The Archaeological Survey of India tweeted a newsletter with photos of what it called "underground cells" in the Taj Mahal—three days before a court hearing on a petition to open the rooms—in what was seen as a reminder by the monument conservation body to clear the air on the controversy.
The ASI, short for the conservation body, tweeted its January 2022 newsletter on May 9, three days before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court heard a petition seeking an inquiry into the "history" of the Taj Mahal. By May 9, the petition was already in the news and subject to intense discussions and debates.
The court dismissed the petition, which asked for the opening of the doors of the Taj Mahal's 22 rooms to see "the truth, whatever it is."
The photos in the ASI newsletter show restoration work in the underground cells of the Taj Mahal, a World Heritage Site located on the bank of the Yamuna River in Uttar Pradesh's Agra.
The ASI newsletter details restoration work on monuments under its care across the country. In a section titled "Taj Mahal, District Agra", the ASI showed four photos - two each before and after restoration work was carried out. "Repair to the walls and stairs etc. included scrapping of old and decayed lime plaster and replaster," the caption reads.
"The work of maintenance of underground cells on the river side was taken up. Decayed and disintegrated lime plaster was removed and replaced by laying of lime plaster and traditional lime processing before application," the ASI said in the January 2022 newsletter, referring to its restoration and repair work at the Taj Mahal.
Rajneesh Singh, a BJP youth media in-charge in Agra, had filed a petition before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court seeking directions to the ASI to probe the 22 closed doors in the Taj Mahal to find out whether idols of Hindu deities are kept there.
Mr Singh claimed false history about the Taj Mahal was being taught, and so the doors should be opened to find out the truth.
The high court had said such debates are meant for the drawing room and not the court of law. "The issues lie outside court and should be done by various methodology and should be left with the historians," the high court had said.