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Friday, May 18, 2012

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -11 -The Letter of Aurangzeb

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -11

The Letter of Aurangzeb
This is supposed to be a copy of the original letter from Aurangzeb himself written in 1652, complaining of the extensive repairs that are in need of being done on the Taj Mahal. He says that several rooms on the second storey, the secret rooms and tops of the seven storey ceilings have all absorbed water through seepage and are so old that they were all leaking, and the dome had developed a crack on the northern side. This was in spite of the fact that the rumor is that the Taj was finished being built in 1653. The logic of this is that Mumtaz was supposed to have died around 1631, and it is said that it took 22 years to build the Taj. However, in the letter herein Aurangzeb ordered immediate repairs at his expense while recommending to the emperor that more elaborate repairs such as the roof be opened up and redone with mortar, bricks and stone.
Aurangzeb's letter is recorded in at least three chronicles titled 'Aadaab-e-alamgiri ', 'Yaadgaarnama 'and the ' Muraaqqa-I-Akbarabadi ' (edited by Said Ahmad, Agra, 1931, page 43, footnotes 2).
In any case, if the Taj was a new building, there would no doub not be any need for such extensive repairs.

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -10 -The Badshahnama

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -10

The Badshahnama
Here is a copy of two pages of the Badshahnama, the history of Shah Jahan, the so-called builder of the Taj Mahal. This is from the Government of India's National Archives, and available from the institutional libraries dealing with the medieval history of India.
This is supposed to have been written by the emperor's chronicler, the Mullah Abdul Hamid Lahori. It describes the site of the Taj Mahal as being full of majestic and lush gardens just south of the city (Agra). It goes on to say that the palace of Raja Mansingh, which was owned by his grandson Raja Jaisingh, was selected as the place for the burial of the queen Mumtaz. This means, of course, that Shah Jahan never built the Taj Mahal but only acquired it from the previous owner, who was Jaisingh.

















Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -9 -The Distorted History of Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -9

The Distorted History of Taj Mahal
By Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari

There is no doubt that Taj Mahal in Agra is the most beautiful architectural marvel in the entire world and hence it is called one of the great wonders of the world. But who is the author of this excellent exhibit of architecture? Opinions in this regard are highly contentious. The general notion is that, it is the creation of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. In previous articles, we have seen how the authorship of excellent pieces of architecture in Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri are being falsely attributed to the foreign Muslim invaders, who occupied and ruled India for nearly eight centuries. So, the question naturally arises – Is the claim of Shah Jahan’s authorship of Taj Mahal true? Or the said view is merely a part of the process of distortion of Indian history, to appease the Muslims? In this article, we shall try to find a plausible reply to these questions.
In this regard, the Encyclopedia Britannica states, “Taj Mahal is a mausoleum complex in Agra, in western Uttar Pradesh state, in northern India, on the southern bank of the Yamuna (Jumna) River. …the Taj Mahal is distinguished as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a blend of Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles. One of the most beautiful structural compositions in the world, the Taj Mahal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. It was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahān (reigned 1628–58) to immortalize his wife Mumtāz Mahal (“Chosen One of the Palace”). The name Taj Mahal is a derivation of her name. She died in childbirth in 1631, after having been the emperor’s inseparable companion since their marriage in 1612. The plans for the complex have been attributed to various architects of the period, though the chief architect was probably Ustad Ahmad Lahawrī, an Indian of Persian descent.” [1]

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia maintains a similar view and says, “The Taj Mahal (pronounced /tɑdʒ məˈhɑl) is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal (also “the Taj”) is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from PersianIndian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” [2]

In this context, we should mention what the India ’s historians have to say in this matter. Historian R C Majumdar, in this regard, writes, “The Taj Mahal, a splendid mausoleum built by Shah Jahan, at a cost of fifty lacs of rupees, over the grave of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is rightly regarded as one of the wonders of the world for its beauty and magnificence.” [3] Another historian S K Saraswati writes, “But all the above architectural creations of Shah Jahan are thrown into shade by that superb conception of the mausoleum that the emperor raised up at Agra to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved consort, Arjumand Banu Begam, better known as Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal, as it is called after the title of the empress, stands on an elevated ground on a bend of the river Jamuna so that it has a fine view from whatever angle it is seen.” [4]
As a result of this worldwide propaganda, Shahjahan’s authorship of Taj Mahal, mixed with story of romantic love between Shah Jahan and his wife, has become so pervasive that it has become a universal symbol of love between a husband and his wife. Even a common man, at first instance, refuses to admit any other version, even if it is more convincing and rational. Even the Nobel Laureate Poet Rabindranath Tagore, being swayed by the above story, described the Taj Mahal, in one of his poems, as a drop of tears of the grief-stricken Emperor Shahjahan.
The True History of Taj Mahal:
But according to Stephen Knapp, a well known researcher on Taj Mahal, it was not built by Shah Jahan and he writes, “There is ample evidence that the Taj Mahal was never built by Shah Jahan. Some say the Taj Mahal pre-dates Shah Jahan by several centuries and was originally built as a Hindu or Vedic temple/palace complex and Shah Jahan merely acquired it (by brute force) from its previous owner, the Hindu King Jai Singh.” [5] Not only Stephen Knapp but many other researchers like Yogesh Saxena, V S Godbole and Prushottam Nagesh Oak (or P N Oak) hold a similar view and P N Oak is the most prominent and pioneer among scholars who worked to discover the real author of Taj Mahal.
It is well known that Emperor Akbar got Akbarnama, a history of his reign, written by his court-chronicler Abul Fazl and in a similar manner,  Shahjahan had the history of his reign titled Badshahnama written by his court-chronicler Abdul Hamid Lahori. The original Badshahnama was written in Persian using Arabic alphabets and in 1963, P N Oak made a startling discovery the the pages 402 and 403 of the edition of Badshahnama, published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal (see the fascimile of the page 402 and 403 of the edition in Figure-1), contain the true history of the building now known as Taj Mahal. An English translation of the contents from line 21 of page 402 to line 41 on page 403 of Badshahnama is given below.
Meanwhile, we should notice another important point. It is well known that the two British historians, H M Elliot and J Dowson, have done the great job of writing history of India, under Muslim rule, starting from the attack on Sindh by Mohammed bin Kasim in the 8th century to the fall of Marathas in the 19th century, a period, covering nearly 1200 years. It has been written, based on chronicles of the court chroniclers of the Muslim rulers only. The work of Elliot and Dowson’s was published in 8 volumes during 1867 to 1877 and the Volume 7 of their work deals with the reigns of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb. But it is really astonishing that there is not even a mentioning of Taj Mahal in the said work.
Many Muslim chroniclers have described the times of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, e.g.
(1) Badshahnama by Abdul Hamid Lahori,
(2) Wakiyat Jahangiri by emperor Jahangir,
(3) Shahjahan-nama by Enayet Khan,
(4) Tarikh-i- Mufajjali by Mufajjal Khan,
(5) Mirat-i-Alam by Bakhtyar Khan,
(6) Alamgirnama by Muhammad Qazim and
(7) Mustakhab-ul-Lubab by Kafi Khan.
But in none of above works, there is even mentioning of Taj Mahal, except Badshahnama by Lahori and that too as a palace of Jai Singh
While commenting on this point, Dr Yogesh Saxena, writes, “The authors should have said, “Though we have presented history of Shahjahan based on his official chronicle Badshahnama, we did not find any reference to Taj Mahal in it.” They did no such thing. And Historians have kept even this information from us for the last 130 years.” [6] It was Professor P N Oak, who, for the first time, made the startling discovery that there is mentioning of the building now called Taj Mahal, but as a palace of the Hindu king Jai Singh, in Badshahnama.
There is another important point to note. There is a well established rumour that Shah Jahan engaged 20,000 labours who toiled for 20 (or 22) years to complete the construction of Taj Mahal, originates by the French traveler Jean Baptiste Tavernier. It is really unthinkable that, Shah Jahan completed such a gigantic job, spending so much money, employing so many people throughout so many years, but it escaped the attention of his sycophant chroniclers, and they did not even say a single word about the said job in their works. So, the logical conclusion is that, the said gigantic construction never took place during the reign of Shah Jahan and Badshahnama confirms this fact.
The original Badshahnama was written in Persian using Arabic alphabets and the pages 402 and 403 of the edition published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal (see the fascimile of the page 402 and 403 of Vol-I of the edition given above) contain the true history of the building now known as Taj Mahal. Professor Oak got the two pages translated into English by a scholar of Persian language and said trnslation of the contents from line 21 of page 402 to line 41 on page 403 of Vol-I of Badshahnama is given below.
“Friday, 15th Jamadiulawal, the sacred dead body of the traveller to the kingdom of holiness Hazrat Mumtazul Zamani, who was temporarily buried, was brought, accompanied by Prince Mohammad Shah, Suja bahadur, Wazir Khan and Satiunnesa Khanam, who knew the pemperament of the deceased intimately and was well versed in view of that Queen of the Queens used to hold, was brought to the capital Akbarabad (Agra) and an order was issued that very day coins be distributed among the beggers and fakirs. The site covered with a majestic garden, to the south of the great city (of Agra) and amidst which the building known as the palace of Raja Man Singh, at present owned by Raja Jai asingh, grandson of Man Singh, was selected for the burial of the Queen, whose abode is in heaven. Although Raja Jai Singh valued it greatly as his ancestral heritage and property, yet he agreed to part with it gratis for Emperor Shahjahan, still out of sheer scrupulousness and religious sanctity, he (Jai Singh) was granted Sharifabad in exchange of that grand palace (Ali Manzil). After the arrival of the deadbody in that great city (of Agra), next year that illustrious body of the Queen was laid to rest and the officials of the capital, according to royal order, hid the body of that pious lady from the eyes of the world and the palace so majestic (imarat-e-alishan) and capped with a dome (wa gumbaje) was turned into a sky-high lofty mausoleum”. [7]
Many historians try to convince that Shah Jahan purchased a piece of land from Raja Jai Singh and erected Taj Mahal on that land. But the lines 29 and 30 of page 403 of Vol-I of Badshahnama reads, “Pesh az ein Manzil-e-Rajah Mansingh bud wadari waqt ba Rajah Jaisingh (29) Nabirae taalluq dasht barae madfan e an bahisht muwattan bar guzeedand .. (30).” According to experts, the correct translation of the phrase “Manzil-e-Rajah Mansingh bud wadari waqt ba Rajah Jaisingh”is “.. the building known as the palace of Raja Man Singh, at present owned by Raja Jai asingh”. So, it is evident that it cannot be a transaction of land but of a magnificent palace. In line 37, further clarification has been made and said that it was a transaction of an imarat-e-alishan (i.e. a gigantic building) and not of land
In 1964, when Prof P N Oak started to disclose his doubts about Shah Jahan’s authorship of Taj Mahal and presented the document in Badshahnama as the proof, many of his opponents said that his translation ofBadshahnama was not correct. One of his bitter critiques was a Kashmiri Pandit. He was also a scholar of Persian language. To narrate the incident Dr Yogesh Saxena writes, “One of his opponents was a Kashmiri Pandit. Eventually they went to Government of India Archives. At the suggestion of the Librarian there the Pandit started to read Badshahnama, soon he came to Volume I, page 403. One line read – va pesh azin manzil-e-Raja Mansingh bood, vadari vakt ba Raja Jaisingh. He confessed that Shah Jahan took over Raja Mansingh’s palace for burial of Mumtaz. We owe so much to this honest opponent of Mr Oak. He gave word by word translation of pages 402 and 403 to Mr Oak who promptly published it in his book Taj Mahal is a Hindu Palace (1968). However, Mr Oak never stated that the translation was his. It was done for him by a Persian expert.” [6]
The name of the Queen, in whose memory the Taj Mahal is being said to have been erected, was Arjumand Banu. She was married to Shahjahan in 1612 A.D. and within 18 years of her married life she gave birth to 14 children and in fact she died in 1630 (or in 1631) while she was delivering her 14th child. According to Badshahnama she was buried temporarily at Burhanpur and in the same year her body was brought from Burhanpur to Agra and the next year her body was permanently buried at the majestic palace of Raja Man Singh.. From the Badshahnama it becomes evident the edifice, now known as Taj Mahal, was not authored by Emperor Shahjahan.
Who was The Author of Building called Taj Mahal:
So, according to the narrations of Badshanama and from other evidence, it becomes clear that the edifice, now known as Taj Mahal, was not authored by emperor Shah Jahan. The question, therefore, naturally arises – Who built that magnificent building?
A locality, nearly 4 km away from Taj Mahal, is called Bateswar and in 1900 A.D., General Alexander Cuningham, the then Director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), conducted an excavation at Bateswar and discovered an edict, now known as the Munj Bateswar Edict and kept at the Lucknow Museum. The epigraph contains 34 verses written in Sanskrit, out of which 25th, 26th and 34th verses are important in the present context. The original Sankrit text and English translation of the above verses are given below -
Prasādo vaiṣṇavastena nirnimitotavahan hari /
Murdhn āspriśati yo nityaṃ  padamasaiva madhyamam // (25)
“He built a marble temple which is the abode of Lord Vishnu and the King bows down to touch His feet” (25).
Akāryacca sphatikāvadātamasāvidam mandiramindumauleḥ /
Na jātuyasminnibsnsadevah kailāsvasayacakara cetaḥ  //  (26)
“The King has built another marble temple which has been dedicated to the Lord Who has the moon as His ornament on His forehead and Who, getting such a beautiful abode, has forgotten to return to Kailash ” (26).
Pakṣa tryakṣamukhāditya saṃkhye vikramavatsare /
Aśvina śukla pañcmyāṃ  bāsare vāsave śitu //  (34)
“Today, the 5th day of the bright half in the month of Ashwin, the Sunday, in the year 1212 of the Vikram Samvat, the edict is being laid” (34).
Mr. D. J. Kale, a well known archaeologist, has mentioned the said Munj Bateswar Edict in his celebrated work Epigraphica India. On page 124 of the said work, Mr. Kale writes, “The sais Munj Bateswar Edict was laid by King Paramardidev of the Chandratreya dynasty on Sukla Panchami in the month of Ashwin, in the year 1212 Vikram Samvat (or A.D. 1156).  …  King Paramardidev built two magnificent temples with white marble , one for Lords Vishnu and the other for Lord Shiva and they were desecrated later on by the Muslim invaders. Perhaps a farsighted man took the edict to a safer place at Bateswar and buries it beneath the ground”.[8] Perhaps, after the said desecration, the temples were no longer used as religious places and due to this reason Abdul Hamid Lahori mentioned them as palaces, not as temples. According to the renowned historian Mr. R. C. Majumdar, the other name of the Chandratreya or Chandel King Paramardidev was Paramal and their kingdom was known as Bundelkhand, a.k.a.Jejakabhukti [9]
Today, there are two marble palaces in Agra, one is the Mausoleum of Idmat-ud-Daula, the father of Noorjahan and the other is Taj Mahal, and it is evident from the Munj Bateswar edict that, once upon a time, one of them was the temple of Lord Vishnu and the other was a temple of Lord Shiva. Experts believe that it is the temple of Lord Vishnu that has been made the mausoleum of Idmat-ud-Daula, and the temple of Lord Shiva has been converted into the mausoleum of the queen Arjumand Banu. There are so many evidence that support of this conclusion and we shall try to discuss them in future installments of this article.

 References:
[3] R. C. Majumdar, H. C. Raychaudhury and K. Datta,  An Advanced History of India, MacMillan & Co (1980),586..
[4] R. C. Majumdar (Gen Ed), History & Culture of the Indian People (in 12 Volumes), Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai (1996), VII, 793.
[5] Stephen Knapp,Taj Mahal: Was it a Vedic Temple ? The Photographic Evidence ( http://www.stephen-knapp.com/was_the_taj_mahal_a_vedic_temple.htm )
[6] Yogesh Saxena Taj Mahal – It is time to tell the truth, (http://agrasen.blogspot.com/2009/04/hidden- facts-in-indian-history.html )
[7] P N Oak, Tajmahal – The True Story, Published by A Ghosh, p 9-12.
[8] D J Kale, Epigraphica India , published by S D Kale & M D Kale, I, 270-274.
[9] R C Majumdar, ibid, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Vol-5, p-122

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -8 -Time to Tell the Truth

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -8

Taj Mahal - Time to Tell the Truth
By Dr. V. S. Godbole
 

There are many legends about the Taj Mahal. But one sentence is common in all of them. “For the construction, 20,000 men worked for 22 years.” This is well known throughout the world. The simple question is – where do these figures come from?

These figures come from a book called "Travels in India" by J B Tavernier, a French jewel merchant. He was a great adventurer who made six voyages to India in the days of Shivaji (1638 to 1668). Tavernier says, "I witnessed the commencement and completion of this monument (Taj Mahal) on which 20,000 men worked incessantly for 22 years.”

Tavernier’s book was first published in French in 1675. In those days, it was a great adventure for a single man to travel over such a long distance, face many difficulties, deal with peoples of many cultures and languages, adjust to their customs and traditions, and come home safely – that in itself was incredible. In addition Tavernier carried out a trade in precious stones like diamonds. He completed such voyages, not once but six times. His book was therefore a great sensation at that time. It was naturally translated into English and during 1677 to 1811; nine editions of the English translation were published, whereas during the same period twenty-two editions of the French book were printed.

In 1889, Dr. Ball translated the original French book into English, corrected some mistakes in earlier translation and provided extensive footnotes. He also studied Tavernier’s movements thoroughly and provided details of his six voyages. From this it is clear that Tavernier came to Agra only twice – in the winter of 1640-41 and in 1665. This raises another interesting question.

Historians say that Mumtaz, wife of Shahjahan died in 1631 and the construction of Taj Mahal started immediately. But if that is the case Tavernier could not have seen the commencement of Taj Mahal, as he came to Agra nearly 10 years later.

Aurangzeb had imprisoned his father Shahjahan in the Red Fort of Agra since 1658 and usurped power. No historian claims that Aurangzeb completed Taj Mahal. So, Tavernier could not have seen the completion of Taj Mahal either. And that being the case his statement that 20,000 men worked on it incessantly is meaningless.

Why have historians kept this truth from us for the last 117 years? The reason is simple. It strikes at the heart of the legend.


Badshahnama – What Does it Say?
British Historians have proclaimed that in India, Hindu Kings had no historical sense. Historical records were kept only by the Muslim rulers. Fair enough, then let us turn to the Badshahnama which was written during the reign of Shahjahan. The Asiatic Society of Bengal published the Persian text of Badshahnama in two parts, part I in 1867 and part II in 1868. The compilation was done by two Maulavis, under the superintendence of an English Major. The funny thing is that no one quotes Badshahnama to explain how the Taj Mahal was built. Why?

Elliot and Dowson, two English gentlemen undertook the formidable task of writing history of India from the attack on Sindh by Mohammed bin Kasim in the 8th century to the fall of Marathas in the 19th century. A period covering some 1200 years. But it was written, based on chronicles of Muslim rulers only. Elliot and Dowson’s work was published in 8 volumes during 1867 to 1877. Volume 7 deals with the reigns of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb. And yet in the entire volume we do not find the word ‘Taj Mahal.’ The authors should have said, “Though we have presented history of Shahjahan based on his official chronicle Badshahnama, we did not find any reference to Taj Mahal in it.” They did no such thing. And Historians have kept even this information from us for the last 130 years.

In 1896 Khan Bahaddur Syed Muhammad Latif wrote a book entitled "Agra Historical and Descriptive." He refers to Badshahnama many times but does not quote specific page numbers. On page 105 he says, “The site selected for the mausoleum was originally a palace of Raja Mansingh but it was now the property of his grandson Raja Jaisingh.” Many authors have referred to Latif in their bibliography but have not cared to see what he has said. This truth was also hidden away from us by our Historians.

In 1905, H. R. Nevill, ICS, compiled Agra District Gazetteer. In it he changed the words "Raja Mansingh’s Palace" to "Raja Mansingh’s piece of land." Ever since all historians have followed suit and repeated "Shahjahan purchased Raja Mansingh’s piece of land, at that time in the possession of his grandson Raja Jaisingh." This deception has been going on for more than a century.

One may ask, “Why would an English officer be interested in playing such a mischief?” Well if we look at the events of those times the reason is clear cut.

1901

Viceroy Lord Curzon separated some districts from Punjab to create a Muslim majority North West Frontier Province. Hindus became an insignificant minority in this province and that marked the beginning of their misfortune.

1903

Curzon declared his intention to partition Bengal to create a Muslim majority province of East Bengal.

1905

Curzon resigned but put into effect the partition of Bengal.

1906

A Muslim delegation led by Agakhan called upon new Viceroy Lord Minto. Muslims pleaded that in any political reforms they should be treated separately and favourably. This move was obviously engineered by the British rulers.

December – Muslim League was started in Dacca.

1909

In the Morley - Minto reforms, Muslims were granted separate electorates.

We should also remember that during 1873 and 1914, some English officers had translated into English the Persian texts of Babur-nama. Humayun-nama, Akbar-nama, Ain-e-Akbari and Tazuk - i - Jehangiri, but NOT Badshahnama. Judging from above events it is obvious why Mr Nevill played the mischief when compiling Agra District Gazetteer in 1905.

It is astonishing that though Maulavi Ahmad (History of Taj, 1905) and Sir Jadunath Sarkar (Anecdotes of Aurangzeb, 1912) repeat that Raja Mansingh’s piece of land was purchased by Shahjahan, they also provide a reference - Badshahnama.

Volume I page 403. Strange as it may sound, no one had bothered to see what is written on that page.

In 1964, Mr. P. N. Oak of New Delhi started having his doubts about Taj Mahal. He put forward an argument that it was originally a Hindu Palace. Oak had to cross swords with many historians. One of his opponents was a Kashmiri Pandit. Eventually they went to Government of India Archives. At the suggestion of the Librarian there the Pandit started to read Badshahnama, soon he came to Volume I page 403. One line read – "va pesh azin manzil-e-Raja Mansingh bood, vadari vakt ba Raja Jaisingh." He confessed that Shahjahan took over Raja Mansingh’s palace for burial of Mumtaz. We owe so much to this honest opponent of Mr. Oak. He gave word by word translation of pages 402 and 403 to Mr. Oak who promptly published it in his book "Taj Mahal is a Hindu Palace" (1968). However, Mr. Oak never stated that the translation was NOT his. It was done for him by a Persian expert. That made life of his opponents easy. They said, “Mr Oak’s translation is wrong.”

I obtained Oak’s book in London in 1977. I made a study for one year. First of all I read all the references generally  quoted by Historians and writers.That was made possible by my being in England. Mr. Oak did not have that facility. All the references led to the same conclusion that the Taj Mahal is a Hindu Palace and it was NOT built by Shahjahan. My booklet entitled – "Taj Mahal: Simple Analysis of a Great Deception" was published in 1986. In 1981, while going through some references, I started suspecting that the British knew the true nature of the Taj Mahal for a long time but had deliberately suppressed the truth. Eventually, my research was published in 10 parts in the Quarterly "Itihas Patrika" of Thane (India). I collected all the information available on Taj Mahal over the 200 year period from 1784 to 1984, and shown how the British suppressed vital pieces of evidence or twisted the truth. My research continued and was published in 1996 under the title – "Taj Mahal and the Great British Conspiracy."


Taj Legend Exposed in England in 1980

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a reputable Institution in London. In1980, in their monthly Journal, they published two letters challenging the validity of the usual Taj Legend. One was by Mr. Oak, the other by me. No one has refuted our arguments. Mr. Oak refers to Badshahnama, Volume I page 403. What have I disclosed in my letter?

What was Agra City like before Shahjahan came to power? That is the question dodged by all historians. In the 17th century, the Dutch like the English were trying to trade in India. They had a Factory (trading post) in Agra. Fransisco Pelsaert was their Senior Factor (Merchant) at Agra from 1620 to 1627. In 1626, he prepared a commercial report for his directors in Holland. By strange coincidence, he describes Agra City at that time. He says, “The city is narrow and long, because all the rich and influential people have built their palaces on the river bank and this stretches for 10 ½ miles. I will mention some of the well known ones. Starting from the North there is the palace of Bahadur Khan, Raja Bhoj, ……. Then comes the Red Fort. (Pelsaert then describes the Fort) beyond it is Nakhas – a great market, then follow the palaces of great Lords – Mirza Abdulla, Aga Naur …… Mahabat Khan, Late Raja Mansingh, Raja Madho Singh.”

English translation of this report was available since 1925. And yet no Historian refers to it. Why? The reason is simple. In 1626, Pelsaert has said that 10 ½ mile stretch of the river-bank was full of palaces, the late Raja Mansingh’s Palace being the last one. The Badshahnama says that Shahjahan took over this palace for burying his wife Mumtaz. Thus, what we call Taj Mahal today is nothing but Late Raja Mansingh’s Palace. That is the truth which Historians have kept away from us.

My efforts had one effect. In 1982, the Archaeological Survey of India published a booklet entitled "Taj Museum." Though the authors repeat the usual legend, they say “Mumtaz died in Burhanpur and was buried there. Six months later Shahjahan exhumed her body and sent her coffin to Agra, on that site until then stood Late Raja Mansingh’s Palace……"

Today that palace is called the Taj Mahal. Nothing could be simpler. What building work is needed for burying a corpse in a Palace?

Dr. V. S. Godbole, April 2007
14 Turnberry Walk Akshaya Tritiya
Bedford
MK41, 8AZ
U.K.

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -7 -The True Story of the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -7

The True Story of the Taj Mahal

By P. N. Oak

The story of the Taj Mahal that most of us have known about may not be the real truth. Herein Mr. P. N. Oak presents an interesting set of proofs that show a completely different story. Contrary to what visitors are made to believe the Tajmahal is not a Islamic mausoleum but an ancient Shiva Temple known as Tejo Mahalaya which the 5th generation Moghul emperor Shahjahan commandeered from the then Maharaja of Jaipur. The Taj Mahal, should therefore, be viewed as a temple palace and not as a tomb. That makes a vast difference. You miss the details of its size, grandeur, majesty and beauty when you take it to be a mere tomb. When told that you are visiting a temple palace you wont fail to notice its annexes, ruined defensive walls, hillocks, moats, cascades, fountains, majestic garden, hundreds of rooms archaded verendahs, terraces, multi stored towers, secret sealed chambers, guest rooms, stables, the trident (Trishul) pinnacle on the dome and the sacred, esoteric Hindu letter "OM" carved on the exterior of the wall of the sanctum sanctorum now occupied by the cenotaphs. For detailed proof of this breath taking discovery, you may read the well known historian Shri. P. N. Oak's celebrated book titled " Tajmahal : The True Story". But let us place before you, for the time being an exhaustive summary of the massive evidence ranging over hundred points:


NAME
1.The term Tajmahal itself never occurs in any mogul court paper or chronicle even in Aurangzeb's time. The attempt to explain it away as Taj-i-mahal is therefore, ridiculous.
2.The ending "Mahal"is never muslim because in none of the muslim countries around the world from Afghanistan to Algeria is there a building known as "Mahal".
3.The unusual explanation of the term Tajmahal derives from Mumtaz Mahal, who is buried in it, is illogical in at least two respects viz., firstly her name was never Mumtaj Mahal but Mumtaz-ul-Zamani and secondly one cannot omit the first three letters "Mum" from a woman's name to derive the remainder as the name of the building.
4.Since the lady's name was Mumtaz (ending with 'Z') the name of the building derived from her should have been Taz Mahal, if at all, and not Taj (spelled with a 'J').
5.Several European visitors of Shahjahan's time allude to the building as Taj-e-Mahal is almost the correct tradition, age old Sanskrit name Tej-o-Mahalaya, signifying a Shiva temple. Contrarily Shahjahan and Aurangzeb scrupulously avoid using the Sanskrit term and call it just a holy grave.
6.The tomb should be understood to signify NOT A BUILDING but only the grave or centotaph inside it. This would help people to realize that all dead muslim courtiers and royalty including Humayun, Akbar, Mumtaz, Etmad-ud-Daula and Safdarjang have been buried in capture Hindu mansions and temples.
7.Moreover, if the Taj is believed to be a burial place, how can the term Mahal, i.e., mansion apply to it?
8.Since the term Taj Mahal does not occur in mogul courts it is absurd to search for any mogul explanation for it. Both its components namely, 'Taj' and' Mahal' are of Sanskrit origin.

TEMPLE TRADITION
9.The term Taj Mahal is a corrupt form of the sanskrit term TejoMahalay signifying a Shiva Temple. Agreshwar Mahadev i.e., The Lord of Agra was consecrated in it.
10.The tradition of removing the shoes before climbing the marble platform originates from pre Shahjahan times when the Taj was a Shiva Temple. Had the Taj originated as a tomb, shoes need not have to be removed because shoes are a necessity in a cemetery.
11.Visitors may notice that the base slab of the centotaph is the marble basement in plain white while its superstructure and the other three centotaphs on the two floors are covered with inlaid creeper designs. This indicates that the marble pedestal of the Shiva idol is still in place and Mumtaz's centotaphs are fake.
12.The pitchers carved inside the upper border of the marble lattice plus those mounted on it number 108-a number sacred in Hindu Temple tradition.
13.There are persons who are connected with the repair and the maintainance of the Taj who have seen the ancient sacred Shiva Linga and other idols sealed in the thick walls and in chambers in the secret, sealed red stone stories below the marble basement. The Archaeological Survey of India is keeping discretely, politely and diplomatically silent about it to the point of dereliction of its own duty to probe into hidden historical evidence.
14.In India there are 12 Jyotirlingas i.e., the outstanding Shiva Temples. The Tejomahalaya alias The Tajmahal appears to be one of them known as Nagnatheshwar since its parapet is girdled with Naga, i.e., Cobra figures. Ever since Shahjahan's capture of it the sacred temple has lost its Hindudom.
15.The famous Hindu treatise on architecture titled Vishwakarma Vastushastra mentions the 'Tej-Linga' amongst the Shivalingas i.e., the stone emblems of Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity. Such a Tej Linga was consecrated in the Taj Mahal, hence the term Taj Mahal alias Tejo Mahalaya.
16.Agra city, in which the Taj Mahal is located, is an ancient centre of Shiva worship. Its orthodox residents have through ages continued the tradition of worshipping at five Shiva shrines before taking the last meal every night especially during the month of Shravan. During the last few centuries the residents of Agra had to be content with worshipping at only four prominent Shiva temples viz., Balkeshwar, Prithvinath, Manakameshwar and Rajarajeshwar. They had lost track of the fifth Shiva deity which their forefathers worshipped. Apparently the fifth was Agreshwar Mahadev Nagnatheshwar i.e., The Lord Great God of Agra, The Deity of the King of Cobras, consecrated in the Tejomahalay alias Tajmahal.
17.The people who dominate the Agra region are Jats. Their name of Shiva is Tejaji. The Jat special issue of The Illustrated Weekly of India (June 28,1971) mentions that the Jats have the Teja Mandirs i.e., Teja Temples. This is because Teja-Linga is among the several names of the Shiva Lingas. From this it is apparent that the Taj-Mahal is Tejo-Mahalaya, The Great Abode of Tej.

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
18. Shahjahan's own court chronicle, the Badshahnama, admits (page 403, vol 1) that a grand mansion of unique splendor, capped with a dome (Imaarat-a-Alishan wa Gumbaze) was taken from the Jaipur Maharaja Jaisigh for Mumtaz's burial, and the building was known as Raja Mansingh's palace.
19. The plaque put the archealogy department outside the Tajmahal describes the edifice as a mausoleum built by Shahjahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal , over 22 years from 1631 to 1653. That plaque is a specimen of historical bungling. Firstly, the plaque sites no authority for its claim. Secondly the lady's name was Mumtaz-ulZamani and not Mumtazmahal. Thirdly, the period of 22 years is taken from some mumbo jumbo noting by an unreliable French visitor Tavernier, to the exclusion of all muslim versions, which is an absurdity.
20. Prince Aurangzeb's letter to his father,emperor Shahjahan,is recorded in atleast three chronicles titled `Aadaab-e-Alamgiri', `Yadgarnama', and the `Muruqqa-i-Akbarabadi' (edited by Said Ahmed, Agra, 1931, page 43, footnote 2). In that letter Aurangzeb records in 1652 A.D itself that the several buildings in the fancied burial place of Mumtaz were seven storeyed and were so old that they were all leaking, while the dome had developed a crack on the northern side.Aurangzeb, therefore, ordered immediate repairs to the buildings at his own expense while recommending to the emperor that more elaborate repairs be carried out later. This is the proof that during Shahjahan's reign itself that the Taj complex was so old as to need immediate repairs.
21. The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur retains in his secret personal `KapadDwara' collection two orders from Shahjahan dated Dec 18, 1633 (bearing modern nos. R.176 and 177) requestioning the Taj building complex. That was so blatant a usurpation that the then ruler of Jaipur was ashamed to make the document public.
22. The Rajasthan State archives at Bikaner preserve three other firmans addressed by Shahjahan to the Jaipur's ruler Jaising ordering the latter to supply marble (for Mumtaz's grave and koranic grafts) from his Makranna quarris, and stone cutters. Jaisingh was apparently so enraged at the blatant seizure of the Tajmahal that he refused to oblige Shahjahan by providing marble for grafting koranic engravings and fake centotaphs for further desecration of the Tajmahal. Jaising looked at Shahjahan's demand for marble and stone cutters, as an insult added to injury. Therefore, he refused to send any marble and instead detained the stone cutters in his protective custody.
23. The three firmans demanding marble were sent to Jaisingh within about two years of Mumtaz's death. Had Shahjahan really built the Tajmahal over a period of 22 years, the marble would have needed only after 15 or 20 years not immediately after Mumtaz's death.
24. Moreover, the three mention neither the Tajmahal, nor Mumtaz, nor the burial. The cost and the quantity of the stone also are not mentioned. This proves that an insignificant quantity of marble was needed just for some supercial tinkering and tampering with the Tajmahal. Even otherwise Shahjahan could never hope to build a fabulous Tajmahal by abject dependence for marble on a non cooperative Jaisingh.

EUROPEAN VISITOR'S ACCOUNTS
25. Tavernier, a French jeweller has recorded in his travel memoirs that Shahjahan purposely buried Mumtaz near the Taz-i-Makan (i.e.,`The Taj building') where foriegners used to come as they do even today so that the world may admire. He also adds that the cost of the scaffolding was more than that of the entire work. The work that Shahjahan commissioned in the Tejomahalaya Shiva temple was plundering at the costly fixtures inside it, uprooting the Shiva idols, planting the centotaphs in their place on two stories, inscribing the koran along the arches and walling up six of the seven stories of the Taj. It was this plunder, desecrating and plunderring of the rooms which took 22 years.
26. Peter Mundy, an English visitor to Agra recorded in 1632 (within only a year of Mumtaz's death) that `the places of note in and around Agra, included Taj-e-Mahal's tomb, gardens and bazaars'.He, therefore, confirms that that the Tajmahal had been a noteworthy building even before Shahjahan.
27. De Laet, a Dutch official has listed Mansingh's palace about a mile from Agra fort, as an outstanding building of pre shahjahan's time. Shahjahan's court chronicle, the Badshahnama records, Mumtaz's burial in the same Mansingh's palace.
28. Bernier, a contemporary French visitor has noted that non muslim's were barred entry into the basement (at the time when Shahjahan requisitioned Mansingh's palace) which contained a dazzling light. Obviously, he reffered to the silver doors, gold railing, the gem studded lattice and strings of pearl hanging over Shiva's idol. Shahjahan comandeered the building to grab all the wealth, making Mumtaz's death a convineant pretext.
29. Johan Albert Mandelslo, who describes life in agra in 1638 (only 7 years after mumtaz's death) in detail (in his `Voyages and Travels to West-Indies', published by John Starkey and John Basset, London), makes no mention of the Tajmahal being under constuction though it is commonly erringly asserted or assumed that the Taj was being built from 1631 to 1653.

SANSKIRT INSCRIPTION
30. A Sanskrit inscription too supports the conclusion that the Taj originated as a Shiva temple. Wrongly termed as the Bateshwar inscription (currently preserved on the top floor of the Lucknow museum), it refers to the raising of a "crystal white Shiva temple so alluring that Lord Shiva once enshrined in it decided never to return to Mount Kailash his usual abode". That inscription dated 1155 A.D. was removed from the Tajmahal garden at Shahjahan's orders. Historicians and Archeaologists have blundered in terming the insription the `Bateshwar inscription' when the record doesn't say that it was found by Bateshwar. It ought, in fact, to be called `The Tejomahalaya inscription' because it was originally installed in the Taj garden before it was uprooted and cast away at Shahjahan's command.
A clue to the tampering by Shahjahan is found on pages 216-217, vol. 4, of Archealogiical Survey of India Reports (published 1874) stating that a "great square black balistic pillar which, with the base and capital of another pillar....now in the grounds of Agra,...it is well known, once stood in the garden of Tajmahal".

MISSING ELEPHANTS
31. Far from the building of the Taj, Shahjahan disfigured it with black koranic lettering and heavily robbed it of its Sanskrit inscription, several idols and two huge stone elephants extending their trunks in a welcome arch over the gateway where visitors these days buy entry tickets. An Englishman, Thomas Twinning, records (pg.191 of his book "Travels in India A Hundred Years ago") that in November 1794 "I arrived at the high walls which enclose the Taj-e-Mahal and its circumjacent buildings. I here got out of the palanquine and.....mounted a short flight of steps leading to a beautiful portal which formed the centre of this side of the `COURT OF ELEPHANTS" as the great area was called."

KORANIC PATCHES
32. The Taj Mahal is scrawled over with 14 chapters of the Koran but nowhere is there even the slightest or the remotest allusion in that Islamic overwriting to Shahjahan's authorship of the Taj. Had Shahjahan been the builder he would have said so in so many words before beginning to quote Koran.
33. That Shahjahan, far from building the marble Taj, only disfigured it with black lettering is mentioned by the inscriber Amanat Khan Shirazi himself in an inscription on the building. A close scrutiny of the Koranic lettering reveals that they are grafts patched up with bits of variegated stone on an ancient Shiva temple.

CARBON 14 TEST
34. A wooden piece from the riverside doorway of the Taj subjected to the carbon 14 test by an American Laboratory, has revealed that the door to be 300 years older than Shahjahan,since the doors of the Taj, broken open by Muslim invaders repeatedly from the 11th century onwards, had to b replaced from time to time. The Taj edifice is much more older. It belongs to 1155 A.D, i.e., almost 500 years anterior to Shahjahan.

ARCHITECHTURAL EVIDENCE
35. Well known Western authorities on architechture like E.B.Havell, Mrs.Kenoyer and Sir W.W.Hunterhave gone on record to say that the TajMahal is built in the Hindu temple style. Havell points out the ground plan of the ancient Hindu Chandi Seva Temple in Java is identical with that of the Taj.
36. A central dome with cupolas at its four corners is a universal feature of Hindu temples.
37. The four marble pillars at the plinth corners are of the Hindu style. They are used as lamp towers during night and watch towers during the day. Such towers serve to demarcate the holy precincts. Hindu wedding altars and the altar set up for God Satyanarayan worship have pillars raised at the four corners.
38. The octagonal shape of the Tajmahal has a special Hindu significance because Hindus alone have special names for the eight directions, and celestial guards assigned to them. The pinnacle points to the heaven while the foundation signifies to the nether world. Hindu forts, cities, palaces and temples genrally have an octagonal layout or some octagonal features so that together with the pinnacle and the foundation they cover all the ten directions in which the king or God holds sway, according to Hindu belief.
39. The Tajmahal has a trident pinncle over the dome. A full scale of the trident pinnacle is inlaid in the red stone courtyard to the east of the Taj. The central shaft of the trident depicts a "Kalash" (sacred pot) holding two bent mango leaves and a coconut. This is a sacred Hindu motif. Identical pinnacles have been seen over Hindu and Buddhist temples in the Himalayan region. Tridents are also depicted against a red lotus background at the apex of the stately marble arched entrances on all four sides of the Taj. People fondly but mistakenly believed all these centuries that the Taj pinnacle depicts a Islamic cresent and star was a lighting conductor installed by the British rulers in India. Contrarily, the pinnacle is a marvel of Hindu metallurgy since the pinnacle made of non rusting alloy, is also perhaps a lightning deflector. That the pinnacle of the replica is drawn in the eastern courtyard is significant because the east is of special importance to the Hindus, as the direction in which the sun rises. The pinnacle on the dome has the word `Allah' on it after capture. The pinnacle figure on the ground does not have the word Allah.

INCONSISTENCIES
40. The two buildings which face the marble Taj from the east and west are identical in design, size and shape and yet the eastern building is explained away by Islamic tradition, as a community hall while the western building is claimed to be a mosque. How could buildings meant for radically different purposes be identical? This proves that the western building was put to use as a mosque after seizure of the Taj property by Shahjahan. Curiously enough the building being explained away as a mosque has no minaret. They form a pair af reception pavilions of the Tejomahalaya temple palace.
41. A few yards away from the same flank is the Nakkar Khana alias DrumHouse which is a intolerable incongruity for Islam. The proximity of the Drum House indicates that the western annex was not originally a mosque. Contrarily a drum house is a neccesity in a Hindu temple or palace because Hindu chores,in the morning and evening, begin to the sweet strains of music.
42. The embossed patterns on the marble exterior of the centotaph chamber wall are foilage of the conch shell design and the Hindu letter "OM". The octagonally laid marble lattices inside the centotaph chamber depict pink lotuses on their top railing. The Lotus, the conch and the OM are the sacred motifs associated with the Hindu deities and temples.
43. The spot occupied by Mumtaz's centotaph was formerly occupied by the Hindu Teja Linga a lithic representation of Lord Shiva. Around it are five perambulatory passages. Perambulation could be done around the marble lattice or through the spacious marble chambers surrounding the centotaph chamber, and in the open over the marble platform. It is also customary for the Hindus to have apertures along the perambulatory passage, overlooking the deity. Such apertures exist in the perambulatories in the Tajmahal.
44. The sanctom sanctorum in the Taj has silver doors and gold railings as Hindu temples have. It also had nets of pearl and gems stuffed in the marble lattices. It was the lure of this wealth which made Shahjahan commandeer the Taj from a helpless vassal Jaisingh, the then ruler of Jaipur.
45. Peter Mundy, a Englishman records (in 1632, within a year of Mumtaz's death) having seen a gem studded gold railing around her tomb. Had the Taj been under construction for 22 years, a costly gold railing would not have been noticed by Peter mundy within a year of Mumtaz's death. Such costl fixtures are installed in a building only after it is ready for use. This indicates that Mumtaz's centotaph was grafted in place of the Shivalinga in the centre of the gold railings. Subsequently the gold railings, silver doors, nets of pearls, gem fillings etc. were all carried away to Shahjahan's treasury. The seizure of the Taj thus constituted an act of highhanded Moghul robery causing a big row between Shahjahan and Jaisingh.
46. In the marble flooring around Mumtaz's centotaph may be seen tiny mosaic patches. Those patches indicate the spots where the support for the gold railings were embedded in the floor. They indicate a rectangular fencing.
47. Above Mumtaz's centotaph hangs a chain by which now hangs a lamp. Before capture by Shahjahan the chain used to hold a water pitcher from which water used to drip on the Shivalinga.
48. It is this earlier Hindu tradition in the Tajmahal which gave the Islamic myth of Shahjahan's love tear dropping on Mumtaz's tomb on the full moon day of the winter eve.

TREASURY WELL
49. Between the so-called mosque and the drum house is a multistoried octagonal well with a flight of stairs reaching down to the water level. This is a traditional treasury well in Hindu temple palaces. Treasure chests used to be kept in the lower apartments while treasury personnel had their offices in the upper chambers. The circular stairs made it difficult for intruders to reach down to the treasury or to escape with it undetected or unpursued. In case the premises had to be surrendered to a besieging enemy the treasure could be pushed into the well to remain hidden from the conquerer and remain safe for salvaging if the place was reconquered. Such an elaborate multistoried well is superflous for a mere mausoleum. Such a grand, gigantic well is unneccesary for a tomb.

BURIAL DATE UNKNOWN
50. Had Shahjahan really built the Taj Mahal as a wonder mausoleum, history would have recorded a specific date on which she was ceremoniously buried in the Taj Mahal. No such date is ever mentioned. This important missing detail decisively exposes the falsity of the Tajmahal legend.
51. Even the year of Mumtaz's death is unknown. It is variously speculated to be 1629, 1630, 1631 or 1632. Had she deserved a fabulous burial, as is claimed, the date of her death had not been a matter of much speculation. In an harem teeming with 5000 women it was difficult to keep track of dates of death. Apparently the date of Mumtaz's death was so insignificant an event, as not to merit any special notice. Who would then build a Taj for her burial?

BASELESS LOVE STORIES
52. Stories of Shahjahan's exclusive infatuation for Mumtaz's are concoctions. They have no basis in history nor has any book ever written on their fancied love affairs. Those stories have been invented as an afterthought to make Shahjahan's authorship of the Taj look plausible.

COST
53. The cost of the Taj is nowhere recorded in Shahjahan's court papers because Shahjahan never built the Tajmahal. That is why wild estimates of the cost by gullible writers have ranged from 4 million to 91.7 million rupees.

PERIOD OF CONSTRUCTION
54. Likewise the period of construction has been guessed to be anywhere between 10 years and 22 years. There would have not been any scope for guesswork had the building construction been on record in the court papers.

ARCHITECTS
55. The designer of the Tajmahal is also variously mentioned as Essa Effendy, a Persian or Turk, or Ahmed Mehendis or a Frenchman, Austin deBordeaux, or Geronimo Veroneo, an Italian, or Shahjahan himself.

RECORDS DON'T EXIST
56. Twenty thousand labourers are supposed to have worked for 22 years during Shahjahan's reign in building the Tajmahal. Had this been true, there should have been available in Shahjahan's court papers design drawings, heaps of labour muster rolls, daily expenditure sheets, bills and receipts of material ordered, and commisioning orders. There is not even a scrap of paper of this kind.
57. It is, therefore, court flatterers,blundering historians, somnolent archeologists, fiction writers, senile poets, careless tourists officials and erring guides who are responsible for hustling the world into believing in Shahjahan's mythical authorship of the Taj.
58. Description of the gardens around the Taj of Shahjahan's time mention Ketaki, Jai, Jui, Champa, Maulashree, Harshringar and Bel. All these are plants whose flowers or leaves are used in the worship of Hindu deities. Bel leaves are exclusively used in Lord Shiva's worship. A graveyard is planted only with shady trees because the idea of using fruit and flower from plants in a cemetary is abhorrent to human conscience. The presence of Bel and other flower plants in the Taj garden is proof of its having been a Shiva temple before seizure by Shahjahan.
59. Hindu temples are often built on river banks and sea beaches. The Taj is one such built on the bank of the Yamuna river an ideal location for a Shiva temple.
60. Prophet Mohammad has ordained that the burial spot of a muslim should be inconspicous and must not be marked by even a single tombstone. In flagrant violation of this, the Tajamhal has one grave in the basement and another in the first floor chamber both ascribed to Mumtaz. Those two centotaphs were infact erected by Shahjahan to bury the two tier Shivalingas that were consecrated in the Taj. It is customary for Hindus to install two Shivalingas one over the other in two stories as may be seen in the Mahankaleshwar temple in Ujjain and the Somnath temple raised by Ahilyabai in Somnath Pattan.
61. The Tajmahal has identical entrance arches on all four sides. This is a typical Hindu building style known as Chaturmukhi, i.e.,four faced.

THE HINDU DOME
62. The Tajmahal has a reverberating dome. Such a dome is an absurdity for a tomb which must ensure peace and silence. Contrarily reverberating domes are a neccesity in Hindu temples because they create an ecstatic dinmultiplying and magnifying the sound of bells, drums and pipes accompanying the worship of Hindu deities.
63. The Tajmahal dome bears a lotus cap. Original Islamic domes have a bald top as is exemplified by the Pakistan Embassy in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, and the domes in the Pakistan's newly built capital Islamabad.
64. The Tajmahal entrance faces south. Had the Taj been an Islamic building it should have faced the west.

TOMB IS THE GRAVE, NOT THE BUILDING
65. A widespread misunderstanding has resulted in mistaking the building for the grave.Invading Islam raised graves in captured buildings in every country it overran. Therefore, hereafter people must learn not to confound the building with the grave mounds which are grafts in conquered buildings. This is true of the Tajmahal too. One may therefore admit (for arguments sake) that Mumtaz lies buried inside the Taj. But that should not be construed to mean that the Taj was raised over Mumtaz's grave.
66. The Taj is a seven storied building. Prince Aurangzeb also mentions this in his letter to Shahjahan. The marble edifice comprises four stories including the lone, tall circular hall inside the top, and the lone chamber in the basement. In between are two floors each containing 12 to 15 palatial rooms. Below the marble plinth reaching down to the river at the rear are two more stories in red stone. They may be seen from the river bank. The seventh storey must be below the ground (river) level since every ancient Hindu building had a subterranian storey.
67. Immediately bellow the marble plinth on the river flank are 22 rooms in red stone with their ventilators all walled up by Shahjahan. Those rooms, made uninhibitably by Shahjahan, are kept locked by Archealogy Department of India. The lay visitor is kept in the dark about them. Those 22 rooms still bear ancient Hindu paint on their walls and ceilings. On their side is a nearly 33 feet long corridor. There are two door frames one at either end ofthe corridor. But those doors are intriguingly sealed with brick and lime.
68. Apparently those doorways originally sealed by Shahjahan have been since unsealed and again walled up several times. In 1934 a resident of Delhi took a peep inside from an opening in the upper part of the doorway. To his dismay he saw huge hall inside. It contained many statues huddled around a central beheaded image of Lord Shiva. It could be that, in there, are Sanskrit inscriptions too. All the seven stories of the Tajmahal need to be unsealed and scoured to ascertain what evidence they may be hiding in the form of Hindu images, Sanskrit inscriptions, scriptures, coins and utensils.
69. Apart from Hindu images hidden in the sealed stories it is also learnt that Hindu images are also stored in the massive walls of the Taj. Between 1959 and 1962 when Mr. S.R. Rao was the Archealogical Superintendent in Agra, he happened to notice a deep and wide crack in the wall of the central octagonal chamber of the Taj. When a part of the wall was dismantled to study the crack out popped two or three marble images. The matter was hushed up and the images were reburied where they had been embedded at Shahjahan's behest. Confirmation of this has been obtained from several sources. It was only when I began my investigation into the antecedents of the Taj I came across the above information which had remained a forgotten secret. What better proof is needed of the Temple origin of the Tajmahal? Its walls and sealed chambers still hide in Hindu idols that were consecrated in it before Shahjahan's seizure of the Taj.

PRE-SHAHJAHAN REFERENCES TO THE TAJ
70. Apparently the Taj as a central palace seems to have an chequered history. The Taj was perhaps desecrated and looted by every Muslim invader from Mohammad Ghazni onwards but passing into Hindu hands off and on, the sanctity of the Taj as a Shiva temple continued to be revived after every muslim onslaught. Shahjahan was the last muslim to desecrate the Tajmahal alias Tejomahalay.
71. Vincent Smith records in his book titled `Akbar the Great Moghul' that `Babur's turbulent life came to an end in his garden palace in Agra in 1630'. That palace was none other than the Tajmahal. 72. Babur's daughter Gulbadan Begum in her chronicle titled `Humayun Nama' refers to the Taj as the Mystic House.
73. Babur himself refers to the Taj in his memoirs as the palace captured by Ibrahim Lodi containing a central octagonal chamber and having pillars on the four sides. All these historical references allude to the Taj 100 years before Shahjahan.
74. The Tajmahal precincts extend to several hundred yards in all directions. Across the river are ruins of the annexes of the Taj, the bathing ghats and a jetty for the ferry boat. In the Victoria gardens outside covered with creepers is the long spur of the ancient outer wall ending in a octagonal red stone tower. Such extensive grounds all magnificently done up, are a superfluity for a grave.
75. Had the Taj been specially built to bury Mumtaz, it should not have been cluttered with other graves. But the Taj premises contain several graves atleast in its eastern and southern pavilions.
76. In the southern flank, on the other side of the Tajganj gate are buried in identical pavilions queens Sarhandi Begum, and Fatehpuri Begum and a maid Satunnisa Khanum. Such parity burial can be justified only if the queens had been demoted or the maid promoted. But since Shahjahan had commandeered (not built) the Taj, he reduced it general to a muslim cemetary as was the habit of all his Islamic predeccssors, and buried a queen in a vacant pavillion and a maid in another idenitcal pavilion.
77. Shahjahan was married to several other women before and after Mumtaz. She, therefore, deserved no special consideration in having a wonder mausoleum built for her.
78. Mumtaz was a commoner by birth and so she did not qualify for a fairyland burial.
79. Mumtaz died in Burhanpur which is about 600 miles from Agra. Her grave there is intact. Therefore ,the centotaphs raised in stories of the Taj in her name seem to be fakes hiding in Hindu Shiva emblems.
80. Shahjahan seems to have simulated Mumtaz's burial in Agra to find a pretext to surround the temple palace with his fierce and fanatic troops and remove all the costly fixtures in his treasury. This finds confirmation in the vague noting in the Badshahnama which says that the Mumtaz's (exhumed) body was brought to Agra from Burhanpur and buried `next year'. An official term would not use a nebulous term unless it is to hide some thing.
81. A pertinent consideration is that a Shahjahan who did not build any palaces for Mumtaz while she was alive, would not build a fabulous mausoleum for a corpse which was no longer kicking or clicking.
82. Another factor is that Mumtaz died within two or three years of Shahjahan becoming an emperor. Could he amass so much superflous wealth in that short span as to squander it on a wonder mausoleum?
83. While Shahjahan's special attachment to Mumtaz is nowhere recorded in history his amorous affairs with many other ladies from maids to mannequins including his own daughter Jahanara, find special attention in accounts of Shahjahan's reign. Would Shahjahan shower his hard earned wealth on Mumtaz's corpse?
84. Shahjahan was a stingy, usurious monarch. He came to throne murdering all his rivals. He was not therefore, the doting spendthrift that he is made out to be.
85. A Shahjahan disconsolate on Mumtaz's death is suddenly credited with a resolve to build the Taj. This is a psychological incongruity. Grief is a disabling, incapacitating emotion.
86. A infatuated Shahjahan is supposed to have raised the Taj over the dead Mumtaz, but carnal, physical sexual love is again a incapacitating emotion. A womaniser is ipso facto incapable of any constructive activity. When carnal love becomes uncontrollable the person either murders somebody or commits suicide. He cannot raise a Tajmahal. A building like the Taj invariably originates in an ennobling emotion like devotion to God, to one's mother and mother country or power and glory.
87. Early in the year 1973, chance digging in the garden in front of the Taj revealed another set of fountains about six feet below the present fountains. This proved two things. Firstly, the subterranean fountains were there before Shahjahan laid the surface fountains. And secondly that those fountains are aligned to the Taj that edifice too is of pre Shahjahan origin. Apparently the garden and its fountains had sunk from annual monsoon flooding and lack of maintenance for centuries during the Islamic rule.
89. The stately rooms on the upper floor of the Tajmahal have been striped of their marble mosaic by Shahjahan to obtain matching marble for raising fake tomb stones inside the Taj premises at several places. Contrasting with the rich finished marble ground floor rooms the striping of the marble mosaic covering the lower half of the walls and flooring of the upper storey have given those rooms a naked, robbed look. Since no visitors are allowed entry to the upper storey this despoilation by Shahjahan has remained a well guarded secret. There is no reason why Shahjahan's loot of the upper floor marble should continue to be hidden from the public even after 200 years of termination of Moghul rule.
90. Bernier, the French traveller has recorded that no non muslim was allowed entry into the secret nether chambers of the Taj because there are some dazzling fixtures there. Had those been installed by Shahjahan they should have been shown the public as a matter of pride. But since it was commandeered Hindu wealth which Shahjahan wanted to remove to his treasury, he didn't want the public to know about it.
91. The approach to Taj is dotted with hillocks raised with earth dugout from foundation trenches. The hillocks served as outer defences of the Taj building complex. Raising such hillocks from foundation earth, is a common Hindu device of hoary origin. Nearby Bharatpur provides a graphic parallel.
Peter Mundy has recorded that Shahjahan employed thousands of labourers to level some of those hillocks. This is a graphic proof of the Tajmahal existing before Shahjahan.
93. At the backside of the river bank is a Hindu crematorium, several palaces, Shiva temples and bathings of ancient origin. Had Shahjahan built the Tajmahal, he would have destroyed the Hindu features.
94. The story that Shahjahan wanted to build a Black marble Taj across the river, is another motivated myth. The ruins dotting the other side of the river are those of Hindu structures demolished during muslim invasions and not the plinth of another Tajmahal. Shahjahan who did not even build the white Tajmahal would hardly ever think of building a black marble Taj. He was so miserly that he forced labourers to work gratis even in the superficial tampering neccesary to make a Hindu temple serve as a Muslim tomb.
95. The marble that Shahjahan used for grafting Koranic lettering in the Taj is of a pale white shade while the rest of the Taj is built of a marble with rich yellow tint. This disparity is proof of the Koranic extracts being a superimposition.
96. Though imaginative attempts have been made by some historians to foist some fictitious name on history as the designer of the Taj others more imaginative have credited Shajahan himself with superb architechtural proficiency and artistic talent which could easily conceive and plan the Taj even in acute bereavement. Such people betray gross ignorance of history in as much as Shajahan was a cruel tyrant ,a great womaniser and a drug and drink addict.
97. Fanciful accounts about Shahjahan commisioning the Taj are all confused. Some asserted that Shahjahan ordered building drawing from all over the world and chose one from among them. Others assert that a man at hand was ordered to design a mausoleum and his design was approved. Had any of those versions been true Shahjahan's court papers should have had thousands of drawings concerning the Taj. But there is not even a single drawing. This is yet another clinching proof that Shahjahan did not commision the Taj.
98. The Tajmahal is surrounded by huge mansions which indicate that several battles have been waged around the Taj several times.
99. At the south east corner of the Taj is an ancient royal cattle house. Cows attached to the Tejomahalay temple used to reared there. A cowshed is an incongruity in an Islamic tomb.
100. Over the western flank of the Taj are several stately red stone annexes. These are superflous for a mausoleum.
101. The entire Taj complex comprises of 400 to 500 rooms. Residential accomodation on such a stupendous scale is unthinkable in a mausoleum.
102. The neighbouring Tajganj township's massive protective wall also encloses the Tajmahal temple palace complex. This is a clear indication that the Tejomahalay temple palace was part and parcel of the township. A street of that township leads straight into the Tajmahal. The Tajganj gate is aligned in a perfect straight line to the octagonal red stone garden gate and the stately entrance arch of the Tajmahal. The Tajganj gate besides being central to the Taj temple complex, is also put on a pedestal. The western gate by which the visitors enter the Taj complex is a camparatively minor gateway. It has become the entry gate for most visitors today because the railway station and the bus station are on that side.
103. The Tajmahal has pleasure pavilions which a tomb would never have.
104. A tiny mirror glass in a gallery of the Red Fort in Agra reflects the Taj mahal. Shahjahan is said to have spent his last eight years of life as a prisoner in that gallery peering at the reflected Tajmahal and sighing in the name of Mumtaz. This myth is a blend of many falsehoods. Firstly,old Shajahan was held prisoner by his son Aurangzeb in the basement storey in the Fort and not in an open,fashionable upper storey. Secondly, the glass piece was fixed in the 1930's by Insha Allah Khan, a peon of the archaelogy dept.just to illustrate to the visitors how in ancient times the entire apartment used to scintillate with tiny mirror pieces reflecting the Tejomahalay temple a thousand fold. Thirdly, a old decrepit Shahjahan with pain in his joints and cataract in his eyes, would not spend his day craning his neck at an awkward angle to peer into a tiny glass piece with bedimmed eyesight when he could as well his face around and have full,direct view of the Tjamahal itself. But the general public is so gullible as to gulp all such prattle of wily, unscrupulous guides.
105. That the Tajmahal dome has hundreds of iron rings sticking out of its exterior is a feature rarely noticed. These are made to hold Hindu earthen oil lamps for temple illumination.
106. Those putting implicit faith in Shahjahan authorship of the Taj have been imagining Shahjahan-Mumtaz to be a soft hearted romantic pair like Romeo and Juliet. But contemporary accounts speak of Shahjahan as a hard hearted ruler who was constantly egged on to acts of tyranny and cruelty, by Mumtaz.
107. School and College history carry the myth that Shahjahan reign was a golden period in which there was peace and plenty and that Shahjahan commisioned many buildings and patronized literature. This is pure fabrication. Shahjahan did not commision even a single building as we have illustrated by a detailed analysis of the Tajmahal legend. Shahjahn had to enrage in 48 military campaigns during a reign of nearly 30 years which proves that his was not a era of peace and plenty.
108. The interior of the dome rising over Mumtaz's centotaph has a representation of Sun and cobras drawn in gold. Hindu warriors trace their origin to the Sun. For an Islamic mausoleum the Sun is redundant. Cobras are always associated with Lord Shiva.

FORGED DOCUMENTS
109. The Muslim caretakers of the tomb in the Tajmahal used to possess a document which they styled as "Tarikh-i-Tajmahal". Historian H.G. Keene has branded it as `a document of doubtful authenticity'. Keene was uncannily right since we have seen that Shahjahan not being the creator of the Tajmahal any document which credits Shahjahn with the Tajmahal, must be an outright forgery. Even that forged document is reported to have been smuggled out of Pakistan. Besides such forged documents there are whole chronicles on the Taj which are pure concoctions.
110. There is lot of sophistry and casuistry or atleast confused thinking associated with the Taj even in the minds of proffesional historians, archaelogists and architects. At the outset they assert that the Taj is entirely Muslim in design. But when it is pointed out that its lotus capped dome and the four corner pillars etc. are all entirely Hindu those worthies shift ground and argue that that was probably because the workmen were Hindu and were to introduce their own patterns. Both these arguments are wrong because Muslim accounts claim the designers to be Muslim,and the workers invariably carry out the employer's dictates.
The Taj is only a typical illustration of how all historic buildings and townships from Kashmir to Cape Comorin though of Hindu origin have been ascribed to this or that Muslim ruler or courtier.
It is hoped that people the world over who study Indian history will awaken to this new finding and revise their erstwhile beliefs.
Those interested in an indepth study of the above and many other revolutionary rebuttals may read this author's other research books.

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -6 -AN ARCHITECT LOOKS AT THE TAJ MAHAL LEGEND

Taj Mahal - A Hindu Temple-Palace -6


AN ARCHITECT LOOKS AT THE TAJ MAHAL LEGEND
by
Professor Marvin H. Mills
Pratt Institute, New York

In their book TAJ MAHAL-THE ILLUMINED TOMB, Wayne Edison Begley and Ziyaud-Din Ahmad Desai have put together a very commendable body of data and information derived from contemporary sources and augmented with numerous photo illustrations, chroniclers' descriptions, imperial directives plus letters, plans, elevations and diagrams. They have performed a valuable service to the community of scholars and laymen concerned with the circumstances surrounding the origin and development of the Taj Mahal.

But these positive contributions exist within a framework of analysis and interpretation that distorts a potential source of enlightenment into support for fantasy and misinformation that has plagued scholarship in this field for hundreds of years, thus obscuring the true origin of the Taj Mahal complex. The two basic procedural errors that they make is to assume that the dated inscriptions are accurate and that court chroniclers are behaving like objective historians.

As an architect, my principal argument with the authors is their facile acceptance of the compact time frame that they uncritically accept for the coming into being of the Taj from conception to its first Urs (anniversary) of the death of Mumtaz and the completion of the main building. Construction processes that had to consume substantial blocks of time are condensed into a few months. They feel justified in relying on what evidence is available, but fail to consider the objective needs of construction. They regret the loss of what, they say, must have been millions of Mughal state records and documents produced each year on all aspects of the Taj's construction. They do not consider that the lack of drawings, specifications and records of payment may be due to their not being generated at the time. Nor do they consider Shahjahan's potential for deception as to when and by whom it was built. Yet they point out Shahjahan's careful monitoring of the contents of court history:

"Shajahan himself was probably responsible for this twisting of historical truth. The truth would have shown him to be inconsistent and this could not be tolerated. For this reason also, the histories contain no statements of any kind that are critical of the Emperor or his policies, and even military defeats are rationalized so that no blame could be attached to him. ... effusive praise of the Emperor is carried to such extremes that he seems more a divinity than a mortal man." (p. xxvi)

With the court chroniclers' histories carefully edited, and with the great scarcity of documents we are fortunate to have four surviving farmans or directives issued by Shahjahan to Raja Jai Singh of Amber-the very same local ruler from whom the Emperor acquired the Taj property. On the basis of these farmans, the court chroniclers and a visiting European traveler, we learn that: (i) Mumtaz died and was buried temporarily at Burhanpur on June 17, 1631; (ii) her body was exhumed and taken to Agra on December 11, 1631; (iii) she was reburied somewhere on the Taj grounds on January 8, 1632; and (iv) European traveler Peter Mundy witnessed Shahjahan's return to Agra with his cavalcade on June 11, 1632.

The first farman was issued on September 20, 1632 in which the Emperor urges Raja Jai Singh to hasten the shipment of marble for the facing of the interior walls of the mausoleum, i.e., the Taj main building. Naturally a building had to be there to receive the finish. How much time was needed to put that basic building in place?

Every successful new building construction follows what we call in modern-day construction a "critical path". There is a normal sequence of steps requiring a minimum time before other processes follow. Since Mumtaz died unexpectedly and relatively young (having survived thirteen previous child-births), we can assume that Shahjahan was unprepared for her sudden demise. He had to conceive, in the midst of his trauma, of a world class tomb dedicated to her, select an architect (whose identity is still debated), work out a design program with the architect, and have the architect prepare designs, engineer the structure and mechanical systems, detail the drawings, organize the contractors and thousands of workers, and prepare a complex construction schedule. Mysteriously, no documents relating to this elaborate procedure, other than the four farmans have survived.

We cannot assume that the Taj complex was built additively with the buildings and landscaping built as needed. It was designed as a unified whole. Begley and Desai make this clear by their analysis of the grid system that was employed by the designer to unite the complex horizontally and vertically to into a three-dimensional whole. If one did not "know" that it was a solemn burial grounds, one would believe that it was designed as a palace with a delightful air of fantasy and secular delights of waterways and flowering plants. Could it be that this is Raja Jai Singh's palace, never destroyed, converted by decree and some minimum face-lifting to a Mughal tomb?

Assuming that Shahjahan was galvanized into prompt action to initiate the project on behalf of his deceased beloved, we can safely assume that he needed one year minimum between conception and ground-breaking. Since Mumtaz died in June 1631, that would take us to June 1632. But construction is said to have begun in January 1632.

Excavation must have presented a formidable task. First, the demolition of Raja Jai Singh's palace would have had to occur. We know that the property had a palace on it from the chronicles of Mirza Qazini and Abd al-Hamid Lahori. Lahori writes:

"As there was a tract of land (zamini) of great eminence and pleasantness towards the south of that large city, on which before there was this mansion (manzil) of Raja Man Singh, and which now belongs to his grandson Raja Jai Singh, it was selected for the burial place (madfan) of that tenant of paradise.[Mumtaz]" (p. 43)

Measures would have to be taken during excavation of this main building and the other buildings to the north to retain the Jumna River from inundating the excavation. The next steps would have been to sink the massive foundation piers, put in the footings, retaining the walls and the plinth or podium to support the Taj and its two accompanying buildings to the east and west plus the foundations for the corner towers, the well house, the underground rooms, and assuming the complex was done at one time, all the supports for the remainder of the buildings throughout the complex. To be conservative in our estimate, we need at least another year of construction which takes us up to January 1634.

But here is the problem. On the anniversary of the death of Mumtaz, each year Shahjahan would stage the Urs celebration at the Taj. The first Urs occurred on June 22, 1632. Though construction had allegedly begun only six months earlier, the great plinth of red sandstone over brick, 374 yards long, 140 yards wide, and 14 yards high was already in place! Even Begley and Desai are somewhat amazed.

Where was all the construction debris, the piles of materials, the marble, the brick scaffolding, the temporary housing for thousands of workers, the numerous animals needed to haul materials? If "heaven was surpassed by the magnificence of the rituals", as one chronicler puts it, then nothing should have been visible to mar the exquisite panorama that the occasion called for.

But by June 1632, it was not physically possible that construction could have progressed to completion of excavation, construction of all the footings and foundations, completion of the immense platform and clearing of all the debris and eyesores in preparation for the first Urs.

Begley and Desai have little use for the testimony of the European travelers to the court of Shahjahan. But they consider Peter Mundy, an agent of the British East India Company, to be the most important source on the Taj because he was there shortly before the first Urs at the new grave site, and one year later at the second Urs.

It was Mundy who said that he saw the installation of the enameled gold railing surrounding Mumtaz's cenotaph at the time of the second Urs on May 26, 1633. But there is no way that construction could have moved ahead so vigorously from January 1632 to May 1633 as to be ready to receive the railing. After all, the railing could not have stood forth in the open air. It means that the Taj building had to be already there. It must have been immensely valuable since the cost of the Taj complex was reported to be fifty lakhs, while the cost of the gold railing was six lakhs of rupees. The gold railing was removed by Shahjahan on February 6, 1643 when it was replaced by the inlaid white marble screen one sees now.

An alternate interpretation of events regarding the railing is that Shahjahan revealed the gold railing of Raja Jai Singh at the first or second Urs. In 1643 he appropriated it for himself and put in its place the very fine marble screen with its inlaid semi-precious stones, a screen that was not nearly as valuable as the gold railing.

If Shahjahan's construction and interior adornment of the Taj are in question, what rework of the Taj can we attribute to him? The inscriptions were undoubtedly among the few rework tasks that he was obliged to do. He may also have removed any obvious references to Hinduism in the form of symbolic decor that existed.

The book's plate illustrations show that the inscriptions are almost always in a discrete rectangular frame which renders them capable of being modified or added to without damaging the adjascent material. In my judgement the black script on the white marble background seems inappropriate esthetically in the midst of the soft beige marble that surrounds it. By adding the inscriptions Shahjahan probably sought to establish the credibility of its having been his creation as a sacred mausoleum instead of the Hindu palace that time will undoubtedly prove that it was.

Based on the latest inscriptions dated 1638-39, which appear on the tomb, the authors estimate a construction period of six years. Six years in my judgement is simply not enough time. As reasonable approximation of the total time required to build the Taj complex, we can consider Tavernier's estimate of twenty-two years. Although he first arrived in Agra in 1640, he probably witnessed some rework or repair. The time frame of twenty-two years may have been passed on to him by local people as part of the collective memory from some previous century when the Taj was actually built.

The issue of repairs is taken up by the authors in their translation of the original letter of Aurangazeb to his father dated December 9, 1652. He reports serious leaks on the north side, the four arched portals, the four small domes, the four northern vestibules, subchambers of the plinth, plus leaks from the previous rainy season. The question the authors do not raise is: Would the Taj, being at most only thirteen years old, already have shown symptoms of decay? Wouldn't it be more reasonable to believe that by 1652 it was already hundreds of years old and was showing normal wear and tear.

Who built the Taj? The authors say it was Ahmad Ustad Lahori, chief architect for Shahjahan. They base this belief mainly on the assertion by Luft Allah, the son of Lahori, in a collection of verses, that Shahjahan commanded Lahori to build both the Taj and the Red Fort at Delhi. As evidence this is quite weak.

The court historians are unfailing in their praise for the Emperor's personal participation in his massive architectuaral projects and they are never lacking in glorifying his sterling character. But the European travelers have other things to say about his personality and his inability to focus on anything for long except his lust for women. Nor is the object of his supposed great love either tender or compassionate. It seems that both "lovers" were cruel, self-centred and vicious. To believe that out of this relationship, with the support of Shahjahan's alleged great architectural skills, came what many consider to be the most beautiful building complex in the world, is sheer romantic nonsense.

While Begley and Desai are sceptical of the Taj Mahal's being a consequence of romantic devotion, they yield not an inch in asserting its Mughal origin. They support this traditional view by overlooking some key problems:

1. Consider the identical character of the two buildings on either side of the Taj main building. If they had different functions-one a mosque, the other a guest residence-then, they should have been designed differently to reflect their individual functions.

2. Why does the perimeter wall of the complex have a Medieval, pre-artillery, defense character when artillery (cannons) was already in use in the Mughal invasions of India? [Why does a mausoleum need a protective wall in the first place? For a palace it is understadable.]

3. Why are there some twenty rooms below the terrace level on the north side of the Taj facing the Jumna River? Why does a mausoleum need these rooms? A palace could put them to good use. The authors do not even mention their existence.

4. What is in the sealed-up rooms on the south side of the long corridor opposite the twenty contiguous rooms? Who filled in the doorway with masonry? Why are scholars not allowed to enter and study whatever objects or decor are within?

5. Why does the "mosque" face due west instead of facing Meccah? Certainly, by the seventeenth century there was no problem in orienting a building precisely!

6. Why has the Archaeological Survey of India blocked any dating of the Taj by means of Carbon-14 or thermo-luminiscnece? Any controversy over which century the Taj was built could easily be resolved. [Radiocarbon dating of a piece of wood surreptiously taken from one of the doors gave 13th century as a possible date. But more data is needed.]

If Shajahan did not build the Taj for the love of Mumtaz, then why did he want it? His love for Mumtaz was evidently a convenient subterfuge. He actually wanted the existing palace for himself. He appropriated it from Raja Jai Singh by making him an offer he could not refuse, the gift of other properties in exchange. He also acquired whatever was precious within the building including the immensely valuable gold railing.

By converting the complex into a sacred Moslem mausoleum he insured that the Hindus would never want it back. Shahjahan converted the residential quarters to the west of the main building to a mosque simply by modifying the interior of the west wall to create a mihrab niche. He added Islamic inscriptions around many doorways and entries to give the impression that the Taj had always been Islamic. Sure enough, the scholars have been silent or deceived ever since.

Yet, we must thank Begley and Desai for having assembled so much useful data and translated contemporary writings and inscriptions. Where they failed is in accepting an apocryphal legend of the Taj for an absolute fact. Their interpretations and analyses have been forced into the mold of their bias. It would be well to take advantage of their work by scholars and laymen interested in deepening their knowledge of the Taj Mahal to read the book while keeping an open mind as to when and by whom it was built.

Added note:

A leading Indian architect, former professor of architecture at Mysore University adds:
There are fundamental problems with the current theory of Islamic Architecture in India of which the following may be noted.

(1) Unlike in the case of Hindu architecture, where there are literally hundreds of works on Vastu in several Indian languages, there seem to be almost no texts or manuals on Islamic architecture. It is difficult to see how a great school of architecture lasting 600 years could flourish without any technical literature.

(2) Hindu architectural practices and traditions are maintained by thousands of mason families, especially in South India. These are known as Vishwakarmas or Vishwa Brahmanas. They are greatly in demand all over the world. No such Muslim families are known.

(3) There are no standards of units and measurements for Islamic architecture in India. It is inconceivable that great works of architecture could come up without them. This is an objective requirement.

TAJ MAHAL-The Illumined Tomb, an anthology of seventeenth century Mughal and European documentary sources, by W.E. Begley and Z.A. Desai: Published by the University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1989 (The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture).

The reviewer Marvin Mills is a leading New York architect and professor of architecture at the Pratt Institute.