AGRA: For the first time, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has stated in a court that the Taj Mahal is a tomb and not a temple. According to officials, a 1920 notification to protect the Taj Mahal has been made the basis for this affidavit in a local court here.
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.
In April 2015, the Agra district court had admitted a suit filed by six lawyers that the Taj Mahal is a Lord Shiva temple (Tejo Mahalaya) and Hindu devotees should be allowed access inside the premises. The court had issued notices to the central government, Union ministry of culture, home secretary and ASI to file their replies.
The ASI submitted its reply on Thursday. The ASI once again challenged the jurisdiction of the local court to ‘hear and decide’ the case. The court while giving time to the plaintiffs in the case to file their reply fixed September 11 as the next date of hearing.
The ASI also challenged the ‘locus standi’ of the plaintiffs in the matter arguing that while Taj is a Islamic structure, the latter belonged to different religions with no such religious offering intended there ever.
“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 December 22, 1920, ASI stated in its affidavit.
The archaeological body categorically denied that no such temple or Shiv Linga as stated by the plaintiffs existed in the Taj Mahal.
It is specifically denied that the name Tejo Mahalaya mandir as stated ever existed at the place of present Taj Mahal and is being misrepresented and misconceived hence not admitted at all…The property in the suit was not usurped but was obtained in exchange from Raja Jai Singh.
While urging the court to dismiss the petition, ASI said contentions of the plaintiffs were without any basis or ground and are “concoction” of plaintiff’s imagination.
In the suit Lawyer Harishankar Jain and his colleagues’ had sought a direction from the court for removing 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 owner ship of the property, while Jain claimed to be his next friend.
In his plea, Jain wrote that 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.”