U.P. promotes tombs of Muslim devotees of Krishna for tourism

Forgotten for long, the State tourism department has redeveloped the tombs of Raskhan and Taj Bibi as a tourist complex with an open air theatre

October 28, 2022 02:48 am | Updated 02:48 am IST - Mathura

The Samadhi of Taj Bibi at Mahavan in Uttar Pradesh. File

The Samadhi of Taj Bibi at Mahavan in Uttar Pradesh. File | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Amid the forested lanes of Gokul in Mathura are the once forgotten tombs of Raskhan and Taj Bibi, arguably the two most famous Muslim devotees of Lord Krishna. With the Uttar Pradesh Government focused on creating Krishna Janmabhoomi as a major pilgrim tourist destination in the State, the redevelopment of these burial sites has been prioritised.  A 14-acre complex has been developed around the two hitherto neglected tombs. 

A senior State Tourism Ministry official, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu that the decision had been taken “keeping in mind the discussion around communal amity in the country nowadays”. “Here are two widely respected Muslim devotees of Krishna and poets of repute. We wanted them to be rediscovered,” the source said. 

Raskhan or Syed Ibrahim Khan was a 16th century Sufi Muslim poet born either in Amroha or Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh. He became a follower of Krishna and spent his life in Vrindavan. 

Taj Bibi, also known as the ‘Mughal Mirabai’, was the daughter of a Muslim nobleman, appointed by the Mughals to protect the Gokul area. According to a publication of the State-run Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad: “Taj Bibi wrote poetry during the Mughal time when the ruling class belonged to the Muslim religion. She had shown great courage by giving up recitation of Kalma Quran and announcing that she was a Hindu devotee.” 

The official said the tomb complex was proposed to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as one of the first pilgrim tourist sites to be developed in the Braj (Mathura-Vrindavan) area, and the CM was “excited” about the project, for which funds were released immediately.   

Mr. Adityanath visited the site after its completion, as has Mathura MP Hema Malini. 

The complex includes an open air theatre, a film centre, and a food court. The open air theatre, which can host around 500 people, holds shows on the lives and works of Raskhan and Taj Bibi. The film studio has the capacity to host 50 visitors. 

The administration is screening a special documentary on Ras Khan six-seven times daily. The complex receives around 2,000-3,000 visitors each day. 

“The total cost of the project was around ₹10 crore,” Pankaj Verma, Deputy CEO, Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad, said. The Parishad is dedicated to the redevelopment of the Braj region as a pilgrimage destination. 

According to local officials, apart from the increase in tourist footfalls, the area itself has been resuscitated as it had become a haven for drug addicts and petty criminals. Taj Bibi’s mausoleum, which had been in a state of complete ruin, had been encroached upon. 

Officials said there may be many more such historically important sites in Braj, which have to be redeveloped by providing better infrastructure for tourists.   

“In the Mathura-Vrindavan area, the Banke-Bihari temple alone sees a tourist footfall of around 2.72 crore pilgrims each year. If we provide the required infrastructure to visitors, we can encourage them to stay back for night halts too. This would be a big boost to the local economy and job creation as well,” Shailja Kant Mishra, Vice Chairperson, Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad, said.

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