Yew Mahal? When fiction pretends to be history

The Taj Mahal did take a very long time to build. But it was never a temple.

It all began 30 years ago. In 1989, a self-appointed “historian” wrote a book, “Taj Mahal: The True Story.” According to PN Oak, the author, the Taj Mahal was actually a temple of Shivji and a palace named Tejo Mahal. No concrete historical evidence was produced. Nothing sticks like a falsehood. It took a little time to dismiss the Oak fiction, but not before Oak approached the Supreme Court to declare that the Taj Mahal was built by a Hindu King. The Supreme Court rejected his petition.
A few days back, Rajneesh Singh of the Bhartiya Janata Party filed a plea in the Lucknow branch of the Allahabad High Court, asking it to direct the Archaeological Survey to probe the 22 closed rooms in the Taj Mahal to ascertain the existence of idols of Hindu deities there.
The court rejected Rajneesh Singh’s plea, giving him a dressing down and asked him not to make a “mockery” of the PIL system. He was told to do research on the topic.
Justices DK Upadhayay and Subhas Vidyarthi, said to Rajneeshji, “Tomorrow you will come to ask us to go to the chambers of honorable judges… Go and research. Do an MA Do PhD. Then choose such a topic and if any institute disallows you to research on such a topic, then come to us. Please enroll yourself in MA and if any university denies you research on such a topic then come to us.”
The petitioner’s lawyer asked the court to allow him to withdraw the petition and file a new one. This the judges did not accept. The court “pulled up” Rajneesh Singh for filling the PIL in a “casual” manner…It further said the petitioner should point out which legal or constitutional rule had been infringed.
There is more to this fairytale. A BJP Member of Parliament, Diya Kumari from Jaipur supported Rajneesh Singh. She claims that the land on which the Taj Mahal was built belonged to her forefathers. Apparently, the relevant documents are in the “Pothikhana” in one of the Jaipur palaces. Diya Kumari should ask for these to be made public. This is not a private matter.
The Taj Mahal is among the seven wonders of the world. It is visited by people from all parts of the globe. Every detail about its construction is documented—where did the marble come from, and the craftsmen. Yes, it did take a very long time to build. It was never a temple.
Earlier in this month one wise man announced that the Qutub Minar was not built by Qutubuddin but by a Hindu king. He even took a group of people chanting Hanuman Chalisa on his way to the monument. If I am not mistaken, they were stopped by the police. All this was reported in the newspapers.
Some years ago, the 400th anniversary of the battle of Haldighati was observed with much fanfare. It was not clear to me and all genuine historians whether the defeat of Maharana Pratap was being observed or the victory of Emperor Akbar.
Maharana Pratap is among the great heroes India has produced. He never bent or bowed before Emperor Akbar. But he did not win the battle of Haldighati. Akbar did. One of the commanders in Akbar’s army was none other than Raja Man Singh of Jaipur.
Rana Pratap died in 1597. His son Amar Singh finally surrendered to Jahangir in 1615, who treated him “with great courtesy… And never made to attend the Mughal Court or offer a daughter in marriage” I have quoted this from Ira Mukhoty’s superb book on Akbar.

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The Congress Chintan Shivar held in Udaipur displayed no signs of austerity. Gastronomically it must have been a treat. Nine chefs were brought from various parts of India. Plenty of food. Little food for thought.

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Finland and Sweden have more or less decided to join NATO. Mr Putin was far from amused. He said in that case he would invade Finland.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to exercise his veto if Finland and Sweden are to be made members of NATO. Turkey is a member of NATO. This is unlikely to happen. The US will take care of the President of Turkey, who is constantly over reaching himself.

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Tomorrow I will be 93.

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