Photograph of Anil Chawla


Author - Anil Chawla

My article The Taj Mahal Paradox attracted some interesting comments. I reproduce here all the comments received. My reply, if any, is given below the comment.

With Best Wishes and Regards,

Anil Chawla

4 January 2008

From: Nandu Madhekar

In fact, there is a belief that when giant skyscraper buildings begin to come up, it heralds a recession. I also understand that Chinese economy went into a massive tailspin after the Great Wall was built.


From: M.N. Buch

My dear Anil,

Thank you very much for your email dated 31st December 2007. I have noted what you had to say about the Taj Mahal. What is your reaction to Rs. 3000 Crores being spent on the Akshardham Temple in London and Rs. 1500 Crores on the Akshardham Temple in Delhi? Parmeshwar can be worshipped even under a tree or under the open sky. Spending such vast sums of money on temples, gurudwaras, churches and mosques also symbolizes what the Taj Mahal does -- money poured into brick and mortar which could have been used for spreading education, improving health or providing employment.

I am, therefore, very happy that you have quoted JRD Tata, whose investment in developing human beings and building the economy is more sacred than merely building monuments.

With warm regards,

M.N. Buch

Mr. M.N. Buch retired as an I.A.S. officer. He is a well-known author. He writes on various subjects including urban development.

Dear Mr. Buch, Thanks for your kind reply and encouraging words. Akshardham temples are as much a waste as Taj Mahal.

From: Vasudev Godbole

My friends,

There is nothing to think about. The author has ducked basic facts.

Late Raja Mansingh's Palace was full of gold and silver. And that is why Shahjahan grabbed it under the pretext of burying his wife.

Why did Mahmud of Ghazni attach Sorti Somnath 12 times? Because it had accumulated enormous wealth.

Peter Mundy, the merchant of East India Company has mistakenly stated, "Gold and silver are being used as if common metal. There is already about her tomb a handrail of gold"

Strange enough none of the European travellers after Mundy note any gold or silver in Taj Mahal, be it Manrique and Tavernier (who visited Taj in 1640/41), Bernier (1665) or Manucci (around 1665).

Where did all the gold and silver go?
It was looted by Shahjahan.

Nothing could be simpler. As Taj Mahal was not originally a mausoleum, it is now useless. The two Nagarkhanas have no purpose. So called Mosque is NOT facing Mecca. Jawab has no purpose.


Now, where is the paradox?

V S Godbole

Mr. Vasudev Godbole has done pathbreaking research on history of Taj Mahal. The above comments were forwarded to me by Mr. Ashok Mishra. My reply and counter-reply of Mr. Godbole are given below.

Dear Shri Joshi,

I know and respect Mr. Vasudev Godbole and I am on his mailing list. I am aware of his research about Taj Mahal. In fact, in the first para of my article, I have taken care to give due acknowledgment to his and Mr. Oak's views.

My article is not about the history of Taj Mahal. It is about a lifestyle based on ostentatious display. It is about the virtue of living life of simplicity. Even if Taj Mahal was a rajput palace, I would have been critical of building such palaces that made India weak. Probably, India lost to Muslim invaders because our kings were building Taj Mahals and did not invest resources in scientific research. If the money investing in building such opulent palaces had been used to get gunpowder technology, Indian history would have been vastly different.

Taj Mahal whether built by Shah Jehan or by some Singh, is a malaise that only weakened the builder and owner. I could have also used Ravan's Sone Ki Lanka as an example, but that seemed too distant for most people's thoughts.

My attempt is to learn a lesson from Taj Mahal and tell the present generation that we should adopt a simple lifestyle without pomp and show. I do not know whether I have succeeded in my attempt.

Thanks & regards,

Anil Chawla

Dear Shree Chawla,

I know what you are trying to say, but you have chosen the wrong object. It is most unfortunate that you should mention Taj Mahal to support your argument. It simply distracts the people from the facts and causes confusion.

There are other examples which are appropriate.

  1. Sorti Somnath Temple in Gujarat was attacked by Muhamud of Ghazni 12 times.

    1. When the news of his first intended attack came, a delegation from Dwaraka went to see him, offering him money for not invading. He must have thought, " If I get so much for doing nothing, how much more would I get if I do attack!"

    2. Instead of offering Mahmud money Hindus should have thought of easy way of removing wealth from the Temple to make any attack uneconomical.

    3. The temple kept on accumulating wealth after each attack. That wealth could have been better used for intelligence gathering, raisng army for defence, creating obstructions in way of Mahmud and other activities. Most important of all the wealth could have been easily dispersed.

  2. Second classic example is Dilwara Temples on Mount Abu. Just consider what was happening at that time. Allauddin Khilji was creating havoc all over India. The money spent on the temple could have been easily spent on raising an army to defeat Khilji.

I hope that you get my point and would not circulate your Taj Mahal - Paradox.

V S Godbole

From: Eeshan B Choudhuri

Dear Sir,

It is truly a treat to read during this new year's day. It is very sad that India a country has turned open herself more towards a culture imbibing Materialism. We have to bring about a restraint now trying to throw open our culture and embracing concepts involving them. examples are aplenty with valentine's day which is nothing but a concept of commercialization venture by the west and many such days. Its time to take a turn around and celebrate our own culture for a change.

Jai Hind!


From: Parimal Rajkuntwar

Dear Mr.Anil Chawla,

First of all I would like to wish you a very peaceful new year.

It was very nice to see your mail in my mailbox after such a long period of time.

I must compliment you the way in which you have written the article THE TAJ MAHAL PARADOX. I agree to your viewpoints regarding the ads given for a person as a individual & the taj mahal story. I personally never liked the Taj Mahal not only because of what you have mentioned but also because the innocent artist's fingers were chopped off later. I accept all your views except for one & that is about living a so called luxurious life. I don't see anything wrong in spending a lot in functions, materialistic things etc. if these are earned without indulging in anti-national activities. For whom it is a luxury might be a necessity for another.

For eg. you may say what is the need for many vehicles when you can have one. Else may say why not buy a car of 2 lac rupees instead of 20 lacs. Here I can also say why use car or even a bike when you can use public transport?

I personally feel that the bottom line is if you can do it, you should do it without forgetting your responsibilities & duties towards the nation. I hope you got my point. (Enjoy your life without spoiling others & then I see no reason why others should complain).

Wishing you happy new year once again & hope that this time around I won't have to wait for so long to hear from you again. Please make sure that we get at least 1 mail/month from you relating to any topic.

With best regards,
Your avid reader,
Parimal Rajkuntwar

From: Amit Raje

I cannot agree less on the 'taj mahal paradox'... very pointing indeed.


From: Sarabjit Singh

Dear Mr Chawla,

An excellent article which I thoroughly enjoyed. I live in the city which is probably the most consumerist in the world, London, and I hope articles like yours will make Indians think twice about whether it is a good idea for their country to fall into such a dreadful and materialistic malaise. India should be remembered as the birthplace of great religions and philosophies such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and not for the more vacuous likes of Shahjehan and Shah Rukh Khan.

Kind regards,

Sarabjit Singh

From: Selvaraj

Dear Anil,

Nice article. It is hurtful to show the Taj Mahal in poor light. But you are probably right.


From: Rakesh Goyal

A good article - The Taj Mahal Syndrome.


Rakesh Goyal

From: Shravan

Dear Anil,

The article is excellent and it also shows that you have gone thru some spiritual transformation and advancement during your absence on the forum. Keep it up.


From: Dr. Sunil Sherlekar

Dear Anil,

Great article!


From: IS Rao

Dear Anil,

You really have got a point, and the way u put it, it really appealed to me.


From: Prof. V.H. Radhakrishnan

I read the article "THE TAJ MAHAL PARADOX" drawing attention on no functional utility and on grand image of achievements,giving analogies from social, political and business areas.The same applies to many other fields and in particular to people with EGO of some kind or the other. Such creations and practices do have their implications on society and it could be both positive and negative.



From: Dinesh Mishra

Anil Bhai,

It is out of the present context but the day suits it. The sheir is,

Saal-e-nau par tumhe ai jaan-e-ghazal kya bhejoon,
Haseen khud ho tumhe Taaj Mahal kya bhejoon

I do not remember who wrote this but that's it. Keep writing please.

Best wishes

Dinesh Mishra

For the original article The Taj Mahal Paradox, Please click here.

Please write to me your comments about the above discussion.

ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a management consultant by profession.

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