AGRA: For the first time, Archaeological Survey of India has told an Agra court that the Taj Mahal is not a temple but a tomb. According to officials, a 1920 notification to protect Taj Mahal has been made the basis for the affidavit filed by the ASI here.
In April 2015, a law suit was filed by six lawyers claiming that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu Shiva temple by the name of Tejo Mahalaya. The court had issued notices to the central government, Union ministry of culture, home secretary and ASI to file their replies.
As per Hindustan Times report, The petitioners had asked Hindus to be allowed access inside the premises of the monument to worship and opening of the locked rooms in the monument.
Currently, only Muslims are allowed to worship at the site, offering Friday prayers at a mosque attached to the monument.
The Union culture ministry in November 2015 had already clarified in the Lok Sabha that there was no evidence of any temple at the Taj Mahal.
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”.
The counsel for the Union of India and ASI, appearing before the court, stated that the petitioners had no locus standi in the matter and neither did they have the right to worship or perform any religious rituals as the monument is Islamic.
In its reply, the ASI also denied the existence of any temple within the Taj Mahal.
On the basis of available records, the ASI asserted that the mausoleum was constructed by seventeenth-century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his queen.
Theories about Taj Mahal’s supposed Hindu heritage were floated after historian PN Oak in his 1989 book “Taj Mahal: The True Story” claimed the monument was built in 1155, decades before the Muslim invasion of India. He also claimed that its name is a corrupt form of the sanskrit term “Tejo Mahalay.”
The court has fixed the next hearing on September 11.