Trump Visit to Taj Mahal Sparks First Clean-Up of Indian Emperor's Replica Tomb in 300 Years, Workers Use Mud Packs to Wash Graves

Graves in the Taj Mahal have been cleaned for the first time in its 300-year history in preparation for Donald Trump's visit to India, it has been reported.

Earlier today, Trump touched down in Ahmedabad for a lightning speed trip to India. During the two-day tour, Trump is scheduled to attend a sunset visit at the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh.

In preparation, authorities "advanced the dates" of a mud-pack treatment for the two royal graves, officials with the the Archaeological Survey of India told the country's largest news agency, Press Trust of India (PTI).

The graves in question belong to Shah Jahan, a 17th-century Mughal emperor, and his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, for whom he built the monument as an act of love. The graves receiving the treatment are replicas—the originals lie in the basement of the main mausoleum and are rarely open to visitors, even dignitaries.

It has been reported that Trump is unlikely to visit the actual graves of the Shah and his wife due to his height. An advanced security team has said they do not want the president to bow down to pass through the five-foot doorway, reports India Today. Instead he will attend the more elaborate replicas located on the ground floor.

Taj Mahal
Authorities have made elaborate security arrangements in the city ahead of President Donald Trump and his family's visit to the iconic Taj Mahal. Yawar Nazir/Getty

To clean the graves, officials use a clay-based treatment similar to those frequently used by women in India to add brightness to their skin. According to The Times of India, a thick layer is smeared over the grave. Once it has dried, a soft brush can be used to remove flakes of clay. Distilled water is used to extract any impurities and finish the process.

As well as the graves, authorities have prepared for the visit by cleaning the red sandstone platform at the royal gate, rinsing the mausoleum's brass chandelier with tamarind water and planting flowers. To remove the "foul smell" from the Yamuna river in time for Trump's arrival, 17 million liters of water have been released to flush away the pollutants causing the stink, Reuters reports.

Trump is expected to arrive at the Taj Mahal around 5.15 p.m local time on Monday by convoy. From the Oberoi Amarvilas hotel, the East Gate of the Taj Mahal complex, the U.S. delegation will travel by golf carts.

The reason behind this unconventional method of transport is a ban of diesel and petrol vehicles within a 500-meter radius of the Taj Mahal, introduced in 2017.

Monkey Taj Mahal
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is being specially spruced up for the occasion and authorities have even deployed five langurs in addition to over 120 security personal to tackle local monkeys who often prove to be a nuisance for visitors. Yawar Nazir/Getty

According to research published in Environmental Science & Technology, air pollution has caused the white marble UNESCO World Heritage site to turn brown.

The pollution residue can only be removed with clay (not water), suggesting it comes from water-insoluble particles in the air. Vehicle emissions and the burning of biomass are thought to be the source of the pollution.