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LUCKNOW : As Taj mahal erupts in matters of religious convulsions, the Archaeological Survey of India on 9 May tweeted a link to their monthly news letter that contained photos of ‘underground cells’ in the Taj Mahal. 

These images of the Taj Mahal underground rooms emerged three days before a court hearing on petition to open the rooms. The moves therefore, comes as a reminder to the court and the petitioner and the common person to clear the air on the controversy that has risen in the recent times. 

The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the right bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628–1658) to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had heard a petition seeking an inquiry into the "history" of the Taj Mahal. By May 9, the petition was already in the news and subject to intense discussions and debates.

See ASI's tweet here

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High court dismissed the petition, which asked for opening of the doors of the Taj Mahal's 22 rooms to see "the truth, whatever it is".

The so-called “22 rooms" in the basement of the Taj Mahal are not really rooms, rather a long arched corridor along which doors were fixed so the space could be utilised better, sources in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who have seen the basement area on several occasions, said.

‘underground cells’ in Taj Mahal
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‘underground cells’ in Taj Mahal

“The work of maintenance of underground cells on the river side was taken up. Decayed and disintegrated lime plaster was removed and replaced by laying of lime plaster and traditional lime processing before application", the ASI newsletter mentioned, referring to its restoration and repair work at the Taj Mahal.

The photos in the ASI newsletter show restoration work in the underground cells of the Taj Mahal, a World Heritage Site located on the bank of the Yamuna River in Uttar Pradesh's Agra.

The ASI newsletter details restoration work on monuments under its care across the country. In a section titled "Taj Mahal, District Agra", the ASI showed four photos - two each before and after restoration work was carried out. 

Two more photos show repairs in the outer area of the Taj Mahal.

Rajneesh Singh, a BJP youth media in-charge in Agra, had filed a petition before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court seeking directions to the ASI to probe the 22 closed doors in the Taj Mahal to find out whether idols of Hindu deities are kept there.

Singh claimed false history about the Taj Mahal was being taught, and so the doors should be opened to find out the truth.

The high court had said such debates are meant for the drawing room and not the court of law. "The issues lie outside court and should be done by various methodology and should be left with the historians," the high court had said.

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