How Much Would It Cost To Build The Taj Mahal Today?

UNESCO calls the Taj Mahal "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." Built between 1631 and 1648 by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan, it's the ultimate symbol of love and loss: a palatial, marble mausoleum dedicated to the belated wife of the emperor. It's also the ultimate site of lovemaking and loss. As The Guardian details, mosquito-like insects have been breeding in such high numbers that their poop is leaving patches of of green and black waste on the building. Meanwhile, pollution has been turning the walls yellow and dulling their sheen, per the BBC

Cleaning such a remarkable piece of history isn't cheap. In 2014, two dozen experts spent six months trying to remove the yellow stains at a cost of $24,000. In 2017, ABC Australia reported that getting the gunk off of the the Taj Mahal's dome would cost an estimated $500,000. In 2018, India's Supreme Court ordered the government to seek help removing the poop and pollution, per Smithsonian and criticized the officials for failing to keep up with the upkeep, saying they exhibited "lethargy." But what if it's already too late. What if breeding bugs leave so much love-poo and pollution blemishes the walls so badly that the only way to renew the Taj Mahal would be to rebuild it? How much would such an endeavor cost?

The cost of making a modern Taj Mahal

Calculating modern-day the cost of an extravagant structure from centuries ago should probably come with a bunch of caveats. For instance, who is doing the building, and what labor laws apply? Reuters reports that India passed labor laws pertaining to wages and safety in the 1930s and 40s, but the government pushed to repeal those rules in 2019. Then there's the question of building materials and whether the pricing derives from average values or top-tier/discount quotes. With those qualifiers in mind, here are two separate estimates.

Big Rentz bases its estimate on the dimensions of the main mausoleum (which total about 237,000 square feet) and multiplies that by average price of brick and marble. The company also incorporates estimated costs for the surrounding gardens and for labor, bringing the total to $110.5 million. Meanwhile, the Federation of Master Builders Insurance doesn't go into detail but places the estimated cost at $118 million. The value of a clean Taj Mahal: priceless.