Its ironic that the Taj is promoted and projected as India’s cultural symbol. The British went on to venerate the Taj because it was what they could understand and identify with. The eastern religions were unimaginable to the western mind until the turn of last century. The British could not believe the architectural splendour or the scientific genius of the Hindu that they went to the extent of proclaiming that the Kailasa temples of India were the work of extra terrestrials because they did not want to give the credit for the structure to the native Hindus. Remarkably, the Kailasa complex has stone markings as if for a helicopter landing which they could not agree with. This to us points to an advanced civilization that was lost to India through perhaps a catastrophe or what you may call an apocalypse. Aurangzeb tried to pull down Kailasa unsuccessfully. The Moguls who razed Hindu temples will NEVER be our heroes. They were our invaders, looters and marauders who were barbaric. They ransacked and burnt down the Nalanda university that was topnotch in the world at that point of time. I see a one or two dimensional image of India in other parts of the world especially Pakistan where even our music is reduced to mere Bollywood which is like the pickle you serve with a heavy meal. As far Hindus are concerned, this is a very conservative race not to be misled by the superficialities such as our modern urban society. As someone who has lived in Islamic nations as well as the Hindu majority India where I am from, I know how we different we are inherently in many ways from rest of the world which is monotonously Abrahamic. From food and clothes to having our own native gods we are individualistic. There may have been invasions and foreign rule in the past, but nothing could break the chain of continuity of the ancient Hindu civilization for over 10,000 years. We are the only surviving one to this day beating all odds. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Mayan all vanished without a trace. We try to fit in in the Abrahamic world but we cannot in many ways. I can only request interested neighbours/parties to apply for Indian tourist visas and cover the architectural historic sites of India – we in Tamil Nadu have temples easily over 2000 years old, each an acre or sometimes upto even 100 acres. You have to see the granite hanging pillars that do not touch the ground, the stone pillars that can resonate with the ‘sapta swaras’ sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ne which still managed escaping the brutal onslaught by our invaders. Just to name a few. Numerous texts in Sanskrit and Thamizh have survived for 4000 years plus. My Thamizh grammar was a structured language by 3 BCE when we had women poets in king’s court and when our Thamizh king was busy building a dam over the Kaveri river. We have had maritime fleets. In spite of the invasions, Hindu culture flourished even if it stayed muted and low key. Those who left lured or forced by conversion could not get back – that was our sore point. Hindu Dharma was a one way street. It required you to be born a Hindu until very recently. Conversion was disallowed. So when something can be acquired by birth alone, you can imagine how pedigree is prioritized. To maintain that unbroken chain remained a challenge. A ten year visa will not prove enough to explore the enigmatic ocean called India which is why tourists return every year. Our daily prayers are two millennia old, older than the Bible by thousands of years. The antiquity of my nation and culture don’t get mentioned because they are not European by origin. Our own brothers and sisters have adopted the middle eastern spiritual ways. Only Hindus worship the sons of the soil: Shiva, Rama and Krishna. And daughters of the soil: Parvathi.
Pics: the thousand year plus Chozha architecture Brahadeshwara (Shiva) temple at Tanjore, Tamil Nadu and the Kailasha temple at Ellora carved from top to below. The Brahadeshwara raised by Raja Raja Chola has a circular base/foundation to make it earthquake proof structure. Raja Raja went on to popularize the Tanjore doll with circular base to represent the shifty or rocking nature of the temple foundations to adjust to faults in the earth’s surface. Cholas ruled the south for a 1000 years. Kailasha has something marked curiously like a helipad fit for landing by an aircraft. It has Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu temples within the complex. But NO HINDU KING EVER BUILT A MOUSOLEUM the way the Moguls did. No graves earmarked these greatest emperors of India. No grave for Chandragupta Maurya to my knowledge. Or for Chatrapathi Shivaji. But the same Shivaji museum is in Tanjore where you can find agricultural implements of his times, the granary urns etc. Cholas were seafaring kings who went upto Malaysia and Bali. Bali is Hindu even today thanks to them. Japan and Thailand worship Lord Ganesh thanks to them. Hindu Dharma spread without the sword.
So it always gets under our skin that India must be represented by the Taj Mahal which we believe was also raised over a desecrated Tejo Mahalaya, the Shiva temple. History has precedence. Every single mogul structure in India was raised over razed Hindu temples only retaining the original foundations. This is best visible in the Qutub Minar that still has supporting pillars of the Hindu temple with Sanskrit inscriptions.
The Taj is underplayed nowadays as awareness kicks in. India has a million other cultural symbols to represent the glorious Hindu civilization that is the mother and cradle of the world civilizations. We don’t need the Taj to represent us, not even from the diversity angle. The British underplayed everything Hindu because for them, coming to terms with the supreme Hindu brainpower was difficult. In Hindus, the British found their intellectual match. The one greatest weakness of the Hindus is that, even if we have had the Kshatriyahs among us, we are still NOT the warrior race. But all that is set to change. There is more information coming out of India as old notions get replaced with better knowledge.
MAY NOT INDIA BE REDUCED TO BOLLYWOOD AND TAJ MAHAL. These are Indian too but these are like our toe nails. Extra fittings that we can do without. The essence of India has nothing to do with these two.
The Goan Christians were the persecuted lot who were force converted by the Portuguese. Those who resisted conversion were lynched in public, burnt at stake by the invaders. Thousands fled to Karnataka etc., refusing to convert. Today the descendants of the Goan Hindu ancestors who stubbornly laid down their lives take pride in their Portuguese connection and ethnic diversity in India. This is the irony of India. The Goan Christians have their allies in Kerala where Tipu Sultan went on similar mad conversion spree. The invaders left, from the Moguls to the British. But they planted their agents in the converted lot of India who do their dirty work for them today.