A corner of one of the 22 rooms in the secret storey immediately below the marble platform of the Taj Mahal. Note the strips of Hindu paint on the wall. The ventilator at the left, meant for air and light from the riverside, has been crudely walled up by Shahjahan. He did not bother even to plaster them. Had Shahjahan built the Taj as a mausoleum what was the purpose of the 22 rooms? And why are they kept locked and hidden from the public?
Such are the magnificent marble-paved, shining, cool, white bright rooms of the Taj Mahal temple palace’s marble ground floor. Even the lower third portion of the walls is covered with magnificent marble mosaic. The doorway at the left looks suspiciously closed with a stone slab. One can perambulate through these rooms around the central octagonal sanctorum, now occupied by Mumtaz‘s fake grave. The aperture, seen through of the central door, enabled perambulating devotees to keep their eyes fixed on the Shiva Linga in the central chamber. Hindu Shiva Lingas are consecrated in two chambers, one above the other. Therefore, Shahjahan had to raise two graves in the name of Mumtaz–one in the marble basement and the other on the ground floor to desecrate and hide both the Shiva emblems from public view. [The famous Shiva temple in Ujjain also has an underground chamber for one of its Shiva-lingams.]
Such are the rooms on the 1st floor of the marble structure of the Taj Mahal. The two staircases leading to this upper floor are kept locked and barred since Shahjahan’s time. The floor and the marble walls of such upper floor rooms can be seen in the picture to have been stripped of its marble panels. Shahjahan used that uprooted marble from the upper floor for constructing graves and engraving the Koran because he did not know wherefrom to procure marble matching the splendour of the rest of the Taj Mahal. He was also so stingy as not to want to spend much even on converting a robbed Hindu temple into an Islamic mausoleum.