An Indian court officially rejected claims that the Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple while hearing an appeal to let Hindus pray in the historic monument's premises, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
Only Muslims are allowed to pray in Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built by Shah Jahan over one of his wives’ final resting places.
According to The Guardian, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) gave its view in response to a petition filed by six lawyers stating that the 17th century monument in Agra had originally been a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva.
“Our written statement called the claims concocted and we asked the court to dismiss the petition. It’s up to the judge to decide what happens,” The Guardian quoted ASI’s superintending archaeologist in Agra Dr Bhuvan Vikrama as saying.
According to The Guardian, Indian writer PN Oak, in his book Taj Mahal: the True Story, made the claim that the monument was built before Muslim invaders came to India.
Since Oak’s claim, the idea has resurfaced a number of times, sometimes backed by a lone Hindu individualist, other times by revisionists, or extremist Hindu groups, The Guardian said.
According to The Guardian, even Oak took his claim as far as the Indian Supreme Court in 2000 where it was rejected.
The Guardian quoted columnist and author Parsa Venkateshwar Rao as saying, “History shows conquerors all over the world converting existing monuments to suit their own ideas, but this claim about the Taj is absurd because features such as the dome and minaret cannot be found in earlier periods and it is silly for the judge to have even allowed the petition.”