For the first time, the Archaeological Survey of India has stated in a court in Agra that the Taj Mahal is a tomb, and not a temple as claimed by a group of petitioners.
A 1920 notification to protect the Taj has been made the basis for the affidavit, Times of India reported. In a written statement filed in the court of the civil judge, the ASI debunked the contention that the structure was built on a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Hindustan Times reports that the court admitted a lawsuit filed by six lawyers in 2015.
The lawsuit claimed that the Taj is a Hindu temple called Tejo Mahalaya and asked that followers be allowed to access the inner premises of the monument to perform ‘darshan’ and ‘aarti’.
They also asked for locked rooms in the monument to the opened.
The ASI questioned the ‘locus standi’ of the plaintiffs, stating that while the Taj is an Islamic structure, it belonged to different religions with no such religious offering intended there ever.
In its affidavit, the ASI said: “Historically and even according to records as available there is an ancient monument named as Taj Mahal alone at the bank of river Yamuna at Agra duly declared by the government to be of national importance having gained the worldwide recognition as the 7th wonder of the world”.
As per available records right from the British period since 1904, the monument Taj was declared a protected monument by notification on 22 December 1920.
The ASI even went on to say that the contentions of the plaintiffs were “concocted” and “imagined”, urging the court to dismiss the petition.
In the suit, lawyer Harishankar Jain and his colleagues sought a direction from the court to remove all alleged burials under the Taj Mahal; as well as to restrain worship by Muslims. Interestingly, the lawyers in their suit have named Lord Agreshwar Mahadev Nagnatheswar Virajman, as the main plaintiff to claim the ownership of the property.
During the 12th century (1212 AD) Raja Paramardi Dev had built Tejo Mahalaya temple palace, which at present in common parlance is known as Taj Mahal. The temple was later inherited by ‘Raja Maan Singh’, the then Maharaja of Jaipur, after him in 17th Century the property was held and managed by ‘Raja Jai Singh’ but was annexed by Shah Jahan (1632) during his regime.Harishankar Jain in his plea
"After the death of Mumtaz-ul-Zamani eminently known as Mumtazmahal, temple Tejo Mahalaya was converted into a memorial for Shahjahan's wife. Certain portions of the complex and its surroundings were altered to bring in a few Islamic features”, the Times of India quoted Jain as saying.
The Union Culture Ministry, in November 2015, had clarified in the Lok Sabha that there was no evidence of a temple being at the Taj.
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