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Published in the 16-31 July 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

ASI discovers the names of masons who built Taj Mahal

New Delhi: The Archaelogical Survery of India (ASI) has claimed that it has found 350 years-old graffiti on the rear wall of the Taj Mahal which, according to it, reveals the names of the artisans who constructed the Taj Mahal.

The ASI said that the graffiti related to the artisans who contructed the monument nearly 350 years ago. There are various symbols and names in Nagri script, a predecessor of the modern Devnagari script. Arabic and Persian scripts have also been used but less frequently.

D Dayalan, superintending archaeologist of the ASI, said that these symols were found a few months back during restoration work of the monument. A team of archaelogists was commissioned to reveal the names and symbols and to have a closer look on the construction of the monument. The ASI has so far revealed 671 symbols and names marked on the 300 metre wide wall, though several of the names and symbols have been repeated a number of times. Dayalan said that it is a major achievement of the ASI to discover at least a partial list of the twenty-five thousand artisans and labourers who built the Taj Mahal.

The presence of a majority of Hindu names suggest that most of the artisans were Hindus. Moreover, inverted "Swastikas" on Taj’s rear wall indicate that Buddhist artisans had also participated in the construction of Taj Mahal 

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