In this photograph, the Taj Mahal, a masterpiece of Mughal architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies elusively behind a curtain of mist while a man rummages through rubbish along the banks of the Yamuna River. The Taj Mahal brings in proceeds of roughly $3.5 million USD (22 crore rupees) per year, over twice that of any other tourist site in the country, yet the riverbanks just outside its walls are strewn with debris. A $44 million USD project to revitalize the Taj Mahal surroundings that began in 2002 was plagued with allegations of embezzlement. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh state who oversaw the project, Mayawati Prabhu Das, was investigated by the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation and although she was alleged to have acquired new assets vastly disproportionate to her income, authorities declined to prosecute her, citing insufficient evidence. This image, from 2015, presents a stark contrast between the beauty of the palace and the squalor of the surrounding area, which still awaits revitalization.
Mustafa AbdulHadi is a designer and freelance photographer based in Bahrain. He is interested in exploring different cultures through travel and photography.