Did Shah Jahan amputate the Taj Mahal workers’ hands? Myth or truth

Claim

Shahjahan cut off the hands of all the workers who built the Taj Mahal. Our PM is showering flowers on all the workers who built the Ram Mandir. Proud of our culture

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Explanation

On January 22, 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, and during that time, PM Modi also showered flower petals on Ram temple construction workers.

Meanwhile, a viral post was purporting on X (formerly Twitter) that the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan amputated the hands of all construction workers who built the Taj Mahal, but Prime Minister Modi showered flowers on all the workers who built the Ram Mandir.

Similar claims shared by right-wing supporters can be seen here, and here.

What is the Truth?

We ran a keyword search about whether Shahjahan chopped off the hands of all the construction workers at Taj Mahal, but we couldn’t find anything. We also searched on the Taj Mahal government website, and it was mentioned that a number of stories are only passed down orally and are recounted by the guides; others are so well-known that they have become part of the monument’s popular history, but in the whole blog, nowhere is it mentioned that Shah Jahan amputated the hands of construction workers.

We also searched the Uttar Pradesh government’s official website for information on Agra’s Taj Mahal, but we couldn’t find anything.

Moreover, we searched and found an article was published in The Hindu on June 9, 2022, and it was reported that there is no historical documentation to support the claim that Shah Jahan gave the order to chop off laborers’ hands.

We also found the blog from the Incredible India Destinations website titled “Did Shah Jahan amputate the hands of the workers of the Taj Mahal?” According to this article, there isn’t any archeological proof, such as hand skeletons, that this mass amputation occurred, and neither modern literature nor foreign visitors who visited India at that time ever made reference to it.

Shah Jahan’s reign is referred to as the “Golden Period of Mughal Construction.” Construction never ceased while he was in power. He built the Taj Mahal and Moti Masjid in Agra, the Red Fort and Jama Masjid in Delhi, and he established the city of Shahjahanabad. No employee would have supported his endeavors if he had given the order to amputate.

This blog website also added that, in actuality, Shah Jahan placed a moral restriction on his laborers, saying they could not serve any emperor. These days, we refer to it as an agreement between the emperor and his employees. Because these laborers were unable to find employment with another emperor, the proverb “the hands of the workers were amputated” originated.

Similar news was reported by many media outlets, such as TOI, The Wire, Dawn, and Outlook India.

Conclusion

No, Shah Jahan did not amputate construction workers’ hands because there isn’t any archeological proof, such as hand skeletons, that this mass amputation occurred. All the stories regarding this are baseless and fabricated.

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