The Taj Mahal is the ultimate symbol of a prolonged period of Muslim rule on the Indian subcontinent. Now suggestions are being made in India for the Taj Mahal's foundations to be dug up in certain places and examined closely, ostensibly to find out how the Taj has withstood earthquakes over the centuries. Guess what will happen next. Someone will claim to have found a statue of one of those numerous Hindu deities that are worshiped in India. Pretty soon, experts will say that the Taj has been built on the ruins of a Hindu temple and should therefore be demolished — like what happened with the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. For the sake of achieving power, fundamentalist Hindu parties will exploit the slogan Taj girao! (Pull the Taj down!).

Shakir Lakhani

Published in Asia Week on November 9, 2001