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Arrey Hujoor, “Wah Taj Boliye.”

Arrey Hujoor, “Wah Taj Boliye.”

Ever since the Narendra Modi-led BJP government got elected for the second consecutive term, the Hindutva brigade has come out in full force, asserting itself with brute force and imposing its narrative on the society with the explicit aim to give a saffron tinge to the political landscape of the country.

This ranges from reclaiming the Krishna temple in Mathura by demolishing the adjoining Idgah to proving that the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi over looking the Kashi-Vishwanath temple is primarily a Shiva temple.

hujoor

In a bizarre extension of the same mindset feeding into a long-held conspiracy theory, some ardent right-wing fundamentalists also claim that the Taj Mahal in Agra was a temple called Tejo Mahalaya.

The conspiracy does not end there. BJP MP Diya Kumari claims that the land on which the Taj Mahal is built actually belongs to her family, the Jaipur Royal family, and that the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had forcefully occupied it.  

This crazy conspiracy theory has been doing the rounds for a very long time. A BJP functionary had filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court asking for the opening of 22 rooms in the basement of the Taj Mahal to see the truth, but the honorable court dismissed the petition.

The officials of the Archaeological Survey of India, in charge of maintenance of the Taj Mahal and who have access to those rooms, have categorically stated that there is nothing secret in those rooms, and that they are part of the main structure.

They also go on to add that this is not unique to the Taj Mahal, and almost all Mughal-era mausoleums built at the time have this kind of structure, including Humayun’s tomb in Delhi.

To substantiate their claim, the ASI has tweeted photographs of the basement rooms, showing how they have restored the decay by applying lime plaster to the cracks.

The ASI also stated that all records scrutinized have not pointed to the presence of any idols. Officials say there are actually more than 100 rooms or cells in the Taj complex, which the public does not have access to for safety reasons.

Conservation work is regularly carried out here, such as filling up cracks and re-plastering.  All these claims and counter-narratives need to be clinically examined for a clearer picture to emerge.

The claim that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple called Tejo Mahalaya comes from a book written by P N Oak, who happens to be the founder of “Institution for re-writing Indian History.” The book’s name is “Taj Mahal: The True Story.”

In the book, Mr. Oak claims that the Taj was built in the 4th Century to serve as a palace and was completed in 1145 A.D. by Raja Parmardi Dev. Hindutva groups claim that Shah Jahan converted the “Tejo Mahalaya” to Taj Mahal in the 17th Century in the same way that Mughal rulers destroyed Hindu temples and converted many of them into mosques. This claim, however, has been wholly rejected both by the government at the Center as well as the ASI.

It was the Modi government that told the Lok Sabha in November 2015 that there was no evidence to suggest that the Taj Mahal used to be a temple. In 2017, the ASI told the Agra Court that the Taj Mahal is a tomb and not a temple.  

Another claim pertaining to the Taj Mahal by the right-wing groups is that Shah Jahan occupied land belonging to the Jaipur Royals. BJP MP Diya Kumari claims that she has the documents to prove it.

She also complains that the family did not get any compensation in return for the land. Historian Rana Safvi refuting the claims of Diya Kumari, has tweeted the copies of “farmans” or royal orders from Shah Jahan to Raja Jai Singh which indicate that four Havelis were given to Raja Jai Singh in exchange for the land for the Taj Mahal.

Rana Safvi further states that Raja Jai Singh was willing to give the land for free actually, but four Havelis were given to him instead of the land for the Taj Mahal. Some historians claim that Mughals and Jaipur Royals were close to each other since Akbar married Harka Bai of Amber.

Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, who claims to be the descendants of the Mughals, challenged Diya Kumari’s claim by stating that there was a tradition of Rajput Kings gifting land to the Mughals, and the allegation of land grabbing is entirely baseless. He also said that the Rajputs had made alliances with the Mughals starting with Akbar’s reign, and that 14 of his 27 grandmothers were Rajputs.

There is another egregious claim that Shah Jahan chopped off hands of those who built the Taj Mahal.  This is an old urban myth perpetuated for a long time that the hands of 40,000 masons working on the Taj Mahal were chopped off so that they could never replicate the wonder of the Taj Mahal.

Historians debunked this myth by stating that the same workers built a whole new imperial city for him called Shajahanabad in Delhi. If their hands had been chopped off, they could not have built the city so quickly as it would have been impossible to find replacements for so many workers so quickly.

This is not the first time that such bizarre conspiracy theories regarding the Taj have come up, and it surely will not be the last. These theories have eroded the aesthetic value of this monument of love and has turned it into an object of derision. The Taj Mahal is a thing of beauty, and it should remain a joy forever.

For that, all Indians have to stand up in unison and unequivocally condemn the perpetrators of such mischief and not get swayed by this hate-mongering.

Ever since the Narendra Modi-led BJP government got elected for the second consecutive term, the Hindutva brigade has come out in full force, asserting itself with brute force and imposing its narrative on the society with the explicit aim to give a saffron tinge to the political landscape of the country.

This ranges from reclaiming the Krishna temple in Mathura by demolishing the adjoining Idgah to proving that the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi over looking the Kashi-Vishwanath temple is primarily a Shiva temple.

In a bizarre extension of the same mindset feeding into a long-held conspiracy theory, some ardent right-wing fundamentalists also claim that the Taj Mahal in Agra was a temple called Tejo Mahalaya.

The conspiracy does not end there. BJP MP Diya Kumari claims that the land on which the Taj Mahal is built actually belongs to her family, the Jaipur Royal family, and that the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had forcefully occupied it.  This crazy conspiracy theory has been doing the rounds for a very long time.

A BJP functionary had filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court asking for the opening of 22 rooms in the basement of the Taj Mahal to see the truth, but the honorable court dismissed the petition.

The officials of the Archaeological Survey of India, in charge of maintenance of the Taj Mahal and who have access to those rooms, have categorically stated that there is nothing secret in those rooms, and that they are part of the main structure.

They also go on to add that this is not unique to the Taj Mahal, and almost all Mughal-era mausoleums built at the time have this kind of structure, including Humayun’s tomb in Delhi.

To substantiate their claim, the ASI has tweeted photographs of the basement rooms, showing how they have restored the decay by applying lime plaster to the cracks.

The ASI also stated that all records scrutinized have not pointed to the presence of any idols. Officials say there are actually more than 100 rooms or cells in the Taj complex, which the public does not have access to for safety reasons.

Conservation work is regularly carried out here, such as filling up cracks and re-plastering.  All these claims and counter-narratives need to be clinically examined for a clearer picture to emerge.

The claim that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple called Tejo Mahalaya comes from a book written by P N Oak, who happens to be the founder of “Institution for re-writing Indian History.” The book’s name is “Taj Mahal: The True Story.”

In the book, Mr. Oak claims that the Taj was built in the 4th Century to serve as a palace and was completed in 1145 A.D. by Raja Parmardi Dev.

Hindutva groups claim that Shah Jahan converted the “Tejo Mahalaya” to Taj Mahal in the 17th Century in the same way that Mughal rulers destroyed Hindu temples and converted many of them into mosques. This claim, however, has been wholly rejected both by the government at the Center as well as the ASI.

It was the Modi government that told the Lok Sabha in November 2015 that there was no evidence to suggest that the Taj Mahal used to be a temple. In 2017, the ASI told the Agra Court that the Taj Mahal is a tomb and not a temple.  

Another claim pertaining to the Taj Mahal by the right-wing groups is that Shah Jahan occupied land belonging to the Jaipur Royals. BJP MP Diya Kumari claims that she has the documents to prove it.

She also complains that the family did not get any compensation in return for the land. Historian Rana Safvi refuting the claims of Diya Kumari, has tweeted the copies of “farmans” or royal orders from Shah Jahan to Raja Jai Singh which indicate that four Havelis were given to Raja Jai Singh in exchange for the land for the Taj Mahal.

Rana Safvi further states that Raja Jai Singh was willing to give the land for free actually, but four Havelis were given to him instead of the land for the Taj Mahal.

Some historians claim that Mughals and Jaipur Royals were close to each other since Akbar married Harka Bai of Amber.

Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, who claims to be the descendants of the Mughals, challenged Diya Kumari’s claim by stating that there was a tradition of Rajput Kings gifting land to the Mughals, and the allegation of land grabbing is entirely baseless. He also said that the Rajputs had made alliances with the Mughals starting with Akbar’s reign, and that 14 of his 27 grandmothers were Rajputs.

There is another egregious claim that Shah Jahan chopped off hands of those who built the Taj Mahal.  This is an old urban myth perpetuated for a long time that the hands of 40,000 masons working on the Taj Mahal were chopped off so that they could never replicate the wonder of the Taj Mahal.

Historians debunked this myth by stating that the same workers built a whole new imperial city for him called Shajahanabad in Delhi. If their hands had been chopped off, they could not have built the city so quickly as it would have been impossible to find replacements for so many workers so quickly.

This is not the first time that such bizarre conspiracy theories regarding the Taj have come up, and it surely will not be the last. These theories have eroded the aesthetic value of this monument of love and has turned it into an object of derision.

The Taj Mahal is a thing of beauty, and it should remain a joy forever. For that, all Indians have to stand up in unison and unequivocally condemn the perpetrators of such mischief and not get swayed by this hate-mongering.

edited and proofread by nikita sharma

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