Asia-Pacific, India, Opinion, Politics, Editor's Choice

The Taj Mahal Dispute: A Great Wonder of Ignorance?

Out of the seven breathtaking wonders of the world, one of the biggest and most magnificent is the Taj Mahal. Situated in India it is responsible for generating over six million tourism visits every year. Regardless of the fact that, in all of India, the Taj Mahal is the heart of tourism, it is not viewed under the best light by the government of Uttar Pradesh, which is where the famous monument is situated.

History of the Great Taj

The beautiful white marble monument was built somewhere in the 17th century by Shah Jahan who was a Mughal emperor. He built the beautiful mausoleum to honor the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal has always been considered to be the very symbol of love that people all over the world come to see at least once in their lives.

Uttar Pradesh Tourism

Even so, the government has found reasons, no matter how baseless, to exclude the great Taj from the 32-page tourism booklet compiled and released by the state tourism minister of Uttar Pradesh, Rita Bahuguna Joshi. The booklet contains an extensive list of all of the tourist places in Uttar Pradesh that any tourist might be interested in, along with several Buddhist and Hindu temples, conveniently omitting the name of Taj Mahal. It is pretty hard to miss, isn’t it? As far as popular tourism places go, one might assume that one of the seven wonders would definitely make the cut.

Reasons for Dispute

The reason for all of this dispute over Taj Mahal’s status in India can be put on the shoulders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party has come to the unanimous conclusion that only locations identified as Hindu obtain the right to be referred to as Indian and, by this assumption, Taj Mahal does not fit the criteria. They have created a big wall between Islamic and Hindu heritage.

The party has denied all of this by claiming that Taj Mahal cannot be ignored as it is a vital tourist site in India and that both the government and the nation are committed towards it. A member of the BJP, Yogi Adityanath, who is well-known for his bigotry against Muslims in India, is apparently not fond of the Taj Mahal and what it represents in terms of history.

Tomb vs Temple

The facts are quite different than what the masses believe in India. Taj Mahal, regardless of all of its glory and itself being a symbol of love, is simply just a Muslim tomb. It is not a Muslim mosque that could be subject to scrutiny in India like many mosques have been since the partition.

Major Contributor to Tourism in India: Taj Mahal

An estimate of 20 percent of Uttar Pradesh’s total tourism is generated through the Taj Mahal. The very fact that people are more inclined to play politics than to actually consider the well-being of the nation is baffling.

“A monument of love should be seen as one. Anywhere in the world, when the name of India comes, the first thing people ask about is Taj Mahal. It is a symbol of India.”

Rajeev Tiwari, President of the Federal Travel Association in Agra.

Being someone who grew up in Pakistan in a family that once used to live in India before the partition, I can safely say that Islamic heritage is every bit the part of India as Hindu heritage is. It’s where both Hindus and Muslims once lived and the great Mughal history that is a part of India, as it breathes, cannot be ignored or eradicated.

“If it is a booklet on tourism and it excludes Taj Mahal, at one level it is a joke and at another level it is tragic. It is like saying we will have (William Shakespeare’s) ‘Hamlet’ without the Prince of Denmark.”

Congress Spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi

Actions such as these are directly responsible for damaging the image of Uttar Pradesh and in turn, of India. Taj Mahal is what people remember India for and if that is taken away, even if it is just a list of tourist sites, it is a great loss for the entire nation.

About Maham Khan

Maham is a 22 year old Pakistani who is obsessed with pasta and Wonder Woman. She will be the voice of Pakistan in a place where it truly matters and bring light to matters nobody dares to speak about. Join her on this journey as we talk about issues that our modern world endures.

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