A controversy has erupted over divisional commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar's decision to install the statues of Mughal emperor Akbar's "Navratnas" (nine jewels) in Fatehpur Sikri, a World Heritage site.
Akbar's passion for knowledge and interest in learning from great minds led him to attract men of genius to his court. His personal favourites were collectively known as the nine gems or "Navratnas".
Bhatnagar, using funds from the Agra Development Authority, ordered the statues of the nine jewels to be put up at the site.
But now historians are asking him to present historical evidence that Akbar had appointed or released officially a list of nine jewels in his court, to counsel him and provide him with informed company.
Eminent Mughal historian R. Nath told IANS: "To my knowledge there is no authentic list of nine jewels in any work of a contemporary historian. Its part of the popular folklore though."
"The Archaeological Survey of India should strictly follow the manuals and the 1958 Ancient Monuments Act, which does not permit addition or deletion of any new structures," Nath added.
The nine jewels, according to popular belief are: Abul Fazl, Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, Birbal, Mulla Do-Piyaza, Faizi, Raja Man Singh, Raja Todar Mal, Faqir Azio Din and Tansen.
Bhatnagar, who is also the chairman of the Agra Development Authority, initiated a project to get statues made of all the nine jewels and put them on show at the Fatehpur Sikri complex. But the Archaeological Survey of India has refused permission. The statues will now be installed in the Uttar Pradesh tourism facilitation centre outside the complex.
Historian Raj Kishore Raje told IANS: "Commissioner Bhatnagar is distorting history. I have written to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister advising him to restrain the commissioner from proceeding in this matter."
Raje said there is no mention in any of the books of the period. Abul Fazal's "Ain-e-Akbari", Farishta's "Tareekh-e-Farishta", Innyatullah's "Taqmeel-e-Akbarnama", say nothing about the nine jewels of Akbar.
"Even the books of Sir Jadu Nath Sarker or Ashirwadi Lal Srivastav make no mention of them. Akbar never said he had capable hands to help him in administration. Therefore, if the commissioner goes ahead with his statue project, it would be a travesty of truth and misrepresentation of history."