Keep Taj free of controversy: guides

Tourists thronging Taj Mahal on the bank of river Yamuna, at Agra.  

The legal case on the plea to declare the Taj Mahal a Shiva temple took an interesting turn on Wednesday with several tourist bodies in Agra asking the district court not to allow the monument to become a “Babri Masjid.”

Lawyer Harishankar Jain, and five others, had moved the court with the plea that Hindus should be allowed to offer worship at the Taj Mahal which they said was a Shiva temple once. Their petition wanted the court to direct the authorities to restrain any religious activity by Muslims and remove all graves from the premises.

Mr. Jain, who argued that the temple used to be called Tejo Mahalaya, made Lord Agreshwar Mahadev the main plaintiff to claim ownership of the Taj and declared himself the “next friend” of the deity.

‘A national pride’

At the hearing, the Approved Guide Association sought to intervene. “The Taj Mahal is a major tourist attraction and a symbol of national pride not only for Agra but also for the entire country. The Mughal monument should not be made controversial. The court should ensure that it is not turned into another Babri Masjid,” Vireshwar Nath Tripathi, an office-bearer of the association, said.

“Making the Taj Mahal controversial would affect not only the source of attraction for the world but also tourism in the country,” he said.

The court had earlier asked the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Home Ministry and the Archaeological Survey of India to file their stand. The next hearing is scheduled for July 15.

Mr. Jain, who claims to be an RSS sympathiser, had told The Hindu on the phone that there was no historical basis for the Taj Mahal to remain a “Muslim property.” “To use the property for any purpose other than ‘puja’ is illegal and unlawful as it belongs to Lord Agreshwar Maha-dev Naagnatheshwar.”

“The property belongs to the deity, and nobody has the right to transfer or own it, except the deity,” says the suit.

Mr. Jain alleged that Tejo Mahalaya was built by Raja Paramardi Dev in 1212 AD, and later inherited by Hindu kings Raja Maan Singh and Raja Jai Singh. “The Tejo Mahalaya was annexed by Shah Jahan in 1632 and after the death of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it was turned into a memorial for her. Later, portions of the temple complex and its vicinity were changed to bring a semblance of Islamic architecture,” he claimed.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 12:00:01 PM |

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