Is India neglecting the Taj Mahal because it was built by Muslims?

Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant sparked controversy when he described the poor conditions around the Taj Mahal...

NEW DELHI — The Taj Mahal, India’s iconic monument to eternal love, has taken a beating in recent years. Its attendance figures are down, and air pollution is slowly turning its ethereal white marble yellow.

Now, to make matters worse, some in India say that a staunch Hindu nationalist government recently elected in the Taj’s home state of Uttar Pradesh is starving the world-famous site of funds and support because, as it sees it, the mausoleum was built by Muslim invaders.

The state’s new chief minister, the saffron-robed Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath, set the tone early on when he lamented at a rally that tiny models of the Taj Mahal are often given to visiting foreign dignitaries, saying the monument “does not reflect Indian culture.”

The Taj, the country’s biggest tourism draw, was not allotted any cultural heritage funds in the state budget for the coming year. And the monument was omitted from the state’s official booklet listing all the important projects of the tourism department last week, prompting yelps of protest from the main national opposition party.

 Indian Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers by the Taj Mahal in Agra on June 26. (AFP/Getty Images)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a spokesman for the opposition Congress party, likened a tourism list without the Taj Mahal to a Hamlet-less “Hamlet.”

“If it is a booklet on tourism and it excludes Taj Mahal, at one level it is a joke and at another level it is tragic. It is like saying we will have ‘Hamlet’ without the prince of Denmark,” Singhvi told reporters Monday. He called the omission “a clear religious bias which is completely misplaced.”

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