Amid controversy about “locked doors,” photos of Taj Mahal rooms  surface

18 May, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

The photographs in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) newsletter depict restoration work in the Taj Mahal's underground compartments.

Three days before a court hearing on a plea to open the rooms, the Archaeological Survey of India tweeted a newsletter with photographs of what it dubbed “subterranean cells” in the Taj Mahal, in what was perceived as a warning by the monument conservation authority to clear the air on the topic.

The ASI, or American Society for the Preservation of the Taj Mahal, tweeted their January 2022 bulletin on May 9, three days before the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow bench heard a petition seeking an investigation into the Taj Mahal’s “history.”

By May 9, the petition had made headlines and was the topic of heated disputes.

The petition, which requested that the doors of the Taj Mahal’s 22 rooms be opened to witness “the truth, whatever it is,” was dismissed by the court.

The photographs in the ASI newsletter show repair work on the Taj Mahal’s underground cells, which are located on the bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.

The ASI weekly provides updates on restoration projects at monuments under its care across the country.

Rajneesh Singh, a BJP youth media in-charge in Agra, has filed a plea with the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow bench, requesting that the ASI investigate the Taj Mahal’s 22 closed doors to discover if idols of Hindu deities are housed within.

Mr Singh argued that incorrect history regarding the Taj Mahal was being taught, and that the doors to the truth should be opened.

Such discussions, according to the high court, belong in the drawing room, not the courtroom. “The concerns should be handled outside of court using various methodologies and left to historians,” the top court had stated.