Contribution to Indian Historical Architecture
- Books (74)
- Monographs (14)
- Bibliography of The Taj Mahal
- Research-Papers (208)
- Reviews & Rejoinders (51)
- Popular Articles (300)
- Cultural Notice Boards (CNBs) (107)
Contents of R.Nath’s unpublished work: ‘Taj Mahal: The
Complete Book’ (Srl No.7 of the List)
Contents and Preface of R.Nath’s unpublished work: ‘Islam in India: Predicaments of the Indian Musalman’ (A Historical Critique) (Srl No. 25 of the List)
Review of Alice Boner’s: ‘Vastu-Sastra Upaniṣad’ (The Essence of Form in Sacred Art)
Review entitled: ‘On the Merit of An Archaeological Reprint’ of R.C.Agarwal’s ‘Monuments of Delhi: Lasting Splendour of Great Mughals & others’
Tariq Rehman’s Review of R.Nath’s: ‘Private Life of the Mughals of India’; R.Nath’s Rejoinder to this Review; and Rehman’s Apology
‘Ignorance and Bias make no tools of History’ being Review of Ebba Koch’s: ‘Mughal Architecture: An Outline of its History and Development’
CNB of Agra Fort
CNB of Taj’ Mahal
The fame of those who have dedicated themselves to WRITING remains for ever!
Contribution to Indian Historical Architecture
R. Nath has authored 74 books during the last half-a-century’s time, a List whereof is given below:
BOOKS: AUTHORED BY
(A). HISTORY OF MUGHAL ARCHITECTURE : multi-volume Series
|(1) Vol. I :||Early Mughal Architecture (the Formative Period : Babur and Humayun, c.1526-70 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi, 1982) (out of print) : manuscript of 2nd revised, enlarged and updated edition ready, to be published.|
|(2) Vol. II :||The Age of Personality Architecture (Akbar, 1556-1605 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi, 1985) (out of print) : 2nd revised, enlarged and updated edition to be published|
|(3)Supplement:||Architecture of Fatehpur Sikri (Forms, Techniques and Concepts) (HRD Vols. I-II Jaipur, 1988) (out of print)|
|(4) Vol. III :||The Transitional Phase of Colour and Design (Jehangir, 1605-27 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi, 1994)|
|(5) Vol. IV :
|The Age of Architectural Aestheticism (Shah Jehan, 1628-58 A.D.)
(Abhinav New Delhi 2005)
|(6) Vol. IV :
|The Age of Architectural Aestheticism (Shah Jehan, 1628-58 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi, in press) : scheduled to be published in 2015-16.|
|(7). Vol. V :||Taj Mahal: The Complete Book : ms. covering 935 typed pages, with 713 b&w and 80 colour plates, 140 figures (drawings) and 40 pages of Persian text ready, to be published : deals with the Taj Mahal comprehensively in all details with an introduction to Tomb-making in ancient and medieval ages; the origin of its idea; its site and land; its lay-out, plan and design; its garden and water-devices; its architecture and ornamentation; its constructional modes and proportionate measurements; its inscriptions; its subsidiary buildings; the Mahtab-Bagh as integral part of its design; its material, costs and builders; its structure and stresses, and damage from river-pollution; its controversies; its aesthetics ; and, finally, a tribute to its Art.|
(B). ‘INDIA’ SERIES
(8). India As Seen by Amir Khusrau (1318 A.D.) (English translation of the 3rd chapter of Khusrau’s Persian Mathnawi : the Nuh-Sipihr) (HRD Jaipur, 1981)
(9) India As Seen by William Finch (1608-11 A.D.) (with an Introduction to Medieval Travelogue) (HRD Jaipur, 1990)
(10) India As Seen by Babur (1504-30 A.D.) (MD New Delhi, 1996)
(C). WORKS ON MEDIEVAL AND MUGHAL HISTORY, CULTURE, ART AND ARCHITECTURE: Srl (11) to (54)
(11). Colour Decoration in Mughal Architecture (Taraporevala Bombay 1970; 2nd revised and updated edition HRD Jaipur, 1990)
(12). The Immortal Taj Mahal (Taraporevala Bombay, 1972) (out of print)
(13). Madhyakaleen Bharatiya Kalayen (Hindi) (RHGA Jaipur, 1973) (out of print) : ms. of 2nd revised, enlarged and updated edition ready, to be published
(14). History of Decorative Art in Mughal Architecture (Motilal Banarsidas Delhi, 1976) (out of print) : 2nd revised and up-dated edition to be published under the title: Motifs and Designs of Mughal Architecture
(15). Some Aspects of Mughal Architecture (Abhinav New Delhi, 1976) (out of print)
(16). Agra and Its Monumental Glory (Taraporevala Bombay, 1976) (out of print)
(17). History of Sultanate Architecture (Abhinav New Delhi, 1978) (out of print): ms. of 2nd revised, enlarged and updated edition ready, to be published
(18). Monuments of Delhi : A Historical Study (English translation of Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan’s Urdu work: ‘Athar’al-Sanadid’ (IIIS and Ambika New Delhi, 1979) (out of print), 2nd updated edition published (The Heritage Agra/Ajmer 2010)
(19). The Art of Chanderi (Ambika New Delhi, 1979; HRD Paperback Jaipur, 1990)
(20). Calligraphic Art in Mughal Architecture (Iran Society Calcutta, 1979)
(21). Islamic Architecture & Culture in India (BR New Delhi, 1982) (out of print); 2nd revised and updated edition under the title : Landmarks of Medieval Indian History, Thought and Architecture , to be published
(22). The Taj Mahal and Its Incarnation (translation and interpretation of the original Persian data on its Builders, Material, Costs, Measurements etc) (HRD Jaipur, 1985) (out of print): 2nd edition to be published
(23). Historiographical Study of Indo-Muslim Architecture (Medieval Architecture of India and Pakistan) (HRD Jaipur, 1989; 2nd edition HRD Jaipur, 1991)
(24). Architecture & Site of the Baburi Masjid of Ayodhya (A Historical Critique) (HRD Jaipur, 1991) (out of print)
(25). ISLAM IN INDIA : Predicaments of the Indian Musalman (A Historical Critique) : ms. ready, to be published
(26). Private Life of the Mughals of India (1526-1803 A.D.) (HRD Jaipur, 1994: 2nd edition the Heritage Agra, 1997) (3rd updated edition with 17 figures, 17 b&w and 8 colour plates published by Rupa New Delhi, 2005; reprinted : 7thimpression)
(27). Mosque Architecture (From Medina to Hindustan) (622-1654 A.D.) (HRD Jaipur, 1994) : 2nd edition with full illustrations to be published
(28). Studies in Medieval Indian Architecture (MD New Delhi, 1995)
(29). Medieval Indian History and Architecture (Historical Questions and Controversies) (APH New Delhi, 1995)
(30). Art & Architecture of the Taj Mahal (HRD Agra, 1996) (out of Print)
(31). Mughal Sculpture (1526-1707 A.D.) (Study of Stone Sculptures of Birds, Beasts, Mythical Animals, Human Beings and Deities in Mughal Architecture) (APH New Delhi,1997) (out of print): ms. of 2nd revised, enlarged and updated edition ready, to be published.
(32). Agra and Its Monuments (The Heritage Agra, 1997)
(33). Fatehpur Sikri and its Monuments (The Heritage Agra, 1999)
(34). Indigenous Characteristics of Mughal Architecture (D.K. Printworld New Delhi 2004)
(35). Mughal Inlay Art (D.K. Printworld New Delhi 2004)
(36). Kala-Darpana (Historical Essays) (Hindi) (Parimal Delhi, 2004)
(37). A Sketch of Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir (based on his own histories) (1658-1707 A.D.) ms. ready, to be published
(38). Glories of Medieval Indian Architecture (BR New Delhi 2010)
(39). Babur and His Monuments (1483-1530 A.D.) : ms. ready, to be published
(40). Mysteries and Marvels of Mughal Architecture (Gurgaon 2010)
(41). Panorama of Mughal Architecture : ms. ready, to be published
(42). As Stones Speak : Monuments of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri (as described on their Cultural Notice Boards) : ms. ready, to be published
(43). Stone Ceilings of Mughal Architecture : ms. ready, to be published
(44). Arch and Arch-Forms in Mughal Architecture : ms. ready, to be published
(45). VIVIDHA: Highlights of Mughal History, Historiography, Epigraphy, Art & Architecture: ready for publication
(46). MUGHAL EPIGRAPHY: Meaning and Purpose of Arabic (Quranic) and Persian Inscriptions in Mughal Architecture (Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Shahjehanabad ) (c.1562-1654 A.D)
(47). The Taj Mahal (History and Architecture): (The Heritage Agra 2010) (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
(48). Fatehpur Sikri (History and Architecture): ms. ready, to be published (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
(49). Agra Fort and its Monuments : ms. ready, to be published (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
(50). Akbar’s Mausoleum at Sikandara Agra (1605-12 A.D). to be published
(51). Tomb of I’timad-ud Daulah Agra (1622-28 A.D). to be published
(52). Red Fort Delhi : to be published
(53). The Taj Mahal, Endangered: ready for publication
(54). Mughal Jali Art: ready for publication
(D) GLOSSARY AND BIBLIOGRAPHIES ON MEDIEVAL INDIAN ART & ARCHITECTURE
(55). Indra-Dhanusa : An Annotated Bibliography of Indian Painting (Through the Ages) (HRD Jaipur, 1982) (out of print)
(56). Jharokha : An Illustrated Glossary of Indo-Muslim Architecture (HRD Jaipur, 1986)
(57). Tawarikh : An Annotated Bibliography of the Sources of Medieval Indian History and Historiography (c. 1000-1707 A.D.) (Persian Histories and Travel Accounts) : ms. ready, to be published
(58). Samiksa : Art-Historical Reviews and Rejoinders : ms. ready, to be published
(59). Athar’al-Hind: An Annotated Bibliography of Indo-Muslim Architecture : Site-wise entries from ASI Publications, Epigraphic Data, Travel Accounts, Painting, Silpa-texts, Gazetteers and Modern critical works, with six indices: under preparation
(E). RESEARCH- JOURNAL : INDOLOGICA-JAIPURENSIA (IJ) INDOLOGICA-BRAJENSIA (IB) and INDOLOGICA-AJMERENSIA (IA) (ed.)
(60). IJ, Vol. I (HRD Jaipur 1987) Mulk Raj Anand Felicitation Volume
(61). IJ, Vol. II (HRD Agra 1995) Karl J. Khandalavala Felicitation Volume
(62). IB, Vol. III (HRD Agra 2004) I.K. Sharma Felicitation Volume
(63). Indologica-Ajmerensia, Vol-IV (HRD Ajmer, scheduled to be published in 2015-16)
(F). WORKS ON ANCIENT INDIAN ART, ARCHITECTURE AND AESTHETICS (INCLUDING RAJASTHAN ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHAEOLOGY)
(64). The Art of Khajuraho (Study of Devangana-Mithuna Sculptures of the Hindu Temple with reference to Silpa-texts) (Abhinav New Delhi, 1980)
(65). Antiquities of Chittorgadh (HRD Jaipur, 1984)
(66). Elements of Indian Art and Architecture (with a Bibliography on Silpa-texts) (HRD Jaipur 1986)
(67). Jaina Kirtti-Stambha of Chittorgadh (The Form and the Idea) (c. 1300 A.D.) (HRD Jaipur, 1994).
(68). Chittorgadh Kirtti-Stambha of Maharana Kumbha (The Idea and the Form) (1440-60 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi, 1999)
(69). Temples and Erotic Art of Khajuraho (Rupa New Delhi, 2003)
(70). Archaeology of Rajasthan (Archaeological Survey Reports of the Rajputana Museum Ajmer, 1909-1940) : ms. ready, to be published
(71). Rajasthan Architecture (c. 6th to 19th century A.D.) (Study of the Kirttistambhas, Temples, Water-Structures, Chhatris and Palaces-Havelis of Rajasthan, with a detailed Introduction) : ms.
ready to be published
(72). Ajmer and its Monuments ( from the earliest times to 1658 A.D. )
(73). Tomar Architecture of the Gwalior Fort ( c.1400 – 1526 A.D. )
(74). Ideals of Indian Womanhood (as described in Sanskrit Texts and depicted in Sculptures)
Also given herewith is R.Nath’s Bibliography on Mughal Architecture (Monographs and Books) (in the Chronological order):
R.Nath’s Bibliography on Mughal Architecture
(Monographs and Books)
(in Chronological order)
- ‘Taj: Dream in Marble’, Marg Bombay, Vol.XXII No.3 (June 1969) (Special Number)
- Colour Decoration in Mughal Architecture (D.B.Taraporevala Bombay 1970); 2nd revised and updated edition (The Heritage Jaipur 1990)
- The Immortal Taj Mahal (D.B.Taraporevala Bombay 1972) (out of print)
- ‘Landscape Architecture and Gardening of the Mughals’, Marg Bombay, Vol.XXVI No.1 (December 1972) (Special Number)
- History of Decorative Art in Mughal Architecture (Motilal Banarsidas Delhi 1976) (out of print)
- Some Aspects of Mughal Architecture (Abhinav New Delhi 1976) (out of print)
- Agra & Its Monumental Glory (D.B.Taraporevala Bombay 1976) (out of print)
- Calligraphic Art in Mughal Architecture (Iran Society Calcutta 1979)
- Monuments of Delhi : A Historical Study (English Translation of Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan’s Urdu work : Athar’al-Sanadid) (Indian Institute of Islamic Studies New Delhi 1979 ; 2nd revised and updated ed. The Heritage Agra 2010)
- History of Mughal Architecture, Vol – I : Early Mughal Architecture (The Formative Period : Babur and Humayun, c. 1526-1570 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi 1982) (out of print; 2nd revised, enlarged and updated ed. to be published)
- History of Mughal Architecture, Vol – II : The Age of Personality Architecture (Akbar 1556-1605 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi 1985) (out of print) (2nd revised, enlarged and updated ed. to be published)
- The Taj & Its Incarnation (Translation and Interpretation of the Original Persian Data on its Builders, Material, Costs, Measurements etc) (The Heritage Jaipur 1985) (out of print; 2nd ed. to be published)
- Jharokha : An Illustrated Glossary of Indo Muslim Architecture (The Heritage Jaipur 1986)
- ‘Sources and Determinants of the Architecture of Fatehpur Sikri’ Marg Bombay (1987)
- Architecture of Fatehpur Sikri (Forms, Techniques and Concepts) (Supplement to Vol. I-II of History of Mughal Architecture (The Heritage Jaipur 1988) (out of print)
- Historiographical Study of the Indo-Muslim Architecture (Medieval Architecture of India and Pakistan) (The Heritage Jaipur 1989; 2nd ed. Jaipur 1991)
- Architecture and Site of the Baburi Masjid of Ayodhya ( A Historical Critique) (The Heritage Jaipur 1991) (out of print)
- History of Mughal Architecture, Vol.III : The Transitional Phase of Colour and Design (Jehangir, 1605-27 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi 1994)
- Mosque Architecture (from Medina to Hindustan, 622-1654 A.D.) (The Heritage Jaipur 1994) : 2nd ed. with full illustrations to be published)
- Studies in Medieval Indian Architecture (MD New Delhi 1995)
- Medieval Indian History & Architecture (Historical Questions & Controversies (APH New Delhi 1995)
- Art & Architecture of the Taj Mahal (The Heritage Agra 1996) (out of print)
- Mughal Sculpture (1526-1707 A.D.) (Study of Stone Sculptures of Birds, Beasts, Mythical Animals, Human Beings and Deities in Mughal Architecture) (APH New Delhi 1997) (out of print; 2nd revised, enlarged and updated ed. to be published)
- Agra & Its Monuments (The Heritage Agra 1997)
- Fatehpur Sikri and Its Monuments (The Heritage Agra 1999)
- Indigenous Characteristics of Mughal Architecture (D.K.Printworld New Delhi 2004)
- Mughal Inlay Art (D.K.Printworld New Delhi 2004)
- History of Mughal Architecture, Vol. IV. Part – 1: The Age of Architectural Aestheticism (Shah Jehan, 1628-58 A.D.) (Abhinav New Delhi 2005)
- The Taj Mahal (History and Architecture) (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (The Heritage Agra 2010)
- Fatehpur Sikri (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (ms. ready, to be published)
- Agra Fort (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (ms. ready, to be published)
- Babur & His Monuments (1483-1530 A.D.) (ms. ready, to be published)
- Panorama of Mughal Architecture (ms. ready, to be published)
- History of Mughal Architecture – Vol. IV, Part – 2 : The Age of Architectural Aestheticism (Shah Jehan, 1628-58 A.D.) (under publication)
- The Taj Mahal (A Complete Book) (to be published)
- Glories of Medieval Indian Architecture (New Delhi 2010)
- Mysteries and Marvels of Mughal Architecture (Gurgaon 2010) (see www.rnath.in Chapter-4(d)
- Stone Ceilings of Mughal Architecture (to be published)
- Arch and Arch-Forms in Mughal Architecture (to be published)
- Vividha : Highlights of Mughal History & Architecture (to be published)
- Mughal Epigraphy : Meaning and Purpose of Arabic (Quranic) and Persian Inscriptions in Mughal Architecture (c. 1562 – 1654 A.D.)
- Mughal Jālī Art (ms. ready, to be published)
- Kāla-Darpaṇa (Hindi) (Parimal New Delhi 2004)
- The Taj Mahal, Endangered (ms. ready, to be published)
And Nath’s Bibliography on Babur:
R.Nath’s Bibliography on Babur
(1). History of Mughal Architecture, Vol.I (Early Mughal Architecture) (The Formative Period: Babur and Humayun, c. 1526-70 A.D.). (Abhinav, New Delhi 1982) Babur: pp. 77-126 & illus.
(2). India As Seen by Babur (1504-30 A.D.) (MD New Delhi, 1996) pp. xvi+118, 24 b&w plates and 5 figures
(3). Babur and His Monuments (1483-1530 A.D.) (ms. ready, for publication) pp.240, 120 plates, 25 text figures, 1 map, 17 Persian Inscriptions
(1). Mughal Ḥammām and the – Islamic Culture Hyderabad XLIV.2
Institution of Ghusl-Khānah (April 1970) 101-110, 3 figures: also
(RP-12) deals with Babur’s Ḥammām at Ram Bagh
(His Bāgh-Gul-i-Afshān) at Agra
(2). Mysteries of Phānsighār at – Journal of Indian History Trivandrum, XLVIII Agra Fort (RP-13) Part-III No. 144 (Dec 1970) 673-689, 7 pls,
5 figs: also deals with Babur’s
Bāolī (Step-Well) in Agra Fort
(3). Rehaṇṭ versus the Persian – Journal of the Asiatic Society Calcutta, XII
Wheel (RP-16) 1-4 (1970) 81-84: records
(4). Bāgh-Gul-i-Afshān of Babur – Indo-Iranica Calcutta XXIII, 3 (Sept 1970)
at Agra (RP-20) 1-8, 3 pls, 1 fig; now called
(5). Chauburj: The Tomb of – Islamic Culture Hyderabad XLVIII, 3 (July
Babur at Agra (c.1530) 1974) 149-58, 8 pls. & 1 fig: It was Babur’s
(RP-28) temporary tomb (=Supurdgāh) from 1530 to
1539 when his body was
shifted to Kabul
(6). A Study of the Muslim – Islamic Architecture & Culture in India
Inscriptions in the (Delhi 1982) 51-56 & pls : Also deals with
Fort of Gwalior (RP-61) Babur’s Nāgarī Inscription
(7). The Chaurasi Khambha – Vishveshwaranand Indological Journal
of the Gwalior Fort (RP-69) Hoshiarpur, XVI. 1 (March 1978) 1-5, 5 pls,
1 fig : Also deals with Babur
and his Nāgarī Inscription
(8). Institution of ‘Supurdgāh’ – Indica Bombay, Vol.27 No.1 (March 1990)
in Medieval India 25-36, 4 pls: Also deals with Babur’s
(1206-1648 A.D.) (RP-78) Supurdgāh at Agra
(9). Architecture of Fatehpur – Fatehpur Sikri (Marg Publications, Bombay
Sikri: Forms, Sources and 1987) 149-84, 31 pls & 9 figs: Also deals with Determinants (RP-101) Babur’s monuments at Fatehpur Sikri
(10). Babur’s Jal-Mahal at Fatehpur – Studies in Islam New Delhi (July-Oct 1981) Sikri (RP-103) 153-160, 10 pls & 1 map
(11). Dado-Ornamentation in – Decorative Arts in India (Hyderabad 1987)
Mughal Architecture 79-90 & pls; and in Journal of the Research
(RP-117) Society of Pakistan Lahore, XXV.4
(Oct 1988) 37-55, 7 pls: Study of
Babur’s Contribution to
Dado – making
(12). Secret Will of Babur – Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society
(1529 A.D.) (RP-146) Karachi XLII.3 (July 1994) 223-32, 3 figs;
also published in R.Nath’s
‘India As Seen by Babur’,
op. cit, Appendix-A, pp. 18-22
withits facsimile copy,
(13). Mosques of Babur’s Reign – Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society
and Their Curious Epigraphic Karachi, LVI No.4 (Oct-Dec 2008)
Data (1526-1530) (excluding) 7-38 and 8 Persian Inscriptions
the Ayodhya Mosque) (RP-186)
(14). Babur’s Mosque at Panipat – (under publication)
(1528 A.D.) (RP-190)
(15). A Critical Study of the Persian – Studies Babur’s Inscriptions
Inscriptions of the Ayodhya (under publication)
Mosque (from Fuhrer 1889 to
Desai 1965) (RP-192)
(16). Exonerate Babur (Historical – (under publication)
and Epigraphic Critique)
NEW (unpublished) works which are available for publication are listed below:
- The Taj Mahal : The Complete Book : It has 935 typed pages, 713 b&w and 80 colour plates, 140 figures (drawings) and 40 pages of Persian texts (see 2/1 for contents)(See Srl No.7 of the List)
- Islam in India: Predicaments of the Indian Musalman (A Historical Critique) It has 165 typed pages and no illustrations (see 2/2 for contents and preface)(See Srl No. 25 of the List)
- Babur and His Monuments (1483-1530 A.D.) It has 240 typed pages, 35 b&w and 85 digital images, 25 figures (drawings), 1 map and 17 Persian inscriptions (See Srl No. 39 of the List)
- Panorama of Mughal Architecture It has 70 typed /composed pages, 142 b&w and 58 colour slides, 64 figures (drawings) (See Srl No. 41 of the List)
- Fatehpur Sikri (History & Architecture) (UNESCO World Heritage Site) It has 123 typed pages, 83 b&w plates, 10 colour slides & 24 digital images, and 31 figures/drawings (See Srl No. 48 of the List)
- Mughal Jali Art
It has 42 pages and 200 digital images (See Srl. No. 54 of the List)
- Glimpses of Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir’s Misrule in India (1658-1707 A.D.) It has 70 pages and 4 digital images (See Srl. No. 37 of the List)
- Rajasthan Architecture (c. 6th to 19th century A.D.) It has 325 typed pages, 219 b&w and 98 colour plates (18 slides and 80 digital images) and 35 figures (drawings) (See Srl No. 71 of the List)
- The Taj Mahal, Endangered: Conservation of The Taj Mahal (Through the Ages) It has 64 typed pages, 12 figures/drawings, 2 digital images, and a List of 45 basic drawings appended to the 1942 Taj Conservation Report (See Srl No. 53 of the List)
Manuscripts of 2nd revised, enlarged and updated editions of the following works are also available for publication:
- History of Mughal Architecture, Vol. I (480 pages: 258 printed and 222 typed; 4 maps, 185 b&w and 70 colour plates; 24 Persian Inscriptions) (See Srl No. 1 of the List)
- History of Mughal Architecture, Vol. II (430 pages; 1 map, 312 b&w and 84 colour plates; 18 Persian Inscriptions) (See Srl No. 2 of the List)
- ‘Madhyakaleen – Bharatiya – Kalayen’ (Hindi) (115 pages, 112 b&w and 18 colour plates) (Srl No. 13 of the List)
- History of Sultanate Architecture (138 printed pages, 22 x 28 cm + typed, 160 b&w and 65 colour plates, 67 figures/drawings) (See Srl No. 17 of the List)
- The Taj and Its Incarnation (168 printed pages + Persian supplement, 20 b&w and 35 colour plates, 24 figures/drawings) (See Srl No. 22 of the List)
- Mosque Architecture (112 pages, 55 b&w and 18 colour plates, 55 figures/drawings) (See Srl No. 27 of the List)
- Mughal Sculpture (1526-1707 A.D.) (Study of Stone Secuptures of Birds, Beasts, Mythical Animals, Human Beings and Deities in Mughal Architecture) (128 pages, 54 b&w and 35 colour plates and 5 sketches/drawings (See Srl No. 31 of the List)
R.Nath has authored 14 monographs (1965-2010), a List whereof is also given below:
BY PROFESOR R.NATH
- Art & Architecture of the Brick Temple of Bhitargaon (Full Special Number of the Marg Bombay, XXII. 2 March 1969)
- Taj : Dream in Marble (Full Special Number of the Marg Bombay, XXII, 3 June 1969)
- Landscape Architecture & Gardening of the Mughals (Full Special Number of the Marg Bombay, XXVI, 1 December 1972)
- Rajasthan-ka-Mandir-Sthapatya (Hindi) (Sanskritik Rajasthan, Part –1, Calcutta, 1982, 113-14
- Glimpses of Muslim Architecture of India (in : ‘An Age of Splendour : Islamic Art in India’, Special Number of the Marg Bombay 1983) 96-113 & illus.
- Sources & Determinants of the Architecture of Fatehpur Sikri (in : ‘Fatehpur Sikri’ Special Number of the Marg Bombay 1987, Containing papers read in the International Symposium on Fatehpur Sikri, held at the University of Harvard, USA, in 1984) 149-184 & illus.
- Sunnati-Samskriti : Sanskrit Text on (Muslim) Circumcision (in : ‘Medieval Indian History & Architecture’ New Delhi 1995)
- ‘Sri-Govinda-Devaji’s Itinerary’ (from Vrindaban to Jaipur, c. 1534 to 1727 A.D.) in ‘Govinda Deva : A Dialogue in Stone’ (IGNCA, New Delhi 1996)
- The Munshi-Namah : A Historiographical Critique in Indologica- Brajensia, Vol-IV : Research & Documentation’ : On the Study of Indo Muslim Architecture, Part-II (to be published)
- A Survey of the Study of Indo-Muslim Architecture (in : Puratattva New Delhi, No.25, 1994-95)
- Medieval Indian Architecture : (Indo-Islamic Architecture) (1192-1803 A.D.) ( in :Cultural Heritage of India, Vol-VII, Part One, The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta, 2006) 263-300 & illus
- Islam and Islamic Iconoclasm in India (An Exposition of the Shari’at Laws, specifically, in respect of the Mosques built on Temple site) ( in : History Today, New Delhi, No.4, 2003)
- Mughal Monuments in Encyclopaedia of India (Charles Scribners New York, 2005)
- Conservation of the Taj Mahal (Through the Ages), The Journal of the Museum Association of India (under publication) (Dr. Motichandra Memorial Lecture delivered at Lucknow 2009) pages 54, figs (drawings) 11, plates (digital images) 16; also to be published independently
(c) R.Nath’s Bibliography on the Taj Mahal is also given below:
R.Nath’s Bibliography on the Taj Mahal
(Books, Monographs and Research-Papers
In the chronological order)
- ‘The Taj in Danger’ (Mausoleum is inclining towards the river) published in the Sunday Standard Bombay on 7 April 1968
- Taj : A Dream in Marble, Monograph published in MARG Bombay, Vol.XXII No.3 (June 1969)
- ‘Incised Painting in Mughal Architecture’ (with special reference to the Taj Mahal), published in the Quarterly Review of Historical Studies (QRHS) Calcutta, IX.3 (1969-70) 134-136 & illus; and in : Some Aspects of Mughal Architecture (New Delhi 1976) 137-139 & illus.
- Colour Decoration in Mughal Architecture (Bombay, 1970); 2nd revised & updated ed (Jaipur 1990) 49-86 & 114-119; & illus.
- The Immortal Taj Mahal (Bombay 1972)
- Landscape Architecture & Gardening of the Mughals, Monograph published in the MARG Bombay, XXVI.1 (December 1972)
- ‘Invasion of the Taj Mahal’ (Questions & Controversies), published in the QRHS Calcutta, XXVI.2-3 (June-September 1973) 93-96 & illus; and in Studies in Medieval Indian Architecture (New Delhi 1995) 18-22 & illus.
- ‘Concept of Beauty in Mughal Architecture’ (with special reference to the Aesthetics of the Taj Mahal), published in the Jijnāsā Jaipur, II.2 (April 1975) 35-54; and in Some Aspects of Mughal Architecture (New Delhi 1976) 150-164 & illus.
- ‘Who built the Taj ? Conclusive Proof’, published in the Illustrated Weekly of India, Bombay (8 June 1975) with illus.
- ‘Harmonious Proportions of the Taj Mahal’ : A Rejoinder, published in the Vishveshvaranand Indological Journal (VIJ) Hoshiarpur, XIV.2 (September 1976) 1-19; and in Islamic Architecture & Culture in India (Delhi 1982) 161-172
- ‘Imperial Firmāns related to the Construction of the Taj Mahal : A Study in Positive Documentation’, published in the Medieval India : A Miscellany Aligarh, Vol.4 (1977) 158-167 & illus.; and in Islamic Architecture & Culture in India (Delhi 1982) 173-184
- ‘Scrutiny of the Persian Data related to the Builders of the Taj Mahal’ , published in Indo-Iranica Calcutta, XXXII.1-2 (March-June 1979) 1-18 & illus. ; and in Islamic Architecture & Culture in India (Delhi 1982) 185-198
- Calligraphic Art in Mughal Architecture (Iran Society Calcutta 1979) 31-37
- ‘Kyā-Tāj-Mahal-Rājpūt-Mahal-thā ?’ (Hindi) published in the Vigat (Journal of the Department of History & Indian Culture University of Rajasthan Jaipur) (1981) 18-29
- THE TAJ & ITS INCARNATION (translation and interpretation of the original Persian Data on its Builders, Material, Costs, Measurements etc) (Jaipur 1985)
- ‘The Land of the Taj Mahal : Legacy of Amer’, published in the Indologica-Jaipurensia Jaipur, Vol.I (1987) 149-153
- ‘Dado-Ornamentation in Mughal Architecture’ published in Decorative Art in India (Hyderabad 1987) 79-89 & illus ; Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan Lahore, XXV.4 (October 1988) 37-55 & illus ; and in Medieval Indian History & Architecture (New Delhi 1995) 75-88 & illus
- ‘Mughal Firmāns on the Land of the Taj Mahal’ published in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society Karachi (JPHS), XXXVII.2 (April 1989) 99-114 & illus.; and in Medieval Indian History & Architecture (New Delhi 1995) 161-166
- ‘The Taj : A Mausoleum’ published in the Seminar New Delhi No. 364 (December 1989) 28-34 ; and in Medieval Indian History & Architecture (New Delhi 1995) 145-160 (under the title : ‘The Taj Mahal : Construction and Controversy’)
- ‘Institution of ‘Supurdgāh’ in Medieval India (1208-1648)’ in Indica Bombay, Vol.27 No.1 (March 1990) 25-36 & illus; and in Medieval Indian History & Architecture (New Delhi 1995) 1-12 & illus.
- Tāj-Kā-Maqbarā’ (Hindi) in Itihās-kī-Punarvyākhyā (New Delhi 1991) 45-62
- ‘Shāh-Jahān-Nāmah’ of Ināyāt Khān : Review Article, published in the VIJ Hoshiarpur, XXIX (June –Dec 1991) 234-238; Indian Historical Review New Delhi, XXV.1 (July 1998) 141-144; and in Indologica-Brajensia Agra, Vol.III (2004) 209-213
- Art & Architecture of the Taj Mahal (Agra 1996)
- Agra and Its Monuments (Agra 1997) 109-158 & illus.
- ‘Flora & Fauna in Mughal Architecture’ published in MARG Bombay, Vol.50 No.3 (March 1999) 149-160 & illus.
- ‘The Taj Mahal : The Illumined Tomb’ : Review Article published in the JPHS Karachi, XLVIII.2 (April-June 2000) 85-92; and in Indologica-Brajensia Agra, Vol.III (2004) 223-235
- ‘Nava-gṛha (Nine-House) Plan of the Mughal Buildings’ (1526-1648) published in the Indica Bombay, 38.1-2 (March-Sept 2001) 126-134 & illus.
- ‘Āgāh Khān : Police Officer of the River Jamuna and the Taj Mahal’ (c.1634-1656) published in the Indo-Iranica Kolkata Vol.55 (2002) 13-17 & illus ; and in Mysteries and Marvels of Mughal Architecture (New Delhi 2010) (hereinafter abb MMMA) 173-180 & illus.
- Indigenous Characteristics of Mughal Architecture (New Delhi 2004) 69-74 & illus.
- Mughal Inlay Art (New Delhi 2004) 32-96 & illus.
- Kāla – Darpaṇa (Hindi) (Delhi 2004) 1-24 & illus.
- ‘Contemporary Persian Sources of the History of the Taj Mahal and other Architectural Projects of Shah Jehan’ (1628-1658) published in Indica Mumbai, Vol.42 No.2 (Sept 2005) 165-170; and in MMMA, 143-150
- ‘Where did the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan live during his Captivity ( from 1658 to 1666 A.D.?)’ published in the JPHS Karachi, LVI.2 (Jan-March 2008) 7-32 with 21 figs; and in MMMA, 213-228 & illus.
- ‘Third Set of (Real) Graves in the Basement of the Taj Mahal’ (c. 1632-1638) published in the MMMA, 151-162 & illus.
- ‘Foundations of the Taj Mahal Agra’ (c. 1632-1633) published in MMMA, 163-172 & illus.
- Mughal Architecture : An Outline of Its History & Architecture (Review Article) published in the JPHS Karachi, LVIII No.1 (Jan-March 2010) 73-84
- THE TAJ MAHAL (History & Architecture) (UNESCO World Heritage Medieval Site of India) (The Heritage Agra 2010)
- ‘The Taj Mahal : Covered by Dust’ (Review Article) 26 pages, 8 figures and 11 plates, published in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society Karachi (JPHS) (The Historicus), Vol.LXI No.3 (July-September 2013) pp.59-93 & illus, under the title : ‘The Taj Mahal :Some New Misconceptions’
- ‘Historico-Legal Study of the Taj VAQF Matter’ (to be published)
- THE TAJ MAHAL : A COMPLETE BOOK : Manuscript covering 935 typed pages, with 713 b&w and 80 colour plates, 140 figures (drawings) and 40 pages of Persian text ready: deals with the Taj Mahal comprehensively in all details with an Introduction to Tomb-Making in ancient and Medieval ages, the origin of its idea; its site and land, its lay-out, plan and design; its garden and water-devices; its architecture and ornamentation; its constructional modes and proportionate measurements; its inscriptions; its subsidiary buildings; the Māhtāb-Bāgh as integral part of its design; its material, costs and builders; its structure and stresses, and damage from river-pollution; its controversies; its aesthetics; and finally, a tribute to its ART (to be published)
- The Taj Mahal, Endangered: 60 computer-composed pages with 12 text figures (drawings) and 21 plates (digital images): Originally delivered as Dr Moti Chandra Memorial Lecture to All India Museums Annual Conference, 2009, at the National Institute of Conservation Lucknow (on 2nd March 2009), under the title: ‘Conservation of the Taj Mahal’ (Through the Ages)
(d) Research – Papers
R.Nath has authored 217 research – papers (1965-2017), most of which have been published in research – journals. A full List thereof is given on Link/Annexure 2/3. Also given herewith are three recent, extremely important papers:
Srl. No. 199 : ‘Jodha-Akbar Romance : Perverted History for Public Entertainment’ (2/4);
Srl. No. 200 : ‘Philosophy of History & History-Writing (with reference to Medieval Indian History)’ (2/5); and
Srl. No. 209 : ‘Exonerate Babur (History and Epigraphic Critique’ (2/6).
(e) Reviews & Rejoinders
R.Nath has reviewed about a hundred books on Indian History, Culture, Art and Architecture which have been published in various research journals (1975-2010). Some of these are classical works on ‘Historical Architecture’ and are most relevant in the present context. A few of his rejoinders are also important. It may be noted that ‘Tika’ (टीका) (commentary and criticism) is not only a corrective, but also a creative writing; it is, in fact, as creative as the original and some times, owing to concealed (प्रच्छन्न्ा), or difficult (दुरूह) or false (मिथ्या) contents, commentary is needed to understand and advance the subject. Historical criticism and commentary is particularly required in case of works which are published under high banners by foreign authors who, owing to linguistic and cultural handicaps, are not adequately conversant with the fundamentals of the subject, such as Indian Historical Architecture. Fiftyone of his reviews and rejoinders, and a massive critique are compiled in his work: ‘Samiksa’. Copies of his 13 reviews and rejoinders are also given on 2/7 to 2/19
(f) Popular Articles
Nath authored nearly 300 popular articles, in Hindi and English, published during the last seven decades (c.1950-2017) in newspapers, magazines, souvenirs, and periodicals. These were written from time to time, as and when the occasion or the exigency warranted, and no List was maintained. Copies of some of these articles are given on 2/20 to 2/26.
(g) Cultural Notice Boards: CNBs
CULTURAL NOTICE BOARD (CNB), engraved on a plaque of white marble (the premier stone and the quintessence of elegance and class), and placed on a protected National monument, describes its History, Archaeology and Architecture briefly, yet adequately, in order to introduce the monument to the visitor.
Not only does it denote and describe the monument, it also gives information on what was its original form and fabric; what was its raison d’etre; and what are its distinctive characteristics. It assigns its place in the Cultural History of India, which is why it is designated ‘Cultural Notice Board’.
It corrects the popular misnomers and instead of hearsay legends, fictitious romantic tales and plain gossips, circulated by over-zealous guides and cinema, it gives historically correct information about the respective monument. Nationally protected monuments are our heritage and belong to our HISTORY which visitors are most curious to know. They want to see them intelligently and authentically.
CNB is not a name-plate or a sign-board, it is a HISTORICAL DOCUMENT, inscribed in stone, like an ancient or medieval epigraph and, as such, it is an essential part of conservation of the heritage, without which a monument has NO IDENTITY, and is like a human being who has lost his memory!
Our monuments also have a distinctive place in the history of World Civilisation and the UNESCO honourably distinguishes some of them as WORLD HERITAGE SITES. Six of these are medieval sites, as follows:
- The Taj Mahal Agra
- Agra Fort
- Fatehpur Sikri
- Red Fort Delhi
- Humayun’s Tomb Complex Delhi, and
- Qutb Minar Complex Mehrauli Delhi and its Monuments.
First five of these are Mughal sites, built by such great kings as Akbar and Shah Jehan (between 1556 to 1658 A.D.)
R.Nath authored 54 CNBs of Agra and 53 of Fatehpur Sikri, and also a few CNBs of Delhi. A list of CNBs of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri is given herewith (see 2/27). Texts of five CNBs, of Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort, Akbar’s Tomb Sikandara, Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah and the Taj Mahal are given herewith (see 2/28 to 2/32 respectively). Agra CNBs were engraved on white marble slabs and installed on the monuments. But only two main CNBs of Fatehpur Sikri were installed and all others were dumped in the lumber-store by the concerned Conservation Assistant, at the instance of the new Superintending Archaeologist of the Agra Circle of the A.S.I. for reasons which have not been disclosed, and which are subject to inquiry and investigation, or a PIL.
He assumed that he was a great Mughal historian and being a Musalman too, he claimed to write, authoritatively, three CNBs of the Jami’ Masjid Agra (in English, Urdu and Hindi), and all others were forbidden to do them. But it is easier to demolish than to build, and to undo than to do. He could not do this during his whole tenure, and the grand Friday mosque of the capital of Mughal India still remains without any CNB! It may also be mentioned that some eminent Muslim gentlemen of Agra also initiated the move to restore the eastern (main) gate, facade and dālāns of this mosque (which were demolished by the British in 1857) and even offered to provide funds. But this plan was also sabotaged.
It is also unfortunate that Agra CNBs which are installed on the monuments and which thousands of visitors are daily reading and photographing, are not being maintained and conserved, and are in miserable condition. Official apathy knows no bounds. One wonders if the Later Mughals have taken over the Heritage Paramountcy of Hindustan!
Be it as it may, R. Nath has done his best to facilitate and encourage the study of Mughal Architecture around the globe; to create its awareness, and interest in it; and, above all, to promote and streamline MUGHAL TOURISM.
‘As Stones Speak’ (Srl No.42 of the List of his books) is an anthology of these CNBs, authored by R. Nath who owns their copyright. It gives an introduction to this wonderful subject begun by R. Nath. It is a perfect discipline. Of course, such CNBs can be used on the protected National monuments on All India level, provided their information, use and benefit are intelligently understood, and their efficacy recognized.
(h) A few latest and important articles are also given herewith, in Links/Annexures:
2/33 चित्तौडग़ढ़ का कुंभाकालीन स्तंभ – मीरायन चित्तौडग़ढ़ Vol.11 No.1 (March-May 2017)
कीर्तिस्तंभ है, न कि विजयस्तंभ ! 52-72.
2/34 भारत में सभ्यताओं के संघर्ष और – मीरायन चित्तौडग़ढ़
समन्वय का संक्षिप्त इतिहास
(1000 ई० से 1947 ई० तक)
2/35 ‘Nation’ and ‘State’ of Islam in India – (under construction)
(A Historical Critique)
2/36 औरंगज़ेब का इतिहास: ऐतिहासिक स्रोतों – वैचारिकी कोलकाता Vol.31 No.4 (July-August 2015) के आधार पर 83-95;
(A Select Bibliography on Aurangzeb) (under construction)
History spares none !
T A J M A H A L : T H E C O M P L E T E B O O K
System of Transliteration (Persian)
Alphabetical List of Bibliographical Abbreviations
List of Persian texts, firmāns and inscriptions
List of Illustrations:
Chapter – 1.
TOMB-MAKING IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL AGES
(a) Ancient Sepulchral Monuments
(b) Concept of Tomb and Its Development in Islam
(c) Tomb in Medieval India
Chapter – 2.
ORIGIN OF THE IDEA OF THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) Lahauri’s Historical Narrative
(b) Persian Manuscripts on the History of the Taj Mahal
(c) Popular Legends related to the Death of Mumtāz Maḥal
Appendix – 2/A : Persian Text of Lahauri’s Bādshāh-Nāmah
Chapter – 3.
THE LAND AND THE SITE OF THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) Contemporary Record of the Land of the Taj Mahal
(b) Imperial Firmāns related to the Land of the Taj Mahal
(c) The Site of the Taj Mahal
Chapter – 4.
LAY-OUT, PLACEMENT, SETTING AND FOUNDATION OF THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) Terraced Lay-out of the Taj Mahal
(b) Its Ingenious Placement on the Edge of the River-Bank
(c) Setting in the Natural Surroundings
(d) Taj Foundation
Chapter – 5.
GARDEN AND WATER-DEVICES
(a) The Chār-Bāgh Plan
(b) Forms of the Parterres: Stairs & Cartouches
(c) Water-Devices of the Taj: Tanks, Canals & Fountains
(d) The 19th Century Jungle
(e) Water-Supply System
(f) Fiction of a Paradisal Imagery
(g) Drainage System of the Taj Mahal
Appendix – 5/A: Trees and Plants of the Mughal Garden
Chapter – 6.
ARCHITECTURE AND ORNAMENTATION OF THE MAIN AUSOLEUM
(a) Lahauri’s Description of the Taj Mahal
(b) The Baghdādī-Muthamman Tomb Plan
(e) The Ḥujra (Central Cenotaph Hall)
(2) Floor Design
(f) The Internal Navagṛ̣ha (Nine-House) Plan
(g) The Double-Dome and Superstructure
Appendix – 6/A.:
Lahauri’s Description of the Main White Marble Tomb (BNL, II.322-326) (1642-43 A.D)
Appendix – 6/B.:
Contemporary Historian Lahauri’s Measurements of the Taj Mahal
Appendix – 6/C.:
Jehangir’s Description of the Flora of Kashmir
Chapter – 7.
CONSTRUCTIONAL MODES, TECHNIQUES AND PROPORTIONATE MEASUREMENTS
(a) Artisans’ Manuals
(b) Eight Traditional Tools of the Indian Builder (Aṣṭasūtrakaṃ)
(c) Methods of Construction
(d) Geometrical Proportions and ‘Rekhā’
(e) Geometrical Proportions and ‘Chhandas’
(f) Polish (Lepa)
Chapter – 8.
INSCRIPTIONS OF THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) The Main Gate
(b) The Mosque
(c) The Main Tomb : Exterior
(d) The Main Tomb : Interior
(e) Inscriptions of the Tombstones
(f) Calligraphic Art of the Taj Mahal
Chapter – 9.
SUBSIDIARY BUILDINGS OF THE TAJ MAHAL (1631-48 A.D.)
(a) Corner Towers of the Chamelī-Farsh
(c) The Masjid and the Mehmān-Khānah
(d) The Jal-Mahals
(e) Southern Towers, Dālāns and Khawāspurās
(f) The Main (South) Gate
(g) The Jīlū-Khānah Chowk (Fore-Court) and Dalans
(h) Tombs of Akbarābādī, Fateḥpurī and Sirhindi Begum
(i) The Fateḥpurī Masjid (c. 1647-50)
(j) Sahelī-Burj or Tomb of Satī-un-Nisā Khānam (c. 1647-50)
(k) Miscellaneous Other Buildings (now extinct)
Appendix– 9/A: Lahauri’s Description of Subsidiary Buildings of Taj
Mahal (BNL, II.326-330: A.H. 1052/1642 A.D.; and
II.628-629 A.H. 1056/1646 A.D.)
Chapter – 10. THE MĀHTĀB – BĀGH (1631-40 A.D.)
(a) Site of Babur’s Bāgh-i-Hasht-Bihisht (1526-30)
(b) Māhtāb–Bāgh in 1652
(c) Māhtāb-Bāgh in the Map of 1722
(d) Carlleyle’s Description of the Māhtāb-Bāgh (1871-72)
(e) The Māhtāb-Bāgh and its Relationship with the Taj
Chapter – 11. THE BUILDERS OF THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) Draftsmen (Naqshā-Nawīs)
(b) Masons (Me’mār)
(c) Stone-Cutters (Sang-tarāsh) and Carvers (Gul-tarāsh,
(d) Inlayers (Pachchīkār, Parchīnkār)
(e) Calligraphers (Tughrā-Nawīs, Khush-Nawīs)
(f) Dome-Builders (Gumbad-sāz)
(g) Finial-Makers (Kalash-sāz)
(h) Manager of the Project (Mīr-‘Imārat) Muḥammad Ḥanīf
(i) Supervisor (Mistrī): Qādir Zamān Khān
(l) Mukarmat Khān and Mīr ‘Abdul Karīm
Appendix – 11/A: Masons’ -Marks of the Taj Mahal
Chapter – 12. MATERIAL AND COSTS OF THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) The Quantitative List
(b) The Qualitative List
(c) The Costs
(1) Architectural Portions
(2) Loose Fittings
Appendix – 12/A: Imperial Fīrmāns (related to the supply of white
marble from Makrānā)
Appendix – 12/B: Details of the Costs of Different Architectural Portions of the Taj Mahal
Appendix – 12/C: Details of the Costs of Loose Fittings (Doors etc.) of the Taj Mahal
Appendix – 12/D: Costs of the Tombstones
Chapter – 13. TAJ STRUCTURE, STRESS AND REPAIRS : DAMAGE BY RIVER – POLLUTION
(a) Repairs of the Taj Mahal: Though the Ages
(1) Aurangzeb’s Report (1652) on the First Repair
(2) Captain Joseph Taylor’s Repairs (1810-14)
(3) J.W.Alexander’s Repairs (1873-74)
(b) Report (1942) on the Taj Structure and Stresses
(c) M.S.Vat’s Report on the Final Repairs of the Taj Mahal (1944-49)
(d) River Jamuna and its Relationship with the Taj Mahal
(1) Jamuna’s Sanctity in Ancient Scriptures
(2) Jamuna Images and Sculptures
(3) Jamuna in Mughal Times
(4) Jamuna : An Integral Part of the Taj Design
(e) Actual Damage to the Taj by River-Pollution
(f) Chastity of the Taj Mahal
Appendix – 13/A: Taj Report (1942) : Main Text and List of Drawings
Appendix – 13/B: Weight of the Section of the Main Dome
Appendix – 13/C: Francois Cementation Co’s Report (1941) (On Compressive and Tensile Stresses)
Appendix – 13/D: Final Repairs by M.S.Vats (1944-49)
Appendix – 13/E : Author’s Correspondence with Professor Romila Thapar on Yanni’s Show at the Taj Mahal (1997)
Appendix – 13/F : Author’s Petition to the President of India and the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India d. 27 October 1999 in connection with the protection of the Chastity of our National Heritage
Appendix – 13/G : The Taj Heritage Corridor Fiasco
Chapter – 14. TAJ CONTROVERSIES
(a) Story of a Second Taj
(b) Is there a Third Set of Tombstones ?
(c) Did Bentinck plan to sell out the Taj Mahal (1831) ?
(d) Who was the Architect of the Taj Mahal ?
(1) Jeronimo Veroneo
(2) Ustād ‘Īsā Āfandī
(3) Ustād Aḥmed Lāhorī ‘Nādir’ul-Aṣr’
(e) Were hands of the Taj Artisans amputated ?
(f) Mughal Inlay or Florentine ‘Pietra-dura’ ?
(g) Was Taj Mahal a Rajput Palace or Temple, originally ?
Chapter – 15. AESTHETICS OF THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) Architecture as Fine Art
(b) Feeling of Wonder, the Basis of Architectural Sublime
(c) Individualism of Mughal Architecture
(d) Ornament vis-a-vis the Structure
(e) Elements of Architectural Aestheticism
(f) Appropriation of Illusion
Chapter – 16. TRIBUTE TO THE TAJ MAHAL
(a) Comments and Observations of Foreign Travellers and Visitors (in the Chronological Order) (from 1632 to 1947)
1. Peter Mundy (1632).
2. Antonio Botelho (c. 1650)
3. J.B.Tavernier (1665)
4. Francis Bernier (1665)
5. William Hodges (1783)
6. Charles Malet (1785)
7. Thomas & William Daniells (1789)
8. Thomas Twining (1794)
9. Charles Metcalfe (1802)
10. Major William Thorn (1803-1806)
11. Ann Deane (1808)
12. Lady Nugent (1812)
13. Lord Hastings (1814-15)
14. Bishop Reginald Heber (1824)
15. Captain Mundy (1828)
16. Major Archer (1828)
17. Lord Marcus Beresford (1836)
18. Fanny Parkes (c. 1836)
19. William Sleeman (1836)
20. Emily Eden (1839)
21. Honoria Lawrence (1843)
22. Earl Roberts (1858)
23. W.H.Russell (1858)
24. Bishop French (c. 1858)
25. Francis Devay (1864)
26. Robert Ogden Tyler (1872)
27. The Prince of Wales (1875-76)
28. Rudyard Kipling (1888)
29. Lord Curzon (1900, 1904)
30. Somerset Maugham (1938)
31. Ronald Johnson (1947)
(b) A Few Notable Poems on the Taj Mahal (Shah Jehan to Sahir
1. Shah Jehan (c. 1648) (Original Persian with English
2. Lady Nugent (1812)
3. C.Fagan (1828)
4. Edwin Arnold (c. 1861)
5. Flora Annie Steel (1893)
6. Rabindra Nath Thakur (1914) (English tr.)
7. Nazrul-Islam (Bangla with English tr.)
8. Sahir Ludhianawi (Urdu with English tr.) and R.Nath
(Urdu/Hindi with English tr.)
(c) Evaluation by Art-Historians (Fergusson 1876 to modern
1. James Fergusson (1876)
2. E.B.Havell (1911-1927)
3. Aldous Huxley (1926,1961), Mulk Raj Anand(1969)
4. Percy Brown (1942)
5. Banister Fletcher (1956)
6. R.A.Jairazbhoy (1964)
I S L A M I N I N D I A
PREDICAMENTS OF THE INDIAN MUSALMAN
(A Historical Critique)
Alphabetical List of Arabic Names of Persons and Places
1. Introduction : The Prophet and the Birth of Islam
- Early Life of the Prophet
- Conviction of Truth
- Flight to Medina :Birth of Islam
- ‘Blood and Iron’
- Prophethood, A Divine Institution
- Conquest of Mecca and Subjugation of Arabia
- Fundamentals of Islam
2. Islam was meant only for the Arabs
3. The Quran : Could there be spurious or abrogated verses?
4. Islamic Paradise (Ar. Jannat) Prescribed for the Bedouin Arab only
5. Suppression of the Meccan Idolatry
6. Principle of peaceful co-existence
7. Medieval Iconoclasm and its Legacy
8. Mazar – Worship
9. Inferior Position of Women in Islam
- Legal Status
- Property Rights
- Dower (Ar. Mahr)
- Purdah (Ar. Hijab)
- Divorce (Ar.Talaq)
- Women not qualified for ‘Jannat’
10. Pan-Arabism versus Indian Nationalism : The Crisis of Identity
- Pan-Arabism and its Sentinels
- ‘Madarsa’ Education and its Effects
- Paradoxes of Pan-Arabism
- PrimitiveTribal Concept of a Universal Khilafat
- Iran’s Rebuff to Pan-Arabism
- Amir Khusrau’s Nationalism and Repudiation of Pan-Arabism (1253-1325 A.D)
- Akbar’s Nationalistic Measures (1556-1605 A.D)
- Mughal Ideals of Education
- Urdu Poetry
- Composite Culture of India
11. Islam Makes a Good Man
A Select Bibliography
With three generations family relations with the Muslim and, specifically, my close friendship with Ayaz, I saw Islam in practice for a life-time. Theoretically too, I had to read its classical literature in connection with my study of Indo-Muslim Architecture (Sultanate and MUGHAL ARCHITECTURE of India), covering a time-span of nearly half-a-century and, more particularly, when I taught ‘Islamic Civilization’ to the post graduate students at the University of Rajasthan Jaipur, for a decade. This also enabled me to write two books on the study of Islam in India, viz.
- Architecture & Site of the Baburi Masjid of Ayodhya (A Historical Critique) (Jaipur 1991 ; and
- Mosque Architecture (From Medina to Hindustan) (622-1654 A.D.) (Jaipur 1994)
I was, thus, fairly well acquainted with the theory and practice of Islam in India, and this is my credential to write this book on one of the most sensitive subjects of history. I am not a ‘Mulla’, ‘Maulana’, or a member of the elite ‘Ulema class, which is why I have the advantage of a bird’s eye view of the subject.
Two basic requirements of this study are almost formidable. Firstly, one has to be extremely careful about his sources and authorities, and he must refrain, altogether, from making unauthorized and unwarranted comments, subjectively. I have tried to quote my sources and authorities side by side, within brackets, and I have seen that no statement is made without due authentication. As far as possible, statements are supported by theQuran (quoted from ‘Abdullah Yusufali’s classical translation) and Hadith (al-Bukhari and al-Muslim). Conclusion made at the end of each chapter is entirely based on these sources and authorities, and there is nothing speculative or argumentative.
Secondly, one has to be extremely sympathetic and , unless he is sympathetic with the subject, he may not justify his comments. A negative and hostile view would spoil the academic merit of a work such as this. An interpretation in the given Context is, therefore, absolutely necessary, in each case. From the modern point of view, there are irreconciliable paradoxes in Islam, for the simple reason that, by Divine command or otherwise, it has remained a complete stasis and has, doctrinally, refused to change in accordance with TIME and SPACE (Desa-Kala). History of mankind has shown that a civilization which stagnated, either gradually died out, or was reduced to anarchy or barbarism. Only dynamism, that quality of a civilization which accepts CHANGE in accordance with the changed conditions in Time and Space, keeps it living, going and developing.
It is, in fact, this which has created almost insuperable predicaments of the Indian Musalman. This work is a HISTORICAL CRITIQUE of these predicaments.
Islam has to be dynamic to keep pace with the changing times and the progress of the mankind, to adapt to modern conditions and give up such abominable practices as purdah, polygamy, triple-talaq and jihad, which are all misnomer in the modern world. This is, essentially, a CIVILIZATIONAL CRISIS, and Indian Islam has to emancipate itself from its Arabian medievalism.
Diacritical marks have not been used in the text and the work has been kept free from research jargon, to be simply and easily readable to non-subject scholars, students and the general reader, as well as to the historians,. Lest there is any confusion, the Arabic being as difficult as it is, an alphabetical list of Arabic names of persons and places (and important Arabic words) used in the text has been separately given, with transliterations,. Besides a list of abbreviations used in the text, a select bibliography has also been appended at the end.
In a subject, as vast as this, one cannot hesitate, a moment, to admit innocent and bonafide errors and omissions. We live to learn.
Professor R. Nath
Perverted History for Public Entertainment
K.Asif produced, in the fifties, the wonderful classic: Mughal-e-Āzam on Salīm-Anārkalī romance. It was a historical fact, attested by Salīm (Jahāngīr) himself. He built her tomb at Lahore and had the following Persian couplet of passionate love inscribed on her grave:
-Majnūn Salīm Akbar
(Ah! If I could behold the face of my beloved once more, I would give thanks unto my God, until the Day of Resurrection-Your lover Salīm, son of Akbar).
No doubt, Asif added characters and events to romanticize the film, but hardly ever did he transgress history, or outrage its sensitivity, susceptibility or authenticity. That was how ‘Anārkalī’ was permanently imprinted upon the psyche of the people.
But the romance of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (birth 1542 A.D., reign 1556-1605) and a Rajput princess named ‘Jodhā’, depicted by Ashutosh Gowarikar in the film: ‘Jodhā-Akbar’, obviously, in imitation of K. Asif, is crude and gross FICTION, without any historical basis whatsoever. Contemporary Persian historians record that a (so-called) daughter of Rājā Bhārmal Kachhwāhā of Amer (Ambar, modern Jaipur) was married to Akbar in 1562, just to symbolise Mughal-Rajput political alliance which both the parties desperately needed. Her name was not ‘Jodhā’, ‘Jodhbāī’ or Jodhābāī’. This misnomer was planted by 19th century guide-book writers, and popularised by E.W.Smith in his 4-vol work on Fatehpur Sikri (1894-98). Her Rajput name has NOT been recorded. Contemporary historians, including her own son Jehangir, mention her only by her title : ‘Mariam-uz-Zamānī’ (the Lady who was compassionate to the world) which was conferred upon her by Akbar on the eve of the birth of Salīm in 1569 at Fatehpur Sikri. No Mughal or Rajput history mentions the name ‘Jodhā’.
Following the popular misnomer, Prithviraj Kapoor (Akbar) addresses his queen as ‘Mahārānī Jodhābāī’, in the film ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. Neither was she ‘Mahārānī’ nor ‘Jodhābāī’, and this was an error. But, there, it hardly mattered as that was not a love story of Akbar and the so-called Jodhābāī, it was depiction of an authentic historical romance of Salīm-Anārkalī, and the misnomer ‘Jodhābāī’ did not affect the main story of the film. But in Gowarikar’s film, she is the heroine (nāyikā) and principal character and, here, her name MATTERS.
Its basic connotation itself is wrong: she did not hail from Jodhpur to justify her raniwās (ḥarem) title: ‘Jodhā’, ‘Jodhbāī’ or ‘Jodhābāī’.
There was only one ‘Jodhbāi’ in Mughal history: she was daughter of Moṭā Rājā Uday Singh of Jodhpur and was married to Salīm (Jehangir, 1605-27) in 1586 and subsequently, become mother of Khurram (Shah Jehan, 1628-58) in 1592. She was called ‘Jodhbāi’ because she belonged to Jodhpur. Jehangir bestowed upon her the title ‘Jagat-Gosain’ as he styled himself ‘Jagat-Guru’. This Jodhā/Jodhbāi, a queen of Jehangir, died in 1619 and her son Shah Jehan built, for her, a magnificent tomb at Agra.
Unfortunately, the historians whom Gowarikar claims to have consulted did not know that the girl who was married to Akbar in 1562 was his FOURTH WIFE. Akbar’s first wife was Sultān Ruqaiyyā Begum, daughter of Hindal and Akbar’s cousin. She was married to Akbar in 1556 when he was 14. She died in 1626 at the age of 84. Akbar’s second wife was a daughter of ‘Abdullah Khān Mughal. She was married to him in 1557 when he was 15. Akbar’s third wife was Sultān Salīmā Begum, daughter of Gulrukh Begum, and Akbar’s another cousin. She was first married to Bairām Khān and become mother of ‘Abdur-Rahīm (Khān-i-Khānān, the famous Hindi poet of Akbar’s court). On Bairam Khan’s death in 1560, Akbar married her. Then he was 18.
The so called daughter of Rājā Bhārmal Kachhwāhā of Amer, who was married to Akbar in 1562, was his fourth wife. Then he was 20. He contracted three other marriages thereafter: with the wife of ‘Abdul Wasi, Bībī Daulat Shād and daughter of Mīrān Mubārak Shāh of Khandesh. Akbar was an Empire-builder, an astute statesman, a realist and a thoroughly practical man, and there was NO ROMANCE with any one of them (or with any other lady). By and large, all these were political marriages.
Noteworthy is the fact that the so-called daughter of Rājā Bhārmal was only 10 or 12 years of age when she was married to Akbar in 1562. She lived for 61 years thereafter, and died in 1623, as her son Jehangir has recorded. That Rājā Bhārmal had a 10 or 12 years’ old daughter in 1562, when even his grand-son Mānsingh was 12, is neither a historical record, nor is warranted by circumstances as a reasonable proposition and, in any case, she could not have been a daughter of Rājā Bhārmal.
She is recorded to have built a large Sārāi (inn) with a monumental gate, a Bāolī (step-well) and a Garden at Bārah, a village situated 5 kms from Bayānā (Rajasthan) in 1613. Jehangir, her son, noticed these buildings in his Memoirs. The bāolī and its Persian inscription have survived. It is surprising, nay, intriguing that she did not raise any building at Agra and Fatehpur Sikri where she mostly lived. She appears to have been sentimentally attached to this village, than to Āmer or any other place. This raises the question: why did the Queen of Akbar and mother of Jehangir prefer this remote obscure hamlet to large metropolitan Mughal towns as Agra, Delhi, Ajmer and Lahore, for this purpose, and how was she connected with this place ? Was she born there? It is all very mysterious as were, in fact, the secrets of the medieval Rājpūt raniwās and the Mughal ḥarem. This fact, however, suggests that she belonged more to Bārah than to Amer.
All these facts show, precisely, that the romance depicted in this film has no historical substance at all, and the public has obviously, been taken for a ride.
Gowarikar’s cast, like his story, is equally deceptive. Akbar had emphatic Mongoloid features, e.g. a round face, small black eyes and little facial hair, as has been faithfully portrayed in numerous contemporary paintings which, unfortunately, Gowarikar did not see. Akbar was short-statured, broad-shouldered and strongly-built. The legendary Prithvīrāj Kapoor faithfully and authentically represented his tough but grand, dignified and majestic personality in the Mughal-e-Āzam. Instead, we have in this film a tall, relatively thin, firing salvos of angry dialogues, like a stock exchange broker, jumping monkey-wise and behaving without Akbar’s grace or dignity! He does not represent even Akbar’s caricature. Is it wisdom or art to use a gazelle for a lion ? Gowarikar’s cast is not only incredible, it is also insinuating: Akbar, the Great, is belittled, if not actually disgraced.
And does Aishwarya, an incarnation of feminine beauty, represent the Rajput girl as she was, or as she could have been ? The mythical beauty looks more like the mythical Menakā or Urwashī, rather than an ethnic Rājpūt lady from the Dhūndhār region of Rajasthan, costumes and jewellery notwithstanding. To cast an ethereal nymph to represent a terrestrial woman makes no sense, except that it is the director’s predominant desire to GLAMORIZE an Imperial romance. This is what he does with its story, its cast, its events and its sets –the whole film is incredibly glamorized to dazzle the audience, albeit fictitiously, and deceptively. Gowarikar has not presented his characters honestly and authentically. Asif immortalised Madhubālā as ‘Anārkalī’, but Aishwarya cannot be popularly accepted as ‘Jodhā’, the fictitious Rajput princess. Authenticity is, in fact, the most tragic casualty of this film.
‘Jodhā-Akbar’ is, truly, an anti-thesis of ‘Mughal-e-Āzam’.
Gowarikar’s film has been enacted in a historical setting, with historical characters and historical events and, notwithstanding his disclaimer, it is a historical film. But a historical film has its own limitations. By insertion of new characters and events, it can be romanticized, as was marvellously done in the Mughal-e-Āzam. But it cannot violate or distort history, and it cannot fantacize, fictionalize or vulgarize it. Can a film-maker be given the liberty to trivialize such a dignified National character as Akbar the Great, and scandalize a Rājpūt lady, on the plea of public entertainment ? This will open the Pindora’s box and there would be no end to it. Soon, another Gowarikar will make a film on Shivaji’s romance with a Mughal princess ! of course, for public entertainment ?
The premier events of this film have been enacted, not in Akbar’s red sandstone monuments of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, or at their historical sites, for as much physical authenticity as was possible, but in unreal fabricated cardboard sets, which constantly LIE. They betray Gowarikar’s frame of mind: he wanted to create a fairy tale with historical characters playing sensational events as glamorously as possible, to make it saleable. It is presentation of History fictitiously and it is plain public cheating! Had he named his characters Kamlā-and-Iftikhār, or Salmā-and-Manohar, for example, as ordinary lovers, and made a social film, of course for entertainment, it would not have been objectionable at all. But, then, it would not have been sold and would have been passed over like scores of such common Bollywood films. It is saleable because of its historical brand, because it is depicting romance of such a great historical character as Akbar Bādshāh, a romance not heard of before! It is here that it is demeaning and outrageous, scandalizing and defamatory. History and historical characters cannot be misused for public entertainment. It must be kept in mind that cinema is for entertainment, History is not.
The disclaimer that there can be other interpretations too, has no sense, inasmuch as Gowarikar’s own version is entirely fictitious and wrong, and the question of there being, or not being, other interpretations does not arise.
Gowarikar might have read some school text-books, literary works and numbers of ‘Sure-Success-Series’; consulted some friends; and conducted search on easily-accessible internet in his drawing-room. But his claim that he has read history books on the subject; consulted historians; and conducted research for this film is a lame excuse, LIE whereof is well exposed by grossly unhistorical things depicted in this film. No historian worth his salt could have advised him to do what he has done in it.
In fact, this historical romance has been created by Gowarikar in imitation of Salīm -Anārkalī romance, immortalised in Mughal-e-Āzam. Impressed by its abiding success, that it is still adored by the public even after almost half-a-century, and driven by an ambition to produce another similar Mughal classic, he has tried to emulate it. But historical classics are produced by honest and sincere depiction of authentic material, not by perverted distortions of history and historical characters.
Look at the film ‘War-and Peace’ which depicted Napoleonic wars so truthfully that its images are still fresh in the memory of those who saw it long, long back in their student days. And, look at the wonderful films on Roman history made at Hollywood, after years of painstaking study of the minutest details. They depict Roman life and culture authentically and credibly. Chandraprakash’s TV serial ‘Chānakya’ is also an illustrative example how history can be truthfully re-enacted, of course, for entertainment. Instead, Gowarikar has produced a fake history, with fake events, filmed with fake paraphernalia. His depiction of a Mughal battle without cavalry and guns, for example, makes no historical sense, it is false, to say the least.
The basic question is: Can we let our National History and National characters be fictionalised and distorted this way, for the sake of public entertainment? It is not a question of tolerance or intolerance, as some ‘liberal’ editors have zealously discussed in their editorials. It is the question of History, its truth, its authenticity and its sanctity. History is sublime memory of a Nation and a People: it is their identity, personality and individuality. To distort history is to deface and disfigure this identity and personality. Are we going to tolerate distortion and scandalization of National History just because our label ‘liberal’ is more important to us than its authenticity and sanctity???
 For full details, see R.Nath, History of Mughal Architecture (abb. HMA hereinafter) Vol.III (New Delhi 1994) pp.78-79.
 This matter has been discussed in full details in R.Nath’s article : ‘The Misnomer ‘Jodhbai’ (or ‘Jodhabai’) : Was She an Amer Princess’, in Indologica-Jaipurensia (IJ) (Vol.I (Jaipur 1987) pp.141-149.
 Jehāngīr-Nāmah (Tuzuk-i-Jehāngīrī) (tr. Rogers & Beveridge), Vol.I, 76-78, 81, 145-146, 230 and 401; Vol.II, 64, 66, 68 and 261.
 HMA-III, 72 and 440.
 Jehāngīr-Nāmah, op.cit, II, 64.
 HMA, III, 396-402.
PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY & HISTORY-WRITING
(with reference to Medieval Indian History)
What is the History and how do we write it ?
History (Itihāsa, Tawārīkh) is systematic record of the PAST (atīta) of a people or nation living natively on a tract of land; in fact, it is memory of the past of a civilization which we rediscover and rewrite with the help of available sources, authentically. This can be easily explained by an analogy : talk to a man who has lost his memory and ask : what is his name, which family does he come from, where does he live, what does he do, etc. etc., but he would give no reply, remain mute and look blank. He has not only lost his memory, he has also lost his past, precisely, he has lost his history, without which he has no individuality, personality or IDENTITY. Nothing is more interesting and more essentially needed than knowledge and memory of one’s past, without which he has no identity: HISTORY IS HIS IDENTITY.
It is peculiar academic pursuit which covers almost every aspect of human life, as no other subject does. We write history of every human activity and of every subject related to human civilization, even of medical science. This is why, history is reckoned, along with Purāṇas, as the fifth Veda:
‘Itihāsa – Purānaṃ – pañc̣amam – Vedānaṃ – Vedaṃ’
The Quran too granted it its due importance as in XX.99.
History is a continuous process, it grows and develops and it must be written and rewritten from time to time, not only because new facts are discovered, but also because new aspects come to view, because the participant in the progress of an age is led to standpoints from which the past can be judged in a novel manner. Every new generation views the past with a new and changed outlook. It is bound only by space (dik) and time (kāla), the two invariable entities of the Universe.
SOURCES OF HISTORY
History is not a speculative subject like philosophy, it is deduced from, and is based on, the following primary sources :
Archaeology : study of human civilization through excavation of sites, and analysis of physical remains, viz. antiquities;
Epigraphy: study and interpretation of historical inscriptions (ancient and medieval);
Numismatics: study of historical coins and coinage;
Chronicles, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, reports, gazetteers, administrative manuals and other contemporary or later works on the past events, related to a king, dynasty, tribe or country;
Travel-Accounts of contemporary travellers (travelogue); and
ARCHITECTURE: study of monuments (historical buildings): A lithic record of history, it is its most truthful and reliable source; a veritable chronicle in stone, it can neither be forged, nor adulterated. The stamp of an age and a people, their tastes, beliefs, values, standards, achievements, ideas, feelings and skills – everything that makes up a Civilization – is most truthfully imprinted upon its monuments, without a knowledge of which the history of any period lacks that human interest with which it should be invested. Monuments provide a key to the habits, thoughts and aspirations of the people who brought them into form. History which is writ large on monuments, if deciphered correctly, can give access to the age which produced them; they preserve the most faithful and authentic record of the contemporary society. ARCHITECTURE CELEBRATES LIFE AND IT CELEBRATES DEATH: it has been used as a symbol of power and glory. History of Architecture is a record of continuous evolution; striding down the ages, it was evolved, moulded and adapted to meet the changing needs of people in their religious, political and artistic development. It is a lithic history of social conditions, and civilizational progress, and of events which are landmarks in the history of mankind; for, as Architecture is, in all periods, intimately connected with national life, the GENIUS OF A NATION is unmistakably stamped on its architectural monuments throughout the history of mankind; architecture, the mother of all arts has supplied shrines for religion, home for the living and monument for the dead.
We use these sources, one and all, corroborate one with others, and deduce history which is not “all truth, the whole truth and nothing but truth”, which is not possible in history, a study of the bygone ages as it is. It is only the maximum truth deduced from the available sources. Hence, we call it HISTORICAL TRUTH. The last word is never said in history which grows and develops continuously, and the historical truth too is subject to change.
Besides the academic history, we also have a popular or people’s history which runs parallel to it, hence, it is called Parallel History. It is made, both in written and oral form, with the help of the following sources which are speculative and based on ‘faith’ or ‘feeling’. More often than not, it runs counter to academic history and we can use its data, for writing history, extremely cautiously.
Scriptures: religious texts which deal with philosophy and rituals, respectively. Every religion has its own scriptures which are sometimes too numerous to be reckoned. They have historical content (for writing religious history) but, laced with stories as they are, they can be used only with utmost care and caution.
Hagiology (Tazkirāt) is study of literature concerned with the lives and legends of saints, which are mostly stories recording their miracles, for popular consumption.
Literature: study of historical plays (dramas) and poetic works, including historical mathnawis and rasos. This is an elusive source. For example, Chand Bardai’s Prithivīrāj-Rāso narrates the story that Shihābu’d-Dīn Muhammad Ghorī (Muhammad bin Sām) led seventeen invasions which were all repulsed by Prithivīrāj Chauhān of Ajmer, but in the final battle, he was defeated and captured, blinded and taken to Ghaznīn where he killed Muḥammad bin Sam in a show of sound archery (śabda-bheda), and so on and so forth. It is all poetic imagery which has no historical substance, and is not corroborated by any other source. All other sources confirm that in the First Battle of Tarain (near Thaneshwar), fought in 1191 A.D. Muḥammad bin Sām was defeated, but in the Second Battle fought next year on the same field, Prithivi Raj Chauhan of Ajmer and his ally Anangapāl Tomar of Dehi were defeated and killed. Subsequently, Delhi and Ajmer were captured by the Turks and the Delhi Sultanate was established. We know for certain that Muḥammad bin Sām was killed by the Gakkhars near Jhelum in 1206, and not earlier by Prithiviraj. But Prithiviraj-Raso’s is popular history and, because it glorifies the king of a region, it is repeated over and over again, on its authority. ‘Feeling of Pride’ rather than ‘historical truth’ is decisive of this phenomenon.
Almost similar is the story of ‘Alāu’d-Dīn Khaljī’s invasion of Chittorgadh (which took place in 1303 A.D.) for possession of Rani Padmini, symbolically and, of course, romantically woven into a great ‘Premākhyāna’ (Mathnawi) by Malik Muhammad Jāyāsi in ‘Padmāwat’, composed during the reign of Sher Shah Sur (1540-1545). Except that it is a great poetry on a beautiful romance narrated in a historical setting, it has very little historical content. We know for certain that Chittorgadh was captured by the Khaljis who, and the Tughluqs, or their governors, held it at least upto 1335, and the Jami’ Masjid built by the Khaljis during their occupation is still extant and is called ‘Alhā-Kabrā’. There are several other examples. Some poetic works are plain panegyrics (‘praśastis’) on a historical canvas. Such glorious tales capture the imagination of the common men who repeat them ad-infinitum, until they become history and replace academic history.
Of course, we cannot altogether ignore the literary sources which are sometimes indispensable. For example, the Tomar Palaces of the Gwalior Fort, including the gorgeous Man-Mandir, were built when Narayandas was living there (late 15th century A.D.) and he described them graphically and truthfully, in a different context, in his literary work: Chhitāī-Charit’, which is the only source of information on this subject.
Another rider is related to the literary works inscribed in stone, e.g. two Sanskrit plays, viz. Harakeli-Nāṭaka authored by the Chauhan King Vigraharāj-IV (1151-67 A.D.), and his court poet Somadeva’s Lalita-Vigraharāja-Nāṭaka. These were inscribed on stone slabs, six of which were recovered from the Adhai-Din-ka-Jhompra Both these works have substantial historical content, without which Chauhan history of this period would remain woefully deficient.
‘Rājapraśastiḥ – Mahākāvyaṃ’, inscribed on 25 black marble slabs, each measuring 3 feet in length and 2½ in width, placed on the white marble Nauchowki-Ghāṭ of Raj-Samand dam, situated 40 miles (64 kms) north of Udaipur (Rajasthan), is perhaps the most important example of this class. It is India’s largest epic inscription, and the largest literary work inscribed on stone (total 1106 ślokas). It contains complete history of this great reservoir, with landmark references to the history of the House of Mewar, for which both, it is indispensable.
Traditions and Legends
Oral history of the past of a people, including kathās (tales) and kimvadantīs (hearsays), is as deceptive a source as it is elusive. Ritualistic religion without philosophy is entirely based on superstition which feeds innumerous tales, which are gradually settled and become traditions and legends. Some are purely imaginative, but are supported by tales of dreams, by divine inspiration, as happened recently (2013) at Ḍhonḍhiyā-Kherā (Unnao, U.P.) where a treasure of 1000 tons of gold (!!!) was claimed to be buried, only on the basis of a dream. The whole country, the people of India and the Government of India, in general, and its Archaeological Survey of India, responsible for conducting historical excavations, in particular, were all neatly bluffed and befooled; nobody questioned how the treasure was found to weigh exactly 1000 tons! In such a country as India, popular religions, propagated by wayward recluses, is still used as opium. There are innumerous stories about sites of pilgrimage, temples and discovery of images, as about miracles (karāmāt) of ṣūfi saints at dargāhs, which the people, at large, sentimentally adore.
However, religion is entirely a private matter of a citizen and we cannot argue on the basis of any reasoning; it is the matter of his ‘faith’ (āsthā, yaqīn). But it becomes scandalous in the public domain, e.g. when such stories are coined and planted in respect of Nationally protected monuments like the Taj Mahal. Some tales coined by guides, guide-book writers, foreign travellers and film-makers, with a free mixture of hearsays, gossips and wonderful surmises, have permanently settled and become history. Some glaring examples may be cited: after completion of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jehan had its kārīgars’ (builders’) hands amputated, lest they built another Taj to compete with it; a drop of water (i.e. dew, symboling tear-drop) falls on the grave of Mumtāz Mahal every midnight; Shah Jehan had planned to build another Taj Mahal of black marble across the river for himself, and connect the two by a stone masonry bridge, and so on and so forth. These myths and tales were planted with a view to romanticize and fantasize history of the Taj Mahal and innocent tourists are taken for a ride. In fact, these fictitious tales tarnish such a sacred subject as History, and image of such a sacrosanct monument as the Taj Mahal, and reduce it to a commonplace building.
The teacher in History class asked : ‘who was Akbar’s father?’ A boy promptly rose and shot back: ‘Rakesh Roshan’ ! True, Rakesh Roshan is father of Ritik Roshan who plays (or misplays) Akbar, the Great, in the Bollywood film-concoction: ‘Jodha-Akbar’. Such is the popular, albelt dangerous, effect of Cinema on the psyche of the people and this is how its fictitious story and ‘dramatis-personae’ are permanently imprinted upon it !
Films were made on historical subjects, as much as on social and religious, from the very beginning, and we have such a legendary name as Sohrab Modi in this field. ‘Pukar’, ‘Taj-Mahal’, ‘Shah-Jahan’, ‘Sikandar’, ‘Surdas’, ‘Amarsingh Rathor’ and ‘Chitra–Lekha’ (based on Bhagwati Charan Verma’s novel) were some of the prominent historical films, crowned by ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, the great classic depicting the tragic romance of Salim (Jehangir) and Anarkali, which was a truly historical episode. Made by K.Asif, with Naushad, the renowned Music director, and such excellent cast as Prithviraj Kapoor (as Akbar), Dilip Kumar (as Salim) and Madhu-Bala (as Anarkali), originally in the fifties, its recent colour version is still as fresh and exciting as it was, even after half-a-century! Such are its wonderful characterization, story-line, sets, performance, dialogues and music !! Who can forget Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s : “Jogan–ban–jāungī–men–bālma–tore–kāje” (for your sake, o my love, I will renounce the world), in such an ethereal romantic situation: Anarkali meeting Salim beneath the harsingar tree tenderly, in fact, so tenderly that even breeze was afraid of disturbing them. Many a scene and many a dialogue thus touch, and leave an immortal impression upon, the ethos of the people. The wonderful performance of Prithviraj Kapoor who plays Akbar almost realistically, with dignity and grace, described by Abu’l Fazl and Badauni (the latter sat with Akbar for 20 years but never had the courage to look into his eyes, so awe-inspiring was his personality !).
‘Mughal-e-Azam’ too has used some artistic motifs, as Anarkali playing a statue in the beginning, and Anarkali escaping through a tunnel in the end. The film has been romanticized, but not fantasized and not the least vulgarized. Though there are some innocent historical errors (perhaps, needed for the story-line), it did not outrage historical susceptibilities, as National Geographic’s ‘Taj Mahal’ and Gowarikar’s ‘Jodha-Akbar’ crudely did. Mughal-e-Azam is an authentic historical film, artistically and romantically depicting Anarkali’s episode in Salim’s life, as truthfully as could be possible in a cinematic film.
In comparison, Ashutosh Gowarikar’s ‘Jodha-Akbar’, depicting absolutely fictitious and fantastic romance of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (birth 1542, reign 1556-1605) and a Rajput princess named ‘Jodha’, obviously, in imitation of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, is a farce and fiasco. A so-called daughter of Rājā Bharmal of Amer (Ambar, modern Jaipur) was married to Akbar in 1562, to symbolize Mughal-Rajput political alliance. Her name was not ‘Jodhā’ or ‘Jodhābāi’; in fact, her Rajput name is not on record and contemporary historians and even her own son Jehangir mention her only by her titile: ‘Mariam-uz-Zamānī’. Nor did she hail from Jodhpur to justify her Raniwas (ḥarem) title ‘Jodhābāi’. There was only one ‘Jodhābāi’ in Mughal history: she was daughter of Moṭā Rājā Uday Singh of Jodhpur and was married to Salim in 1586 and, subsequently, became mother of Khurram (Shah Jehan) in 1592.
Jehangir’s mother, in fact, belonged to Barah, a village situated 5 kms from Bayana (Rajasthan) where she built a sarai (inn) with a monumental gate, a baoli (step-well) and garden. Jehangir noticed these buildings in his Memoirs; the baoli and its Persian inscription have survived. She was Akbar’s fourth wife. He contracted three other marriages thereafter. He was an Empire-builder, an astute statesman, a realist and thoroughly practical man, and there was NO ROMANCE at all with any one of them. By and large, these were political marriages.
Gowarikar’s cast, like his story, is equally deceptive and incredible. Akbar had distinct Mongoloid features, e.g. a round face, small black eyes and little facial hair; he was short-statured, broad-shouldered and strongly built – as has been faithfully portrayed in numerous contemporary paintings. The legendary Prithviraj Kapoor correctly represented his tough but grand, dignified and majestic personality in the Mughal-e-Azam. But, he is played in Jodha-Akbar by a tall, relatively thin, tenderly groomed, long-faced, blue-eyed, typical Bollywood hero, shouting angry dialogues, like a stock-exchange broker and jumping monkey-wise, without Akbar’s dignity or grace. He does not represent even Akbar’s caricature. Is it wisdom or art to use a gazelle for a lion? Jodha-Akbar’s cast is not only incredible, it is also insinuating: Akbar, the Great, is belittled, if not actually mocked and disgraced! Authenticity is the casualty, for the sake of glamour. Jodha-Akbar is an anti-thesis of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ !
It should not be forgotten that HISTORY IS NOT FOR ENTERTAINMENT, CINEMA IS ! National history and National characters cannot be fictionalized and distorted this way, for the sake of public entertainment !! Cinematic History is a myth, in a large measure !!!
PITFALLS OF HISTORY :
SUBJECTIVITY, SELECTIVITY AND ANACHRONISM
History has some incredible maxims, e.g.
God cannot alter the Past, historian can !
God cannot make a man immortal, historian can !!
which suggest that it is a subjective writing. But if it is written subjectively, in violation, ignorance or disregard of its sources of information, or if it written on the basis of selective data only to deduce a pre-conceived favourable conclusion, it is not History which is a strict discipline.
For example, an Englishman writing History of India (1803-1947 A.D.) would entitle his book: ‘History of British Rule in India’, highlighting introduction of railway, post and telegraph, roads and canals, public education, law and order, judiciary and hospitals, precisely modern civilization. But an Indian would write History of India of the same period under the title: ‘History of India under the British Rule’, highlighting how the native trade and commerce were ruined and country was impoverished, Indian people were enslaved and transported to distant countries for labour, or recruited as ‘Sepoy’ (soldier) to fight and die for the British Empire (of which the India Gate at Delhi is a standing memorial) etc. Both sets of facts are true but the Englishman used the former selective data, ignoring the latter, and the Indian used the latter selective data, ignoring the former. Subjectivity and selectivity are evils in both cases, and HISTORICAL TRUTH is the casualty.
However, we cannot forget, in any case, the Asiatic Society of Bengal founded by Englishmen, which since 1784 collected and produced a plethora of our classical works in Sanskrit, Persian and other Indian languages, on History, Culture, Religion, Literature, Archaeology and other oriental subjects, and laid foundation of modern Indian intellectualism, in the right earnest. We cannot forget the Survey of India, the Botanical Survey of India, the Geological Survey of India, the District Gazetteers and the Imperial Gazetteers of India and hundreds of other intellectual measures the Englishmen initiated for us and sincerely laid the foundation of modern India. Can any History of India be complete without an account of these institutions ?
And we cannot forget the Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I.) which was founded in 1862 with Alexander Cunningham as the Director. He and his team of dedicated archaeologists surveyed almost the whole of India for antiquities and architectural remains, and produced 23 volumes of Survey Reports, from 1862 to 1884. A full-fledged A.S.I. came into being in 1902 with John Marshall as the Director-General, and protection, conservation and restoration of ancient and medieval monuments began, along with excavation, epigraphy and other archaeological activities, and publication of annual reports thereof. Nearly 400 works on archaeology, history, epigraphy and allied subjects were published in 85 years’ time (from 1862 to 1947) and about 4000 monuments were protected and conserved, all over India. We have not been able to publish even 40, of the same calibre, either in India or Pakistan, since Independence (in 65 years’ time). Nor have we been able to save even half of these monuments in the form in which they were passed on to us in 1947 ! Is it fair and just, historiographically, to accuse these honest Englishmen, who saved our cultural heritage FOR US, of vandalizing it ?
Of course, we must draw a line between the Englishmen of the British East India Company (1803-57) and the Englishmen of the British Crown (1858-1947).
When Marshall took over in 1902, he found numerous monuments, of immense historical importance, in ruins. He and his fellow archaeologists who were thoroughly competent, honest and dedicated, set before themselves the Herculean task of restoring them to their original form and fabric. Many premier buildings were thus repaired and restored, in less than two decades’ time. Two most illustrative examples may be cited : the first is related to the Stone Elephants of the Delhi Gate of Red Fort Delhi, which had entirely disappeared. These were assiduously restored by the A.S.I. (1905-6) (without the original riders) completing the architectural composition of this great monument.
Second is related to Akbar’s Tomb at Sikandara Agra which had been almost completely devastated during the anarchic phases of 18th century A.D. Its rare and semi-precious stones, used in polychrome inlay and mosaic on all facades of the main tomb and gates, were plucked and plundered, as were the Jali-railings (balustrades) which protected the edges of the causeways on all the four sides of the chār-bāgh (four-quartered garden) plan; and upper storeys of the four white marble mīnārs of the main (south) gate had been damaged. The A.S.I. restored the chhatris and the mīnārs exactly to their original form, and also restored the entire inlay and mosaic work on the exterior of the main gate. The mosaic work on the four iwan-portals of the main tombs was also restored, but, somehow or the other, its four facades could not be done and these were plastered over and red (geru) painted, for the time being. The northern gate remained in the ruined condition and jālī railings of the causeways also could not be restored by Marshall.
The Archaeological restoration work has practically come to standstill after Independence, and the A.S.I. has been reduced practically to a monument-repairing department only, as Marshall had apprehended; it has absolutely no programme to finish the mosaic work of the main tomb, or to restore the Jali-railings of the causeways. In fact, the policy-makers of the A.S.I. are not aware and have no idea if Akbar’s Tomb at Sikandara Agra needs any such restoration work; or the jali-railings of the main plinth of the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah at Agra have also to be restored ! The grooves (sockets) which originally held the balusters of the jali-railings of both these premier Mughal tombs of Agra are still there and remain in-situ to ridicule the later Mughals who have now taken over the A.S.I. !! Be it as it may, these conscientious Englishmen’s positive contribution to protection and preservation of our most sacred heritage cannot be historically negated.
While subjectivity in History-writing is a natural error, and the historian has to guard against it extremely cautiously, selectivity is mostly deliberate and, as such, it is a sin. Historian is neither Hindu, nor Musalman, when he writes history of India, but he is certainly an Indian when he writes National History. Yet, he cannot ride roughshod on the Historical Truth (as enunciated in the foregoing paragraphs), and he cannot use selective data in any case; this amounts to lying. Selectivity is a major defect of history-writing which is a discipline and which requires that all possible sources of the subject are traced, used and interpreted, as honestly, impartially and objectively as is humanly possible.
How a subjective and biased interpretation can do havoc to Historical Truth may be illustrated. Two contemporary historians of Akbar: Sheikh Abū’l Fazl, author of the Akbar-Nāmah, and Mulla ‘Abd’al Qādir Badāunī, author of the Muntakhab’ut-Tawarikh, portray Akbar quite differently and their views of the same person and the same cultural, religious, political and administrative measures which he adopted, are diametrically opposed. While Abu’l Fazl almost deified him, for Badāunī he was a devil-incarnate who had done greatest damage to Islam. Abū’l Fazl eulogized Akbar for all the good he did to the country and its people, for his liberal institutions which brought peace and prosperity, and his innovations which established cordial relation between the State and its subjects, irrespective of caste, creed, class or community, and he portrayed him as a Great National Hero. But Badāunī had quite a different viewpoint. He was writing a religious history of Islam which had suffered setbacks at Akbar’s hands. The orthodox religion of Islam was his criterion and he judged everything by this standard, which is why he condemned Akbar and his nobles who established perhaps the mightiest and the wealthiest Empire in India. His work, consequently, suffers from religious bias which, or any other similar microscopic viewpoint, does not provide stuff for writing history.
Anachronism is an equally dangerous pitfall of History-writing into which we fall when we interpret a historical phenomenon, e.g. of 17th century, from a modern, i.e. of 20th century point of view, and pass verdict upon it without taking into consideration the time-gap of more than three centuries. E.g. to say that Mumtaz Mahal, who died on the birth of her 14th child, was treated as ‘child-producing machine’ and the Taj Mahal is monument symbolizing exploitation of women, is not only in bad taste, crude and indecent, it is absurd, to say the least. It betrays the learned professor’s colossal ignorance in comparison to extremely low level of knowledge of history and the historical process which governs psyche of the people. In medieval times, there were slave-markets (nakhās) where women, as well as men, horses, camels, goats and cattle, were freely sold. A noble or rich man could contract as many marriages as he could afford, four by nikāh, and numberless by mutah and concubinage. To have 10, 20 or more children was a normal feature. There is still a lane in Belangunj Agra named: ‘Bārah-bhāi-kī-galī’ (lane of 12 brothers). A TV news recently showed a couple from Mewat who have 23 children (claiming that it is all by Allah’s grace, and He also takes care of them). A bachelor girl employed in the Family Planning department was aghast to meet a woman in a Jat village who had 18 children. It is not at all surprising to have 10, 12 or 14 children in India even today ! and the learned Professor had absolutely no idea of India, Indian Society, Indian History, or position of women in medieval or modern times, notwithstanding the vain and boastful professions of such Career-Professors. Unless we go back and live in the age on which we are going to make a historical comment, and understand the contemporary circumstances, we may make an anachronistically wrong statement.
This error happens, most frequently, in the study of Historical Architecture. Sacred, commemorative, ceremonial and public monuments are restored and conserved on original lines as far as possible, according to the Rule-Book. Yet, time leaves its stamp indispensably. Identification of the original form and fabric, e.g. of a 17th century monument restored in the 20th century, is a primary requirement of this discipline.
Owing to change in tastes and needs, residential houses are subject to renovations in the third generation, havelis in the fifth generation and palaces in the seventh generation. One may be easily lost in blind alleys if a later renovation or restoration work is identified as the original for study of the architectural style.
Unfortunately, some foreign historians of Mughal Architecture are falling easy prey to anachronism owing to their cultural, social and linguistic limitations, and paucity of time at their disposal to study the historical process.
(f). HOW THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY DISTORTED MUGHAL HISTORY (1803-57)
The British who supplanted the Mughals in the paramountcy of Hindustan, with the capture of Delhi and Agra in 1803, soon discovered that Hindu-Muslim Unity was as great a strength of India as was its geographical vastness. They were confronted with vast multitudes of hostile people, and it was posing the most potential threat to their rule. They had rendered thousands of princes, nobles, aristocrats, officers and military-men, and those who were dependent on them, out of their jobs and fortune and, naturally, the latter were their bitterest and the most dangerous antagonists, They were seething with unrest and reproachfully complained of the change which had ruined them.
To meet with this situation, the British tactfully evolved a policy to create a cleavage between the Hindus and Muslims by inciting the former, through historical writings, against the latter, and to enlist support of the Hindus to guard against the diplaced Muslim Artistocracy. It was absolutely necessary for this purpose, firstly, to destroy the imprints the Muslim rule in India had left on the psyche of the people at large; the monuments were ‘memorials’ and living symbols of the glory and splendour of the Medieval period and the British worked out a systematic plan to destroy these relics physically.
Destruction of Mughal Monuments (e.g. at Agra)
How this was done by the British during the first half of the 19th century, for example at Agra, the capital of the grand Mughal Empire, may be briefly reviewed. Scores of gardens, tombs, palaces, havelis, serais and other buildings which once adorned the right bank of the river Jamuna, a stretch of about 10 kms, from Hans-Maḥal (upstream at Sikandara) to Lāl-Maḥal (2 kms downstream of Taj Maḥal); the left bank of the river from Buland-Bāgh to Mahtāb-Bāgh; suburb of Sikandara and the Sikandara-Rambagh by-pass; suburb of Tajganj; Cantonment and the city area, were either sold out, demolished for their land and building material, or converted and modernized beyond recognition, and even an archaeologist of General Alexander Cunningham’s conscience, discretion and perseverance could not reclaim them when he took over as the Director of Archaeology in 1862. Of nearly 270 major Mughal monuments which were there at Agra, towards the end of the 18th century A.D., Cunningham found hardly 40 !
The river-side Mughal havelīs, palaces, tombs and gardens may be studied for example. Palaces and havelīs were situated, through-out, on the right bank of river, north of Agra Fort (1); and south of Agra Fort, right upto the (site of the) Taj Maḥal (Fig.2), as described by Francisco Pelsaert, the Dutch Factor who lived at Agra from 1620 to 1627. Far more important and authentic is the Map of Agra, prepared by order of Sawai Raja Jaisingh-II (of Amer-Jaipur)  who was appointed Mughal Governor of Agra in 1722 and who built its parkota (city enclosing wall with gates) for the first time. His map is precise and correctly depicts Mughal havelīs and palaces on the right bank, and tombs and gardens on the left bank of the river Jamuna (Fig.3). They made up extremely elegant, gorgeous and beautiful water-front on either side.
A road, named Strand Road (now called Jamuna Road) was built in 1837 just on the right bank, and the Mughal havelīs and palaces, standing on the edge, were most wantonly demolished on this pretext. Some large backyards were purchased by Seths (native businessmen) of Belanganj and converted into khattis (godowns) which have survived. Some havelīs, off the road, were also purchased by them. Precisely, the whole river-bank north of Agra Fort was cleared of Mughal buildings and the magnificent water-front completely disappeared by a single stroke. Not even one Mughal building of the Map of 1722 was left standing on the bank.
The Mughal havelīs situated south of the Fort were also not spared. Havelī of Rumi Khan which was, in fact, a large palace, was demolished and its land appropriated for a park, named Macdonald-Park. Later, a huge bronze statue of Queen Victoria was installed there, with a scalloped tank and fountain, and it was renamed Victoria Park. Subsequently, it was called Shāhjehān-Bāgh. Then, statue of Queen Victoria was removed and it was renamed Motilal Nehru-Udyan when the age to give political appellations to public buildings, institutions and projects dawned. Other havelīs of this side were also demolished, though they were not obstructing the road. A cremation-ground (śmaśāna) of the Hindus was also established. The imposing havelī of Khan Dauran Khan Nusratjung, situated downstream, at a distance, north-east of the Taj Mahal, was converted into a ‘Tannery’ which name it still bears. Of nearly 50 Mughal buildings which adorned the right bank of the river Jamuna and made up an incredibly beautiful water-front, only the chhatrī of Rānī Hāḍā at Balkeshwar, on one extreme, and the Taj Mahal at Tajganj, on the other, remained, all others were neatly destroyed. The whole river-front was vandalized and denuded of Mughal glory.
Likewise, the beautiful Mughal gardens on the left bank of the river were either sold out to private persons and converted into nurseries, owing to their extremely fertile soil and easy availability of the river-water, or into modern structures. Only the Buland-Bagh remained on the northern end. Of Serāi-Nūr Maḥal which is one of the most illustrative examples of Mughal riverine serais (inns), only the brick skeleton and two isolated gates have remained, everything else was destroyed, including its huge landing ghāṭ (quay). Two large pavilions (suites) were renovated with the material of the existing structures of the Bāgh Gul-i-Afshan of Babur (1526-30) (renamed Bāgh Nūr-Afshān by Jehangir in 1619, and now called Rāmbāgh), and it was converted into a Holiday Resort for the British Officers of the East India Co. The Ẓuhrā-Bāgh was distributed among the villagers who could afford to pay the price, and has entirely dwindled. The magnificent glazed-tiled Tomb of Shukrullah Shīrāzī Afẓal Khān, called the Chīni-kā-Rauza, was converted into a cowshed for keeping cattle and storing fodder, and the villagers cooked inside the tomb where Shahjehanian painters had done exquisite incised paintings on the walls, vaults and soffits. The area from Gyarah-Siddi, where Humayun founded his Astronomical Observatory, to Babur’s Bagh-Hasht-Bihisht (just facing the Taj Mahal) was devastated, the structures were reduced to debris and the gardens were ploughed form agriculture, which brought land-revenue to the Company-Bahadur ! The Government almost let loost the needy villagers to plunder material of these buildings, freely and wantonly.
Even the greatest of these relics, viz. the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal, were not spared. The Akbarī-Mahal (being southern part of Akbar’s Bengālī-Maḥal) in the Fort was partially dismantled and converted into Military Prison. Underground cellars were ransacked for treasure-troving. The white marble, exquisitely inlaid dālān of the Dīwān-i-Khāṣ was dismantled by Marquis of Hastings (between 1813 and 1819) and transported to England where it is now stored, as a prisoner in perpetuity, in the Victoria & Albert Museum London. William Bentinck sold by auction a large quantity of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones, fine jalis and panels of some palaces of the Fort, between 1828 and 1835. The Khāṣ-Maḥal was converted into the Commandant’s Quarter and the Dīwān-i-‘Ām into arsenal. Of the 500 and odd buildings of different size and design in the Fort, mentioned by Abū’l Fazl, court historian of Akbar, hardly 30 survived (4) and, except for less than 1/10th portion of the Fort, on the south-eastern strip facing the river (from the Bengālī-Burj) to Khiẓrī-Darwāzah), the whole Fort was cleared of Mughal buildings to make room for offices, bungalows, barracks, arsenal and other military installations. The large-scale chiselled stone which remained after these constructions was auctioned to the public at the throw-away price; when heaps of stone still remained, it was offered to public free of charge by duggi (public proclaimation) and the people were seen carting the stones of Mughal buildings out of the Fort for about a week !
It is amazing that the British reposed so much faith in Indian people’s gullibility that the Taj Mahal itself was offered for sale for the value of its marble (!) in 1831 and, but for the timely intervention of a conscientious military officer, this most beautiful creation of Man on earth, and the most wonderful and representative relic of the Medieval period would have been destroyed ! It would have certainly left the medieval period barren and barbarous, as the British actually wanted it to portray.
This never happened before in any country: even the proverbial Goths and Vandals (of Col. James Tod’s vocabulary, 1818-22) did not do it, nor was this done by Maḥmūd of Ghaznīn (1000-1025), or Tīmūr (Tamerlane, 1398), or Nādir Shāh (1738), or Aḥmed Shāh Abdāli (Durrānī) (1748-61) ! Instead of honestly writing a history of the Mughals and their monuments, the British of the East India Co. (1803-1857) let loose a Tsunami of destruction upon them and completely erased them from the face of the earth !! This was their unique way of writing history of the subjugated people !!!
Intellectual Subversion of Medieval Heritage
The British under the East India Company worked, secondly, to subvert medieval heritage intellectually, by historical writings, with a view to arouse, provoke and instigate the Hindus against the Muslim rule of which they were the august supplanter, and to negate, or at least to tarnish the glories of the medieval period. Recourse to deliberate distortion of History was taken. As for example, in the British expedition of Afghanistan in 1842, the Deodar Gates of the Tomb of Mahmud (death 1030 A.D.) were removed from Ghaznin and brought to Agra. They were ceremoniously identified as the famous sandal gates of the Somnath Temple which Mahmud had sacked in 1025 A.D. and in the historic proclamation of 16th November 1842, it was declared that an insult of 800 years back had been avenged. It was a monstrous lie which was perpetrated deliberately and as part of the policy, as is evident from the Governor-General Ellenborough’s statement in defence:
“…..The restoration of gates of the Temple of Somnath has conciliated and gratified the great mass of the Hindoo population. I have no reason to suppose that it has offended the Mussalmans; but I cannot close my eyes to the belief that that race is fundamentally hostile to us, and therefore our true policy is to conciliate the Hindoos.”
Ellenborough was severely criticized in the Parliament and even Macaulay spoke against him. But he resolutely defended himself and justified this historical fraud as a ‘politic measure’ !
Likewise, torso of a stone horse was made and ceremoniously planted near the southern Akbar-Darwāzah (also called Gwalior-Darwāzah) of Agra Fort. It was proclaimed that this was the metamorphosized form of the horse of the valiant Rāṭhor manṣabdār (noble) Rāo Amarsingh who assassinated Mir-Bakshi Salabat Khan in full court, and in front of the Grand Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan (in 1644), and escaped from the durbār on this horse and, galloping along the ramparts, jumped over the parapet across the moat. What a heroic Rajput feat against the Muslim overlord ! The Gate was renamed : ‘Amarsingh-Gate’ which nomenclature it still bears, while the original name has been completely forgotten. All this was a lie which was planted deliberately, to belittle and disgrace the Mughal rule. In fact, the Rāo was cut to pieces in the court itself, his Hāḍā Rani committed Sati with his dead body and his younger brother Mahārājā Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, also a Mughal manṣabdār, built a memorial on the site of the Sati on the right bank of the river Jamuna at Agra. It is still extant and is popularly called ‘Raja Jaswantsingh-kī-Chhatrī’ and ‘Satī-kā-Chabūtarā’. A fair is held here annually in commemoration of the Sātī. The Deodar Gate of the Tomb of Mahmud Ghaznawi is also securely imprisoned in a southern room of the Khaṣ-Maḥal in Agra Fort, as an evidence of the Company-Bahadur’s dirty politics !
Most illustrative in this connection are the writings of such proclaimed historian as Henry M. Elliot who translated Persian histories of the medieval period in eight volumes under the title: ‘History of India as told by its own Historians’. He also authored a ‘Bibliographical Index to the Historians of Muhammadan India’, in four volumes. Its first volume on ‘General Histories’ originally written in 1847 was first published in 1850. It has a long and detailed Preface of 26 pages (pp.v to xxx). This is a document of singular importance which does not only depict Elliot’s perverted views on Medieval Indian Persian histories and historians, but also betrays the British line of thinking on the subject, and gives a clue to the official East India Co’s policy to represent this subject in an extremely distorted and mutilated form. He remarked that these chronicles deal only with conspiracies, revolts, intrigues, murders and fratricides; they are records of stately magnificence and ceremonies; titles, jewels, swords, drums, standards, elephants and horses bestowed upon the dignitaries of the Empire, and there is no reference to the people or the society; they do not discuss popular institutions; the medieval Indian State was despotic and medieval ruler a tyrant around whom the entire state revolved; the officials were robbers; parasites and eunuchs revelled in the spoil of plunders; the poor found no redress against the oppressor’s wrong; and now “the supremacy of the British Government” has put an end to this misrule. At its best, all this was display ONLY of one (darker) side of the picture (of the age of the Later Mughals), while its other (brighter) side (of the age of the Imperial Mughals, from Babur to Shah Jehan, 1526 to 1658), of its positive and constructive role towards Indian culture, society, polity, administrative, arts and architecture, was completely blanked out by Elliot.
Elliot was a historian and an intellectual, and when he highlighted such comments: “Hindus slain for disputing with Muhammedans, of general prohibitions against processions, worship and ablutions, and of other intolerant measures, of idols mutilated, of temples razed, of forcible conversions and marriages, of prescriptions and confiscations, of murders and massacres, and of the sensuality and drunkenness of the tyrants who enjoyed them”, he did it deliberately. In fact, he branded the Hindus as a ‘subject-race’ who lived under a ‘foreign-rule’, as the medieval state was termed, and he exalted the British who freed them (the Hindus) “from the tyranny of its foreign masters.” He not only defended but also justified the recent British conquests and subjugation of the country by them: “They will make our native subjects more sensible of the immense advantages accruing to them under the mildness and equity of our rule.” There could not be a more hypocritical distortion of History.
Eillot trumpeted the recent British contribution to roads, bridges and canals, and completely blacked out the institution of Roads-and-Serais founded by Sher Shah (1540-45) and enormously expanded by Akbar (1556-1605) and Jehangīr (1605-27), FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD. He wanted us to believe that the Mughals built only for their own pleasure or exaltation, and they did not do anything for public, and there is “nothing in which purely selfish considerations did not prevail”; if they raised some beautiful and elegant structures, “personal vanity was the main cause of their erection,” and “there is not even one which subserves any purpose of general utility.”
That all these are blatant lies is shown by a brief sketch of the following public works of the medieval period:
Roads : Besides the main Imperial roads, from Agra to Ajmer (further extended to Ahmedabad), Agra to Lahore (extended to Kabul via Peshawar), Agra to Dhaka (via Allahabad and Patna) and Agra to Burhanpur, there were numerous other roads, connecting the major towns and cities, as needed in the circumstances of the medieval period. These were maintained by the state. Highways were kankar laid, but wherever they passed through cities, they were stone or brick paved. Fruit trees were planted on both sides so that the highway looked like an avenue. Thomas Roe (1616) noted about the Agra-Lahore road:
“It is all plain and the highway on both sides with trees like a delicate walk; it is one of the great works and wonders of the world.”
Peter Mundy also observed similarly (1631) :
“The trees are distant one from the other about eight or nine ordinary steps, and the ranks form side to side about forty. It is generally known that from Agra there are such ranks (avenues) of trees which (extend) as far as Lahore and they say this doth to Patna done by Jahangir for the ease of travellers and for shade in hot weather.”
Tavernier too confirmed rows of trees on road sides. Bernier also noted:
“(At Mathura) ….. a few tolerably handsome caravansaries, a day’s journey from each other, and a double-row of trees planted by order of Jehan-Guyre (Jehangir), and continued for onehundred and fifty leagues, with small pyramids or turrets (kos-mīnārs), erected from kosse to kosse (kos) for the purpose of pointing out the different roads. Wells are also frequently met with, affording drink to travellers, and serving to water the young trees.”
It must be kept in mind, however, that the British needed more roads (in 19th century) to keep the country under subjugation and to administer it, while the Mughals needed fewer roads in 16th and 17th century, mostly for movement of armies, occasional convoys of traders and pilgrims, and for operating the dāk-chowkī. The need of roads in medieval period was not what it expanded to under the British.
It is also important to note that travel and transport by waterways was a more convenient alternative. Such large rivers as Sindh, Ravi, Jamuna and Ganga were perfectly navigable, and these were more often used as easier, safer and faster means by the Mughals. British stopped this traffic owing to their own vulnerability.
Kos-Mīnār : Babur ordered, for the first time, to build a kos-mīnār at every kos on road between Agra and Kabul. His grandson Akbar is recorded to have built a kos-mīnār, and a well, at every kos (about 2 miles), as a landmark from Agra to Ajmer. Landmark kos-mīnārs were also built on other Imperial highways. A well was also invariably sunk near the kos-mīnār and, generally, a serai (inn) was also built, of course, for the public good.
Bridges : A large number of bridges was built on rivulets, drains, canals and rivers during the medieval period. Fīrūz Shāh Tughluq (1351-88) is recorded to have built 60 masonry bridges. Some important bridges were built, thereafter, by Sher Shah, Akbar and Jehangir. That at least four brick and stone masonry bridges are still intact and functional on the road from Agra to Gwalior alone, shows that Elliot’s statement is false.
“Altogether, he (Sher Shah) built 1700 serāis on various roads, and in every sarai he built separates lodgings both for Hindus and Musulmans…. and it was a rule in these sarāis that whoever entered them received provision suitable to his rank and food and litter for his cattle from government. In every sarai, two horses were kept that they might quickly carry news” (i.e. for the Ḍāk-Chowkī).
Foreign travellers’ observations testify, unequivocally, that sarais were built for the benefit of the travellers all along the roads form Agra to Dhaka via Allahbad and Patna; Agra to Ahmedabad via Ajmer; and Agra to Burhanpur via Mandu; the five Imperial highways (Bādshāhi Saḍak) which emanated from the capital Agra and which were the arteries of the Empire, used both for Royal and military movement as well as for trade and pilgrimage. The huge caravanserai of Fatehpur Sikri which was run by the State has survived. There were more than 60 major sarais at Agra alone, some of which had as many as six large courts. They had their own wells and they were efficiently maintained. Hundreds of localities situated on the roads, e.g. from Agra to Lahore, still have the suffix ‘sarai’ attached to their names. With other components as roads, kos-mīnars, bridges and wells or baolis, it was a vast State institution for the public good.
Christopher Farewell, an English Factor who came to India in 1614 gives a very fair and commendable estimate of a medieval Indian sarai in a rare work entitled : ‘An East India Collation’; he noted that it is “a spacious place made of purpose for all travelers, natives as else (for they have not the use of inns as in Christendom….)”, suggesting that ‘sarai’ was a unique institution in India which was not in use in the whole Christian world.
The riverine Sarāi Nūr Jehān at Agra (c. 1612) and Jehangir’s Riverine Sarai at Delhi (c. 1612) (so-called ‘Arab Sarai) are two inns which have survived and which demonstrate how the Mughal state cared to facilitate people’s travel and transport even by water-ways. Each one was spacious enough to accommodate 500 horses and 2000 travellers with their retinue.
It is noteworthy that the British did not build even a single sarai anywhere in India for the benefit of the people, though, of course, they demolished thousands of them, all over India, for the sake of their land and building material. This historical fact knocks the bottom out of Sir Henry Elliot’s boastful claims !
Canals: Of course, some new canals were founded by the British of the East India Company, but and otherwise, medieval canals which had become defunct owing to silting, or disuse, or lack of repairs, were repaired, renovated and revived under new names. That their objective was not public good, but to earn land-revenue and water-cess can be illustrated by a landmark example. The vast lake of Fatehpur Sikri was 12 kos (= 24 miles =40 kms) in circumference. It provided the Royal township, not only a beautiful landscape, but also a mild and pleasant climate; in fact, the lake was its life-line. It was created by the excess water of the river Utangan or Gambhiri which overflowed into the valley lying between the two ridges of Fatehpur Sikri. Then it flowed towards the northern side into the small seasonal river called Khari-Nadi. Akbar built a masonry dam called Terah-Mori, owing to its 13 sluices, about a km north of the ridge. Thus the lake retained water round the year. The British built a dam at the mouth of the lake and stopped inflow of the river-water into the lake which, consequently, dried up. The landscape of Fatehpur Sikri was destroyed, but they succeeded in reclaiming a vast tract of land, i.e. the lake-bed, for cultivation to earn enormous land revenue, and water-cess from an intervening canal. They were essentially traders, and profit-making was their primary objective, notwithstanding Sir Henry M. Elliot’s tall claims !
Construction of Ghaṭs (quays) on rivers, wells, bāolīs (step-wells), tanks, reservoirs and gardens was almost entirely a philanthropic work in India undertaken, for public use, by princes, seths (rich-men) and religious and social organisations. The Mughal state also founded some large bāolīs and wells, e.g. Kuān-Kamāl-Khān (in Dehrā-Bāgh) at the Khoja-Sarai locality Agra was so large that 32 purs in two storeys were operated on it and normally it had 75 feet deep water. Besides innumerous minor wells, almost in every residential locality, there were 43 large wells at Agra, as per an eighteen century record, where 4 purs were operated. The Mughal state also built some large tanks and reservoirs, e.g. the so-called Guru-ka-Tal at Sikandara Agra. Besides the gardens which were attached to the Mughal tombs, there were numerous other gardens which have lent their names to respective localities, e.g. Bāgh Muzaffar Khān and Bāgh-Farzānā, In fact, there were so many gardens in the four corners of Agra that it more looked like a Royal Park rather than a city, as 17th century foreign tavellers have noticed. British founded some parks, but nothing else for public use.
This brief survey shows, unequivocally, that the British historians of the East India Co. (1803-57) tarnished the Mughal history, tarnished the Mughal rule and tarnished the Mughal image deliberately.
This did not augur well and, ultimately proved disastrous to the Indian nationhood. Seeds of two-nation theory, as an antithesis of Hindu-Muslim monolith of India, were most maliciously sown, in fact and in essence, during the British East India Company’s regime, which the Mountabattens craftily enacted in 1946-47.
 Published in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society Karachi (the Historicus), vol. LXIV No.4 (Oct-Dec 2016)
 R.Nath, Historiographical Study of Indo-Muslim Architecture (Medieval Architecture of India and Pakistan)
(Jaipur 1991) pp.21-22 (hereinafter abb. HSIMA).
 R.Nath, Antiquities of Chittorgadh (Jaipur 1984) 65-72 and Fig. 12 for its plan.
 Chhitai-Charit of Narayandas, ed. by H.N. Dwivei and Agarchand Nahta (Gwalior 1960)
 For full details, text and translation, see F. Kielhorn, ‘Sanskrit Plays partly preserved as Inscriptions at Ajmer’
Indian Antiquary, vol.XX (1891) 201-212; also see R.Nath, ‘The Adhai-Din-ka-Jhompra Ajmer (from Temple to
Mosque) (1151-67 A.D. ; 1195-1230 A.D.), Sthapatyam New Delhi vol.3 issue 4 August 2016, pp. 8-40.
 ‘Rājapraśastiḥ-Mahakavyam’ is a Mahākāvya (epic poem) which was written by Raṇac̣hoda Bhaṭṭ (between 1661 and 1681 A.D.) at the behest of Mahārānā Rājsingh (1652-80) of Mewar who built the Rāj-Samand (Raja-Samudra) reservoir. It is 4 miles (6.44 kms) in length and 1-3/4 (2.8 kms) in width. Its bow-shaped dam is 3 miles (4.88 kms) long. Part of it is of a white marble and is called Nauchowki. The Mahākavya was inscribed in stone and placed in situ in 1687 A.D. It describes the dam in complete details with precise measurements, vide Rājapraśastiḥ-Mahākāvyaṃ (ed. M.L. Menaria) (Udaipur 1973).
 This tale so much impressed Percy Brown, otherwise a sober scholar and art-historian, that he prepared its conjectural restoration and used it in his work: Indian Architecture (Islamic Period) (Bombay 1964) Pl. LXXXVII-B under the caption : ‘Conjectural Realization of the Emperor Shah Jehan’s Scheme for the Royal Tombs at Agra’.
 For study of its History and Architecture, see R.Nath, The Taj Mahal (Agra 2010).
 See its review by R.Nath in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society Karachi, LXI.3 (July-September 2013)
59-93 & illus.
 R.Nath, History of Mughal Architecture (abb HMA), Vol.III (New Delhi 1994) 78-79.
 This matter has been discussed in full details in this author’s article : ‘Jodha-Akbar : Perverted History for Public
Entertainment’ (under publication).
 HMA-III, 396-402.
 For its text and tr. see HMA-III, 397-98.
 For full details of these marriages, see this author’s article op. cit.
 We also cannot forget Munshi Nawalkishore Bhargava of Lucknow who printed by lithography and published nearly 4000 volumes of Persian and Urdu historical and literary works !
 For full details, see R.Nath, Mughal Sculpture (New Delhi 1997) 46-63 and John Marshall, ‘Restoration of Two Elephant Statues at the Fort of Delhi’, A.S.I. Annual Report 1905-6, pp. 33-42.
 For study of this great mausoleum, reference may be made to R.Nath, HMA-III, pp. 359-396, illus. and Persian inscriptions.
 The Akbar-Namah of Abū’l Fazl, English tr. by H.Beveridge, 3 vols (Delhi 1972-73) (abb, AN hereinafter).
 Muntakhabu’ t-Tawarikh of Mulla ‘Abd’al Qādir Badaunī, Vol.II tr. by W.H.Lowe (Delhi 1973) (abb.MT).
 For full details, see R.Nath, ‘Badaoni’s Concept of History’ in Indica Bombay, Vol.24 No.1 (March 1987) pp. 19-28.
 Vide ‘Shabda-Satta’ Lucknow (Special Number on the Taj Mahal) (Jan-March 2006) p.41.
 We have two types of History Professors in India: one, the CAREER-PROFESSORS who somehow manage to get a Ph.D. in the beginning and thereafter they manage professorship and other university positions, examine answer-books and Ph.D. theses and guide Ph.Ds in bulk, take vivas (on exchange basis), sit on selection committees to make favourable appointments, precisely do administration of History, like a government department, and exert to promote themselves financially, without doing ANY research or writing work. They are not even good teachers and dictate third-class notes in class-rooms. Patronised and protected by politicians, this tribe is unique in India and is, perhaps, not found anywhere else. The other class is of SCHOLAR-PROFESSORS who dedicate themselves to research and writing, attend National and International seminars, symposia and conferences, and exert to promote the study of, and research in History. Historiographically, the former do as much damage to the muse of History as the latter contribute to its advancement. Of course, there are some moderates who sit on the fence.
 For full details whereof, see HSIMA, op. cit, pp.9-12.
 Jahangir’s India (The Remonstrantie of Francisco Pelsaert) tr. by W.H.Moreland & P. Geyl (Delhi 1972) 1-3 & 4.
 This Map of Agra is now preserved in the Sawai Mansingh-II Museum, City Palace Jaipur.
 It was remoured that Mayawati, the wealthy Dalit Queen of U.P., wanted to install her own statue in its vacant space. She had already installed her statues at Lucknow.
 It is not an ancient site. It was established on the site of the Havelī of Asālat Khān, during the first half of the 19th century A.D.
 For full details, see R.Nath’s article : ‘Colonnade of the Dīwān-i-Khāṣ Agra Fort: A Prisoner in England’ (under publication).
 ‘Ain-i-Akbari’, Vol.II (tr. H.S. Jarrett) (Calcutta 1891) 179-80.
 As, of course, our present day typical ‘Netas’ also do.
 For full details, see R.Nath, The Taj Mahal, op.cit.144-48. Its Mehman-Khānah was partitioned, furnished and opened to British honey-mooners, its masjid was converted into Dining Hall and it was desecrated in several other ways, see HSIMA op. cit, 9-12.
 Edited by Professor Dowson and first published in London 1866-68. Several reprints have appeared thereafter.
 It has been reprinted, Delhi 1976.
 See HMA-III, 181-219 for a study of Public Works and institution of Roads-and-Serais.
 HMA-III, 182; The Embassy of Thomas Roe to India (1615-19), ed. W. Foster (Delhi 1990) p.193
 HMA-III, 182; Travels of Peter Mundy, ed. R.C. Temple, Vol.II (London 1914) 83-84
 HMA-III, 182; Travels in India by J.B. Tavernier, ed. V.Ball & W. Crooke, Vol.I (London1925) 96, 292.
 HMA-III, 182; Travels in the Mogul Empire by Francois Bernier (1656-1668) ed. A. Constable (Delhi 1972) p. 284. For details of roads during the Mughal times, reference may be made to A.K.M. Farooque, Roads and Communications in Mughal India (Delhi 1977); B.N. Sarkar, ‘Land Transport in Medieval India’ Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee Com. Vol. Calcutta, 295-329; Khursheed Mustafa, ‘Travel in Mughal India’, Medieval India Quarterly, Aligarh, Vol.III. 3-4 (Jan-April 1958) pp. 70-84; and Usha Agarwal ‘An Historical Account of Roads from Kabul to Calcutta during the 17th and 18th centuries’, the Quarterly Review of Historical Studies Calcutta IX.3 (1969-70), pp.147-60.
 Babur-Namah (Tuzuk-i-Baburi) (tr. A.S. Beveridge) (New Delhi 1970) 629-30.
 MT, p. 176; AN, III, p.156; R.Nath, HMA-II, 273-74 & Pl. CCLXX.
 By a rough estimate he built 30 hiṣṣar and shahr (forts and towns), 50 nahr (canals and watercourses), 40 masajid (mosques), 30 madārīs (colleges), 20 khanqah (sufi shrines), 100 kushk and qasr (palaces), 200 sarais (inns), 100 bunds (dams and reservoirs), 5 shafakhanah (hospitals), 100 maqabir (tombs), 10 ḥammām (baths), 1200 baghat (gardens), and 60 pul (masonry bridges), vide Tabaqāt-i-Akbarī of Khwājah Niẓāmuddīn Ahmad, Vol.I (tr. B.De) (Calcutta 1973) 260.
 For full details whereof, see R.Nath HMA-III, 183-85.
 Ibid, 185-88; for composition, plan and management of Mughal sarai, ibid, 185-86.
 Vide Elliot & Downson, History of India…., Vol.IV, 417-18.
 Vide HMA-III, op. cit. p. 188.
 Ibid, 194-200.
 ‘Ain-i-Akbari, Vol.II, op. cit, p.191.
 A.C.L. Carlleyle who surveyed the area in 1871-72 noted: the great well is about 220’ in circumference exteriorly. Its exterior is sixteen-sided, each side measuring 13’-7”. It is surrounded by a screen pierced with arched doorways. The wall of the well itself is 9”-7” in thickness. The interior shaft is circular. On looking over the brink, one looks down into a fearful chasm, the water appearing at an awful depth below, vide Report for 1871-72. A.S.I. Vol.IV, pp.110-11; HMA-III, pp. 227-28, Fig. 42 for its plan and Fig. 43 for its section.
 For its full details, see R.Nath, HMA-III, 206-208, and Fig. 39 for plan.
(Historical and Epigraphic Clarification)
Professor R. Nath
We do not have any political ideology and absolutely NO political affiliation. We are simply concerned with History and historical truth. While parties to the (Ram-Janma-Bhumi) Ayodhya dispute are free to fight it out in the courts, we want just to highlight and uphold some basic historical facts which are being consistently distorted, misrepresented or plainly ignored. This is, essentially, a historical problem, related to a monument of 16th century A.D. as it is, and it is NOT possible to resolve it judiciously without considering these facts. Babur has been most unjustly dragged into this controversy and the historical facts stand squarely against his involvement.
(b). The Sultanate Legacy
When Maḥmūd of Ghaznin (999-1030 A.D.) departed from India, after Somnath (which he sacked in 1025 A.D.), he left here his nephew (sister’s son) Salar Mas’ud. He continued iconoclastic raids in the eastern region, until he was defeated and killed in 1033 A.D. at Bahraich (a small town situated about a hundred kms from Ayodhya) where he was buried. Was there a Ram-Janmasthan Temple at Ayodhya and, if it was, was it demolished by Salar Mas’ud who was unrelently perpetrating depredations in this region ? Similarly, Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351-88 A.D.) carried on demolition of temples in this region on a large scale. Kannauj, Jaunpur and Oudh (Avadh) were ravaged. Jaunpur was founded by him on the bank of the Gomti, practically on the ruins of a temple-town. Did he, or any Sharqi Sultan of Jaunpur after him, not visit Ayodhya ? In fact, there is no specific record to show that the temples of Ayodhya were, or were not, demolished during the Sultanate period (c. 1192-1526 A.D.).
(c). Babur’s Campaigns in the East (1528-1529)
This story begins with Babur (Central Asia 1483-1504; Afghanistan 1505-1525; and Hindustan 1526-1530 A.D.) (Vide the Babur-Namah (Memoirs of Babur) (tr. from Turki into English by A.S.Beveridge) 2 vols. n one (New Delhi reprint 1970). (abb.BN). who is accused of demolishing the Ram-Janmasthan Temple of Ayodhya and raising, in its place, a mosque which has become famous as ‘Baburi-Masjid’. Neither warranted by history nor by circumstances, this is absolutely wrong and an altogether unjust accusation. He conducted his First Campaign in the East (Poorab, the eastern regions) to chastise the recalcitrant Afghans led by Biban, Bayazid and Ma’ruf, from 2nd February to 2nd April 1528(Ibid, 598-602.). From Kannauj (27 Feb 1528), he crossed the Ganges and went to Laknau (21 March 1528), crossed the Gomti, and stayed at a place on the confluence of the rivers Sharda and Ghaghra, upstream and far away from Ayodhya, for five days from 28 March to 2 April 1528 (see Map, Figure-1). He conducted the Second Campaign against them from 20 January 1529 to 21 June 1529 (Ibid, 649-686.). But he never went to Ayodhya and he was never engaged in any iconoclastic act.
It was a life-and-death struggle against the Afghans. His general Mir Baqi Beg Tashkindi, posted at Aud (Ayodhya), was constantly busy fighting the Afghans. He had NO TIME, CAUSE, OCCASION, RESOURCES or NEED to demolish such a revered Temple of the Hindus as the Ram-Janmasthan, build a mosque on it site and buy the hostility of the Hindu masses, particularly :
(1). the Hindu kahars (porters; manual labourers employed by the Mughal army for carrying guns, baggage and military equipment;
(2). the Hindu mallahs (sailors,boatmen) who ferried the Mughal army by the river and on whom Babur’s manoeuvres and movements were dependent, the river-way being much shorter, safer and faster; and
(3). the Hindu banjaras (grain and fodder suppliers) who brought essential supplies to the army.
The Mughals were entirely dependent on their support, cooperation and goodwill, and they were sustaining them against the Afghans. Only a mad military general would have antagonized the masses by demolishing their sacred Temple in such a dangerous situation as this and, besides there being no historical record, the circumstantial evidence too is against the accusation that Babur or his general Mir Baqi Beg demolished the Ram-Janmasthan Temple and raised a mosque in its place. There is absolutely no record to show Babur’s involvement in this matter except a Persian inscription, authenticity whereof shall be examined, precisely, hereinafter.
(d). Babur was not an Iconoclast
Babur never demolished any temple anywhere in India. For example, he visited Gwalior Fort (26 September 1528 to 30 September 1528) and noticed, in his Memoirs (viz. the Babur-Namah, BN) : “a sculptured image of an elephant with two riders,”(Ibid, 609) and its temples, with admiration. Thus he noted:
“(29 September 1528) We rode from the flower-garden (bagcha) of Rahimdad to visit the idol-houses (but-khanah, temples) of Gwalior (Fort), some are two, and some are three storeys high, each storey being rather low, in the ancient fashion. On their stone plinths
(izara) are sculptured images. Some temples, college fashion, have a portico, large high cupolas (chhatris or sikharas) and madrasas-like cells, each topped (surmounted) by a slender stone cupola (kalash or pinnacle). In the lower cells are idols carved in the rock. After enjoying the sight of these buildings (‘imaratlar), we left the Fort by the south gate.”(Ibid, 613)
He admired their buildings and enjoyed this visit, and he did not destroy these tmples.
In the Urwahi Valley of the Gwalior Fort, he saw nude statues of Jaina tirthankaras, carved in rock, and he noted in his Memoirs :
“These idols are shewn quite naked (nude) without covering for the privities … The idols are its defect; I, for my part, ordered them destroyed”.(Ibid, 611-12)
These were nude and indecent, and this was his complaint, and it was owing to their nudeness that he ordered them to the mutilated. It is noteworthy that whole sculptures were not destroyed, only their heads and falii were broken. Had he been an iconoclast, he would not have spared the stone elephant, the Jaina sculptures and the temples of the Gwalior Fort, in complete command of the situation as he was.
Babur’s Testament (Secret Will) may also be referred to in this connection.(For full details of this Testament, reference may be made to this author’s Studies in Medieval Indian Architecture (M.D, New Delhi 1995) 137-144.) He addressed it to his son and heir-apparent Humayun, on 1 Jamadi’al-Awwal 935 A.H./11 January 1529 when he was staying at his rock-cut Bagh-i-Nilufar (the Lotus Garden) at Dholpur (near Agra). A facsimile copy of this WILL which is written in Persian is given herewith (Fig.2). It bears Babur’s Seal and reads :
“ All praise be to Allah. Secret Will of Zahir’al-Din Muhammad Babur to his son Prince Nasir’al-Din Muhammad Humayun. May God prolong his life. Written for the strengthening of the Empire. O my son, the Empire of Hindustan consists of various religions. Domination and sovereignty whereof has been bestowed on you by the grace of the Almighty. It is incumbent that religious bigotries should be wiped off the tablet of the heart, and justice meted out to each religion according to its own tenets. Specially, abstain from sacrifice of cows as this would tend to win the hearts of the people of Hindustan and the populace of the country would be loyal to the Royal favours. The Temples and places of worship of whatever religion (manadir-va-m’abadgah-har qaum) under the Royal authority may not be desecrated. Such justice may be adopted that the King may be pleased with the Rayyat (subjects) and the Rayyat with the King. The advancement of Islam is better achieved with the weapon of obligation rather than with the sword of tyranny. Overlook the dispute between Sunnis and Shi’ahs since such weakness still persists in Islam. Establish administration with the Rayyat of various communities in accordance with the four principal elements so that the body of the empire may be free from different diseases. The model work done by his Late Majesty Timur (Tamerlane) ‘Sahib-Qiran’ should always be kept before the mind so that you may become mature in the work of administration. (Written) on 1 Jamadi’al-Awwal 935 h” (11 January 1529).
Thus did Babur lay down the policy for the governance of this country of overwhelming non-believers, for the guidance of his successors. He warned them not to meddle in the religious affairs of the people and to leave them free to practice their religion in accordance with their own faiths and beliefs. He warned, specifically, against demolition of temples or any other iconoclastic measure in the name of Islam, and he classed it under tyranny. He advised his son to give up religious bigotry and live with his subjects with total rapport, in the best spirit of peaceful co-existence, toleration and non-interference in their religious matters. The author of this historical document could NOT have demolished any temple in normal times, least the Temple of Ram-Janmasthan at Ayodhaya in such a precarious situation.
(e). Suppression of the 1717 Reference
It is strange that the Ayodhya mosque and its inscription was not there when Sawai Raja Jaisingh-II of Amer-Jaipur (1699-1743) purchased the land of the Ramkot at Ayodhya in 1717 A.D. (ten years after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707), built a Temple of Ram and established here a ‘Jaisinghpura’(Ibid, 149-153), as he did in other strategically important cities of the Mughal Empire such as Kabul, Peshawar, Multan, Lahore, Delhi, Agra, Patna, Burhanpur, Aurangabad and Ellichpur; and, specifically, in such temple-towns and centres of pilgrimage as Mathura-Vrindaban, Kashi-Banares, Prayag-Allahabad and Ujjain, where temples had been demolished by Aurangzeb’s officers (subsequent to his Black Decree of 8 April 1669 A.D.) and mosques had been built on their sites. There ARE several archival documents, viz. chaknamas (orders of jagir grants) and maps, preserved in the Kapad-Dwar Collection of SMS-II City Palace Museum Jaipur(These have been published in two volumes : Catalogue of Historical Documents in Kapad Dwar Jaipur (Jaipur 1988) and Catalogue of Historical Documents in Kapad Dwar Jaipur (Jaipur 1990) (Maps and Plans) (both ed. By G.N. Bahura and C.M. Singh), in evidence of this deed. Unfortunately, these vital documents have not so far been studied in this connection.
(f). Thornton’s Gazetteer (1854)
A mosque and its inscription, attributing its construction to Babur, was noticed, for the FIRST time, in 1854 in Thornton’s Gazetteer of the East India Company. It mentioned a Hanumangarh where no musalman was allowed. There also is an extremely interesting and useful reference :
(Oude) “Close to the town on the east, and on the right bank of the Ghogra (river Ghaghra-Sarayu), are extensive ruins said to be those of the fort of Rama, King of Oude, hero of Ramayana… the ruins still bear the name Ramgarh or ‘Fort of Rama’…. an inscription on the wall of the mosque attributing the work to the conqueror Babur ……..the mosque is embellished with fourteen columns of only five or six feet in height, but of very elaborate and tasteful workmanship, said to have been taken from ruins of the Hindu fanes (temples)”.(A Gazetteer of the Territories under the Government of The East India Company by E.Thornton (1854) (first published in 1858 , New Delhi reprint 1993) p.739.)
This gazetteer recorded what was actually there, without any distortion. This recorded the existence of Babur’s inscription (ONE only) in an old dilapidated mosque which was no longer in use, in the ruins of a fort, in no way related to Ram-Janmasthan.
(g). Cunningham (1862-65)
Curiously, Alexander Cunningham, father of Indian Archaeology, noticed, when he surveyed the area in 1862-65, that
“Ramkot or Hanuman-Garhi, on the east side of the city, is a small walled Fort surrounding a modern temple on the top of an ancient mound.”(S.I. Four Reports (1962-65) by Alexander Cunningham Vol.1 p.322.)
But he found no mosque there, not the Ram-Janmasthan Temple which was situated, as he noted, near the Lakshamn Ghat “about one quarter of a mile distant in the very heart of the city.”(Ibid, 322). This reference of such competent and truthful archaeologist as Cunningham has to be reconciled with its later references.
(h). Fuhrer’s Two Inscriptions (1889)
It was in 1889 that A. Fuhrer, an eminent archaeologist and Epigraphist found here a mosque with TWO Persian inscriptions which he placed on record for the FIRST time.(Fuhrer, The Sharqi Architecture of Jaunpur (Calcutta 1889) (abb.SAJ) 67-68. He also discussed these findings in : The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh (Alllahbad 1891) 297-299.). One, of six lines, was on the pulpit (mimbar) in the interior of the mosque.
It read as follows(SAJ, 67). :-
“As desired by Babur, the King of the world, this firmament-like and lofty building with strong foundations was built by the pious noble Mir Khan. May ever remain such a foundation and such a king of the world and the age.”
It had no ‘Kalma’, or ‘Bismillah’, and it did not mention ‘Allah’ or ‘Muhammad’. It had no date and it did not mention any place. Babur was mentioned without epithets just as ‘Babur’ : “ba-mansai’- Babur” (as desired by Babur) and Mir Baqi Beg Tashkindi only as ‘Mir Khan’ who was recorded to have raised this building. Most important is the fact that it did not mention a ‘masjid’ but only a ‘khanah’ (house):
(built this house with strong foundations).
It does not appear to be an Imperial Mughal epigraph by any stretch of imagination. That it originally belonged to a mosque is also doubtful. If it did, where was this mosque situated?
The second inscription of 10 lines was there above the central arch, on the exterior of the mosque, which was, customarily, the proper place for its display.
It read as follows(Ibid, 67-68) :-
Line. (1). In the name of Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate.
(2). In the name of him who…..
May God perpetually keep him in the world.
(4). Such a sovereign who is famous in the world, and personified delight in the world.
(5). One of his grandees who is another King of Turkey and China,
(6). And during his reign, built this, in the auspicious year ninehundred and thirty after Hijrat.
(7). O God, the parasol, throne and life of the King may always remain.
(8). May Babur always scatter the flowers of happiness may he ever be successful.
(9). The founder of this Fort and Masjid was the counselor and minister of the State and the
(10). These verses giving the date and eulogy of the masjid were written by the lazy and poor
Fatehullah Ghori, the clerk.
A few characters of the second line and the whole third line were completely defaced. Though it eulogized the builder (viz. Mir Baqi Beg), it did not mention his name. ‘Babur’ was mentioned without full form or his epithets. The date was given only in words : “ninehundred and thirty” (A.H.930), equivalent to 1523 A.D. which is confusing. There could be an error in figures, but not in words. If only one word of this inscription, i.e. ‘Babur’, is removed from it, it can very well be identified as an epigraph of Ibrahim Lodi (1517-1526) and, as no place was mentioned, it might have belonged to any mosque of the Lodi Kingdom. It did not refer to demolition of any temple. It mentioned a ‘hisar’ (fort) and ‘masjid’ (mosque):
which shows that the mosque and the fort were built together and, obviously, the mosque was built in the fort. Fuhrer also noticed the temple columns which were used in the construction of this mosque. It is noteworthy that Fuhrer’s was the FIRST archaeological record (1889) of the Ayodhya mosque.
(i). Beveridge’s two different Inscriptions (1921-22)
After Fuhrer, A.S.Beveridge noticed the inscriptions of this mosque in her translation of Babur’s Memoirs, viz. the Babur-Namah, in the years 1921-22(BN, Appendix-U, pp lxxvii-lxxix.). She recorded a three-line and three-couplet inscription existing inside the mosque :
It read as follows(Ibid, p. lxxvi) :-
(1). By the command of King Babur whose justice is an edifice reaching up to the very height of the Heavens,
(2). The pious noble Mir Baqi built this alighting place of angels,
(3). May this good deed last for ever ! The year of its construction is said in (the chronogram) ‘Buwad-khair-Baqi’ (= 935/1528).
And a three-line and three-couplet inscription on its exterior :
It read as follows(Ibid, p.lxxviii):-
“In the name of one who is wise, great and creator of all the Universe.
(God is praised in the first couplet).
(1). He has no fixed abode, as he is omnipresent (and perhaps a mosque is meant to be his abode).
(2). After his praise, blessings be upon the Prophet who is the head of the prophets and best in the world. (The Prophet Muhammad is praised in the second couplet). He has his abode in both the worlds, in this world and in Paradise.
(3). But since Babur who resides in this world has become famous as ‘Qalandar’ (ascetic who is indifferent to all the worldly attachments), the world has achieved prosperity.”
The interior inscription gave the brief information that by the order of Babur, Mir Baqi built this ‘alighting place of angles’ (muhbit-i-qudsiyan) and also gave the date in the chronogram ‘Buwad-khair-Baqi’ (= A.H. 935/1528 A.D.). It did not mention ‘Allah’ or ‘Muhammad’ ; ‘Kalma’ or ‘Bismillah’; and, in fact, it did not mention it as ‘masjid’. No place or the exact location of the building and the inscription was alluded to, and it was also an incomplete and deficient epigraph. Most important is the fact that it was altogether different from the inscription recorded by Fuhrer in 1889 and it was a NEW inscription
The exterior inscription praised God in the first couplet; the Prophet in the second couplet; and Babur, who is called ‘Qalandar’ (ascetic), in the third couplet. This was also an altogether NEW inscription, quite different from the preceding three inscriptions. This was, in fact, more a Sufi poetry than a historical record, as it mentioned nothing: place, date, building, builder, or anything else, not even the purpose of this inscription. One wonders, why, at all, this Sufi eulogy should have been inscribed in a mosque ? The question: how is it that the two inscriptions recorded in 1921-22 were quite different from those recorded in 1889, has yet to be answered ?
(j). Demolition in 1934
An extremely important link of this matter has also been ignored. It is an Urdu inscription(It was published in the Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I.) (Government of India) Epigraphical Journal, Epigraphia-Indica (Arabic and Persian Supplement (abb.EIAPS) (1965) p.59. Though an extremely important epigraphic record, it was relegated to a footnote.) recording that, on 27 March 1934, “ a riot broke out and the Hindu rioters, after demolishing the mosque, carried away the original epigraph (stone) which was (later) rebuilt by Tahawwur Khan Contractor excellently.”
Text of the Urdu Inscription(EIAPS (1965) p.59 ftn.1.)
This testifies that there was only ONE original inscription, which was carried away by the rioters in 1934 when the mosque was demolished:
The text of this original inscription, if it was, was thus lost in 1934. How then the new inscription was written ?
(k). 1965 Concoction
Ziauddin Abdulhay Desai, the Government Epigraphist (GE) worked on this epigraphical data with extra interest and diligence. As discussed below, he prepared an excellent concoction of the two inscriptions of Fuhrer (1889) and two of Beveridge (1921-22), created THREE inscriptions out of these four, and published them, in an article entitled: ‘Inscriptions of Emperor Babur’ in the Government Epigraphical Journal: Epigraphia Indica (Arabic and Persian Supplement) (1965)(Ibid, pp. 49-66) He noted, at the outset, that these inscriptions were studied by Maulvi Ashraf Husain before his (the latter’s) retirement in 1953 and he found a rough draft of his (the latter’s) article among sundry papers which he was publishing “after incorporation of fresh material and references and also extensive revision and editing.”(Ibid, p.49) For all practical purposes, it is Desai’s article. But, cleverly or magnanimously, he published it under the late Maulvi Asharaf Husain’s name ! These were altogether NEW and modern inscriptions and all this was his WORKMANSHIP.
Besides the “religious texts such as the Kalma”, carved on the central mihrab, The GE noticed three inscriptions in the mosque(Ibid, p.58) (in 1965) : one on the eastern façade, a Quranic text (Chapter- CXII) below the chhajja and “above it, an inscription in Persian verse”; one Persian inscription in verse on the southern face of pulpit and another on its right hand side. He noted that the two lost inscriptions had disapperared, presumably in the riot of 1934. But when one was restored, after it, why the two others were not restored? According to Fuhrer (1889) and Beveridge (1921-22) both, there was ONLY O N E inscription inside the mosque. How, and on whose authority, the GE claimed that there were two inscriptions inside it ?
The GE noted : “Luckily, I managed to secure an inked rubbing of one of them from Sayyid Badru’l-Hassan of Fyzabad.”(Ibid, p.59.) So, he was the GE’s authority and the GE accepted an ink-rubbing as a true copy and evidence of an allegedly lost inscription. Why the Sayyid had made the ink-rubbling, and did he know that the inscription would be lost and its record must therefore be made ? Has it happened anywhere else ??
Most importantly, how did the GE ascertain the locus of this ink-inscription, that it belonged to this place, and not to some other one ?
The GE also did not question the authenticity and veracity of the main inscription on the façade which was restored after the riot of 1934, he only discounted it in a very guarded language that it was” lightly different from the original, owing perhaps to the incompetence of the restorers in deciphering it properly.”(Ibid, p.59.) But when the original had been lost, how the GE knew what was the original ?
Surprisingly, the GE also rejected the earlier readings of the inscriptions of this mosque by Fuhrer (1889) and Beveridge (1921-22) which, in his view, were “incomplete, inaccurate and different from the text.” How he could say that ? Fuhrer, a competent archaeologist by profession, recorded what he found in-situ in 1889. How the GE could question the accuracy, fullness and exactitude of this record ?
Thus the official epigraphist of the Government of India, studied, in this article, not only the new inscription which was made and placed there after the riot of 1934, but also two other inscriptions which were not there. Who bungled them : the Sayyid or the GE, has yet to be examined. In any case, the GE was inordinately interested in the epigraphic data of this mosque which branded it as ‘Babur’s Mosque’.
The first inscription which he studied was inscribed, as he noted, on a slab of stone about 68X48 cm “which was built up into the southern side of the pulpit of the mosque but is now lost.”(Ibid, p.59.) He reproduced it from the ink record of Sayyid Badru’l-Hasan of Fyzabad. “Its three line text consisted of six verses in Persian, inscribed in ordinary Naskh characters within floral borders.”(Ibid,) The GE’s text reads as follows(Ibid):
Ayodhya Inscription No.5
(1). By the command of King Babur whose Justice is an edifice reaching up to the very height of the Heavens,
(2). The pious noble Mir Baqi built this alighting place of the angels.
(3). May this good deed last for ever ! The year of its construction is said in (the chronogram) : ‘Buwad-khair-Baqi’ (=935/1528).”
Except for minor differences of prepositions, this inscription is identical with Ayodhya Inscription No.3, studied above, recorded by Beveridge. Fuhrer recorded an altogether different inscription in the interior of the mosque, which is very intriguing. In itself, this inscription of the GE too is deficient and incomplete inasmuch as it does not mention ‘Allah’, ‘Muhammad’, ‘Kalma’, or ‘Bismillah’. No place has been mentioned and the word ‘masjid’, used customarily in such inscriptions, is also not there. Babur’s full name and epithets have also not been given. One wonders when a full inscription, with all details, was planned to be used on the façade, why this fragmentary inscription was used in the interior ? It may be reiterated that this duplication of epigraphic record has not happened anywhere else.
As it appears most likely, the GE borrowed its text from Beveridge and reproduced it, with minor changes, as he did with his second inscription of the interior, which he borrowed from Fuhrer as he acknowledged :
“The second inscription on the mosque, also in Persian verse, consisted of three couplets arranged in six lines. The epigraphical tablet, which was built up into the right hand side wall of the pulpit, does not exist now, and, therefore, the text of the inscription is quoted from Fuhrer’s work.”(Ibid, 60)
Ayodhya Inscription No.6
Except for minor changes of prepositions, the GE fully reproduced Fuhrer’s inscription, studied above under Ayodhya Inscription No.1, which may be referred to for its translation and commentary.
The third inscription “comprising a fragment of eight Persian verses of mediocre quality and a colophon” was there above the central arch of the façade, carved on a slab which measured 2m by 55cm. The GE’s comment that “the four line text is executed in fairly good Naskh characters in relief, amidst floral borders…. the text is fairly well preserved, and Fuhrer must have been misinformed to affirm that ‘a few characters of the second and the whole third lines are completely defaced”(Ibid, 60)
is misconceived. What the GE saw there (in 1965) was a new inscription which was made and placed there after the riot of 1934, while Fuhrer studied the original one, and the GE unjustly questioned the competence, professional skill and sincerity of such a classical archaeologist as A. Fuhrer.
The GE noted that
“the purport of the record is the same as that of the previous epigraphs, but here an additional edifice is also mentioned: in verse six, in line three, a fort-wall (hisar) is said to have been built along with the mosque in A.H. 935 (1528-29 A.D.), by Mir Baqi, who is here called the second Asaf and councilor of the state.”
‘Hisar’ denotes ‘fortress’, ‘castle’ or ‘citadel’, not only a fort wall. In any case, it was a duplicate inscription and the GE did not examine that this had happened only in this mosque and nowhere else.
As recorded by the GE, the inscription reads as follows(Ibid, 60-61) :
Ayodhya Inscription No.7
“In the name of Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate.
(1). In the name of one who is wise, great and creator of all the Universe. He has no fixed abode, as he is omnipresent.
(2). After His praise, blessings be upon the Prophet who is the head of the prophets and best in the world. He has his abode in both the worlds, in this world and in Paradise.
(3). But since Babur, who resides in this world, has become famous as ‘Qalandar’ (or ascetic who is indifferent to all wordly attachments), the world has achieved prosperity.
(4). He is the king who has conquered all the seven climes of the world in the manner of the sky.
(5). There was, in his court, a distinguished noble whose name is Mir Baqi and who is a second Asif (in wisdom).
(6). He is councilor of the kingdom and administrator of the government of the country. He built this fortress and mosque.
(7). O God, may he (Babur) live for ever in this world, with (Royal) parasol, throne, fortune and life.
(8). The auspicious date of the construction (of this fortness and mosque) is ninehundred thirty and five (935/1528).
This praise of God, of the Prophet and the King is completed by His grace. Written by the weak writer and humble Fatehullah Muhammad Ghori.”
A comparative study of this inscriptional record of the GE (1965), and earlier records of Fuhrer (1889) and Beveridge (1921-22) surprinsingly shows, as follows, that the GE had borrowed it entirely, couplet by couplet, from them, and there was nothing new :
The GE’s Inscription
(Ayodhya Ins. No.2)
(Ayodhya Ins. No.4)
(1). Couplet No.1
: It had been partially recorded by him, Couplet No.1.
: She quoted it in full, Couplet No.1
(2). Couplets No.2-3
: He noted that these were defaced. However, his Couplet No.7 is similar to the GE’s Couplet No.3.
: She quoted them in full, Couplets Nos. 2-3.
(3). Couplet No.4
: He recorded it in a corrupt form in Couplet No.3.
(4). Couplet No.5
: He recorded it a bit differently in Couplet No.4.
(5). Couplet No.6
: He recorded it in exactly the same form in Couplet No.8.
(6). Couplet No.7
: He recorded it almost similarly in Couplet No.6
(7). Couplet No.8
: He recorded it in Couplet No.5.
The GE’s colophon also tallies, more or less and in essence, with that of Fuhrer.
Thus, the GE’s three inscriptions (1965) of the Ayodhya mosque, studied above under Ayodhya Inscriptions Nos.5, 6 and 7 are duplicates of earlier inscriptions of Fuhrer (1889) and Beveridge (1921-22) studied above under Ayodhya Inscriptions Nos.3.1, 4 and 2 respectively (i.e. No.5 of No.3; No.6 of No.1; and No.7 of Nos.4 and 2). He has mixed up and rewritten them very cleverly and, instead of being evidence of any new historical information, they are evidence of his epigraphic workmanship. For all practical purpose, the GE’s record of these inscriptions is fake and concocted, and useless except for reference. No mosque has three inscriptions of the same purport, as it is here, and it appears to be classic case of bungling by some one interested zealously in branding this mosque as ‘Baburi-Masjid’.
Consequently, only four inscriptions, two recorded by Fuhrer in 1889(Ayodhya Inscriptions No. 1 and 2) and two by Beveridge in 1921-22(Ayodhya Inscriptions No.3 and 4) are archaeologically and historically useful. Fuhrer’s second inscription (Ayodhya Inscription No.2) was partially defaced and illegible. Beveridge also noticed that (in her second inscription, Ayodhya Inscription No.4) “the fourth couplet in the fourth line was not legible,” as studied above. These inscriptions were fragmentary. More important, however, is the fact that three out of these four inscriptions are deficient and incomplete inasmuch as :
- they do not mention ‘Allah’, ‘Muhammad’, ‘Kalma’, or Bismillah as invocation, only Ayodhya Inscription No.4 has praises of God and the prophet in the form of sufistic eulogy ;
- they do not mention any place (locus or provenance) where these epigraphs were originally meant to be used and there is absolutely no indication of any town, fort or locality. Their epigraph-stones could have been used anywhere.
- They do not specifically mention the construction of a ‘masjid’ : Ayodhya Inscription NO.1 records the construction of a ‘khanah-paydar’ (building or house with strong foundations) ; Ayodhya Inscription No.3 mentions ‘muhbit-i-qudsiyan’ (alighting place of angels), while Ayodhya Inscription No.4 does not record any construction ;
- There is no mention at all of demolition of any existing temple and construction of masjid on its site :
- Two of these inscriptions (Nos.1 and 4) have no date: in Ayodhya Inscription No.3, date is given in the chronogram : ‘Buwad-khair-Baqi’ :
- Babur’s name has been mentioned in an abbreviated form as ‘Babur-Khadiv’, ‘Shah-Babur’ and ‘Babur-Qalandar’, without royal epithets in these three inscriptions (Nos.1, 3 and 4); and Mir Baqi Beg as ‘Mir-Baqi’, in the first two of them, while the third one does not mention him.
Only the second inscription recorded by Fuhrer in 1889 (Ayodhya Inscription No.2) appears to be original and authentic ; it is comparatively fuller and more useful, as a historical record. But it also does not mention the place where it was originally meant to be used, nor the name of the builder of the fort and the masjid which it mentions. It gives a wrong date, in words, viz. ninehundred thirty (A.H. 930/1523 A.D.). Fuhrer noted that it was partially defaced. It was mutilated too, otherwise a wrong date, in words, could not have been given. Quite obviously, the words : ‘va panj’ have peeled off from the epigraph-stone and originally it was : ‘neh sad si va panj’ (ninehundred and thirtyfive, A.H. 935/1528 A.D.).
However, it gives the vital information that a fortress (hisar) and a mosque (masjid) were built together :
“Kaz-in masjid hisar-e hastbani”.
As it appears, ‘va’ (‘wav’ meaning ‘and’) was there originally between ‘masjid’ and ‘hisar’, recording that the mosque and the fortress were built, or rebuilt and restored together. This letter ‘wav’ also peeled off, like ‘va panj’. In any case, the mosque of this inscription was situated in a fortress, and if we can identify this fortress, we can establish the locus of the mosque and the inscription.
There are several ancient mounds or hills (tilas) in and around Ayodhya.(These were noticed by Alexander Cunningham S.I. four Reports (for the years 1862-65) vol.I, 322-327). These were called ‘parbat’ (lit. ‘pahad’ ; hills or mountains), e.g. Mani-Parbat, Kuber-Parbat and Sugrive-Parbat. Small fortress were built on some of them, e.g. Ram-Kot, Hanuman-Gardhi and Patishahi-Kila (the Imperial Fort). Can Ram-Kot be identified as the fortress (hisar) mentioned in this inscription ?
It is an ancient site and it was already there, presumably, with the temple connected with the legend of Ram. As everywhere else, Aurangzeb must have demolished it. In whatever form it was, the temple was built or rebuilt and restored by Sawai Raja Jaisingh-II Kachhwaha between 1717 and 1725. Archival documents, cited above, irrefutably testify that a Ram-Janamsthan-Temple was there, and in worship, practically from 1725 to at least 1820, and there was no mosque and no inscription of Babur in the Ram-Kot. Then, where was this inscription placed during this period ?
(l). Unanswered Questions
A few basic questions have yet to be answered :
Why there was duplication and triplication of inscriptions of this mosque, new inscriptions with different contents appearing successively ? Has it happened anywhere else ?
Is this conflicting Epigraphic data, being what it is, historically authentic and reliable for writing history ?
Was any attempt ever made, at any stage, to trace, identify and establish the ‘provenance’ and ‘locus’ (original place) of these inscriptions, which is the fundamental principle of the discipline of Epigraphy ?
These questions have to be answered and as long as these questions remain unanswered, this problem cannot be resolved, and it will continue to haunt the country menacingly.
In other words, no attempt has been made to co-relate these inscriptions with the building where they were reported to have been found, to decide whether they originally and really belonged to it. This is absolutely necessary in Babur’s case as his mosque-inscriptions, for example, at Sambhal, Pilkhuwa, Sonepat, Maham and Rohtak (see Map, Fig.3), have been misplaced and misinterpreted.
(m). Babur’s other mosques and their confusing Epigraphic Data(For full details whereof this author’s paper: ‘Mosques of Babur’s Reign and Their Curious Epigraphic Data’ (1526-1530) (excluding the Ayodhya Mosque) published in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society (the Historicus) Karachi, Vol.LVI No.4 (Oct-Dec 2008) 7-38 and 8 Persian texts of inscriptions, may be referred to.)
The so-called Babur’s mosque as Sambhal (U.P.) was originally a temple. A mosque had already been built on the temple-site with temple-pillars, during the Sultanate period. This converted building was standing when Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat on 20 April 1526. He dispatched his generals to take possession of important towns and forts of the Afghans. Hindu Beg captured Sambhal on his behalf in May 1526 and defeated the Afghans of the area decisively in August 1526. As it appears, the Sambhal mosque had some pre-Babur inscriptions which proclaimed Afghan sovereignty. People of the town flocked to the Jami’Masjid for Friday prayers and these inscriptions were as important as was the khutbah (Friday sermon). It was an essential need of the polity to negate Afghan sovereignty theoretically, and Hindu Beg removed earlier inscriptions, placed there a new inscription dated 1 Rabi’l-Awwal 933 A.H./6 December 1526, and proclaimed Babur’s sovereignty in the region. He could not have built such a large mosque anew, in just four months’ time, while he was constantly engaged in a bitter fight against the Afghans.
The inscription of the Jami’ Masjid of Pilkhuwa (U.P.) records that it was built by Sheikh Ghuran, one of the prominent Afghan nobles of Babur, in the reign of Babur in 935/1528-29. It is in the preceding architectural style. Practically, Babur had nothing to do with its construction, and he had no occasion even to visit it.
Amazing, the Shaikhzadon-ki-Masjid at Sonepat (Haryana) bears a Persian inscription which records construction of a Tomb and its completion on 25 September 1530, during the reign of Babur : “dar-‘ahd-Babur-Badshah”. The authorship of the mosque cannot be ascribed to Babur on the basis of this inscription which belonged to a tomb. Nor can this mosque be placed during the reign of Babur on its basis, it can very well be earlier.
Pirzade-ki-Masjid at Maham (Haryana) has an inscription which records its construction during the reign of Babur by a noble just to proclaim his kingship, on 5th Rabi’al-Awwal 936 A.H./7 November 1529 A.D. It is also in the prevalent architectural style. Babur had practically nothing to do with it, except that he had instructed his nobles, including his Afghan allies, to build mosques and place inscriptions in them proclaiming his kingship, replacing that of the Afghans. It was as much a political measure as was the reading of the ‘khutbah’ in all the principal towns of the Empire.
There are two mosques at Rohtak (Haryana), inscriptions whereof mention Babur. One, Masjid-i-Khurd (the Small Mosque), in the Fort, has two inscriptions. One, dated in A.H. 724/1324 A.D. records its construction by Tughluq Shah (Ghiyath’al-Din Tughluq, 1320-25). This shows that the mosques was already standing when Babur conquered this region. The second inscription dated in 934/1527-28 was placed in this mosque later, just to proclaim Babur’s sovereignly. The first epigraph testifies, unequivocally, that the mosque was not built during Babur’s reign. The other mosque, viz. Rajputon-ki-Masjid bears an inscription, dated on 10 Rabi’al-Akhir 934/3 January 1528, also originally belonged to the TOMB of and Afghan noble Firuz Khan. The inscription is not in-situ and does not belong to this mosque, which has no other epigraphic record. This is another example of Babur’s reign (1526-30) where an inscription (of a tomb) is misplaced (in a mosque) and epigraphy is not related to architecture. The mosque may not belong to the reign of Babur, and it may be earlier or later.
(n). The EPILOGUE
This might have also happened at Ayodhya. Mir Baqi Beg seems to have reoccupied and repaired a ruined fortress outside the city ; restored its mosque ; and placed Babur’s inscription in it, to proclaim his kingship similarly. It could have been the present ‘Patishahi-Kila’ (Qal’a-i-Padshahi) (the Imperical Fort), and it was this inscription which was later removed, used and re-used at the Ram-Janamsthan site. There may be similar hypotheses. But, in any case, Babur CAN NOT be accused of demolishing a temple and building a mosque on its site. It must be kept in mind that it was not an early 16th century Mughal building which was demolished on 6 December 1992, it was a modern structure, built with old material, after 1934. Nor was there any original Mughal inscription.
It is amazing that the pseudo-scholars, who have also jumped into the fray, are working on such absurd premises as the one that a building cannot be a mosque without a ‘minar’. It is also no wisdom to ignore the vast historical data of about a millennium (from 1000 to 1965 A.D.), available on and above the ground, and opt to excavate and go below it to find elusive archaeological evidence to prove a point which is hardly more relevant than the Persian inscriptions.
We are a civilized people governed by the Rule of Law. HISTORY is our national memory ; it is our identity, personality and individuality, and we cannot do to it what the Taliban did to the Bamiyan Buddhas. History must be prevented from going the politics-way. Authenticity of history must be upheld and our historical personages must be protected from wild accusations and outrages. Babur had nothing to do with the Ayodhya temple or mosque, and he must be exonerated.
– Professor (Dr) R. Nath-
IGNORANCE AND BIAS
MAKE NO TOOLS OF HISTORY*
James Fergusson (1808-1886 A.D.), the pioneer scholar of Indian Architecture, toured India extensively between 1835 and 1845, and studied it in-situ, when travel was hazardous, means of conveyance were primitive and historical sites were practically inaccessible. It was he who initiated this discipline, and laid foundation of this study, in the right earnest and the correct perspective, around the middle of the 19th century A.D. when overall emphasis was being given to the study of Greek, Roman and medieval European architectural styles. Colonization of India was almost complete and the cultural invasion from Europe (especially England) was in full swing and, in the name of, and on the pretext of, introducing ‘civilization’, and modernization, Indian culture and arts were sought to be submerged under this deluge, leading to the country’s ‘INTELLECTUAL ENSLAVEMENT’.
It was at this critical juncture and, of course, during the British East India Company’s regime, that Fergusson stood alone, like a light house, and pleaded:
“….architecture in India is still a living art…. And there alone the student of architecture has a chance of seeing the real principles of art in action….for certain qualities the Indian buildings are unrivalled.”
(vide History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, ed. James Burgess, Delhi reprint 1967, Vol. I, Introduction, pp.5-6).
He had written several works on the technical aspect of Architecture and he was fully acquainted with ‘load’, ‘thrust’, ‘stress’, ‘spanning’, ‘monotony’ and other architectural problems. He laid down such novel maxims as the one: “It is almost as difficult to build a dome that will fall, as it is to build a vault that will stand” (ibid, II.276). He also had a thorough knowledge of the cultural melieu which produced it. With his study of ‘True Principles of Beauty in Art, more especially with reference to Architecture’, he had also mastered its aesthetics and he was fully equipped to be an art-historian of this discipline.
* It was published, in original form, as Review Article in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society (the Historicus) Karachi Vol. LVIII-1 (Jan-March 2010) 73-84. It has since been revised, enlarged and updated.
He was objective, and sincere and honest to the ‘data’ and ‘interpretation’, and he was not the least biased against the people who had just been vanquished and subjugated; and he refused to be led by oblique views and ideas of the colonial authors who despised the Indians and condemned them as ‘semi-savage people’. He studied their architecture professionally, with positive understanding, sympathetic feeling and admiration: thus he noted:
“They long ago found out that it is not temples or palaces alone that are capable of such display, but that everything which man makes may become beautiful, provided the hand of taste be guided by sound judgement, and that the architect never forgets what the object is, and never conceals the constructive exigencies of the building itself. It is simply this inherent taste and love of beauty which the Hindus (read, Indians) seem always to have possessed, directed by unaffected honesty of purpose, which enables them to erect, even at the present day, buildings that will bear comparison with the best of those erected in Europe during the middle ages….No one who has personally visited the objects of interest with which India abounds can fail to be struck with the extraordinary elegance of detail and propriety of design which pervades all the architectural achievements of the Hindus (read, Indians); and this not only in buildings erected in former days, but (also) in those now in course of construction in those parts of the country to which the bad taste of their European rulers has not yet penetrated” (ibid, II.184-185).
Such a thorough scholar as Fergusson, who authored more than a dozen classics on this subject, never questioned the originality of Indian Architecture (both ancient and medieval) and never deemed its features or forms as copies from Central Asia, Iran or Italy, as has been done, most unjustly and ignorantly, in the book entitled: Mughal Architecture: An Outline of its History and Development (1526-1858) by Ebba Koch (Prestel –Verlag, originally published at Munich, 1991). It has 160 pages (in 24×26 cm size): 7-9 Preface; 10-14 Introduction; 17-31 XXI (21) Colour Plates; 32-136 text and 162 illustrations (photographs and drawings); 137-142 glossary; 143-155 bibliography; and 156-160 Index.
The Book of Ignorance and Bias
(1) With the text covering 105 pages only, on which 162 illustrations (photographs and drawings) have also been printed, it is too small a book for such a vast subject as this which, according to her own chronology, extended to more than three centuries, covered a large geographical area of medieval India from Kabul to Bengal, and Kashmir to Burhanpur; and included nearly 400 notable buildings. Perhaps, aware of this limitation, she has honestly and bravely acknowledged:
“like my earlier book ‘Shah Jahan and Orpheus’,1 it is an entirely unplanned child (her Preface, p.7);
“More than the usual measure of explanation and apology”
was required: “for treating such a vast subject in so brief a way” (Preface, p.7).
If it was so, and she knew that it was so, why did she do it ? and to whose benefit ? Did she do this ‘unplanned child’ for her own pleasure, and for her own benefit, at the cost of the reader ? Did this not amount to cheating the subject, more than the reader, and can her advance APOLOGY undo the havoc she has done ? It is amazing that an author who also claims to be a scholar of this subject could have such a fragile conscience, and damage the subject knowingly and willingly ! In fact, it is too brief to give even an appraisal of the subject. It is not research, but a compilation of the data with excellent visuals: plates and figures which are undoubtedly of a superb quality, and which is the only strength of this otherwise ‘rapid-reading’ work. Squeezed ruthlessly into a few pages, it is an aerial survey of Mughal Architecture, rather than a ground study, and no justice has been done to the style; to its makers, both the patrons and the builders; or to the cultural milieu which produced it. Precisely, it misses more than it covers, and this study is fragmentary, incomplete and deficient.
(2). Thus, she referred to Babur’s mosque at Panipat and discussed its phase-of-transition only, without describing its magnificent northern gate and its inscriptions, its central pylon, its superstructure composed of a central dome and side cupolas, or its curious ornamentation by terracotta plaques, or other distinctive features of its architecture. What she calls ‘arch-netting’ is stalactite (muqarnas) which is universal feature of the Sultanate architecture of India, and it is hardly necessary to compare it with a 16th century building of Bukhara. It had been in usage and in practice in this region for almost three centuries.
(3). It is noteworthy that this stalactite was designed only on the plaster (of stucco) and gave the impression of a vault, but after it has peeled off (in the southern wing), the triangular brick corbelling of the skeleton has been exposed. The super-inbumbent load rests on the series of these pendentives horizontally, and it is not an arcuate feature and it is not vault. It is a pity that she could not notice or admire this ingenious device of phase-of-transition.
(4). Koch has not studied Babur’s Jal-Maḥal (Water-Palace) at Fatehpur Sikri which he described in his Memoirs and which has survived. In fact, she has wrongly identified and referred to it as Akbar’s Qush-Khānah (p.42) (?) (following Rizvi), and has also given its photograph under this wrong title on plate-17. Nor has she studied Babur’s gardens. viz. Bāgh-i-Gul Afshān, Bāgh-i-Zar Afshān and Bāgh-i-Hasht Bihisht at Agra and his rock-cut Bāgh-i-Nīlūfar at Dholpur, though she has just named the last two (pp.32-33). Obviously, the first two gardens are not known to her. The Bāgh-i-Gul Afshān was renovated by Jehangir (in 1619) and was renamed ‘Bāgh-i-Nūr Afshān’ and is, at present, known as ‘Rām-Bāgh’. Babur was temporarily buried in his ‘Bāgh-i-Zar Afshān’ at Agra and his coffin was transferred to Kabul only in 1539 after the debacle of Chausa. This ‘supurdgah’ is now called ‘Chauburj’. Koch’s statement that Babur “was not entombed in India” (p.34) is absolutely wrong, and betrays her poor knowledge of History2.
(5). It was Babur (1526-30) who, for the first time in India, associated garden with architecture integrally, with charming water-devices: tanks, canals and most important of them, cascades (chādar), by which water flowed down from one terrace to the other. It is a pity that this revolutionary contribution of this ‘Prince of Gardens’ has been completely blanked out by Koch, out of ignorance more than owing to lack of space.
(6). She defined Humayun’s Mosque at Kachhpura Agra (1530) as representing “Timurid strand” “by almost pure imports” and, in her view, it “shares its main features with the 16th century Namāzgāh mosque at Qarshi.” Humayun’s mosque was built within three years of Babur’s Mosque at Panipat, on a smaller scale, e.g. it has only five arches on the façade instead of seven of Babur’s mosque, and it has only two aisles in the wings instead of three of its predecessor, otherwise it follows its style in essentials: a dome on the nave, concealed by an īwān-pylon on its face, like the Begumpurī Masjid of Muḥammad bin Tughluq at Delhi (c.1343); side bays roofed by cupolas; and the construction in brick and plaster, and it is, in fact, a younger sister of the Panipat mosque. It belongs to the class of five-arched (Pañc̣amukhī) mosques, of late 15th and early 16th century A.D., of which Moth-kī-Masjid (1494) and Barā-Gumbad-Masjid (1494) are earlier examples. To connect it with the Qarshi mosque is a wishful thinking and subjective interpretation, which is not correct.
(7). The Subz-Burj and the Nīlā-Gumbad can not be placed in 1530s and 1540s stylistically, they are contemporaneous to the Tomb of Humayun (c.1558-1570) and belong to its age. The Baghdādī-Muthammanplan on the exterior, and the navagṛha (nine-house) plan (which she erroneously calls ‘hasht-bihisht’ = eight paradises) in the interior do not belong to the age of Humayun (1530-40) and the Surs (1540-55), but to the creative age of Akbar which began about 1560. Koch’s chronology is altogether wrong. But more surprising is her complete omission of the Qal’a-i-Kuhna Masjid built by Humayun in his Dīn-Panāh (Old Fort Delhi). Though she referred to the Sher-Mandal, as casually as she does, she did not study this marvellous mosque which is situated adjacent to it.3 Perhaps, she could not have explained the use of stone ‘INLAY’ in this mosque as early as that (c. 1533-40, 1555-65) which goes squarely against her fanciful theory of its introduction from Italy during the age of Humayun’s great-grandson Shah Jehan !
(8). A word must be said here about her frequent, in fact, too frequent use of the word ‘Timurid’. She has an obsession for this word which she uses throughout this work too often, not only as dynastic appellation, but also to denote various elements of Mughal Architecture; in fact, she has used it universally, in her text, in place of the word ‘Mughal’. This is absolutely wrong. This style was never so characteristically ‘Central Asian’. It was shaped by native artisans and native idioms of stone, such as stone arches, pillars, ceilings, brackets, chhajjās, jharokhās, chhatrīs and chhaparkhaṭs; stone jālīs on railings and screens; stone carving and stone mosaic and inlay as dominant schemes of surface decoration are its characteristic features which are not there in Central Asia to justify this branding. Its growth and development was essentially indigenous and it was NOT a Timurid art. It is noteworthy that she has not used the term ‘Timurid’ in the title of this book because a title like:
‘Timurid Architecture: An outline of its History and Development’
would have taken it to Central Asia, and it could not have been related to India, and the truth of this matter exactly lies in this point.
(9). The builders of the Tomb of Humayun at Delhi had already been studied by this author in his History of Mughal Architecture, Vol. I (New Delhi 1982)4 pp.244-248, and the view that ‘Mīrak Mīr Ghiyāth’, whom she writes wrongly as ‘Mīrak Sayyid Ghiyāth’ was its architect had been rejected, much before Koch got her information from Simon Digby on the authority of Badāonī. Badāonī mentioned Mīrak Mirzā Ghiāth’. It is not known why Koch changed it to ‘Mīrak Sayyid Ghiāth’. Babur mentioned him in his Memoirs (Bābur-Nāmah, Beveridge, p.642), in 1529, as ‘Mīrak, Mīr Ghiāth, Mīr Sang-tarāsh’, or the one who was incharge of stone-cutters working on his buildings at Agra and Dholpur, and it is absolutely wrong to brand him as the architect of such a novel building as the Tomb of Humayun. Can the composition of its superstructure with four chhatrīs on the corners of the dome, be ascribed to him, for example ?
(10). Akbar’s buildings in Agra Fort and at Fatehpur Sikri reflect his personality and it is not possible to know the former without knowing the latter. He liberally patronized the native artisans and granted them complete liberty to work on their own forms with their own techniques. It is a beam-and-post trabeated construction in red sandstone with which white marble has also been used wherever linear emphasis was needed. It is all stone-work. There are at least twenty types of flat (samatala, ḳsipta and utksipta) and ‘ladāo’ ceilings, including the ‘chaukhaṇḍīdār’ ceiling, supported on massive stone beams, the intermediary space being filled up by panels. Sometimes, slanting brackets have been used to support them. They look like vaults, but the superincumbent load in each case rests horizontally. Gorgeous bracket forms have been used with the chhajjās and jharokhās on the court facades.5 It is amazing that she could not notice these trabeated forms and she thought, at the height of her ‘Timurid’ enthusiasm, that these were all vaults and domes (p.55). All this is wrong and her long comment betrays her ignorance of the ingenious techniques of stone construction employed in Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
(11). Though she gave a photograph of the Panch-Maḥal of Fatehpur Sikri (pl.16 on p.41), she did not study it and she did not explain why was it so designed, what was its raison d’etre and whether it was used for Akbar’s Jharokhā-Darshan, as this author has established. More lamentable is her almost complete omission of the House of Unitary Pillar (Ekastambha-Prāsāda) of Fatehpur Sikri. She referred to it asDīwan-i-Khāṣ, absolutely irrelevantly, without knowing it, and alluded to its central capital casually. Why and for what purpose this grand mansion was raised in a central position in this complex, and what did it denote or symbolize ? Ebba Koch fully enjoyed her convenience and she has preferred to keep quiet. This raises the question: what was the rationale of her choice of buildings for study? Were the Vijaymandirgarh of Bayānā, Balyand Mosque of Bukhārā, ‘Alī Qāpū Isfahān, Nagīnā Maḥal of Khim-Lāsā, the central pavilion of Akbar’s Fort Ajmer, Ṭoḍarmal’s Bārahdarī Fatehpur Sikri, Shah Quli Khān’s Palace Narnaul, Afsarwālā Mosque and Tomb Delhi, Hāḍā Maḥal Fatehpur Sikri, Tomb of I’timād Khān at Itimadpur (Agra), Tomb of Ḥāji Muḥammad of Sirhind, Tomb of Quṭbuddīn Khān Barodā, Tomb ofĪsā Khān Delhi, Tomb of Adham Khān Mehrauli Delhi and the Tomb of Shah ‘Ālam at Ahmedābād, for example, which she has discussed, more important monuments of this period (for study in this book on Mughal Archtitecture) than the Maḥal-i-Ilāhī (so-called Bīrbal’s Palace) and the Ḥujrā of Anūp-Tālāo (two most exquisitely ornamented buildings of Fatehpur Sikri); the Panch-Maḥal and the Ekastambha-Prāsāda (two most representative buildings of Akbar’s thought); and the Tomb of Sheikh Salīm Chishtī, beautiful struts and jalīs of which are most distinctive characteristics of the Art of Fatehpur Sikri, which she has almost completely blanked out ???
(12). She referred to Shri Madanmohan Temple Vrindaban (without explaining who built it and when, and how it is in the Fatehpur Sikri style), but she has not alluded to the larger and more important Shri Govind-devji Temple of Vrindaban where the Fatehpur Sikri idioms are more dominantly expressed, or to Shri Gopinathji Temple of Vrindaban or Shri Radhaballabh Temple of the same Temple Town, near Agra-Fatehpur Sikri. How she preferred one to study, to the exclusion of all others? Again, she referred to the mediocre Faizabad tomb, but did not allude to the wonderful Jāṭ Palaces (Bhawans) of Dig and Jāṭ Chhatrīs of Goverdhan of 18th century which are the legitimate heirs of Mughal Architecture, where Mughal idioms found fruition and perfection, not at Faizabad, Lucknow or Junagadh. One is naturally tempted to question the reasonableness of her choice of monuments for study. Was that guided purely by her own convenience ?
(13). Her view that the Daftar-Khānah (Record Office) (in fact, the Dīwan-i-Khās situated on the south side of the Khwābgāh) is “most likely the pavilion from whose jharokhā-window the emperor showed himself to his subjects” (p.58) baffles all reason. Akbar daily worshipped the Rising Sun and he showed himself to his people simultaneously. This window opens on the S O U T H, and it makes absolutely no sense to assume that the Sun rose from the South at Fatehpur Sikri ! It is absurd. The Panch-Maḥal faces East and Akbar used its uppermost storey for the Jharokhā-Darshan, as has already been established. This shows how scantily, how casually and how superfluously Koch has understood the Indian things on which she aspires to write authoritatively.
(14). Koch thinks that “the Imperial pilgrimage road from Agra to Ajmer was lined at regular intervals with stations for imperial use, and small mīnārs functioning not only as milestone but also as hunting memorials of the emperor (Akbar), since they were originally studded with horns of animals he shot” (p.67). It is Koch’s own novel discovery and its knowledge is also limited to her. There is not even a single mīnār on this Imperial highway with horns of animals, nor is there any record to show that there ever was such a mīnār. It appears to be a figment of her own fanciful imagination. But what she wrote in continuation is most astounding: “They represent a smaller form of the Akbari hunting-towers that were set up in imitation of Iranian models based on an ancient tradition e.g. the Hiran-Mīnār of Fatehpur Sikri.” She does not know that there are NO horns on the Hiran-Mīnār, these are only stone replicas of real elephant-tusks, the like of which are NOT there in Iran, Central Asia or any other country of Koch’s choice. She gives a sketch of the Kallam Mīnār of Isfahan which has no similarity with the Hiran-Mīnār, and the comparison makes no sense whatsoever. Her attempt to prove that the Hiran-Mīnār imitated an Iranian model is again absurd, to say the least.
(15). Habitually, does she impose Central Asian, Iranian and European models and prototypes on Mughal Architecture with an oblique design to show that there was nothing original in it and it borrowed everything. And she does it always, on the basis of visual resemblance only, and with no other evidence whatsoever. That ‘resemblance’ is no source of history has been shown with reference to her writings in this author’s full article: ‘Resemblance as a Source of Mughal Architecture’ in Medieval Indian History and Architecture (New Delhi 1995) 123-126. It may be reiterated that arts and architecture grow from culture as flower grows from plant, and it is not possible to know the flower without knowing the plant. Architectural forms grow and develop, and they cannot be connected with fanciful prototypes like this, without any trace of intermediary links in Time and Space. Koch has no evidence to connect a Mughal feature with the alleged prototype in Central Asia or Iran, except a visual resemblance which is an absolutely wrong, deceptive and unreliable methodology for writing a sensible history.
(16). Though Koch studied such simple and stylistically insignificant tombs, of the age of Jehangir (1605-27), as Ṣādiq Khān’s Tomb Dholpur, Shāh Nawāz Khān’s Tomb Burhānpur, Iftikhār Khān’s Tomb Chunār, Tambolan Bī’s Tomb Allahabad, and Ustād’s Tomb Nakodar, she has completely blanked out such landmark buildings of this period as the Picture Wall of the Lahore Fort (1612-20). Tomb of Fīrūz Khān Khwājasarā (c.1647) and Tomb of Salābat Khān Mīr-Bakshī (c.1644), both at Agra, belong to Shah Jehan ‘s reign, and Koch’s chronology is faulty. She could not notice that a series of ‘domeless tombs’ were built, as a pattern, during Jehangir’s reign, e.g. Tomb of Shāh Begum Allahabad (c.1605-10), Tomb of Akbar Agra (1605-12), Mariam-uz-Zamānī’s Tomb Agra (c.1623-27), Tomb of I’tibār Khān KhawājasarāAgra (c.1623), Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah Agra (1622-28), Tomb of Mirzā ‘Aziīz Kokā Delhi (1624), Jehangir’s own tomb at Lahore (1627-37) and, finally, Nur Jehan’s Tomb Lahore (1627-32).6 Koch could not explain this main and dominant trend of architecture to her readers who are left to roam and wander aimlessly in mediocre, largely modernized, buildings scattered throughout India! and, obviously, they have been taken for a ride !!
(17). The dados, spandrels of the īwān-portals and the alcoves an their sides and, in fact, all the external mural surface of the southern (main) Gate of Akbar’s Tomb Sikandara Agra, the four īwān-portals of its main building, and the ornamental gates on western and eastern sides are gorgeously ornamented by polychrome stone mosaic and inlay, in arabesque, stylized floral and geometrical designs. Three white marble dados which have inlaid borders, situated on the first floor of the western ‘Gate’, may be concealed from view, but the large scale mosaic and inlay work on the main gate and the main tomb cannot escape notice and Koch had to admit that it is there at Akbar’s tomb (1605-12). This inlay is exactly what she propounds as ‘pietra-dura’, and, obviously, it refutes her own theory that it was introduced from Italy during Shah Jehan’s age. It is INLAY of rare and semi-precious stones, called ‘pachchīkārī’ in local dialect, and ‘parchīnkārī’ in Persian. But Koch, quite cunningly, does not use the word ‘inlay’ for it; instead, she calls it stone ‘intarsia’ (p.72). Is it not ‘inlay’, and is it different from ‘inlay’ ? Why does not she admit it frankly ? Can a historian, true to her salt, afford to throw dust into the eyes of her own readers ?
(18). She studies the Tomb of I’itmād-ud-Daulah like a railway passenger who views a building from a train running at 60 kms per hour: she does not mention its chār-bāgh, its plan, its design and its overall colour effect which is its dominant spirit. Its entire white marble exterior, including the mural surface of the corner towers, is ornamented with exquisite mosaic and inlay by rare and semi-precious stones of different tints and tones. But she has no time to notice this beautiful art which is the most distinctive characteristic of this marvellous tomb. She can be pardoned if she did not notice the red stone jālīs of Akbar’s Tomb Sikandara, but it is an unpardonable sin to ignore the wonderful white marble jālīs of the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah: they are architectural and they are so delicate that they appear to have been carved in ivory rather than in marble. Koch cannot find such artistic jālīs in Central Asia, Iran or in any other country, and similar examples do not exist in her Timurid art.
(19). All the time she has been using a wrong terminology, but here it is most offensive, and a word of clarification must be said on this aspect. Ebba Koch, a German by birth, is writing history of Mughal Architecture without knowing Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Braja-Bhāshā or any other native language of the Braja (Jamuna-Chambal) region which was the ‘home’ and the ‘play-ground’ of the Imperial Mughals, where their architectural style was born and where it grew and developed. Language is the mirror of CULTURE from which arts and literatures originate, and it is absolutely necessary in order to understand the evolutionary process of an architecture to be thoroughly conversant with the respective language and culture. Without this grounding, she is imposing, not only European models and European prototypes, but also a European glossary upon this study, absolutely irrelevantly, e.g. her phrase: “round turret-like kiosks at the corners” (p.74) is wrong. These are chhatrīs crowning the towers. So is her phrase: “square pavilion with a canopied dome in centre”. It is a square bārahdarī: an open pavilion with three openings on each side, roofed by chaukhāṇḍi. It is not a dome and the term ‘canopied dome’ is absurd. What she refers to as the ‘wooden canopies’ and ‘catafalque’ (on the same page), are ‘rāoṭīs’. It is wrong to call a ‘chhaparkhaṭ’ oblong chhatrī. Chhatrī is regular square, hexagonal or octagonal, and it is never rectangular. Whenever an oblong pavilion with 4, 6 or 8 pillars and a chaukhāṇḍi roof is used, e.g. to superimpose the īwān-portal, it is ‘chhaparkhaṭ’. What she calls ‘coved’ (p.75) is, in fact, a ‘ladāo’ ceiling. This is how the forms are misinterpreted by the use of wrong and corrupt terms, instead of the denotary ‘deshī’ (native) terms which are, unfortunately, not known to her.7 These architectural terms are fully meaningful and were used by the contemporary people, including the artisans who worked on these buildings, and the Persian historians, like Lahauri, who described them in their works. Her European terms are more incorrect than incomplete and do not denote the Mughal elements, and do not convey either their form or their meaning and purpose. Such expressions as ‘more refined Italianate Commesso di pietre dure technique of Shah Jahan’s buildings’ have no historical authenticity (as fully explained in my Mughal Inlay Art) and are entirely her own fanciful surmises which cannot be applied to Mughal Architecture.
(20). All the time, she is harping on the Florentine art of ‘pietra-dura’ which was allegedly introduced during Shah Jehan’s age, so much so that she discussed this matter in the beginning of the chapter on Shah Jehan, before the Taj Maḥal. She has entirely misunderstood it and, though this matter has been discussed in full details in this author’s Mughal Inlay Art (New Delhi 2004), it must also be clarified here briefly. Inlay art (pachchīkarī or parchīnkārī) developed in Mughal Architecture from Humayun to Shah Jehan (c.1535 to 1658 A.D.) indigenously, and independent of any extraneous inspiration or influence, landmark examples of which have been cited. It is wrong to brand it ‘pietra-dura’ or ‘pietre-dure’ which misnomer was pasted upon it by 19th and early 20th century colonial historians who suffered by a sense of inherent superiority of European culture and art, and who could not believe that the Indian people, whom Macaulay fondly called ‘semi-savage’, could develop such a fine and exquisite art as this, which even the classical Greeks and the Romans, who also worked in marbles, could not do.
(21). The claim that Mughal inlay had a Florentine origin was based on the Orpheus Plaques which are the only and the solitary example of Florentine pietra-dura in Mughal Architecture. These plaques were, in fact, imported ready-made and placed in the Throne-Balcony (Jharokhā) of the Dīwan-i-Ām of Red Fort Delhi, between 1707, after the death of Aurangzeb, and 1824, when Bishop Heber saw them there for the first time and mentioned them in his travelogue. There is absolutely no record to show that they were there in-situ before 1707 A.D.
(22). Florentine pietra-dura had different material, different technique, different motifs and, above all, different background on which it was used. Pietra-dura was a picture-art used on wooden cabinets and other furniture, and it could exist without its back-ground. In contra-distinction, Mughal inlay was exclusively an architectural ornament, used on plinths, pavements and water-basins: on dados, spandrels of arches and other mural surface; pillars, brackets and lintels; and mīnārs, domes and other architectural members, without which it cannot exist. Mughal inlay is integral to the architectural space it covers, while pietra-dura plaques are, more or less, pictures which can be used independent of any architecture, e.g. on wooden furniture. This is very simple to understand, unless one is out, deliberately, to deprecate and denounce the art-achievement of a nation who was subjugated and enslaved by a tiny kingdom of Europe where such an exquisite art could not develop. This is confirmed by the label ‘Timurid’ which she pastes on any-thing and everything which is essentially Indian Mughal. While ignorance blurs the vision, bias blinds it !
(23). She talks of ‘Islamic Cosmology’ and Islamic dogmas over and over again, but she does not discuss, at all, how such a great TOMB as the Taj Maḥal could be built against the injunction of the orthodox Islam which prohibits even making of a pucci (masonry) grave with brick-and-mortar, or writing a verse upon it. She has conveniently skipped over it. She does not study its land and site on the Jamuna at a place where the river turns from N-S to W-E, flowing again in a northerly direction. Why this site was selected for the Taj Maḥal and what were its advantages ? The land slopes from south to north, and the Taj is placed on its edge, just on the river-bank. Why was it not built in the centre of the chār-bāgh, as are all earlier Mughal tombs of Humayun, Akbar and I’timād-ud-Daulah, for example ? She paid absolutely no attention to the lay-out of the Taj Mahal which associated it integrally with nature and natural surroundings around it. Its is a novel setting which Koch did not understand. Nor did she study its unique garden-planning, water-devices and drainage; its constructional modes and techniques; its inscriptions; its 25 subsidiary buildings; its builders and material; its structure, stresses and repairs, or its aesthetics.8 Her study of the Taj Maḥal is limited hardly to two pages in which she discussed the Jīlū-Khāna Chowk (forecourt) and bāzārs (markets) and sarāis (inns) of Mumtāzābād (Tajganj); a house of ‘heaven paradise’ and a Baghdādī-muthamman plan inspired by a Burhānpur ḥammām; a design probably inspired by a European architect and a plan advised by the Italian goldsmith Veroneo; and, of course, her obsession ‘pietra-dura’ decoration. Is this all one should know about the Taj Maḥal, and is this all a historian of Mughal Architecture has to write on this wonderful monument which is considered to be the most beautiful creation of Man on earth ??? If she viewed the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah from a running train, it did not do as much damage to the book as it has done now. This study is so incomplete and deficient that this great monument appears to have been completely devastated, academically and intellectually !
(24). Her illustrations bear wrong captions or wrong dates and some examples may be cited:
|Colour Plate-III:||Date of Humayun’s Tomb is c.1558-1570 (and not 1562-71)|
|Colour Plate-IV:||Popularly called Jehāngīrī-Maḥal, it is Akbar’s Bengālī-Maḥalwhich was completed in 1565|
|Colour Plate-V:||The Buland-Darwaza was built in 1601 to commemorate Akbar’s conquest of the Deccan|
|Colour Plate-IX:||Akbar’s Tomb Sikandara Agra was built from 1605 to 1612|
|Colour Plate-XIV:||It is Sahelī-Burj (Tomb of Satī-un-Nisā-Khānam) not the Tomb of Fatehpuri-Begum (it was built in c.1647-50), and|
|Colour Plate XVII:||Taj Maḥal (1631-48) was completed in 1648 and not in 1643.|
(25). To sum up, it must be said, with disappointment, that Ebba Koch has written this book on Mughal Architecture without knowing the ‘cultural milieu’ which produced it, or the native guilds of artisans who were engaged to build these monuments, or of ancient tradition on which they worked, or the indigenous architectural forms which were incorporated in this art. She does not know about ‘ladāo’ ceilings of stone supported on side beams, the intermediary space being filled up by panels. She does not know that Mughal arches from the Jami’ Masjid Fatehpur Sikri (1572) to the Moti-Masjid of Agra Fort (1654) do not have voussoirs, they are made up of stone slabs, and are trabeated, and they do not have lateral thrust. Mughal Architecture is a stone art, quite different from any other art of Islam, and it resolved the problems of load, thrust, stress, spanning and monotony differently. It has stone pillars, ceilings, brackets, chhajjās, jharokhās and chhatrīs; it has stone jālīs on railings and screens; and stone carving and stone mosaic-and-inlay are its dominant schemes of surface decoration. This she does not understand and it is out of this ignorance that she is constantly imposing Central Asian and Iranian prototypes upon this study. She also does not know how the mural surface was organized by panelling, as in the Taj Maḥal, or by use of terracotta jharokhās, as on the Picture Wall of the Lahore Fort, to counter monotony, in such a tropical climate as this; or by providing pleasant shadows by the use of chhajjās, jharokhās and chhatrīs. A unique development of this art was the ‘bānglādar’ feature in the 17th century A.D. which marvellously combined façade and superstructure. Did it happen anywhere else ?
(26). It is not enough to have good photographs and drawings without this intellectual background. It is a book of HISTORY, not an album of illustrations of monuments. Excellent visuals without the corresponding interpretative history have no meaning like a gorgeously attired corpse without life ! An architectural style can be studied only in the context of, and with reference to the Land, the People and the Culture, which have produced it !!
(27). Some western authors have taken up to write on ‘Mughal Architecture’, fashionably, without knowing the subject; without acquaintance with the cultural milieu which produced it; without knowing, for example, who was Panditarāj Jagannāth or ‘Abd’al-Ḥamīd Lāhaurī, and how were they connected with the Mughal court; without knowing Braja-Bhāshā, Sanskrit or Persian, the three main medieval languages of the Jamunā-Chambal region which was the home and play-ground of the Mughals; without even peripheral knowledge of the theory of Indian Architecture, only on the strength of their conversance with English which has peculiar charms of expression. Hence, this confusion worse confounded. ‘Historical Architecture’ is not like story or novel-writing; it is an extremely difficult discipline which requires interpretation of the people’s abstract psyche and ethos who have made it. It requires Fergusson’s training, grounding, understanding, approach, honesty and perseverance, and everybody is not competent to wield his or her pen on this subject. Ebba Koch’s book does not add any bit to our knowledge of Mughal Architecture and it is REDUNDANT, to say the least.
- It has been reviewed in full details in R.Nath, Mughal Inlay Art (New Delhi 2004).
- For full details of Babur’s monuments and gardens in India, reference may be made to R.Nath, History of Mughal Architecture, Vol. I (New Delhi 1982) pp. 85-125; and Babur and His Monuments (1483-1530 A.D.) (to be published)
- Humayun’s buildings have been studied in R.Nath, History of Mughal Architecture, Vol. I (New Delhi 1982) pp.127-216. Its revised, enlarged and updated edition is due to be published.
- Humayun’s Tomb at Delhi has been studied in full details in its chapter- VII, ibid, 242-274.
- For full details, reference may be made to R.Nath, History of Mughal Architecture, Vol. II (New Delhi 1985). Its revised, enlarged and updated edition is also due to be published.
- Mughal monuments of the Age of Jeahangir (1605-27) have been studied in full details in R.Nath, History of Mughal Architecture, vol. III (New Delhi 1994).
- In this connection, reference may be made to R.Nath, Jharokhā: An Annotated Glossary of Indo-Muslim Architecture (Jaipur 1986).
- R.Nath has studied the Taj Maḥal exhaustively and his Bibliography on the Taj Maḥal (Books, Monographs and Research-Papers, and Articles, in the chronological order) has been published in the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society (the Historicus) Karachi, Vol. LXI No.3 (July-Sept 2013) pp.90-93. The Taj Mahal (History & Architecture) (Agra/Ajmer 2010) is his latest published work on this subject. His major work: Taj Maḥal: The Complete Book (which has 935 typed pages, 713 b&w plates, 80 colour slides/tps, 140 drawings and 40 pages of Persian texts) is due to be published.
A word must also be written on the title of her new book: ‘The Complete Taj Mahal’.
I had been working on the Taj Mahal for nearly half-a-century (my Bibliography on the Taj Mahal is given herewith) and, finally, I prepared a major work on this subject, my magnum opus, covering 935 typed pages with 713 black-and white and 80 colour plates (slides/tps and digital images), 140 figures (drawings of plans, sections and elevations, and sketches) and 40 pages of Persian texts, firmāns and inscriptions. It was completed in early 2002. I met the Late Shakti Malik of M/s Abhinav Publications New Delhi (my publishers) in July 2002 and discussed it with him. He suggested its sub-title: A Complete Book, and I confirmed it (the full title: ‘The Taj Mahal: A Complete Book’) by my letter of 2.8.2002 (which is on record).
I started writing to foreign publishers for its publication in 2002. It was offered under this title: The Taj Mahal: A Complete Book to M/s Abbeville Press, Madison Avenue, New York, NY-10022 (USA) and M/s Imprimerie Nationalle Editions, 27 rue de la Convention, 75732 Paris (France) on 6.12.2002 by Regd. Post No.1430/7.12.2002 and 1431/7.12.2002 respectively (on record). But the proposals did not mature. Princeton Architectural Press New York (USA) and C.Hurst & Co (Publishers) Ltd London (UK) expressed interest in the book, but the proposal with either of them did not succeed. I also corresponded with Dorrance Publishing Co Inc, Pittsburgh (USA) (this correspondence, including their letter d. 25 March 2003 is on record). I tried to place it with several other foreign publishers from 2002 to 2005, but could not find a suitable one for its publication.
On 30 November 2005, it was offered, under the same title: ‘The Taj Mahal: A Complete Book’ to M/s Palgrave Publishers Ltd, Brunel Road, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG 21 6XS (UK) (sent by Regd. Post No.A-6029/2.12.2005), but this also did not mature (this correspondence mentioning this title is on record). I also tried Thames & Hudson London (on 14.12.2005); Allen & Unwin, P.O.Box 8500, St. Leonardo NSW (New South Wales) 1590 (Australia) (on 16.12.2005); E.J.Brill; Aga Khan Foundation (11.1.2006) (for a publication grant); and Cambridge University Press(UK), but did not succeed. Thames & Hudson declined by their email d. 17 Dec 2005 which also mentions this title (on record). I offered it to Thomson Gale (USA) and Charles Scribner’s Sons (USA) by my letters d. 24.11.2005. But they declined.
Then, I offered it to Reimer-Verlag by email on 6 Feb 2006 but they declined by their email of the even date. Their email mentions this title: ‘The Taj Mahal: A Complete Book’ (these mails are on record).
I came to know of Ebba Koch’s book: ‘The Complete Taj Mahal’ from the Outlook of 13 Nov 2006 FOR THE FIRST TIME. Obviously, she came to know of my book: ‘The Taj Mahal: A Complete Book’ from her publishers Reimer-Verlag and she borrowed the title-word ‘Complete’ from this source. To claim that her book is ‘The Complete Taj Mahal’ is too boastful to be sensible, in view of the foregoing review of her writings. I have not seen this book, nor I am inclined to see it, in view of my estimate of her extremely poor knowledge of Mughal Architecture on which subject she writes books, ‘as unplanned child’ (according to her own admission), for her own pleasure. She may enjoy her fun and we have no business to disturb her. Ignorance is bliss and if she opts to rejoice in it, how I or anybody else can be concerned ? Why should we bother to point out her errors, nay, historical blunders which she does not, and which she cannot understand, her limitations being what they are. If she claims that the Sun rose in the South at Fatehpur Sikri, to enable Akbar to perform the morning ritual: ‘Jharokhā-Darshan’ from the southern window of the Daftar-Khānah (Dīwan-i-Khāṣ), how are we supposed to convince her of her utterly absurd hypothesis ? Mughal Architecture is not her subject and she has absolutely no grounding: linguistic, cultural or otherwise, in this discipline, and she is obviously doing it for fun ! It is useless to give notice to her writings !!
THE TAJ HERITAGE CORRIDOR FIASCO
The Taj Heritage Corridor matter must be examined, apart from political and government bickerings, technically, in respect of its original lay-out. The Taj Mahal was sited just on the river-bank, at almost ten times of the normal cost, deliberately and with a design of which the Mahtab-Bagh (situated on the northern bank, in its backdrop), the river Jamuna and its landscape, all around it, are the integral constituents. The river takes a sharp turn from a north-southerly to a west-easterly direction just in front of the Bengali-Burj corner of Agra Fort and, after flowing for a little distance, again turns northwards. The Taj was sited, with precise calculation, at this point where the thrust of the current was minimal, having been virtually neutralised by the massive embankments of the preceding palatial mansions, specifically, of the Khan-i-‘Alam situated adjacent to the Taj.
The point in front of the Bengali-Burj corner of Agra Fort, in fact, marked the confluence of the river Jamuna with an ancient rivulet which later dried up and has now been reduced to ‘Mantola-Nala’, though its bed and banks, on both sides, with ‘kankar’ and alluvial soil, are traceable. The width of the river is the largest at this point of confluence and the East India Company Gazetteer of Edward Thornton (published in 1858) recorded that it measured half a mile ( = 835 metres =2740 feet). Its natural consequence was that a vast lake of water was formed at this point and its immense moisture provided a protective shield to the white marble building against dust, smoke and heat, day in and day out. Thus was the Taj integrally embedded in the river. These considerations were, in fact, decisive of the present site and lay-out of the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Heritage Corridor project began (in November 2002) to reclaim the land of the river-bed all along its right bank, from the Bengali-Burj corner to the Taj Mahal, for the purpose of raising commercial buildings upon it. This was going to reduce the width of the river-bed, with two adverse consequences. Firstly, there would never again be the same vast lake of water, moisture whereof was carried by the north-western breezes to be deposited upon the Taj Mahal, protecting it from any possible air pollution. And, secondly, the Taj would no longer be standing safely in its original water-shed and, owing to the reduced span of the river, the current would be directly threatening this 355 years’ old building, standing precipitately to a towering height of 285 feet, just on the river-bank. Obviously, the natural advantages of siting the Taj at this point of the river would be lost for ever, exposing it to the disruptive forces which its builders had combated by its original design.
The claim that the reclamation of the river-bed did not technically constitute a construction is misleading inasmuch as the Taj Heritage Corridor was floated, not only to reclaim the land of the river-bed for an embankment, but also to build shopping arcades, plazas, theatres and other commercial buildings upon it, which DO CONSTITUTE a construction.
The proposed buildings of the Taj Heritage Corridor will blur and obscure the river-view of the Taj Mahal; and its landscape, an integral part of its original design and key to its aesthetics, will be destroyed. With a concrete jungle around it, it will be reduced to the stature of such a mediocre building, as the Tomb of Safdarjung at Delhi, and it will no longer be the TAJ MAHAL.
Hence, the distance of the Taj Heritage Corridor (of 100, 300 or 500 meters) from the protected monument does not matter in this case. The most devastating consequence of the Project will be the destruction of the Taj environment – its river-view, landscape and ambience. It was, in fact, for the protection of its environment that the Taj Trapezium Zone has been created and Iron foundries and brick kilns situated within 10 kms have been shifted or closed down, and the Mathura Refinery too, situated at a distance of 42 kms from the Taj, has been dogged. Nothing that damages the Taj environment, in any way, is permissible.
Obviously, the Taj Heritage Corridor was conceived in ignorance of the original design of the Taj Mahal, in ignorance of the various conservation manuals such as the 1942 Report on the Conservation of the Taj Mahal, and in ignorance of the stipulations of the Taj Trapezium Zone.
If the Taj has to be saved for Posterity in its pristine form, its original Design, with the river full of water and with the same wide span, and both the banks up-and down-stream and its landscape, all in their virgin form, will have to be protected scrupulously.
“ TAZZUB – HAI ! ” *
He believed that he was a born genius because all geniuses have some or the other deformity and he too had a little one. His left eye was half-size shorter than the right one. The street urchins, hence, nicknamed him: ‘Kane–Badshah’, the latter epithet owing to the greatness which he professed to have assumed. He, however, vehemently resented the former one, and it was gradually dropped, and he became famous simply as ‘Badshah’, though it continued to denote the full title.
Badshah was a chronic stammerer. Sometimes he could speak, utter pronounce, mumble, fumble or thrust-out only one chequered sentence in one minute. His words were incoherent, sometimes unmeaningful. Generally he used to stretch his left hand above the upper lip, like a chhajja, to cover the twists and distortions of the lips and the mouth, while he used his right hand as a baton is used by the music director of an orchestra to extract a particular rhythm. In spite of all this great effort, sometimes he would end up uttering: ‘a-a-a-a-a-a-a-’ and ‘fus-s-s-s-s-s-s‘, more than anything audible.
But he was a reformist and honestly wanted to improve. He tried several formulae. Once, somebody suggested that if he had a vast vocabulary at his command, he could instantly change from a hard word to a soft word which could easily slip out of his mouth. Badshah was overjoyed and, an ardent enthusiast as he was, he purchased a dictionary the next day. He decided to learn 25 words per day and he believed that once he could commit the whole English dictionary to memory, he would have the entire vocabulary at his command. That will solve his problem for ever. He began earnestly with the alphabet ‘A’, but monotony soon took over, and the number of words for daily exercise was reduced to 15 and then to 10, until, one day, he was completely tired of it and gave it up. Progress was limited to only a few pages of the dictionary. But such was his zeal for improvement ! It was in accordance with the image of a rare genius which Badshah had in mind.
Some time later, somebody suggested to him to speak Urdu and use the words slowly and distinctly. Not a bad suggestion. Badshah was
* Extracted from R.Nath’s full satire entitled: ‘Kane-Badshah’ in which ‘Badshah’ is the hero, and there is no villain. (Satire is trenchant wit, irony or sarcasm, used to expose and discredit vice, folly, ignorance, corruption or vanity).
fascinated to discover that he could speak words beginning with ‘z’ (zai, ze, zal, zwad and zoy) with ease, and without interruption because its sound could be pushed out of the mouth only with a little pressure: ‘z-z-z-z-z-zahir hai’. So he took up to speak Urdu with rare enthusiasm, using ‘z’ not only for words beginning with ‘z’ but also those which begin with ‘j’ (jim), without discrimination. People were startled to hear “Aiye Zanab” instead of “Aiye Janab”. But a determined Badshah was irrepressible and went on his own way unchecked.
He spoke ‘mizaj’ as ‘mizaz’ and ‘ijazat’ as ‘izazat’ for example. When he said ‘izzat’, ‘zarurat’, ‘zamin’, ‘zindagi’, ‘huzur’, etc, it was alright, but when he spoke ‘zagah’ for ‘jagah’, ‘zigar’ for ‘jigar’, ‘zan’ for ‘jan’, ‘zahil’ for ‘jahil’ and ‘Shah Zahan’ for ‘Shah Jahan’, for example, it was embarrassing, though he never stopped to care. He had such a colossal confidence in his performance !
It was in this sequence that poor Badshah was once placed in an ugly situation. He went to meet a gentleman bearing the name ‘Jaliluddin’. Badshah shook hands warmly and, with a voice choked with emotion, enquired: “Kaise hain Zalil Miyan ?”
Jalil Miyan, a strongly built man of 40 from U.P., was very sensitive to ‘Akhlaq’ and ‘Tahzib’ (culture and courtesy). He was aghast when Badshah addressed him as such. He got up and looked straight into his eyes.
Badshah was in full gusto and wanted to impress an aristocratic Musalman of his sound knowledge of Urdu and he again asked him, a little louder: “Zalil Miyan, kya hal-chal hain ?”
Too hurt by the insult to control, ‘Zalil Miyan’ drew his right hand to its full length, like a sword, and slapped Badshah with such a force that the poor fellow fell down on the ground with a thud !
“Tazzub–hai”, Badshah exclaimed with surprise, as he tried to get up and stand on his feet !
T H E T A J M A H A L : C O V E R E D BY DUST
Taj Mahal, the most beautiful creation of man on earth, is representative of the glorious Mughal Age (1526-1658) A.D., and it is a unique gift of medieval period to the People of India and the People of the World. It is a protected National Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site. TV channels are regularly preparing documentaries on this wonderful subject. But, more often than not, it has been difficult to understand and present this architectural marvel vis-à-vis the IDEAS which have gone into its making. Though a tomb, built of brick, white marble and mortar on the bank of the river Jamuna at Agra, it is an intellectual colossus too. It is here that the TV channels stumble and err, as the National Geographic (NG) recent did.
Like ‘Discovery’, ‘History’, ‘Fox-Traveller’ and ‘Animal-Planet’, NG is a reputed International TV channel which telecasts informative documentaries on History, architecture, arts, culture, life, nature, technology and other global subjects, In April 2012, I received an email from Emma Pimthida Tiemchaiyapum (EPT) Singapore, telling me that she was working on a documentary series for NG on selected UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including an episode on the Taj Mahal and “the show is officially supported by UNESCO.” She wondered if I would be “interested in talking to us about Taj Mahal’s structures and relationship between Yamuna river and the The Taj’s foundation,” stressing that my expertise on Taj Mahal will provide great resource for our documentary.”
I replied plainly that I was leading a quiet retired life at Ajmer and referred to her my latest book: The Taj Mahal (History and Architecture) (Agra 2010) which contained uptodate information on the subject; otherwise, to tell me, I asked, in what capacity did she want me to be associated with this documentary, personally.
In a subsequent email, she reiterated her faith in my expertise but did not reply my question. She admitted that she had found my book on the Taj Mahal. Soon thereafter, on 21 April 2012, Aditya Thayi (Director of the Project) and Kanika Raheja (whom she called local fixer ?) came to Ajmer at my residence and discussed the subject at length, for nearly half-a-day. I did my best to give every information they needed and also referred to them my other works on the Taj Mahal.1 Raheja took some photographs.
But, on return, neither Thayi-Raheja nor EPT had the courtesy to send me a message of thanks; they did not even reply my email of inquiry of 3rd May. Then I realized that it was not as academic a matter as I had believed.
On 6th July, I again received an email from EPT with questions which she wanted me to answer. To close this matter, once and for all, I sent a strong reply. She responded by “sincere apologies” and informed me that she had filmed the Taj Mahal and finished the work. I sent my best wishes and closed this matter, then and there. Gradually I forgot it.
All of a sudden, in early December 2012, I received a phone call from a friend from Agra who commented with dismay: “yeh-National-Geographic-wāley-Tāj Mahal-par-kyā-bakwās-dikhārahe-hain ?” (what rubbish the NG people are telecasting on the Taj Mahal?). I had occasion to view the NG documentary on the Taj Mahal later, on 24 December 2012 (7-8 p.m.). I feel extremely sorry that, in spite of every information being available to them, they have covered the Taj Mahal with layers and layers of dust of ignorance ! It is not known if M/s Hadi Teherani Architect and JNU Historian Najaf Haider whom the NG engaged to work and comment on this documentary have any grounding in Mughal Architecture, and whether they have written even an article on the Taj Mahal. That they liberally borrowed, in respect of The Taj design, foundations, real grave in the basement and other aspects, from available works WITHOUT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the source of their information, is not of much concern here, as are the awful historical errors and omissions which the NG’s learned historians have committed out of sheer ignorance. In order to set the record straight, a few of these are briefly discussed below.
(b) Environment and Lay-out
The Taj Mahal (Plates I to III) was sited on the right (and south) bank of the river Jamuna at Agra, down-stream the Fort, close to the point where the river changed its course, abruptly at 65° angle, from north-south into a west-easterly and then a northerly direction (Fig.1). This bend created a large LAKE of pure, clean and crystal-clear glacier water, with overwhelming moisture in the atmosphere,2 capable of absorbing dust, smoke and any other air-pollution. This ENVIRONMENT consisting of the river, river-banks, the lake and the surrounding forests was an integral part and constituent of the Taj design; it is inseparably embedded in this natural environment.3
This site was, essentially, a slope of alluvial soil and sand, mixed with ‘kankar’ (calcareous conglomerate), which gradually descended into the river, from south to north. The planners used this slope of the terrain to lay-out the Tomb-Complex in several consecutive levels, to change the scenes and the consequential architectural effect4 (Fig.2). These two fundamental aspects of the Taj Mahal have been completely missed by the learned NG historians. In fact, they do not mention the river Jamuna as an integral part of the Taj design and do not discuss why the Taj was sited on the river-bank at ten times the cost.
(c) The Taj Plan
It must be noted that construction of monumental tomb (maqbarah) is prohibited in Islam. There are specific Hadīth injunctions even against making of pucci (masonry) grave, e.g. “The Prophet prohibited building with mortar on graves, and also placing inscriptions upon them (Mishkat, book-v, chapter-vi, Part-1). Another recorded that ‘Ali said, “Shall I not give you the orders which the Prophet gave me, namely, to destroy all pictures and images, and not to leave a single lofty tomb without lowering it within a span from the ground” (Ṣaḥīh’ ul-Muslim, II.459, Srl No.2115). Another said, “Make me a laḥd (grave) towards Makkah, and put unburnt bricks upon it, as was done upon the Prophet’s” (Muslim, II.347, Srl No. 2112). Several hadīths referred to the Prophet’s grave at Madina which was kachchī (unbuilt) with its top like camel’s hump, and covered by red gravel only. Making of masonry grave or tomb was thus expressly prohibited by the orthodox law of Islam.
The Delhi sultāns did not have the courage to defy this injunction and, while they built tombs as regal memorials, they closed the western side and incorporated Qiblah thereon, to denote the direction of Ka’bah, just to give their tombs a semblance of ‘masjid’.5 But the Mughals were their own masters and were not subservient to a Pan-Islamic Khalifah or any extra-territorial authority. They treated their kingship as a divine institution and they did not care for such orthodox injuctions. They raised monumental tombs in enclosed and geometrically laid out gardens with stone canals, causeways, parterres, tanks, fountains, water-falls and other architectural accessories. Such a tomb was called ‘Raużah’.
Raużah was a typical Mughal architecture and it is wrong to associate it with the concept of Islamic Paradise (Jannat) as the NG historians, following some western authors, have done. Its plan had nothing to do with Islam which prohibited the construction of Monumental tomb itself. The enclosed garden with central stone canals crossing at right-angle in the centre of the garden, dividing it into four quarters (chār-bāgh or chahār-bāgh) was Babur’s unique contribution to Indian Architecture, which was not used in India before him.6 He was conversant with this phenomenon and he had seen such enclosed gardens in Central Asia where it had been introduced from Iran (medieval Persia). The concept originally belonged to Ancient Persia. The ancient Persian enclosed garden was called ‘pairidaeza’ (pairi = around, daeza = wall, walled or enclosed garden) which was an ancient Persian (Pahlavi, Avestan) word.7 Such a garden was built by Cyrus, the Great, at Pasargadae, around 546 B.C. It was essentially an enclosed four-quartered garden (chār-bāgh) with stone water-courses (canals in the middle of geometrically laid out parterres), and it was an ARCHITECTURE. Xenophon, the Greek historian, used the Greek word ‘paradeisoi’ (or ‘paradeisos’) in his Socrates Discourse in 401 B.C. for the same ancient Persian garden. The Greek paradeisoi became ‘paradisus’ in Latin and, subsequently, “paradise” in English and other European languages.
The Islamic paradise (Arabic, al-jannah, Jannat; Persian, Bihisht) is altogether different. It has been described in the Quran in profuse details.8 All in all, it denoted a tree-garden or tree-grove, andthere is not the slightest mention of an architecture, i.e. of a geometrically laid out, enclosed garden with stone canals (chār-bāgh) and there is not the slightest allusion to what the ancient Persian PARADISE denoted. The Raużah (Garden-Tomb) of the Mughals was built on the model of ancient Persian Paradise and it was not inspired by the Islamic Jannat; while the former was an architecture, the latter was just a tree-garden or tree-grove, without any architecture.
It must be noted that the FOUR canals of Jannat, respectively of water, wine, milk, and honey, flowed separately and did NOT join or cross each other. There are only TWO canals in the Taj garden : north-south and east-west, but water flows, through fountains, only in the north-south canal. The east-west canal has no fountains and it receives water when it (water) overflows from the north-south canal from the central point of the plan, where they cross each other. The two sets are quite different. The NG historians’ attempt to compare the two canals of water of the Taj Mahal which are interconnected, with the four canals of water, wine, milk, honey which flowed separately and did not join or cross each other, in a uniform architectural plan, is to impose an extra, non-existent, superfluous and irrelevant religious character upon a maqbarah (tomb); to reduce a divine phenomenon to an earthly thing made by man for creating an artistic situation, is nothing short of blasphemy. The NG historians are, perhaps, not aware of it.
(d) Aesthetics of the Taj Mahal
Chār-bāgh (Fig.3) is the basic plan of the Taj Mahal but, instead of occupying the centre of the four-quartered garden as is there in all earlier Mughal tombs, e.g. the tomb of Humayun at Delhi (c. 1558-1570), Tomb of Akbar at Sikandara Agra (1605-1612), Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah at Agra (1622-1628) and Tomb of Jehangir at Lahore (1627-1637), the main Tomb building of the Taj Mahal stands on the northern edge of the complex, just on the river-bank (Fig.4 to 7), rising to a total height of 285’ (feet) (from the original river level), enabling it to tower imposingly and majestically over its surroundings. The chār-bāgh (four-quartered garden) lies on its front, technically, at its feet, on the south side.
In its background is such a dynamic canvas as the blank blue sky, against which its white marble image magically silhouettes. It is always seen with the sky which changes its tints and tones in accordance with the changes in the atmospheric light. Its shades are subtly reflected on the white marble building which also changes its colour and complexion accordingly. The Taj Mahal, and its illusionary three-dimensional image is presented in innumerous moods and moments, and it looks N E W in this ever-changing background !
The Taj is ever changing and ever-new. This newness is the inherent quality of its design, brought about, in a novel way, by its situation, and its placement just on the edge of the river-bank, and its complete COALESCENCE WITH NATURE. Though it stands on the ground, it soars high into the sky and is so integrally associated with it that the latter’s changes are instantly reflected upon its white marble. This never happened in India, or anywhere else, before.
But the NG historians, instead of highlighting this basic aspect of the Taj aesthetics, have commented that the people come here for fulfilment of their mannat (vows or desires). This is absurd, to say the least. The Taj Mahal is not a ṣūfī shrine and not a dargāh like those of Khwājah Mu’īn’ul-Dīn Chishtī at Ajmer and Sheikh Salīm Chishtī at Fatehpur Sikri. To associate the Taj with any such religious sanctity is to distort its history and tarnish it with a superfluous archaic superstition.
(e) The Builders and Accounting
The NG historians lamented that they did not know about the builders of the Taj Mahal, and they wondered if any account of its construction was maintained. Everything is on record and is available,9 but they did not exert to consult it, probably because they were making it an interesting romantic fairy tale for popular consumption, instead of a historical documentary. Accounts of expenditure on the construction of the Taj Mahal were meticulously maintained. Artisans worked on Work Assignment System and their names, salaries of their respective department or guild and other details are on record. Lahauri, the court historian of Shah Jehan mentioned Mukarmat Khan, the Finance Minister (Bakshi) of Agra and Mir ‘Abdul Karim, Superintendent (Dāroghā) of the Building Department Agra. Copies of the Statement of Expenditure on the construction of the Taj Mahal were regularly sent to the office of Mukarmat Khan for compilation and record. But his role was limited to financial control and he did not participate in it in any active capacity. Mir ‘Abdul Karim was, on the other hand, constantly connected with the Taj project. He was superior in rank to Muhammed Hanif who was his subordinate in financial administration and accounting. Unlike Mukarmat Khan, Mir ‘Abdul Karim permanently lived at Agra as long as the construction continued. He was administering the project with the help of his staff which included Muhammad Hanif, supervising the construction and maintaining accounts of expenditure of the amounts received from the Royal Treasury with the help of Lala Rudradas, the Accountant and the Site-Incharge, in the modern terminology.
Lahauri’s Bādshāh-Nāmah is history of the first twenty years of Shah Jehan’s reign (1628-1648) during which period Taj Mahal was built and his is an eye-witness description of the construction of the Taj Mahal.10 Unfortunately, the NG historians did not consult this contemporary work which has a mine of information on this subject.
(f) Inclination of Taj Minarets
The NG Historians’ view that the Taj minarets were inclined deliberately, firstly, in order to reconcile the optic illusion because only tilted mīnārs would look straight from distance; and, secondly, because the builders apprehended that in case of an earthquake they would fall on the dome, is a fanciful surmise and is absolutely wrong. Every part of the Taj Mahal has been worked out with meticulous precision11 and there is no error or correction. NO optic illusion is associated with the mīnārs, though calligraphic optic illusions have been corrected in the Taj Mahal12 (which are not known to NG historians). Minarets are out of plumb and inclined at different angles, in different directions, not owing to any construction error or apprehension, but because the whole building is gradually sinking into the river, which has rendered the southern minarets to incline more than the northern,13 and it is also owing to this phenomenon that the inclination of the minarets is gradually increasing and the Taj structure, as a whole, has also inclined towards the river by 1-11/25 inches. The NG historians, instead of consulting the available scientific data, seem to have followed the government agencies who, whenever faced with such exigencies, advance such clerical alibis for cover-up, and faithfully play ostrich.
The Mughals apprehended NO calamities and, as Lahauri recorded in the Bādshāh-Nāmah , the Taj was built to last till the Day of Resurrection (tā-rustakhez-dar-bulandī-yādgār…..).14 As such, the view that the builders deliberately inclined the minarets because of any apprehension that they may fall upon the dome has NO sense at all. Neither is there any historical record to support it, nor can it be sustained by architectural evidence. The Minarets (Plates IV and V) are placed at the corners of the plinth (Fig.8) which is 320’ square side, while the main building 187’ square side is situated in its exact centre. The ḥujra (main Cenotaph Hall) occupies central space of 59’ diameter of this building. The dome which covers this space with an average thickness of 13’ is too far away from the total height 139’ of the minarets, so that even if one falls on the main building, there is absolutely no chance of it falling on the main done, and the surmise is absolutely wrong. Such lame excuses are regularly coined and circulated by the Government conservation agencies and hardly deserve any notice.
(g) Mughal Inlay Art
INLAY (Persian, ‘parchīnkārī’, v. ‘pachchīkārī’) was the distinctive ornamentation of Mughal Architecture, as Glazed-tiling (kāshīkārī) was of Iranian Architecture and Glass-mosaic (shīshākārī) of Byzantine Architecture. It was also the most distinctive characteristic of the Shahjehanian phase of Mughal Architecture, which marked the zenith of this style. This art development indigenously, and independently of any extraneous inspiration or influence, landmark examples whereof are available. It is wrong to brand it pietra–dura or pietre–dure which misnomer was pasted upon it by 19th and early 20th century colonial historians who suffered by a sense of inherent superiority of European culture and art, and who could not believe that the Indian people, whom Macaulay fondly called ‘semi-savage’ could develop such a fine and exquisite art as this, which even the classical Greeks and the Romans, who also worked in marbles, could not do !
The claim that Mughal inlay was ‘pietra-dura’ and it had a Florentine origin was based on the Orpheus Plaques which are the ONLY example of Florentine pietra-dura in Mughal Architecture. These plaques were imported ready-made and placed in the Throne-Balcony (Jharokhā) of the Dīwān-i-‘Ām of Red Fort Delhi between 1707, after the death of Aurangzeb, and 1824 when Bishop Heber saw them there for the first time, and mentioned them in his travelogue.15 These plaques were not there before Aurangzeb.
Florentine pietra-dura had different material, different technique, different motifs and, above all, different background on which it was used, Pietra-dura was a PICTURE-ART USED ON WOODEN CABINETS AND OTHER FURNITURE, and it could exist without its background. In contra-distinction, Mughal inlay was exclusively an ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT used on plinths, pavements, dados (Plate-VI), spandrels of arches (Plate-VII) and other mural surface; pillars, brackets and lintels; and mīnārs, domes and other architectural members, without which it cannot exist. Mughal inlay is integral to the architectural space it covers, while pietra-dura are, more or less, pictures which can be used independent of any architecture, e.g. on wooden furniture.
But the NG historians’ could not make this distinction and, following the European authors, they have used the term ‘pietra-dura’ for Mughal inlay absolutely wrongly through-out their narrative. Had they only consulted the available literature on the subject16 they would not have committed such a grave historical blunder.
(h) Mughal’s Genealogy
The NG historians’ statement that the Mughals of the India descended from Changez Khan (Timujin) is wrong. They did not descend from Changez Khan with whom they were only distantly related on the mother’s side. They descended from Timur (Tamerlane) of Samarqand, which is why they are called ‘Timurids’. Genealogically, they were Mīrānshāhī-Chaghtāī-Turk. The contemporary Persian History, the Bādshāh-Nāmah distinctly records Shah Jehan’s genealogy: Shah Jehan, son of Jannat-Makānī Nūr’al-Dīn Jehāngīr, son of Arsh-Āshiyānī Jalāl’al -Dīn Akbar, son of Jannat-ĀshiyānīNasīr’al-Dīn Humāyūn, son of Firdaus-Makānī Ẓahīr’al-Dīn Bābur, son of ‘Umar Shaikh Shāh (Mirzā), son of Abū Sa’īd Shāh, son of Muhammad Shāh, son of Mirzā Mīrān Shāh, son of Amīr Tīmūr Gurgān, the Ṣāḥib-i-Qirān. The link with Shah Jehan and Timur was established by the former’s title: Ṣāḥib-i-Qirān-Thānī (the Second Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjunction), as Timur was called Ṣaḥīb-i-Qirān. It is owing to this relationship that the Windsor Bādshāh-Nāmah opens with a frontispiece with a painting showing Timur presenting the Imperial Crown to Shah Jehan. That the NG historians missed this simple fact of Mughal history is amazing !
(i) Vulgar Characterisation
Shah Jehan has been depicted as an extremely handsome youngman in Windsor Bādshāh-Nāmah paintings in 1615 (P1.VIII)17; as Prince in 1616 (P1.IX)18 and in 1617 (P1.X).19 After accession to the throne, and as King, he has been portrayed in 1631,20 1632,21 in 1633,22 in 1637,23 in 1638,24 and in 1640 (P1.XI),25 faithfully, as he was age-ing and greying, so much so that in the painting of 1640 he is shown with a grey beard. He has been depicted, in all these contemporary paintings, truthfully, as a handsome, dignified and graceful person, with no cheek bones predominating, in typical Mughal dress and head-gear. But in the NG documentary, he has been represented by a thin, timid, ignoble, poorly dressed, commoner who does not at all resemble Shah Jehan and who does not represent even his caricature. It is amazing that the NG historians did not know about the Windsor Bādshāh-Nāmah and faithful portraits of Shah Jehan it contained, though it has been edited by Ebba Koch who too worked on this documentary and who is branded, in it, as the most reputed International historian of the Taj Mahal ! The truth of the documentary has been lost by this vulgar characterization. What would have happened had Akbar been represented by Shakti Kapoor instead of the legendary Prithvi Raj Kapoor in K.Asif’s classic: ‘Mughal-e-Āzam’ ?
And in old age, after imprisonment, he is shown as a miserable black-complexioned, poor, vegetable-seller (kunjaḍā), with curious head-gear which, by no stretch of imagination, is a Mughal pagḍī. Aurangzeb snatched his kingdom and crown from him, not his pagḍī which was then used by Mughal personnel indispensably, as a matter of custom. The wretched figure is not sporting a beard, as Shah Jehan did; it is a rustic unshaven chin. One is at a loss to understand why such a distasteful farce has been made of the Royal Mughal life and personnel.
Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumad Banu Begum) was an extremely beautiful, white-complexioned, graceful lady of Iranian descent,26 but in the NG documentary, she is characterised by an ordinary, wheatish-complexioned, poorly-fed, thin, girl who, with no manners and no etiquette, is an anti-thesis of Mughal royalty ! While her beautiful eyes predominated in the former’s personality, a set of disproportionate teeth with upper gum bulging out, predominated in the latter. Is there, in India or Pakistan, such an acute dearth of beautiful characters who could have represented Mumtaz Mahal as faithfully as Madhubala characterized Anarkali in ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ ??
She is shown with male attendents near an elephant without purdah, and it is amazing that the NG historians had no idea of the code of strict purdah observed by the Mughal ḥarem inmates, so much so that a son (Salim) had no liberty to enter into his father’s (Akbar’s) ḥarem without due intimation. And, somebody extended his palm, she placed her foot on it and mounted the elephant ! What a foolish portrayal !! This is possible only on horse-back, not on elephant-back, but the NG historians depicted this scene perhaps to convey an idea of Mughal chivalry, without examining its practicability. There are numerous such blunders of culture, customs, courtesies and etiquette which show that the NG historians were not acquainted with them and with subtle nuances of the Mughal life style.
All this MISINFORMATION has covered the Taj Mahal with dust. The People of India and the People of the World expected NG to highlight history and architecture of the Taj Mahal honestly and truthfully, based on the available sources and the architectural evidence in-situ, and telecast an authentic informative documentary, as the NG had been hitherto doing. It is a pity that, instead, the NG historians found it more convenient, not only to collect discredited and fantastic tales, legends and hearsays, but also to coin a few to make a fanciful romantic TV picture; rather than an informative documentary, they have prepared what we popularly call:
“choon – choon – ka – murabba” …
- A list of R.Nath’s works on the Taj Mahal in the chronological order, is appended herewith (Appendix–A).
- The Taj Mahal (History and Architecture) by R.Nath (Agra 2010) (hereinafter abb. The Taj) 7-12.
- Ibid, 13.
- Ibid, 16.
- Indigenous Characteristics of Mughal Architecture by R.Nath (New Delhi 2004) (hereinafter abb. ICMA) 25-27.
- Architecture was never associated with garden and water-devices in Ancient India the way Babur did it.
- ICMA, 26-30.
- E.g. Quran, Chapter-verse: XXV.16, VI.127, XL.42, IX.73, XXXII.19, V.70, LXXXIII.18, XVIII.107, LXXVI.12-22, LVI.12-38, LV.46-78 and XLVII.15.
- E.g. in R.Nath’s The Taj Mahal and Its Incarnation (Original Persian Data on its Builders, Material, Costs and Measurements) (Jaipur 1984); and The Taj, 121-127.
- Its Persian text, edited by Maulvi Kabiruddin Ahmed and Abdul Rahim was published under the Bibliotheca Indica Series by the Asiatic Society of Bengal Calcutta in 1866-68, in two volumes (abb.BNL). For information on the Taj Mahal, see Vol.I Part-I pages 384, 385-397, 402-403, 487; and Vol.II pages 92, 322-328, 329-332, 628-629 and 713-714. Also see Srl No.32 of the appended Bibliography on the Taj Mahal.
- The Taj, 96-109.
- Ibid, 95.
- Ibid, 134-143.
- BNL, I.I.403.
- This matter has been studied in R.Nath’s Mughal Inlay Art (New Delhi 2004) in full details.
- Including ‘Mughal Inlay Art’ op.cit, which is exclusively devoted to this subject.
- King of the World (London 1997) (ed. by M.C.Beach & Ebba Koch) (abb Windsor BNL) Pls. 5, 6 and 38.
- Ibid, Pl.37.
- Ibid, Pls. 9 & 39.
- Ibid, Pl.17.
- Ibid, Pls. 10 & 13.
- Ibid, Pls. 19 & 25.
- Ibid, Pls. 43 & 45.
- Ibid, Pl.32.
- Ibid, Pl.44.
- The Taj, op.cit, Fig.2.
(authored by R.Nath)
I. CULTURAL NOTICE BOARDS (MARBLE PLAQUES) PLACED ON THE MONUMENTS OF AGRA FORT
- Agra Fort – English
- Agra Fort – Hindi
- The Bengālī Maḥal (1565-69 A.D.) – Bilingual (English-Hindi)
- Jehāngīr’s Hauż (1610 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Shāhjahānī – Maḥal (1628-35 A.D.) – Bilingual
- The Ghaznīn – Gate (1030 A.D) – Bilingual
- Babur’s Bāolī & Overhead Tanks (Water Works) (1527-1573 A.D) – Bilingual
- Subterranean Apartments & Phānsīghar (1569-1658 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Khāṣ Maḥal (Āramḡah) & Angūrī Bāgh (1631-40 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Shīsh Maḥal (The Glass Palace) (1631-40 A.D) – Bilingual
- Jahāngīr’s Chain of Justice (Zanjīr-i-‘Adl) (1605 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Muthamman-Burj (Shah-Burj) & Jharokhā (1632-40 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Mīnā-Masjid (1631-40 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Machchhī-Bhawan (1569-1640 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Dīwān-i-Khāṣ (the Hall of Private Audience) (1635 A.D) – Bilingual
- Takht-i-Jahāngīri (The Throne of Jahāngīr) (1602 A.D) -Bilingual
- Shāhī Ḥammām & Water Supply System (c. 1570-1658 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Nagīnā Masjid (1635 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Dīwān-i-‘Ām (the Hall of Public Audience) (1628-35 A.D) – Bilingual
- The Motī Masjid (1647-54 A.D) – Bilingual
- Plan of Agra Fort and its Palaces
II. CULTURAL NOTICE BOARDS (MARBLE PLAQUES) PLACED ON THE SIKANDARA BY–PASS MONUMENTS AGRA
- Akbar’s Tomb Sikandara (1605-12 A.D) – English
- Akbar’s Tomb Sikandara (1605-12 A.D) – Hindi
- The Kānch Maḥal (1605-19 A.D) – English
- The Kānch Maḥal (1605-19 A.D) – Hindi
- The Lodi Tomb Sikandara (1517-26 A.D) – Bilingual
- Tomb of Mariam-Zamānī (c. 1623-27) – Bilingual
- Kāfūr’s Mosque and Stone Horse (1605 A.D) – Bilingual
- Tomb of Salābat Khān Mīr-Bakhshī (Chausath Khambhā) (1644-50 A.D) – Bilingual
- Tomb of Sādiq Khān Mīr-Bakhshī (1633-35 A.D) -Bilingual
- Roman Catholic Cemetery (1550-1803 A.D) -Bilingual
- Hessing’s Tomb (1803 A.D) – Bilingual
- Chhatrī Rānī Hādā (Satī-kā-Chabūtarā) (1644-58 A.D) – Bilingual (at Balkeshwar)
- The Tomb of Fīrūz Khān Khwājāsarā (c. 1647 A.D) – Bilingual (on the Gwalior Road)
III. CULTURAL NOTICE BOARDS (MARBLE PLAQUES) PLACED ON THE TRANS-JAMUNA MONUMENTS AGRA
- Bāgh-i-Gul Afshān (Rām Bāgh ) of Babur (1526-30) – English
- Bāgh-i-Gul Afshān (Rām Bāgh ) of Babur (1526-30) – Hindi
- The Chīnī-kā-Raużah (1628-39 A.D) – English
- The Chīnī-kā-Raużah (1628-39 A.D) – Hindi
- Tomb of I’timād-ud Daulah (1622-28 A.D) – English
- Tomb of I’timād-ud Daulah (1622-28 A.D) – Hindi
- Humāyūn’s Mosque Kachhpura (1530 A.D) – Bilingual
- Buḍiyā-kā-Tāl & the Tomb of I’timād Khān Khwājāsarā (Itmadpur) (c. 1578) – English
- Buḍiyā-kā-Tāl & the Tomb of I’timād Khān Khwājāsarā (Itmadpur) (c. 1578) – Hindi
IV. CULTURAL NOTICE BOARDS (MARBLE PLAQUES) PLACED ON THE TAJ MAḤAL AND ITS ANNEXES
- The Taj Maḥal (1631-48) – English
- The Taj Maḥal (1631-48) – Hindi
- The Taj Mosque & Jam’āt-Khānah (1631-48) – Bilingual
- The Jal Maḥal (Water-Palace) (1631-48) – Bilingual
- Tomb of Akbarābādī Maḥal Begum (1631-48) -Bilingual
- Tomb of Fateḥpurī Maḥal Begum (1631-48) – Bilingual
- The Fateḥpurī Masjid (1631-48) – Bilingual
- Sahelī – Būrj (the Tomb of Satī-un-Nisā Khānam) (1631-48) – Bilingual
- The Māhtāb-Bāgh (The Moon Garden) (1631-35) – English
- The Māhtāb-Bāgh (The Moon Garden) (1631-35) – Hindi
V. CULTURAL NOTICE BOARDS (MARBLE PLAQUES) PREPARED FOR THE MONUMENTS OF FATEHPUR SIKRI
- Fatehpur Sikri – English
- Fatehpur Sikri – Hindi
- The Stone-Cutters’ Mosque (Masjid-Sangtarāshān) (1562) – English
- The Stone-Cutters’ Mosque (Masjid-Sangtarāshān) (1562) – Hindi
- The Rang Maḥal (1565-70) – English
- The Rang Maḥal (1565-70) – Hindi
- The Jāmi’ Masjid (1571) – English
- The Jāmi’ Masjid (1571) – Hindi
- The Tomb of Sheikh Salīm Chishtī (1581) – English
- The Tomb of Sheikh Salīm Chishtī (1581) – Hindi
- The Buland Darwāzah (1601) – English
- The Buland Darwāzah (1601) – Hindi
- The Jamāt-Khānah & the The Northern Complex (1571-1658) – Bilingual
- The Raniwās (1569-72) – English
- The Raniwās (1569-72) – Hindi
- The Maḥal-i-Ilāhī (1582) – English
- The Maḥal-i-Ilāhī (1582) – Hindi
- The Shāhī-Bāzār & the Mīnā-Bāzār (1572-75) – English
- The Shāhi-Bāzār & the Mīnā-Bāzār (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Rangīn Maḥal (1572-75) – English
- The Rangīn Maḥal (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Panch-Maḥal & Jharokhā (1572-75) – English
- The Panch-Maḥal & Jharokhā (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Khwābgāh (1572) & Kutub Khānah (1572) – English
- The Khwābgāh (1572) & Kutub Khānah (1572) – Hindi
- The Anūp – Talāo (1576) – English
- The Anūp – Talāo (1576) – Hindi
- Ḥujrah-i-Akbar Bādshāh (1572) – English
- Ḥujrah-i-Akbar Bādshāh (1572) – Hindi
- Akbar’s Gangā Sāgar (1572) – English
- Akbar’s Gangā Sāgar (1572) – Hindi
- The Chaupar (1572-75) – English
- The Chaupar (1572-75) – Hindi
- The ‘Ibādat-Khānah (1576) – English
- The ‘Ibādat-Khānah (1576) – Hindi
- The Imperial Office (1572-75) – English
- The Imperial Office (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Dīwān-i-‘Ām (1572-75) – English
- The Dīwān-i-‘Ām (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Dīwān-i-Khāṣ (1572-75) – English
- The Dīwān-i-Khāṣ (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Workshops (Kārkhānas) (1572-75) – Bilingual
- The Hāthī-Pol, Sangīn-Burj, Naubat-Khānah and Water Works (1572-75) – English
- The Hāthī-Pol, Sangin-Burj, Naubat-Khānah and Water Works (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Hiran Mīnār (1572-75) –English
- The Hiran Mīnār (1572-75) – Hindi
- The Caravan-Sarāi (1572) – Bilingual
- Babur’s Bāolī (Step Well) (1527) – English
- Babur’s Bāolī (Step Well) (1527) – Hindi
- Babur’s Jal Maḥal (Water Palace) (1527) – English
- Babur’s Jal Maḥal (Water Palace) (1527) – Hindi
- Ajmeri-Gate, Parkotā & Hāḍā Maḥal (1572-75) – Bilingual
- Ḥammām of Fatehpur Sikri – English
- Ḥammām of Fatehpur Sikri – Hindi