the longevity of the stone.


Stones of the in­lay work are re­placed if they get dam­aged or bro­ken. Ear­lier, ar­ti­sans were cho­sen through a ten­der sys­tem. The process was dis­con­tin­ued af­ter it drew crit­i­cism be­cause the low­est cost did not as­sure qual­ity work. ASI now hires ar­ti­sans based on their crafts­man­ship, but still has no guide­lines for hir­ing them.


Sand­stone floors are in a more pre­car­i­ous con­di­tion than the mar­ble floors be­cause of their high poros­ity that locks mois­ture in­side. As a re­sult, the red sand­stone floors are chip­ping at many places. ASI has put bar­ri­cades near the Mehman Khana to stop vis­i­tors from step­ping on them.


Wooden stairs have been added to de­crease the pres­sure on mar­ble floors and stair­cases and avoid wear and tear. The mon­u­ment was con­structed to take the weight of 30-40 peo­ple at a time. To­day, over 10 mil­lion tourists visit it an­nu­ally and the foot­fall is wear­ing out the walk­ways of its gar­den and the floors of its ter­races.

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