Aah Taj

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“India can do it” said Mother Indira in 1983.

And today in 2007, they have done it.

Once again.

Indians from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, regardless of whether they adore Himesh, Bappi or Rajini, came together as one in a massive tsunami of emotion to propel Taj Mahal into the prestigious list of Seven Wonders of the World, overcoming amazing odds and many alien conspiracies and geopolitical string-pullings.

In an article dated 27th May, Times of India reported:

A worldwide movement was started in 2001 to protect humankind’s heritage across the globe by bringing out a new list of the Wonders of the World. It was exactly 2,200 years after Antipater of Sidon compiled the original list of Seven Wonders of the World. Twenty-one monuments across the world were in the fray for six slots, as the Pyramids of Giza are already a part of the list, being the only surviving ancient wonder. The Taj was easily shortlisted as one amongst the 21 monuments, but the journey after that has been turbulent.

The contest is to be decided on the basis of votes each of the monuments receive, and the result will be announced at Lisbon, Portugal on 7/7/07. And it is here that the Taj has fallen way short of the goal. Peru is leading the list with its Incan sanctuary, Machu Picchu, getting 25.5 per cent of the total votes. Other front-runners for the six slots are The Easter Island Statues in Chile, Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Statue of Christ Redeemer in Brazil, Petra in Jordan, and the Alhambra in Spain. The Taj Mahal is at the 14th position, having garnered a mere 0.7 per cent votes.

Taj Mahal, the teardrop in the cheek of time in the 14th position? An affront to the “India shining” mentality of the “Rang De Basanti-be the change” generation, most certainly. A massive campaign started, through the media and through the net mobilizing patriotic Indians all over the world to SMS or vote online for the Taj and protect the country’s “Laaj”. Scrapbugs on Orkut forgot their desire to make fransip for a few weeks and kept bombarding scrapbooks and communities entreating people to vote. Mailing lists, egroups were flooded with only one thing: do it for the Taj. Be a true Indian.

And if nothing else moved you except displays of extreme passion, then yes we had that too. (link may be considered “not safe for work”)

To be honest, I myself had not slept well all these weeks worrying whether the Cambodians have an ace up their sleeve for the last few days of voting, whether Pakistanis were voting for the Eiffel Tower and whether a secret communique had been issued to Congress activists to vote for the Roman Colosseum. I was also more than a bit angry at those idiots who kept on saying that this contest, organized by a private entity, has no “authority” . Why? Because the UNESCO had disassociated itself from the contest, thus depriving it of any kind of legitimacy. I mean Hello? Who cares about what the UN says? People go to war showing the middle finger to the UN and noone has a problem then.

There were also concerns that this entire competition is an elaborate sham orchestrated by the mobile phone industry and the organizers, who were capitalizing on a false sense of nationalism to make a few bucks.

The money-spinner for the campaign was mobile phone voting. In India, the voting rights belonged to a private company called I Media Corporation Limited (IMCL). It controls the number 4567 you sent your SMS votes to. For every rupee spent on sending the SMS, 15 paise went directly to the government in the form of a wireless planning coordination fee. Sixty-four paise went to the cellphone operator you used to vote. The bulk of the remaining rupee was divided in equal halves between a company called IMI which collected all the votes in an electronic vault-like space and media partners like IMCL. Weber made two to three paise for every rupee that was spent on the voting. A remarkable aspect of this poll was that nothing stopped a person from voting many times.

Sigh. How petty can some people be. Here are politicians minting crores from the Taj corridor and when some heritage-conscious person tries to earn two or three paise, the media goes “Ooohhh” about it. Disgusting.

The first positive sign I got that Shah Jahan’s monument to love may have made it to the list based on the late tidal wave of patriotism was when Bipasha Basu, a known Taj fan who reputedly even has two Taj dome replicas surgically attached to her chest, was invited to be the compere of the “seven wonders” awards night. And then when the news came in that our country’s pride was on the list edging out the Acropolis and the Angkor Vat, I drank a full 2 liters of Pepsi, felt the fizz of desh-bhakti flowing through me and buoyed up by the sugar rush went on a “Compose/Send/Post Scrap” rampage congratulating my fellow Indians.

What tickled me pink were the reaction of the sore losers: those Egyptians.

Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni has said that the project was “absurd” and described Weber, as a man, “concerned primarily with self-promotion”. Nagib Amin, an Egyptian expert on world heritage sites, has pointed out that, “In addition to the commercial aspect, the vote has no scientific basis.” Egypt has voiced its concerns that such campaigns may undermine the preeminence of its pyramids, the only surviving Wonder among the historical Seven Wonders of the World compiled by Philon. In reaction to such opposition, Weber made the pyramids of Giza an “Honorary New7Wonders Candidate”. This meant that the place of the pyramids was secure as an additional Wonder to the seven being voted upon.

Honorary New7Wonders Candidate? Sounds suspiciously like the consolation prizes I used to get each year at the Dover Lane drawing competition —-those worthless steel rings of metal I liked to imagine was the silver.

Hah. I know how exactly Egypt feels.

And I like it.

Once the Pepsi bottle finished and my inbox filled up with reply congratulations, I was awash, more than ever, with pride. The pride of belonging to a country whose citizens, can SMS and vote online like no other nation in the world. The glory of being part of this, the great generation of Indians, who, in a few days of frentic activity involving simply their fingers, altered the course of the history of the world.

And I wondered. What if? What if, many ages ago, we had the technology we have today? We could have reported the Rowlatt Act as bogus through simple clicks in Orkut, launched SMS campaigns for the release of that man who gave us “Gandhigiri”, and dialed into FM stations to express our solidarity with those dudes in Champaran. How cool would that have been !

But wait, oh Indians. Our work is not finished yet. No I am not asking you to now actually go and show your love for the Taj by doing something to clean up the filth surrounding our national pride. Of course that’s not important. I am merely drawing your attention to the new competition the “New Seven Wonders Of the World” people have initiated called “The Seven Natural Wonders of the World“.

Nominations are being invited right now and I beseech all of you to not wait till the last minute like last time and send in, in unprecedented numbers, the names of the “natural wonders” we Indians treasure.

Namely: “Gunda”director Kanti Shah’s brain, Himesh’s nose and the average technosavvy Indian’s SMSing finger.

[Pictures courtesy Times of India]

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65 thoughts on “Aah Taj

  1. It was like an international “Idol” voting spree. One can send as many votes on mobile but only one through the net which was free. And even on the net you had to vote for seven monuments which is actually useless.
    One wonders how from number 14th, the Taj reached the first spot so quickly. Any bets on the same “number 14th” trick being used in the countries whose respective monuments were in the fray?
    For the wonders list I nominate Dharavi. It is a wonder how so many people can survive in so small a place with not even the basic sanitary and health facilities!!

  2. I planned to read your post all way to the end but that Times of India link I opened had me puking uncontrollably over my notebook.

    And now as I type, my fingers stick and drip with all this stinking mess.

    Couldn’t the photoshoppers at TOI just use a Tera Patrick-Lanny Barbie still and juxtapose a Taj Mahal??????????

    eeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww! I am still puking….

  3. Unless I have completely missed your usual satire, I disagree with ur tirade against naysayers of the entire Taj exercise. It was an Idol style voting, and like the show, this too had regional pride working instead of any genuine interest or appreciation of primordial/ancient/middle ages & their respective structures/memorials.

    I voted too, some smooth campaign moved me enough to think ‘what the heck, when the world thinks on Idol lines, might as well get our Taj there’. But at the end of the day, I still feel a little idiotic and slightly conned by Mr Weber and IMCL and hutch/airtel/bsnl and my own naivetie. And hopefully I wont fall for the same con next ime round..

    A thing of true wonder and beauty does not need the seal of approval from some swiss agency or from millions of “patriotic” countrymen. We might miss out many other natural/manmade beauties/wonders. I’d rather have a list of historical/ecological sites in India and rather have an sms campaign to collect funds to protect our young Indians from peeing/grafitti-ing/making outing/encroaching on those monuments. :((

  4. Natural wonders?

    Nothing more natural reaction that pours forth from the mouth of politicians/government in Mumbai congratulating and urging people of Mumbai “TO DISPLAY THEIR INDOMITABLE SPIRIT IN FRONT OF ADVERSITY” and clams up after that, doing nothing to get civic facilities right in the most brazen thick skinned way and most importantly getting away with it year after year.

  5. I thought they said that the “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”….Its simply put, quite pathetic that only people with net connections or mobile phones decide what the “seven wonders” are. I mean, a poor farmer in Chambal surely should have as much influence as deciding the 7 wonders as any one else.

    Also, lets remove the nationalistic pride for a minute. We live in a increasingly globalized world. So, plz shut shop with the “Jai hind wah Taj” crap everybody. As for me, i’ve seen the Taj once about 4 years back. Yet, in my eyes, the statue of liberty and the sydney opera house are a lot more magnificent than the taj.

    PS: We indians the last few days went on a taj praising spree calling it the “monument of love”. Lets not forget that shah jahan cut off the hands of the people who made it, didnt he? Just shows to the world how intrinsic violence is in our blood.

  6. you missed out on the digusting ads on TV. I saw one and nearly puked. A blind kid was distributing pamphlets … uncle uncle suna hai ki taj bahut sundar hai. ussko saat ajubon main daalne ke liye vote keejiye.

    yuuuuuccccccccccccckkk!!

    if i remember correctly, it was a “public service” announcement by a cell phone provider.

  7. I always thought this was TOI’s conscious efforts to create an urban legend. In this era when we lack any lores to live by, this may have been some relief. I simply can’t see it as anything but a folklore. But then I am prone to delusions and hallucinations.

  8. is it only me who sees an ulterior motive behind these new seven wonders. i felt it was too jingoistic also: the campaign (i voted too, don’t get me there!). come on, just because there are fewer poeple in France to vote(maybe they are busy warming their beds) and India has a billion at their disposal, doesn’t make the Eiffel tower an inferior architectural marvel than taj mahal. also, if votes are the only parameter, then as you said, shah rukh khan can be the greatest wonder of all!

    they said they chose the wonders as symbols of unity! Great Wall of China!! why do we have walls??!!

    i also read in some bengali daily that the entire voting thing is a hoax. they are actually decided the experts! any clues?

  9. you call that picture NSFW? I’d say its not safe for your life. Yuck. Lanny Barbie? Yuccckkkk.. (Not to be read as fu…)

  10. I am happy to say I did not vote. The entire & wonders classification is crap. Why not 8, why not 6? Why not 10? Besides this was a cynical money making exercise – I realized that pretty early when Unesco disassociated itself with the con.

  11. @Rohit who-does-not-like-the-Taj
    Are you INDIAN? (note– not Indian!)
    Maybe you not like Amitabh Bachhan also!

    Er– I liked Ghiasuddin’s tomb complex better. And I find Big B overrated as an actor.

    Should I too turn in my passport?

  12. @ Swati

    Check out saptaswa’s comment. It basically re-enforces what i tried to say. I like the Taj. But i like the Statue of Liberty better. Now, I’m sure that there are many Indians who like the opera house,Eiffel tower etc more than the taj. Its only when it comes to “7 wonders” selection time, these people bring their jingoistic feelings to the fore. Isnt that hypocrisy at its best?

  13. talking about the Taj, does any one know about the controversy theory that it actually was a Shiva Temple- about the locked rooms in the basement with the Shivaling and the trident at the top… Wasn´t there a book by a British historian about this?

    Why isn´t there a proper inquiry into the matter?

  14. Ankor Vat, the world’s largest Hindu Temple Complex should have made it. Just by virtue of its architectural qualities, it deserves to be amongst the 7 wonders.

    Unfortunately, not many people in India, Indonesia or Cambodia cared and Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) got busy in Africa.

  15. Yeah Angkor Wat is a gem of a construction and it needs urgent attention before it is wasted away by the local administration and natural calamities.

  16. The debate rages … should it be the Hindu temple in Cambodia or the Muslim tomb in India? Very interesting.

    @Rohit is it okay if I like both the Statue of Liberty and the Taj Mahal? They both are different symbols. Personally, I am extremely impressed by what the Statue of Liberty stands for, but viewing it from the top of Empire State Building makes you lose all admiration for it’s size and scale, it looks tiny. The thought of the tired, hungry and wretched exiles sailing in and waking up to see the welcoming lady of liberty and freedom, does give me goose pimples. The thought of a queen and a king imprisoned by his son buried in the building gives me goose pimples too, but of a different kind.

    I admire the Taj for it’s beauty. I saw it a few years back for the first time and didn’t expect it to be anything great, I mean, you have seen pictures and models for so many years. And after going through the filth, the stink and the sewage openly flowing through the streets and splashed up on to the pedestrains who didn’t give a damn, I reached there. The first sight of the building is really striking. I could never imagine it to be so huge and so detailed. If you erase where it stands, what it’s history is and what the controversies are, it truly is a marvel and a wonder. And yes, I am competent to compare it with the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and the Statue of Liberty, and I personally think, the building by itself, stands with them.

    Of course, being a sucker and paying someone through my telephone bill to endorse what I think is something I didn’t do 🙂

  17. Ankor Vat is a orphan city.
    In scale, it is larger than all but the Great Wall and in composition and craftmanship, it can be rivalled only by Taj and the Petra.
    Lying in the middle of Khmer territory, and ravaged by centuries of War and unforgiving nature, its Hindu connection seems to be its biggest bane.

  18. There is one thing however that I would like to point out here. This is something that doesnt have to do much with the merits and the arguments of what should have been and what shouldnt have been on the list.

    I am also one among the millions who voted for the Taj. This at a time when the people of this countrylove all things western, want to name their roads, buildings and everything that resembles soemthing from the west. Good to see that we have atleast some pride left in us. I am only hoping that these similar sentiments wake up in all of us again when we vote for our leaders based on their merits regardeless of their party and religion. Reading all the responses was also amazing because the responses given by the other people are just brilliant!!

  19. @Shyam
    Your comment was somewhat amusing. How do you define what is “from the west” and what is “ours”. I mean, the Taj is openly a monument built by “people from the west”, in an architectural style, that at that time was “from the west”. What is it that about that building that suddenly evokes oriental emotions in you?

    While the building in itself is to be admired, the reason for it is kind of silly. The moment you admire the Taj Mahal, India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Flora Fountain you make yourself sound ignorant when you say

    This at a time when the people of this country love all things western, want to name their roads, buildings and everything that resembles soemthing from the west. Good to see that we have atleast some pride left in us.

    Monuments are reflective of history, and we are scared of our history. I accept that I am ignorant while making this statement, but I can’t recollect any significant monuments that we have build with our identity as India as a nation. Nothing beyond the memorials for Mohandas, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi. Didn’t the people who died for the country in 47, 62, 65, 71 and 99 deserve at least a memorial to remember them by? Something beyond petrol pumps, so that future generations may not forget them?

  20. @Rishi, lets try to fathom this: would the Americans, British or the French vote for any catholic monument outside their own country just because a majority of them are christians(Btw, the people here(in the US) are not really aware or care for this campaign. Hence probably there are no american monuments in the list).
    At the same time please allow me to let you know that I am aware of the greatness of the Hindu temple of Ankor Vat(and it is probably the only living proof of a native Indian Emperor leaving the subcontinent to conquer another region).

    For those people who are concerned about the rationality of this poll, i think there’s nothing wrong with it. The list released by the UNESCO lists the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty among the seven wonders of the world. While the Grand Canyon deserves respectable mention, the statue of liberty is not that impressive and should not have been included in the 7 wonders of the world for wahtever reason. However it still was and probably because of the pressure put up by the US on the UN to inlclude it in the list. Therefore what’s wrong if we use our population to our advantage….

  21. @ all

    The taj is a most beautiful structure… and brings out emotions which are difficult to describe… it deserves to be in any list… official or otherwise… what GB is poking fun was the process… lets not vilify it by saying that the angkor vat is more significant or the eiffel tower (err!! architechtural wonder… its a skeleton of steel rods..) or the statue of liberty are prettier or some such shit like that…

    @ anonymouse-

    umm… who pray is the India Gate a monument to?

    and hungry masses sailing to where? the US? before or after the coast guard shoots them?

    @ manu-

    no one gives a shit if it was shiva temple or not….

  22. @Dealer
    Kind of tough to respond to you, since you have not built a context. However, to specifically answer your questions
    From Wikipedia

    India Gate (originally called the All India War Memorial) is a monument built by Edwin Lutyens to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in the World War I and the Afghan Wars.

    As for your comment

    and hungry masses sailing to where? the US? before or after the coast guard shoots them

    I am really at a loss as to how to answer this. Are you by chance questioning history, or maybe doubting the symbolism of the statue? My basis was the poem “The new Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    And for at least a couple of 100 years, it did welcome the wretched poor of Europe to a life of freedom, opportunity, prosperity and plenty. But, it does not really mean anything in the context of our discussion here, sorry to hijack this just to clarify a point.

  23. @ anonymouse

    I got your point in your comment addressed to me. But you didnt ans my question. Isnt it hypocritical that indians would love the “other” monuments more all the time, yet when selection time comes its “wah taj”. I mean the “7 wonders” arent chosen for their country or people. Their global, meant to be admired by mankind as a whole.

    Also i didnt understand “Of course, being a sucker and paying someone through my telephone bill to endorse what I think is something I didn’t do 🙂 “…..Is that a ref to me tryin to influence others in this post or to some separate incident?

  24. The wonder is that Angkor Wat probably reaches back into the wonder that Indian civilisation once was? It brings more wonder in my eyes than Taj Mahal… and I still love India… But its not in our land? What if Taj Mahal happened to be located on the Pakistan side? Would we have still voted for it? This entire wonder business is a sham. And I am not taking away anything from Taj Mahal. I just wonder if the 7 wonders of the world is worth respecting anymore. Maybe there is more in this world than that told to us….

  25. @ Dealer
    I am not denying the Taj’s claim as a masterpiece of architecture and a thing of beauty. All I pointed out was that the complex at Ankor Vat deserves a place amongst the seven wonders for the same reasons (purely architectural and historical) for which the Taj or Petra were chosen.

    @ Shyam
    Ankor Vat’s construction had little to do with direct “Indian” participation and there are a multitude of temples all over East Asia (Borobodur is an example) that bear testimony to native Javanese, Malay and Balinese architectural genius.

    @ stephen knappites (taj =Shiva temple)-ites

    The Taj is a perfect example of Persian architecture in design and Indian craftmanship at its best. Its design has nothing to do with a Hindu temple (even though there could have been a Shiva temple at its site).

    So, the current structure IS NOT A HINDU TEMPLE.

    Majority of the Islamic monuments in India are built over/re-used Hindu/Jain/Buddhist structures for the obvious psychological dominance that was conveyed over the defeated populace by such an act.

    Islamic rulers and new believers (mostly owing allegiance to the Chistiya and Suhrawardy orders of Sufism), made it a point to convey this message.

  26. @Rohit
    As usual, I misread your comment to mean that we should be voting for our own rather than praising the west. I agree with your position that these are mankind’s treasures and have to be seen as such.
    What I meant about being a sucker (and it could be misread due to somewhat incorrect grammar), is that, a huge number of people got suckered by the phone companies and others, and I am glad I was not one of them.

  27. Brilliant, delicately balanced post. Making the reader wonder every now and then if you’re really (and strangely) honest-to-god or just spewing well-nuanced sarcasm. Noice 🙂

  28. @anonymouse

    Your first point:”I mean, the Taj is openly a monument built by “people from the west”, in an architectural style, that at that time was “from the west”. What is it that about that building that suddenly evokes oriental emotions in you? ”

    When Shah Jahan ordered the Taj Mahal to be built, his prdecessors had ruled the country for atleast 110 yrs. If that doesnt qualify for a person to be completely Indian what does. True its design was inspired by contemporary persian architecture but the design of the Taj Mahal cannot be called anything but Indian. The name Taj Mahal itself is the first of its kind since previously any mughal monument was not accompanied by the suffix ‘mahal’. It is also significant to note that Mumtaz in whose honor the Taj was built was originally a Rajput. The water fountains and the gardens around it is a distinctive feature of Mughal India. The Taj Mahal complex was built out of a mixture of red stones and white marble a legacy from the Akbarian times architecture not true to any other western tradition. The mosaic inlays, the arches the interior designs all have a distinctive Indian trait to it.The Yamuna river which is revered by all Indians was also given utmost respect in the plan. It was considered a part of the monument and was designated as the river that creates a paradise. Among others the chief sculptor and mosaicst was a Hindu.Most of the others were Muslims who since generations(in case you didnt know, Muslims in India are much older than the Mughals ever came to India) had resided in India. So much for the architecture.

    At that time, the Mughal revenue equalled 17.5 million pounds. In comparision the revenue of the entire British empire in 1800 was 16 million pounds. The Mughal emperor of India was considered as great as the Turkish sultan of the Ottoman Turkish empire and no power leave alone the British dreamt of invading India. This was truly the golden period of the Indian subcontinent. It was against such a background that the TajMahal was ordered to be built. Above all you just have to go and visit the Taj so that you will realise what is there about that building that suddenly evokes oriental emotions in me(in your words)!!

    If you find the reason for making the Taj silly fathom this. The Pyramids in egypt were made as a final resting place for the kings and queens of Egypt, the Statue of Liberty was gifted by the French to the US as a symbol for freedom(read we are happy you defeated the British), the Eiffel tower was made for decorating Paris and to please emperor Louis-XIV etc. Monuments my friend are always made to honor people.

    I dont know what you exactly mean by your second point but from what I have understood i will try to answer you. When I say that, “This at a time when the people of this country love all things western, want to name their roads, buildings and everything that resembles something from the west”, I meant that try walking down any big mall or plush apartment complex. You will find names like Belissimia. Windermere, Sterling etc but not a single Indian name. Even Mukesh Ambani is naming his new house in Mumbai as “Antilia” which has nothing Indian in it. Hence when I admire Flora Fountain, CST, Gateway of India etc. I am not admiring the fact they were built by people from the west but the fact they are more than a century old, they happen to be beautiful and are in my country. My words are definitely not ignorant or amusing. But I am amused you think so.

  29. @Shyam
    You afford too much significance to names. I am with you in admiring the fact that they are beautiful and have endured through the years. Where I differ, is that I don’t care what country it is in, and I do give significance to who built it, how and under what circumstances. I give importance to the ‘who’ because it makes me wonder why we do not build anything anymore.

    When I said “While the building in itself is to be admired, the reason for it is kind of silly.”, I didn’t mean the reason for the building is silly, but that the reason for your admiration is silly, if the only reason for that admiration is that it is in your country.

    Also, if 100 years is what it takes for us to claim things as “un-western”, then there isn’t anything much wrong in English street names, is there? 🙂

  30. is that a comment?……is that a reply?…………is it a blog within a blog?..sadly its all of that and a bore. Let us all congratulate Shyam ( reread the comment above if u still don’t know who I am talking about) for successfully ambushing all of us, who come here to read GB’s posts and inflicting his own point of view as a medieval history lesson.

  31. @Dhananjay: Dharavi. Interesting choice…though it does stretch the meaning of the word “natural wonder”.
    @Janet: 🙂
    @Mukul: But would that have been so…heart-wrenchingly “real” ?
    @Momo: I do not begrudge people trying to make money either through Idol or through such endeavors. What I do find worth lampooning is the zombie-like faux patriotism that contests like these play on—-people who could not care the less about the Taj (if they did there would be a national outcry about the filth that surrounds the Taj) suddenly become its greatest champions by doing the easiest thing in the world—pressing a few buttons.
    @Raj: Waxing eloquent about the spirit of the Mumbaikar gets them off the hook.
    @Rohit: Personally I think the Statue of Liberty is overhyped. Now as to whether Shah Jahan cut off hands or whether the Taj is a temple is quite moot with regards to if it is a wonder of the world or not. Many times that number died from exhaustion and whippings when the Pharaohs made the pyramids…not that it makes them any less wonderous.
    @Anonymous Coward: Eeeks. I was not aware of that.
    @Prasun: 🙂
    @Aditi: A newspaper that serves us folklore. Nice.
    @Saptaswa: Wait? SRK isnt the greatest wonder of all??
    @Sriram: Well at least they tried.
    @Shan: It’s seven as the original list made long ago by this Greek dude had 7. That’s why.
    @JM: Ok
    @Swati: Turn it over to the gardener please.
    @Manu: Yes some links to it have been posted here.
    @Pijush: You mean I drew your attention to it..for the first time? Oh no…I am now a part of this whole scheme…and I am not even getting a paisa.
    @Rishi: Interesting—should Hindus go for the Angkor or should they go for the Taj? Does the Hindu identity suffuse the Indian one? Well we know the answer.
    @Shyam:

    I am also one among the millions who voted for the Taj. This at a time when the people of this countrylove all things western, want to name their roads, buildings and everything that resembles soemthing from the west. Good to see that we have atleast some pride left in us

    .
    And why is that a problem? Why is patriotism = insularity? How does naming my house Lyceum instead of Nalanda make me “not proud” of my heritage?As pointed out by Anoymouse, the Taj has “Western” influences where the West means Persia.You reply to this saying:

    When Shah Jahan ordered the Taj Mahal to be built, his prdecessors had ruled the country for atleast 110 yrs. If that doesnt qualify for a person to be completely Indian what does

    Well the British were here for 200 years. So why is it wrong to call someplace Windermere? Why cannot I claim, following your logic, that I have absorbed 200 years of British influence and hence the name.
    @Tarzan: 🙂 Thanks
    @OS: Yes some perhaps have.
    @Dealer: Exactly. My post isnt about the suitability of the Taj or any other monument but simply this feel-good patriotism fuelled madness.
    @Trangam: Very interesting and difficult questions.
    @Uday: Thanks

  32. @Manu, S Pyne etc.: Please! Just because there is something on the net saying that there is a thoery that that taj is a Shiva temple doesn’t mean that we believe it! This theory is the brainchild of P N Oak, a total crackpot who believes, among other things that (a) Mecca is a Shiva temple and (b) Christianity is a form of Krishna worship.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.N._Oak

    Outright loony fringe. Hinduism is great enough without having to claim that products of other faiths are Hindu too.

    @Rishi: The architecture of the Taj is not entirely Persian in design – while it is Persian in its essense, there is a significant degree of Hindu architectural influence – not surprising because the Mughals had been considerably influence by Rajput architecture – e.g. Jharokas in the Taj is typically Hindu.

    If you look at Islamic art elsewhere, e.g. Blue Mosque (Istanbul), Tomb of Sultan Mutahhar (Roudehen, Afghanistan), Shah Mosque (Isfahan), or even earlier works in India like Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq’s Tomb (Delhi), you’ll see ceratin aspects of the Taj are missing. So essentially the Taj is Persian architecture, under the influence of the Rajput school.

    In fact, the Taj is the pinnacle of Indo-Islamic art. If you wish to see why, just see the next chronological creation – the Bibi ka Makbara (Aurangabad), where the same elements of the Taj, just a bit overblown, spoils the architectural brilliance. The Mughal school continued to decline till the last memorable structure, Safdarjung’s tomb is a sad echo of past greatness.

    That doesn’t take anything away from other great structures elsewhere like Ankor Vat, Hagia Sofia, Kremlin, Tabo Monastery, Borobudur, Anuradhapura, Mohenjo Daro etc. In the end it is just a bloody big hype, and a test of how many people with mobile/ internet access were conned into spending money to vote. Marvels of human ingenuity cannot be limited to seven in number. So I can completely agree with you there.

  33. “Scrapbugs on Orkut forgot their desire to make fransip for a few weeks and kept bombarding scrapbooks and communities…”

    ROTFL! Simply priceless

    Jokes apart, Arnab, what’s wrong in having a little harmless fun. People send SMSs for no reason, so here’s one more.

    Maybe it doesn’t matter if the Taj didn’t make it to the list, maybe the list is bogus, but it brought a smile to some people’s faces and a surge of pride to many a nationalist heart. Ki farkh paenda pappe, lighten up!

  34. GB wrote
    @Rishi: Interesting—should Hindus go for the Angkor or should they go for the Taj? Does the Hindu identity suffuse the Indian one? Well we know the answer.

    @GB
    I do not question Taj’s claim as one of the wonder’s, not do I think Indians should choose between one or the other ( Taj or Ankor).

    I felt that Ankor deserved to be selected and probably we (Indians) could have helped it get selected (just like we did for Taj).

  35. I do wish Taj Mahal and Bollywood would cease being our only representatives out there in the big, bad world. Read in some magazine or other that from Sweden to Finland, Indians mean a connection to Bollywood. They even asked questions about this actor we know as King Khan and this beauty queen who appears in advertisements (apt description that, nothing more to add). Its worse than people new to Kolkata gushing about roshogollas and mishti doi. Go visit Job Charnock’s grave. Taj is beginning to sound equally cliched. Its beautiful, ornate and uncared for, but India stands for more than Shahrukh Khan and Taj (and perhaps Shilpa Shetty). The majestic forts, the Lakshwadeep islands, Ladakh, Tawang, unknown to most of the SMS savvy generation, could perhaps be more remunerative to the Indian Government by the right kind of advertising and open a treasurehouse of new sights to tourists interested in more than Taj.

    BTW, I voted for Taj too, though on the net, a student gets a miserable amount as an excuse for cell balance.

    I also adored SK till I watched Paheli.

    Amitabh Bachchan…..have no opinion about him.

    Wonder what that makes me?

  36. @Pighoooey:

    this is not ‘little harmless fun’.

    the guilt of indians and their frustration at their ability to do something has been exploited shamelessly by the media and the telecom companies.

    it’s as if the taj were falling apart and needed to be repaired. and to think not one paisa of this drive is going to the taj.

    it is always sad when the best intentions of good people are exploited.

  37. Natural wonders (India): I’d pitch Ram Setu.

    Wished it were Sunderbans/Rann of Kutch – but these guys are too regional (unless B’deshis chips in for S’bans). Mt. Everest is a no brainer – should win by global consensus (besides, it’s Nepal’s stake). However, if we put up Kashmir/Arunachal Pradesh, we can outsource voting to Pak/China, and thus take it easy.

  38. @GB

    Now that Taj is part of the ‘official’ list, don’t you think there would be media pressure on the Govt. to clean the filth surrounding Taj? If that happens, the Smsing Indians would have done their ‘bit’ for their country 🙂

  39. MAllika Sherawat’s gravity defying bosom, Rakhi Sawant’s logi-defying head, Ekta Kapoor, the tear-jerker queen! Pls thr r tons and tons of them here in India!

  40. Rubbish, hogwash. Ben Kingsley holding up 4 fingers and announcing “the THHHUUURD wonder of the world is….” was proof enough. I mean who gave this “non-profit” organisation the authority to come up with this list? And how can you decide this by votes ? There are are commentators in this blog who believe the Taj is not such an Oooh-Ah monument after all. Who is supposed to account for these variations in preferences? We the people with our Rakhi Sawant fetishes and trigger-happy fingers?

    What appalling nonsense. Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Sane (AR Rahman) came up with a special support the Taj song. What new depths of media-driven paranoia and wastefulness are we going to soar to next?

  41. all this hype and hoopla about taj being or not being in the 7 new wonders is plain bogus…nothing but a business strategy conspired by some shrewd mind…and that too in a country where millions are homeless and hungry, it doesn’t make a sense to many.But thats my screwed up Great country(unlike our sweet Great Bong. And just for the sake of it, I dint vote…he he ha ha…long live patriotism

  42. Another comment from the show that made me cringe: “There are two kinds of people in the world..those who have seen the Taj and those who haven’t”.

    Excuse me? Was that supposed to be profound? Of COURSE there are two kinds of such people you blithering idiot. There are those who have already defecated this morning and there are those who haven’t. Dichotomy is the spice of life.

    Anyway who cares if the Taj part of some list or not? God hasn’t come down to pass judgment on these edifices of creativity. People will still come to see the Taj and sit on those benches holding hands hoping for a moment they might emulate the true inspiration behind that monument.

  43. @ WTF
    “…the guilt of indians and their frustration at their ability to do something has been exploited shamelessly by the media and the telecom companies….”

    You can thus label anything that evokes national pride. The movies Pardes, or DDLJ, then, were nothing more than an attempt to exploit the guilt of NRIs for leading a good life in foreign lands while ignoring their country. And why do we feel good when the “Indian” cricket team does well, especially against a piddly little neighbouring country? It is only a game, we go and give it the India flavor and it becomes religion.

    In short, the media plays to our emotions all the time, often with no aim but to make a quick buck. The Taj story is just one more example. While I agree that the hype could have been channeled to greater good – in this case, maybe a drive to clean up the Taj – you can say that of any instance where the media plays to emotions.

  44. “Bipasha Basu, a known Taj fan who reputedly even has two Taj dome replicas surgically attached to her chest”

    Classic! and how very patriotic of her.

    I have one of the minarets surgically fixed to the space between my legs
    😉

  45. The Economist ran an article on the seven wonders:

    http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9449024

    The article concludes that some good may actually come out of the whole thing:
    “..Does that mean the competition was worthless? Mr Weber’s privately-funded “New 7 Wonders Project” has pledged that half of all its net revenue will be used for the restoration of selected monuments. For some sites extra publicity may boost tourism, which may—or may not—help raise funds for their protection. …”

    So all that enthusiastic voting for the Taj may result in a cleaner, more pristine monument!

  46. quote
    whether a secret communique had been issued to Congress activists to vote for the Roman Colosseum
    /quote

    LOL!! awesome observation

  47. How dare you give Gali to Bips. Wait, Wait, I will send Jonny after you.

    Ooops, sorry Bips is now with Ronaldo…well, let us say learning about cross-cultural exchange….hmmmm…hmmmm

    Ronaldo…stop it, you are defiling our national treasure(s), Bips I mean. Well, multiple emotions are going thru me. I will stop now.

  48. Good stuff GB. As much as Id like to believe that we could squeeze a monument into a historic list, it isn’t SMS language-d persuasion that makes history or wonders. 🙂

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