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Agra has more than mere mention in the Hindu scriptures. And the city’s position of strategic importance astride important trade routes historically attracted empire-builders ranging from the Lodhis and the Mughals to the British. Now, says Royina Grewal, Agra has fallen prey to a lassitude that has caused large swathes of the once magnificent capital of emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan to succumb to decay and haphazard development. Delving into myth and history, drawing deep conclusions from her lengthy conversations with varied citizens of multi-cultural Agra, Grewal weaves grand strands from the past with the humbler textures of present-day Agra to explain why the home of the world’s best-known monument has been allowed to disintegrate, and why the once mighty Yamuna is merely a stream of sludge. But there is hope, says Grewal. Drawing inspiration from the many enlightened individuals she met on her peregrinations in and around Agra, she points to ways in which the city can be saved. In the Shadow of the Taj may be a map of the city’s history, but it can also be a drawing board that offers insights for a sustainable future. Printed Pages: 280.