कर्झन आणि ताजमहाल

भारतीय पुरातत्व सर्वेक्षण विभागाला दीडशे वर्ष पूर्ण झाली या वर्षी. त्याच्यानिमात्ताने एका पुस्तकातील हा उतारा…

Alone among India’s viceroys, Curzon devoted substantial energy to archaeological preservation. He reorganized the Archaeological Survey into and efficient administrative body and tirelessly toured India’s ancient monuments. He was the first governor-general in 80 years to visit Gaur, Bengal’s historic capital, and one of only two in a century of British rule ever to tour the Hindu shrines of Brindaban. Curzon’s obsession, however, was the Taj Mahal, which he visited six times during the course of his viceroyalty. Convinced that the local engineers were ‘destitute’ of the ‘finest artistic perception’, he set on foot a number of restoration projects, which he then supervised with a single-minded devotion to detail. Behind this commitment to precision lay, however, a world of ‘oriental’ fantasy. Curzon dressed the hereditary custodians of the tomb, for instance, in the white suits and green scarf that he decided was ‘the traditional garb of the Mogul days’. He ordered the removal of ‘garish english flowers’ for the gardens and their replacement by a row of cypress trees framing the Taj at the end. And he determined to procure a hanging lamp for the domed chamber above the cenotaphs. As the style of the Taj was, in his view, Indo-Saracenic, ‘which is really Arabic’, he asked Lord Cromer, British proconsul in Egypt, to design a lamp for him modeled on those still to be found in the mosques of Cairo. Dissatisfied with Cromer’s suggestion, Curzon then sought, unsuccessfully, to locate a copy of his childhood illustrated edition of ‘The Arabian Nights’ as a source for suitable designs. Finally, during his trip back to England, upon his retirement from the viceroyalty, he stopped in Cairo, where he selected the design for the lamp, installed in the Raj in 1906, which still hangs over the tomb chamber.

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