Did Shah Jahan cut the arms off of his workers after building the Taj Mahal?


Opinion 1:-

No. It is not true.

India is the land of urban myths, this is one of them that has surprisingly sustained itself for over a century. It has even found its way into the school curriculum despite no evidence to prove its veracity. Wikipedia article on Taj Mahal summarizes it the best,

No evidence exists for claims that describe, often in horrific detail, the deaths, dismemberments and mutilations which Shah Jahan supposedly inflicted on various architects and craftsmen associated with the tomb. Some stories claim that those involved in construction signed contracts committing themselves to have no part in any similar design. Similar claims are made for many famous buildings.

Note the last line. Similar claims are made for other famous buildings that just like Taj are a both a source of admiration and criticism and are shrouded in mystery.

Opinion 2:-

No, Shah Jahan didn't chop the fingers of 20,000 workers. The interior and the exterior walls of the Taj are filled with Calligraphy work and Pietra dura (an Italian form of decoration done by cutting different types of stones of different styles & sizes to fit on the marbles).  It requires great attention, patience and artistic skills. The Taj Mahal is filled with Pietra Dura, and once it is fitted, the workers had to rub the marbles with wet grass to even and smoothen the surface. This process was done for the whole of Taj, the mosques, and the grave yards of his other wives in the Taj Complex. Doing this, the workers spent days and months rubbing the walls which affected their fingers and eventually losing them. And it is believed that Shah Jahan repaid them by offering enough money and food for 7 generations so they do not have to work. Which is also a clever trick, he wouldn't let his people know how he built the Taj by not letting his people work anywhere else. The workers' descents still live in the Taj Ganj colony and they're the ones who maintain the Taj.

We do not have a solid proof that this is what exactly happened, but this is based on a book about Taj Mahal by The Archeological Survey of India and also told by the people living in Taj Gunj.