In keeping with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath assertion that “new Uttar Pradesh, there is no place for symbols of slavery,” the name switch for Agra’s ‘Mughal Museum’ to ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum’ has happened. But the problem is this may further delay the project.
The museum is located near the Taj Mahal and is already behind schedule because of funds shortage and rising costs. The biggest problem, which is said to have affected the project, is the name change itself as officials scramble to find enough links between Maratha warrior king Shivaji and the City of Taj.
The museum project was launched by former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in January 2016. The museum is located less than 1.5 km from the east gate of the Taj Mahal and is supposed to showcase Mughal-era culture and cuisine.
The initial project cost was estimated at Rs 141 crore with a dead of two years. Sources said it’s only 70% complete, with Rs 90 crore so far sanctioned, even as the GST and the time factor push costs up to an estimated Rs 170 crore plus.
The reason for the delay and rising costs is said to be carting issues: all concrete structures for the project have to be brought from Noida, around 200 km away. Such constructions are barred near the Taj Trapezium Zone as per a Supreme Court order.
Sources told The Indian Express that concerned about the project’s viability, the government had recently asked the architect as well as the Rajkiya Nirman Nigam, which is handling the construction, for a “business plan”. The extra funds are yet to be cleared by the Finance Department.
The name change cost is yet to be ascertained. Amit Srivastava, Deputy Director, Tourism, Agra, said, “There is certainly a link between Shivaji and Agra. He was kept in captivity at Agra Fort during the era of Aurangzeb and bravely escaped.”
Srivastava told the paper that once they received the go-ahead, the department would engage historians from Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Agra to know more about the links of Shivaji. This could take another year.
BD Shukla, Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Culture at the university, says it might take longer. “After Shivaji lost all his forts, he was called here by Aurangzeb. Shivaji got angry when he was not treated well. He was later held captive in the Ram Singh ki kothi. However, so far neither the ASI nor any historian is sure where Ram Singh’s Kothi is.”
Shivaji is said to have hidden in a fruit basket and taken a boat to escape via the Yamuna. Officials hope to trace all the places Shivaji might have visited nearby.
The links between Agra and the Mughals, on the contrary, run deep and are known to all.