In a first, the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) has stated that the Taj Mahal is a tomb and not a temple. The ASI officials reportedly said that a 1920 notification to protect the Taj Mahal has been made the basis for this affidavit in a local court.
According to a Times of India report, the Union culture ministry in November 2015 had already clarified in the Lok Sabha that there was no evidence of any temple at the Taj. In April 2015, the Agra district court had admitted a suit filed by six lawyers that the Taj Mahal is a Lord Shiva temple (Tejo Mahalaya) and Hindu devotees should be allowed access inside the premises.
After the suit was filed, the court had then asked the central government, Union ministry of culture, home secretary and ASI to file their replies.
The ASI in its reply has reportedly challenged the ‘locus standi’ of the plaintiffs in the matter, arguing that while Taj is a Islamic structure, the latter belonged to different religions with no such religious offering intended there ever.
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“Historically and even according to records as available there is an ancient monument named as Taj Mahal alone at the bank of river Yamuna at Agra duly declared by the government to be of national importance having gained the worldwide recognition as the 7th wonder of the world. As per available records right from the British period since 1904, the monument Taj was declared a protected monument by notification on December 22, 1920,” ASI stated in its affidavit.
In the suit lawyer Harishankar Jain and his colleagues’ had sought a direction from the court for removing all alleged burials under the Taj Mahal; as well as to restrain worship by Muslims.
The lawyers in their suit have named Lord Agreshwar Mahadev Nagnatheswar Virajman, as the main plaintiff to claim the owner ship of the property.