Demolish Taj Mahal? Indian Pol Muhammad Azam Khan Says it Should Have Never Been Built

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The Taj Mahal is noted on many lists as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, hooking more than 2 million visitors a year and landing on the list of the 50 Most Visited Tourist Attractions in the World. But it should have never been built. So says one prominent Indian politician who sparked a firestorm of controversy recently when he said that if he could, he would have "willingly led a mob" to demolish the world-famous monument.

Muhammad Azam Khan (pictured at left), the urban development minister in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, called the white marble palace a waste of the country's money. The Taj Mahal was built by emperor Shah Jahan as a shrine to his third wife in the 1600s. "Shah Jahan had no right to spend [millions] from the public coffers on his sweetheart," Azam Khan was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

His controversial comments came as he was reflecting on the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid mosque by rioters in the 1990s. The mosque was brought down in a violent feud over land rights. "Had people decided to demolish the Taj Mahal instead of the Babri mosque, I would have led them," Azam Khan said.

Outrage exploded over Azam Khan's comments, with many calling the politician out for what they see as his lack of respect for history. A well-ragarded university professor told India Today that Azam Khan is advocating destroying important artifacts central to India's history. "I first want him to check his facts before giving such mindless statements," said Ali Athar, a history professor at Aligahr Muslim University in Aligahr, Uttar Pradesh, India. "He must not have seen Taj Mahal. There are Quranic verses inscribed inside the monument. There is also a mosque inside the campus of Taj Mahal. If he wants to bring the beautiful wonder of the world down, he must be interested in demolishing other things also which are there inside the premises of the monument."

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Demolish Taj Mahal? Indian Pol Muhammad Azam Khan Says it Should Have Never Been Built

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a modern kind of guy, so he wanted this old-school Spanish Colonial wiped out -- even if it was historic. Jobs found himself in the middle of an epic battle with preservationists when he applied for a permit to have his Woodside, Calif., home demolished. The house, known as the Jackling House, was originally designed by influential architect George Washington Smith for copper magnate Daniel C. Jackling in the 1920s. Preservationists fought Jobs all the way to the California Supreme Court, but the tech legend eventually won out.

Jobs had lived there for 10 years, then moved out and left it to fall into disrepair for several years afterward. He even called it “one of the biggest abominations of a house I’ve ever seen.” His plan was to build a smaller, more modern home in its place -- but he died before he had the opportunity.

Photo: Jonathan Haeber

In February 2011, Jobs brought down the entire 17,000-square-foot home in a single day. The mansion was reduced to rubble, finally giving Jobs room to build the dream home he always wanted, but would never build.

Photo: Jonathan Haeber

The lot was left barren once the house was taken down.

Wayne Johnson thought his dreams had come true when he renovated his million-dollar home in Marblehead, Mass. But for his neighbors, it was a nightmare. The neighbors complained that the additions that Johnson put on his home blocked their view of the water. They filed suit against Johnson, claiming that he violated local zoning laws, and a 16-year court battle ensued. Finally, last December, a judge ruled in the neighbors’ favor and ordered Johnson’s home torn down.

See video of the teardown at CBS Boston.

In February, Johnson’s home was leveled in a matter of minutes. Johnson claimed that he tried to compromise with his neighbors during the feud, even offering to remove the part of his house that blocked their view. But ultimately, he said, he was just happy the ordeal was over. “I’m happy to be able to get on with my life and not have to be dealing with this miscarriage of justice that has truly been a real burden for 20 years,” he told CBS Boston. “There’s more to life than a house.”

See video of the teardown at CBS Boston.

Known as the “Dragon’s Head,” the 55,000-square-foot home in Southampton, Long Island, that fashion designer Calvin Klein scooped up in 2003 was something of a local legend. The original home was built in 1929, but a financier renovated it into oblivion in the ‘80s, adding spires and turrets everywhere. Residents long complained that the home was an eyesore in the middle of an otherwise desirable summer hotspot. So, Klein to the rescue.

In May 2009, Klein had the storied home completely brought down. But would he replace it with another mega-mansion? Not quite.

Klein replaced the over-the-top mansion with a much more understated -- and much smaller -- beach house.

Teardown crews crush the “Dragon’s Head.”

History? Who cares? Certainly not David Schwimmer. The former "Friends" star bought a townhouse in Manhattan’s East Village in 2010, one of the oldest on its block of East Sixth Street. The home was built in 1852, and New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission reportedly sent Schwimmer three letters warning him that the building was in line to receive landmark status. But because it hadn’t officially been named a landmark yet, Schwimmer was free to do with it what he wanted. And so he did.

In February (is this, like, the month of teardowns?), Schwimmer had the townhouse razed, angering preservationists and city officials. It’s not like it was a shock, though. He had put his Los Angeles mansion on the market months prior. His plan is to replace the building with a new, luxurious six-story home.

The original Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City was one of the most beloved arenas to baseball fans. It first opened in 1923. As far back as the 1980s, campaigns began calling for a new home for the New York Yankees baseball team, raising questions about safety conditions at the ballpark. Political wrangling and disputes over funding tied up the go-ahead for building a new stadium. But finally, construction began on a new stadium across the street, and the original Yankees’ home closed in 2008.

Close to a century of cherished memories were brought to the ground in 2010 when crews demolished the old, legendary Yankee Stadium. Baseball fans and others lobbied to save pieces of the famed building, but to no avail.

In its heyday: The original Yankee Stadium was one of the most popular venues in New York City.

After the fall: There was nothing left of the famed building once demolition crews were done with it in 2010.

Clark and Sharon Winslow of Belvedere, Calif., lived in an enviable $19 million mansion complete with a “resort-style health club.” There was just one little problem: The $4.2 million mansion next door was partially blocking their view of the water. So they came up with a pretty simple solution.

They bought the offending house at a foreclosure auction and tore it down in June. The couple planned to replace the 100-year-old house with a garden once demolition was complete. Even the neighbors were thrilled. “The view is really nice now!” neighbor Roger Snow told NBC Bay Area.

See video of the teardown on AOL Real Estate.

Hedge fund billionaire David Tepper purchased this Sagaponack, Long Island, estate in 2010 for $43.5 million, the most expensive transaction of the year in that area. But instead of enjoying the 6,000 square foot estate, he chose to go in a different direction.

He leveled it! Tepper not only destroyed the main house, but he razed the tennis court, filled the swimming pool and destroyed the guesthouse. His plan? Build an even bigger home.

Elin Nordgren, the former wife of golf superstar Tiger Woods, purchased this Palm Beach, Fla., mansion in March 2011 for $12 million. The home was originally built in the 1920s, but it was infested with termites and wasn't built up to modern hurricane codes. So should she try and fix it up? Nah.

Why not knock it down? Builders determined that it actually made more financial sense just to destroy the old house. The new home will come with ultra-modern amenities and include a wine room, gym and a theater.

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Azam Khan told Tehelka, an Indian political magazine, that his comments on the Taj Mahal were taken out of context. "I never said the Taj Mahal should be demolished," he said. "I have my own way of putting my thoughts and ideas before the people. ... The hard-earned wealth of people is meant only for the people. Shah Jahan committed a grave sin by splurging public money on the highly extravagant projects like the Taj Mahal."

More than 20,000 workers -- and about 1,000 transport elephants -- spent more than two decades constructing the Taj Mahal between 1632 and 1653, International Business Times noted. In today's currency, the cost of constructing the Taj Mahal would be $200 million, according to Imahal.com.

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