The same goes with the freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands. Once people believe that the monster is a remarkably preserved (Scotch does that to you) bloated century-old hippopotamus carcass with an early prototype of a vacuum cleaner stuck to its face, the magic of visiting never mind Loch Ness, but nearby Inverness will go out of the window.
The Bermuda Triangle, of course, is the perfect self-sustaining mysterious destination – what really happens in the Triangle, stays in the Triangle, making it an under-the-radar hotspot in the western Atlantic Ocean to spend a dirty weekend. You can’t ever prove it’s not a mysterious place. Because if you do happen to come back intact, you must have gone on a closed day – like visiting Parliament when there is no session.
Now, the Taj has suffered terribly the last two years because of Covid lockdowns and restrictions. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic itself, footfall to the mausoleum – no, the word has nothing to do with ‘Musalman’ but is named after the 4th century Greek king of Caria, Mausolos, whose tomb in modern-day Turkey the term originally applied to – fell by 76%.
With Agra authorities announcing fresh Covid curbs last month, some 8,000 visitors recorded on April 11 this year fell to less than 3,500 the next day. The Taj continues to do bad business. This, of course, has hit the local economy badly. Even Hindu shopkeepers and guides have been left ‘Bermudaed’ in Agra.
In this scenario, enter Rajneesh Singh, BJP youth media-in-charge in Ayodhya. He has reportedly filed ‘many RTIs’ wanting to know the Truth – it’s in there. He wants to know what is behind ‘the 22 closed doors in the Taj Mahal’. Moving a PIL at the Lucknow High Court last week, which the latter rather impolitely dismissed (‘Please enroll yourself in MA, then go for NET, JRF and if any university denies you research on such a topic, then come to us.’), Singh wants the Archaeological Survey of India to set up a fact-finding commission and submit a report to ‘clear all doubts among the people regarding the presence of Hindu idols in the locked rooms’.
This comes along with BJP MP from Rajasthan Diya Kumari‘s perfectly reasonable claim that the land on which the Taj stands was bought by Shah Jahan from Jaipur ruler Jai Singh, her ancestor, of course. Incidentally, this is the same Kumari who had earlier claimed that her father was the 309th descendant of Lord Ram. Rajneesh Singh is not a Raghuvanshi, but it’s clear he wants to help – not thwart – the future of the Taj Mahal while everyone’s het up about its past.
By injecting some ‘mysteriosity’ into the flagging spirits of the Taj Mahal, our very own Jan Dhan Brown is on a mission to rescue one of the seven wonders of the world from the clutches of cliche. His own party isn’t helping. So, he’s on a one-man PR mission camouflaged as a PIL spree.
Are there Hindu idols locked up behind those Taj doors? Was ‘Mumtaz Mahal’ (no relation to Taj Mahal) a cover-up by Shah Jahan to tuck away his father’s lover Anarkali, whom Jahangir had given the new identity Noor Jahan after Akbar’s death? Were the Mughals aliens from Central Asia who assimilated in Hindustan like the Borg, the cybernetic organisms in Star Trek?
Is Jat Taj spelt backwards? Did Lady Diana sit alone for her February 1992 Taj Mahal photograph as a cryptographic message confirming that Charles and she would separate in nine months? Did Yanni, the Greek muzakian turn the Taj Mahal into a giant hotel lobby in 1997 when he held his concert there so as to publicise Donald Trump’s near-bankrupt casino-hotel in Atlantic City that had opened only seven years before?
Whatever be the mysteries that Rajneesh Singh wants to sprinkle on the Taj Mahal, it’s under the spotlights and moonlight again. All that the good people of Agra, whom Singh is genuinely rooting for, want now is for tourists to roll up, roll up for the magical mystery tour.