“Henceforth, let the inhabitants of the world be divided into two classes – them as has seen the Taj Mahal; and them as hasn’t.” -Edward Lear

In my series of articles on the Taj Mahal, I am going to introduce you to an interesting episode of our history, where one of the British appointed Governor Generals, Lord William Bentinck, who had absolutely no respect for or interest in Indian Heritage, decided to auction off the Taj Mahal.

When celebrated English author, poet and illustrator Edward Lear wrote the quote mentioned above, he tried to depict the mesmerizing sight of the great Taj Mahal. Countless visitors since ages have praised the beauty of the Taj. But one man, sitting at the top position had some other evil designs on this beauty. Lieutenant- General Lord William Henry Cavendish- Bentinck became the Governor General of India for just two years from 1833 to 1835. In these 2 years, he saw the bad state of fi – nances, and to improve the fi nancial state of the government, he took a very stupid decision, which was to auction what we today regard as one of the ‘Wonders of the World’.

During the British Raj, it was a practice of rich British families to visit decorated Mughal buildings and prise-out precious stones to be taken back as souvenirs and booty. Taking a hint from this malpractice, Lord Bentinck decided to dismantle the Taj Mahal and auction off the precious marble. Part of the marble was to be sold to Indian

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