Amid the controversy surrounding the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the historic 17th-century monument on Thursday. The UP CM conducted a cleanliness drive at the western gates of the Agra-based iconic monument and initiated the cleaning process by himself laying a hand. Now, Adityanath’s visit is seen as a damage control exercise after several of his party members recently stirred a political storm on the subject of Taj Mahal.

Controversial comments on Taj Mahal are not new as dissent among a certain group of people have been brewing for a long time and the recent scathing remark of Sangeet Som unleashed those subdued voices. It all started with the book on Taj Mahal authored by PN Oak where he gave an in-depth analysis of how Taj Mahal is a temple of Lord Shiva. The debate was later rekindled by a social worker until recently it turned into a national concern.

Let’s have a look at how and when the legendary mausoleum’s history came into question:

  • In 1989, Indian writer Purushottam Nagesh Oak sparked a debate with his controversial book titled Taj Mahal: The True Story. In his book, PN Oak claimed that Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva temple named Tejo Mahalaya.
  • Oak gave a very meticulous version of how the Taj was a royal palace seized by Shah Jahan and turned into a tomb. He even filed a petition in the Supreme Court which got rejected immediately. Oak’s claims drew varying response from public but a large section simply condoned the theory but in the hearts of many, it stayed.
  • In 2005, Hindu preacher Amar Nath Mishra claimed something quite similar to PN Oak’s but with a different theory. Mishra filed a petition in Allahabad High Court saying that Taj Mahal was built by the Hindu king Parmar Dev in 12th century. High Court dismissed his petition.
  • In September, 2017, Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government decided to leave out Taj Mahal from the list of tourist attractions in the state. Then, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sangeet Som fanned the flames by saying that Taj Mahal is a “blot on Indian culture.”
  • Jumping into the fiery attack on UNESCO’s world heritage building, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swami said that it is built on a stolen property while another party member Vinay Katiyar said that the Taj is a Shiva temple built by the Hindu kings.