Taj Mahal in peril: historian

The Taj Mahal will collapse within five years unless urgent work is carried out at the site of the famous domed building, an Indian historian says.

The 358-year-old mausoleum, one of the wonders of the world which attracts some four million visitors each year, is suffering the consequences of a drying nearby Yamuna River, Britain's Daily Express newspaper reports.

Mahogany posts driven into wells which form the main support for the construction are drying and cracking and causing sections of the building to tilt.

"If the crisis is not tackled on a war-footing, the Taj Mahal will collapse in between two and five years," said MP Ramshankar Katheria, who is leading a campaign to build a STG71 million ($114 million) dam to preserve water levels.

"The architectural wonder of the world is losing its shine. If this persists, the minarets may also collapse."

Historian Ram Nath added: "The river is a constituent of its architectural design and if the river dies, the Taj cannot survive".

Built by grief-stricken Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, the Taj Mahal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.