Centuries and decades ago a mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife. An epitome of love, Taj Mahal, is today recognized as UNESCO world heritage site. However, in 21st century democratic India, as religion takes an upper hand; even one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal, has not been spared.
In a shocking move by the Uttar Pradesh government, the monument has not been included in the Tourism Booklet issued by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism. The 32 page booklet, titled ‘Apaar Sambhavnaaye’ showcases ‘Ganga Arti’ on its cover page. The Brochure had been released to provide a boost to UP Tourism and mentioned places such as Varanasi, Mathura, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur, Devipatan, Naimishiaranya, Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Kushinagar, Bundelkhand, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra.(source) Interestingly, Taj Mahal, a major tourist attraction, did not find any mention. Several have speculated that the move is an outcome of UP Government’s stand against the particular religion.
Earlier, on June 15th Adityanath Yogi, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh had stated, “Foreign dignitaries visiting the country used to be gifted replicas of the Taj Mahal…which did not reflect Indian culture.”
Following the same path, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma on September 13th had said, “Mughal emperors were not our ancestors but looters. We consider Mughal rulers who did wrong acts as looters.” He had further added, “We must learn to respect our ancestors. We do not carry the legacy of invaders, but we carry the legacy of Lord Rama, Krishna, Guru Nanak, Mahavir, Gautam Buddha, Guru Govind Singh and Shivaji.” (source)
As Indian politics have hit a new low, the recent move by the Yogi Government has paved way for criticism.
“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 ‘Hamlet’ without the Prince of Denmark.”, said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the Congress spokesperson.
Rajiv Shukla, a member of Congress, tweeted, “Taj is a symbol of India’s diversity and its culture and heritage. Unfortunate that UP Govt. has omitted it from the list of tourist spots.”
Calling it ‘make in India’, CPM member Brinda Karat said, “it supports the economy of UP. People will only laugh at him and his complete ignorance of history and importance of preserving the beauty of Taj Mahal.”
The government however, tried to defend itself.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister said, “You are wrong. You can clearly see and we also have the records that work worth Rs 1.75 crore has been started and almost completed. Don’t make this a controversy.”
However, please explain what exactly defines the ‘Indian Culture’? A democracy swears to treat everyone equally, without any discrimination on the basis of religion and caste, then how can those in power, try to turn into a tyrant and so easily rant about a particular religion?
What will happen to a nation, when those who promised equality start to discriminate on the basis of caste and religion; when those who promised to be the forerunner of democracy starts to strip the very essence of justice; and when those who promised to ensure religious tolerance’ start to lash hate comments against a particular section of the society.
Alas! One of the Seven Wonders of the World and a magnet for tourist attraction, Taj Mahal has failed to impress UP CM. All these accolades go into trash because ultimately what matters the most is the religion of the ruler who had built the stunning monument.