I recently came across this picture (removed now, look at wiki article instead), saying that it is a scaffolding erected during WW2 over Taj Mahal to protect it from Japanese Air Force.

Even the Wikipedia article on Taj Mahal seems to support this claim. That article also has picture of scaffolding from a slightly different angle.

However, it seems very odd to me. My primary question is: What was the main intention of this covering: was it to protect the Taj Mahal from potential air-bombing, or was it to hide it from enemy airplanes?

In both pictures, the scaffolding seems to cover only the top dome of the Taj Mahal. The rest of the structure and the surrounding minarets are clearly uncovered and thus are exposed.

If the intention is hiding it from enemy airplanes, I think the rest of the structure would be clearly visible from air to (enemy) airplanes that come near enough.

If the intention is to protect it from bombing, then any bomb that is dropped on the rest of the exposed part would damage and result in similar kind of destruction. Why protect just the main dome?

Or is it just a coincidence that both of these images were taken when the construction was going on, and ultimately the whole structure was covered?

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    I found this article: old.younews.in/pictures/the-taj-mahal-during-wars
    – user4836
    Mar 18, 2015 at 4:19
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    I discovered the same kind of picture in my family album- although poor quality. Exactly the same area- i.e the dome is covered. Too much of a coincidence, I would say, to have been photographed in the same stage. Unfortunately the person who could shed light is no longer around. I too wondered what the intent was.
    – Rajib
    Mar 18, 2015 at 10:59
  • @MarkC.Wallace What is your point? I have added references, and the two comments above support my question.
    – taninamdar
    Mar 18, 2015 at 12:48
  • You are asserting that the stated intention is false based only on the assertion that it is "very odd". You then advance an alternative theory that has even less evidence... Hiding the Taj Mahal is absurd? Why would you want to hide the Taj Mahal? How would erecting scaffolds conceal it? What possible advantage is there in ineffective camoflage and why is that more plausible than the stated reason?
    – MCW
    Mar 18, 2015 at 12:56
  • @MarkC.Wallace I do not doubt that the scaffoldings were there. They were indeed there (now it is verified by at least 2 independent sources). What seems odd is that all (2/3) pics that I've come across are of partial coverage, and thus seem useless to me. The first link however suggests the possibility that the government might've banned to take pictures after completion of that.
    – taninamdar
    Mar 18, 2015 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Eliminating the distinctive white dome would be only one part of a camouflage plan. It's a big and delicate job and has to be done in advance. All other elements of the camouflage plan can be done when there is an air raid alert, but they're worthless if there's a big white dome showing.

First thing to realize is the world looks very different at 15,000 feet (where high level bombers operate) and you're getting shot at and you're trying to navigate based on bad maps and a few aerial photos. WWII pilots would mostly be piloting on compass bearings and terrain features. It's not necessary to completely cover something to throw bombers off the target, just to make it look like something else. Take a look.

Second is that a site like the Taj Mahal would be camouflaged by multiple means. I'm speculating here based on how other sites were camouflaged. Large smoke generators would send streaks of smoke covering the area obscuring and breaking up the regular lines of the plaza and surrounding gardens. Strips of dark cloth could be laid across the stone to further break up the distinctiveness of the site.

The British in WWII got so devious with their camouflage, I wouldn't be surprised if they put a decoy dome at some other bend in the river.

Frankly, the biggest problem with the whole thing is that bend in the river makes the target very easy to find from the air.


The purpose of the scaffolding is to support camoflage. For example, scree can be draped over the scaffolding to match the color and texture of the background landscape.

The scaffolding was probably not extended to the satellite minarets and reflecting pool because of the expense of doing so and because those elements would be less visible from the air than the main dome.

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    I'd need a link saying this to upvote it. However, as an argument it makes sense.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 18, 2015 at 18:35
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    Taj Mahal is a large structure. Covering just the central dome still leaves a large part uncovered (I'd say because of b/w contrast, it actually highlights the target). If we are in the domain of conjectures, then the government banning photography after completion of the scaffolding makes more sense.
    – taninamdar
    Mar 19, 2015 at 4:28
  • I agree with @taninamdar- it does seem odd that they would cover only the dome for camouflaging.
    – Rajib
    Mar 19, 2015 at 12:32

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