Hindu temples what happened to them? Part 7 - Witness and pattern of destruction

Chapter Ten
Let the Mute Witnesses Speak
Sita Ram Goel

The cradle of Hindu culture1 on the eve of its Islamic invasion included what are at present the Sinkiang
province of China, the Transoxiana region of Russia, the Seistan province of Iran and the sovereign states
of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The Islamic invasion commenced around 650 A.D.,
when a Muslim army secured a foothold in Seistan, and continued till the end of the eighteenth century,
when the last Islamic crusader, Tipu Sultan, was overthrown by the British. Hordes of Arabs, Persians,
Turks, and Afghans who had been successively inspired by the Theology of Islam poured in, in wave after
wave, carrying fire and sword to every nook and corner of this vast area. In the process, Sinkiang,
Transoxiana region, Seistan and Afghanistan became transformed intodaru􏿽l-IslÃm where all vestiges of
the earlier culture were wiped out. The same spell has engulfed the areas which were parts of India till
1947 and have since become Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Important Note and Disclaimer: - This content is extracted and presented as it is from the book "HINDU TEMPLES WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM? VOLUMES 1 AND 2"

A Preliminary Survey by

Direct download link provided at the end of the page.

We learn from literary and epigraphic sources, accounts of foreign travellers in medieval times, and modern
archaeological explorations that, on the eve of the Islamic invasion, the cradle of Hindu culture was
honeycombed with temples and monasteries, in many shapes and sizes. The same sources inform us that
many more temples and monasteries continued to come up in places where the Islamic invasion had yet to
reach or from where it was forced to retire for some time by the rallying of Hindu resistance. Hindus were
great temple builders because their pantheon was prolific in Gods and Goddesses and their society rich in
schools and sects, each with its own way of worship.

But by the time we come to the end of the invasion,
we find that almost all these Hindu places of worship had either disappeared or were left in different stages
of ruination. Most of the sacred sites had come to be occupied by a variety of Muslim monuments-masjids
and îdgãhs (mosques), dargãhs and ziãrats (shrines), mazãrs and maqbaras (tombs), madrasas and maktabs
(seminaries), takiyãs and qabristãns (graveyards). Quite a few of the new edifices had been built from the
materials of those that had been deliberately demolished in order to satisfy the demands of Islamic
Theology. The same materials had been used frequently in some secular structures as well-walls and gates
of forts and cities, river and tank embankments, caravanserais and stepwells, palaces and pavilions.
Some apologists of Islam have tried to lay the blame at the door of the White Huns or Epthalites who had
overrun parts of the Hindu cradle in the second half of the fifth century A.D.

But they count without the witness of Hiuen Tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim and Buddhist savant, who travelled all over this area from 630 A.D. to 644. Starting from Karashahr in Northern Sinkiang, he passed through Transoxiana,Northern Afghanistan, North-West Frontier Province, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh,
North-Eastern Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Nepal, Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Mahakosal and Andhra
Pradesh till he reached Tamil Nadu. On his return journey he travelled through Karnataka, Maharashtra,
Gujarat, Madhya Bharat, Sindh, Southern Afghanistan and Southern Sinkiang. In most of these provinces
he found in a flourishing state many Buddhist establishments consisting
of vihãras (monasteries),chaityas (temples) and stûpas (topes), besides what he described as heretical (Jain)
and deva (Brahmanical) temples. The wealth of architecture and sculptures he saw everywhere confirms
what we learn from Hindu literary sources. Some of this wealth has been recovered in recent times from
under mounds of ruins.

During the course of his pilgrimage, Hiuen Tsang stayed at as many as 95 Buddhist centres among which
the more famous ones were at Kuchi, Aqsu, Tirmiz, Uch Turfan, Kashagar and Khotan in Sinkiang; Balkh,
Ghazni, Bamiyan, Kapisi, Lamghan, Nagarahar and Bannu in Afghanistan; Pushkalavati, Bolar and
Takshasila in the North-West Frontier Province; Srinagar, Rajaori and Punch in Kashmir; Sialkot,
Jalandhar and Sirhind in the Punjab; Thanesar, Pehowa and Sugh in Haryana; Bairat and Bhinmal in
Rajasthan, Mathura, Mahoba, Ahichchhatra, Sankisa, Kanauj, Ayodhya, Prayag, Kausambi, Sravasti,
Kapilvastu, Kusinagar, Varanasi, Sarnath and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh; Vaishali, Pataliputra, Rajgir,
Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Monghyr and Bhagalpur in Bihar; Pundravardhana, Tamralipti, Jessore and
Karnasuvarna in Bengal; Puri and Jajnagar in Orissa; Nagarjunikonda and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh;
Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu; Badami and Kalyani in Karnataka; Paithan and Devagiri in Maharashtra;
Bharuch, Junagarh and Valabhi in Gujarat; Ujjain in Malwa; Mirpur Khas and Multan in Sindh.

The number of Buddhist monasteries at the bigger ones of these centres ranged from 50 to 500 and the number
of monks in residence from 1,000 to 10,000. It was only in some parts of Eastern Afghanistan and the
North-West Frontier Province that monasteries were in a bad shape, which can perhaps be explained by the
invasion of White Huns. But so were they in Kusinagar and Kapilavastu where the White Huns are not
known to have reached. On the other hand, the same invaders had ranged over Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan,
Madhya Pradesh and most of Uttar Pradesh where Hiuen Tsang found the monasteries in a splendid state.
They had even established their rule over Kashmir where Hiuen Tsang saw 500 monasteries housing 5,000
monks. It is, therefore, difficult to hold them responsible for the disappearance of Buddhist centres in areas
where Hiuen Tsang had found them flourishing. An explanation has to be found elsewhere. In any case, the
upheaval they caused was over by the middle of the sixth century. Moreover, the temples and monasteries
which Hiuen Tsang saw were only a few out of many.

He had not gone into the interior of any province, having confined himself to the more famous Buddhist centres.
What was it that really happened to thousands upon thousands of temples and monasteries? Why did they
disappear and/or give place to another type of monuments? How come that their architectural and
sculptural fragments got built into the foundations and floors and walls and domes of the edifices which
replaced them? These are crucial questions which should have been asked by students of medieval Indian
history. But no historian worth his name has raised these questions squarely, not to speak of finding
adequate answers to them. No systematic study of the subject has been made so far. All that we have are
stray references to the demolition of a few Hindu temples, made by the more daring Hindu historians while
discussing the religious policy of this or that sultan. Sir Jadunath Sarkar2 and Professor Sri Ram
Sharma3 have given more attention to the Islamic policy of demolishing Hindu temples and pointed an
accusing finger at the theological tenets which dictated that policy. But their treatment of the subject is
brief and their enumeration of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb and the other Mughal emperors touches
only the fringe of a vast holocaust caused by the Theology of Islam, all over the cradle of Hindu culture,
and throughout more than thirteen hundred years, taking into account what happened in the native Muslim
states carved out after the British take-over and the formation of Pakistan after partition in 1947.
Muslim historians, in India and abroad, have written hundreds of accounts in which the progress of Islamic
armies across the cradle of Hindu culture is narrated, stage by stage and period by period. A pronounced
feature of these Muslim histories is a description-in smaller or greater detail but always with considerable
pride-of how the Hindus were slaughtered en masse or converted by force, how hundreds of thousands of
Hindu men and women and children were captured as booty and sold into slavery, how Hindu temples and
monasteries were razed to the ground or burnt down, and how images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses were
destroyed or desecrated. Commandments of Allah (Quran) and precedents set by the Prophet (Sunnah) are
frequently cited by the authors in support of what the swordsmen and demolition squads of Islam did with
extraordinary zeal, not only in the midst of war but also, and more thoroughly, after Islamic rule had been
firmly established. A reference to the Theology of Islam as perfected by the orthodox Imams, leaves little
doubt that the citations are seldom without foundation.

The men and women and children who were killed or captured or converted by force cannot be recalled for
standing witnesses to what was done to them by the heroes of Islam. The apologists for Islam-the most
dogged among them are some Hindu historians and politicians-have easily got away with the plea that
Muslim 􏿽court scribes􏿽 had succumbed to poetic exaggeration in order to please their pious patrons.
Their case is weakened when they cite the same sources in support of their owns speculation or when the
question is asked as to why the patrons needed stories of bloodshed and wanton destruction for feeding
their piety. But they have taken in their stride these doubts and questions as well.
There are, however, witnesses who are not beyond recall and who can confirm that the 􏿽court scribes􏿽
were not at all foisting fables on their readers. These are the hundreds of thousands of sculptural and
architectural fragments which stand arrayed in museums and drawing rooms all over the world, or which
are waiting to be picked up by public and private collectors, or which stare at us from numerous Muslim
monuments. These are the thousands of Hindu temples and monasteries which either stand on the surface in
a state of ruination or lie buried under the earth waiting for being brought to light by the archaeologist􏿽s
spade. These are the thousands of Muslim edifices, sacred as well as secular, which occupy the sites of
Hindu temples and monasteries and/or which have been constructed from materials of those monuments.
All these witnesses carry unimpeachable evidence of the violence that was done to them, deliberately and
by human hands.

So far no one has cared to make these witnesses speak and relate the story of how they got ruined,
demolished, dislocated, dismembered, defaced, mutilated and burnt. Recent writers on Hindu architecture
and sculpture-their tribe is multiplying fast, mostly for commercial reasons-ignore the ghastly wounds
which these witnesses show on the very first sight, and dwell on the beauties of the limbs that have
survived or escaped injury. Many a time they have to resort to their imagination for supplying what should
have been there but is missing. All they seem to care for is building their own reputations as historians of
Hindu art. If one draws their attention to the mutilations and disfigurements suffered by the subjects under
study, one is met with a stunned silence or denounced downright as a Hindu chauvinist out to raise
􏿽demons from the past􏿽4with the deliberate intention of causing 􏿽communal strife.􏿽
We, therefore, propose to present a few of these witnesses in order to show in what shape they are and what
they have to say.

Tordi (Rajasthan)
􏿽At Tordi there are two fine and massively built stone baolis or step wells known as the Chaur and Khari
Baoris. They appear to be old Hindu structures repaired or rebuilt by Muhammadans, probably in the early
or middle part of the 15th century􏿽 In the construction of the (Khari) Baori Hindu images have been built
in, noticeable amongst them being an image of Kuber on the right flanking wall of the large flight of

Naraina (Rajasthan)
􏿽At Naraina􏿽 is an old pillared mosque, nine bays long and four bays deep, constructed out of old Hindu
temples and standing on the east of the Gauri Shankar tank􏿽 The mosque appears to have been built when
Mujahid Khan, son of Shams Khan, took possession of Naraina in 840 A.H. or 1436 A.D􏿽 To the
immediate north of the mosque is the three-arched gateway called Tripolia which is also constructed with
materials from old Hindu temples

Chatsu (Rajasthan)
􏿽At Chatsu there is a Muhammadan tomb erected on the eastern embankment of the Golerava tank. The
tomb which is known as Gurg Ali Shah􏿽s chhatri is built out of the spoils of Hindu buildings On the
inside of the twelve-sided frieze of the chhatri is a long Persian inscription in verse, but worn out in several
places. The inscription does not mention the name of any important personage known to history and all that
can be made out with certainty is that the saint Gurg Ali (wolf of Ali) died a martyr on the first of Ramzan
in 979 A.H. corresponding to Thursday, the 17th January, 1572 A.D.

SaheTh-MaheTh (Uttar Pradesh)

The ruined Jain temple situated in the western portion of MaheTh derives the name Sobhnãth
from Sambhavanãtha, the third TîrthaMkara, who is believed to have been born at rãvastî
Let us now turn our attention to the western-most part of Sobhnãth ruins. It is crowned by a domed
edifice, apparently a Muslim tomb of the Pathãn period
These remains are raised on a platform, 30 square, built mostly of broken bricks
including carved ones This platform, no doubt, represents the plinth of the last Jain temple which was
destroyed by the Muhammadan conquerors It will be seen from the plan that the enclosure of the tomb
overlaps this square platform. The tomb proper stands on a mass of debris which is probably the remains of
the ruined shrine
3. Sculpture of buff standstone, partly destroyed, representing a TîrthaMkara seated cross-legged in
the attitude of meditation on a throne supported by two lions couchant, placed on both sides of a wheel􏿽
􏿽4. Sculpture􏿽 of buff sandstone, partly defaced, representing a TîrthaMkara seated cross-legged (as
􏿽8. Sculpture􏿽 of buff sandstone, defaced, representing a TîrthaMkara standing between two miniature
figures of which that to his right is seated.
􏿽9. Sculpture􏿽 of buff standstone, defaced, representing a TîrthaMkara, standing under a parasol􏿽
􏿽12. Sculpture􏿽 of buff standstone, much defaced, representing a male and a female figure seated side
by side under a palm tree.
􏿽13. Sculpture􏿽 of buff standstone, broken in four pieces, and carved with five figurines of
TîrthaMkaras􏿽 seated cross-legged in the attitude of meditation. The central figure has a Nãga hood. The
sculpture evidently was the top portion of a large image slab.􏿽11
Coming to the ruins of a Buddhist monastery in the same complex, the archaeologist proceeds:
􏿽In the 23rd cell, which I identify with the store-room, I found half-buried in the floor a big earthen jar􏿽
This must have been used for storage of corn􏿽
􏿽This cell is connected with a find which is certainly the most notable discovery of the season. I refer to
an inscribed copper-plate of Govindachandra of Kanauj􏿽 The charter was issued from Vãrãnasî on
Monday, the full moon day of ÃshãDha Sam. 1186, which􏿽 corresponds to the 23rd of June, 1130. The
inscription records the grant of six villages to the 􏿽Community of Buddhist friars of whom
Buddhabhattãraka is the chief and foremost, residing in the great convent of the holy Jetavana,􏿽 and is of
a paramount importance, in as much as it conclusively settles the identification of MaheTh with the city of

He describes as follows some of the sculptures unearthed at SrAvastI:
􏿽S.1. Statuette in grey stone􏿽 of Buddha seated cross-legged in the teaching attitude on a conventional
lotus. The head, breast and fore-arms as well as the sides of the sculpture are broken.
􏿽S.2. Lower portion􏿽 of a blue schist image of Avalokite􏿽vara in the sportive attitude (lîlãsana) on a
lotus seat.
􏿽S. 3. Image􏿽 of Avalokite􏿽vara seated in ardhaparyanka attitude on a conventional lotus􏿽 The head
and left arms of the main figure are missing.􏿽13

Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh)
The report of excavations undertaken in 1904-05 says that 􏿽the inscriptions found there extending to the
twelfth century A.D. show that the connection of Sarnath with Buddhism was still remembered at that
date.􏿽 It continues that 􏿽the condition of the excavated ruins leaves little doubt that a violent catastrophe
accompanied by willful destruction and plunder overtook the place.􏿽14 Read this report with the Muslim
account that Muhammad GhurI destroyed a thousand idol-temples when he reached Varanasi after
defeating Mahãrãjã Jayachandra of Kanauj in 1193 A.D. The fragments that are listed below speak for
themselves. The number given in each case is the one adopted in the report of the excavation.

a 42. Upper part of sculptured slab􏿽
E.8. Architectural fragment, with Buddha (?) seated cross-legged on lotus􏿽
a.22. Defaced standing Buddha, hands missing.
a.17. Buddha head with halo.
a. 8. Head and right arm of image.
E.22. Upper part of image.
E.14. Broken seated figure holding object in left hand.
a.11. Fragment of larger sculpture; bust, part of head, and right overarm of female chauri-bearer.
E.25. Upper part of female figure with big ear-ring.
E.6. Fragment of sculpture, from top of throne (?) on left side.
n.19. Seated figure of Buddha in bhûmispar􏿽amudrã, much defaced.
n.221. Torso, with arms of Buddha in dharmachakramudrã.
n.91. Lower part of Buddha seated cross-legged on throne. Defaced.
n.142. Figure of Avalokite􏿽vara in relief. Legs from knees downwards wanting.
n.1. Relief partly, defaced and upper part missing. Buddha descending from the TrãyastriM􏿽ã Heaven
Head and left hand missing.
i.50. Lower half of statue. Buddha in bhûmispar􏿽amudrã seated on lotus.
i.17. Buddha in attitude of meditation on lotus. Head missing.
i.46. Head of Buddha with short curls.
i.44. Head of Avalokite􏿽vara, with Amitãbha Buddha in headdress.
n.10. Fragment of three-headed figure (? Mãrîchî) of green stone.
i.49. Standing figure of attendant from upper right of image. Half of face, feet and left hand missing.
i.1. Torso of male figure, ornamented.
i.4. Female figure, with lavishly ornamented head. The legs from knees, right arm and left forearm are
missing. Much defaced.
i.105. Hand holding Lotus.
n.172. Torso of Buddha.
n.18. Head of Buddha, slightly defaced.
n.16. Female figure, feet missing.
n.97. Lower part of female figure. Feet missing.
n.163. Buddha, seated. Much defaced.
K.4. Fragment of seated Buddha in blue Gayã stone.
K.5. Fragment of large statue, showing small Buddha seated inbhûmispar􏿽amudrã
K.18. Fragment of statue in best Gupta style.
J.S.18. 27 and 28. Three Buddha heads of Gupta style.
J.S.7. Figure of Kubera in niche, with halo behind head. Partly defaced.
r.67. Upper part of male figure, lavishly adorned.
r.72. a and b. Pieces of pedestal with three Buddhas in dhyãnamudrã.
r.28. Part of arm, adorned with armlet and inscription in characters of 10th century, containing Buddhist
B.22. Fragment of Bodhi scene (?); two women standing on conventional rock. Head and right arm of left
hand figure broken.
B.33. Defaced sitting Buddha in dhyãnamudrã.
B.75. Lower part of Buddha in bhûmispar􏿽amudrã seated cross-legged on lotus.
B.40. Feet of Buddha sitting cross-legged on lotus on throne.
B.38. Headless defaced Buddha seated cross-legged on lotus indharmachakramudrã.
Y.24. Headless Buddha stated cross-legged on throne indharmachakramudrã.
B.52. Bust of Buddha in dharmachakramudrã. Head missing.
B.16. Standing Buddha in varadamudrã; hands and feet broken.
Y.34. Upper part of Buddha in varadamudrã.
B.24. Bust of standing Buddha in abhayamudrã; left hand and head missing.
B.31. Defaced standing Buddha in abhayamudrã. Head and feet missing.
B.48. Feet of standing Buddha with red paint.
B.15. Lower part of AvalokiteSvara seated on lotus in lîlãsana.
Y.23. Bust of figure seated in lîlãsana with trace of halo.
B.59. Legs of figure sitting cross-legged on lotus.
B.7. Female bust with ornaments and high headdress. Left arm and right forearm missing.15

Vaishali (Bihar)
􏿽In the southern section of the city the fort of Rãjã Bisãl is by far the most important ruin􏿽 South-west of
it stands an old brick Stûpa, now converted into a Dargãh􏿽 The name of the saint who is supposed to have
been buried there was given to me as Mîrãn-Jî􏿽􏿽16

Gaur and Pandua (Bengal)
􏿽In order to erect mosques and tombs the Muhammadans pulled down all Hindu temples they could lay
their hands upon for the sake of the building materials􏿽
􏿽The oldest and the best known building at Gaur and Pandua is the Ãdîna Masjid at Pandua built by
Sikandar Shãh, the son of Ilyãs Shãh. The date of its inscription may be read as either 776 or 770, which
corresponds with 1374 or 1369 A.D􏿽 The materials employed consisted largely of the spoils of Hindu
temples and many of the carvings from the temples have been used as facings of doors, arches and

Devikot (Bengal)
􏿽The ancient city of Kotivarsha, which was the seat of a district (vishaya) under Pundra-vardhana
province (bhukti) at the time of the Guptas􏿽 is now represented by extensive mounds of Bangarh or Ban
Rajar Garh􏿽 The older site was in continuous occupation till the invasion of the Muhammadans in the
thirteenth century to whom it was known as Devkot or Devikot. It possesses Muhammadan records ranging
from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century􏿽18
􏿽The Rajbari mound at the South-east corner is one of the highest mounds at Bangarh and. must contain
some important remains. The Dargah of Sultan Pir is a Muhammadan shrine built on the site of an old
Hindu temple of which four granite pillars􏿽 are still standing in the centre of the enclosure, the door jambs
having been used in the construction of the gateway.
􏿽The Dargah of Shah Ata on the north bank of the Dhal-dighi tank is another building built on the ruins of
an older Hindu or Buddhist structure􏿽 The female figure on the lintels of the doorway now, fixed in the
east wall of the Dargah appears to be Tara, from which it would appear that the temple destroyed was

Tribeni (Bengal)
􏿽The principal object of interest at Tribeni is the Dargãh of Zafar Khãn Ghãzî. The chronology of this
ruler may be deduced from the two inscriptions of which one has been fitted into the plinth of his tomb,
while the other is inside the small mosque to the west of the tomb. Both refer to him and the first tells us
that he built the mosque close to the Dargãh, which dates from A.D. 1298; while the second records the
erection by him of a Madrasah or college in the time of Shamsuddîn Fîroz Shãh and bears a date
corresponding to the 28th April, 1313 A.D. It was he who conquered the Hindu Rãjã of Panduah, and
introduced Islam into this part of Lower Bengal􏿽 The tomb is built out of the spoils taken from Hindu

􏿽The eastern portion of the tomb was formerly a maNDapa of an earlier Krishna temple which stood on
the same spot and sculptures on the inner walls represent scenes from the RãmãyaNa and the Mahãbhãrata,
with descriptive titles inscribed in proto-Bengali characters􏿽 The other frieze􏿽 shows Vishnu with
Lakshmî and Sarasvatî in the centre, with two attendents, and five avatãras of VishNu on both
flanks􏿽 Further clearance work has been executed during the year 1932-33 and among the sculptures
discovered in that year are twelve figures of the Sun God, again in the 12th century style and evidently
reused by the masons when the Hindu temple was converted into a Muslim structure􏿽􏿽21

Mandu (Madhya Pradesh)
􏿽MãNDû became the capital of the Muhammadan Sultãns of Mãlvã who set about buildings themselves
palaces and mosques, first with material pilfered from Hindu temples (already for the most part desecrated
and ruined by the iconoclastic fury of their earlier co-religionists), and afterwards with their own quarried
material. Thus nearly all the traces of the splendid shrines of the ParamAras of MAlvA have disappeared
save what we find utilized in the ruined mosques and tombs􏿽22

􏿽The date of the construction of the Hindola Mahall cannot be fixed with exactitude􏿽 There can,
however, be no doubt that it is one of the earliest of the Muhammadan buildings in MãNDû. From its
outward appearance there is no sign of Hindu workmanship but the repairs, that have been going on for the
past one year, have brought to light a very large number of stones used in the structure, which appear, to
have been taken from some pre-existing Hindu temple. The facing stones, which have been most accurately
and smoothly cut on their outer surfaces, bear in very many cases on their inner sides the under faced
images of Hindu gods, or patterns of purely Hindu design, while pieces of Hindu carving and broken parts
of images are found indiscriminately mixed with the rubble, of which the core of the walls is made.􏿽23

Dhar (Madhya Pradesh)
􏿽􏿽The mosque itself appears from local tradition and from the numerous indications and inscriptions
found within it to have been built on the site of, and to a large extent out of materials taken from, a Hindu
Temple, known to the inhabitants as Rãjã Bhoja􏿽s school. The inference was derived sometime back from
the existence of a Sanskrit alphabet and some Sanskrit grammatical forms inscribed in serpentine diagrams
on two of the pillar bases in the large prayer chamber and from certain Sanskrit inscriptions on the black
stone slabs imbedded in the floor of the prayer chamber, and on the reverse face of the side walls of the
􏿽The Lãt Masjid built in A.D. 1405, by Dilãwar Khãn, the founder of the Muhammadan kingdom of
Mãlvã􏿽 is of considerable interest not only on account of the Iron Lãt which lies outside it􏿽 but also
because it is a good specimen of the use made by the Muhammadan conquerors of the materials of the
Hindu temples which they destroyed􏿽􏿽25

Vijayanagar (Karnataka)
􏿽During the construction of the new road-some mounds which evidently marked the remains of destroyed
buildings, were dug into, and in one of them were disclosed the foundations of a rectangular building with
elaborately carved base. Among the debris were lumps of charcoal and calcined iron, probably the remains
of the materials used by the Muhammadans in the destruction of the building. The stones bear extensive
signs of having been exposed to the action of fire. That the chief buildings were destroyed by fire, historical
evidence shows, and many buildings, notably the ViThalaswAmin temple, still bear signs, in their cracked
and fractured stone work, of the catastrophe which overtook them􏿽26
􏿽The most important temple at Vijayanagar from an architectural point of view, is the ViThalaswãmin
temple. It stands in the eastern limits of the ruins, near the bank of the TuNgabhadra river, and shows in its
later structures the extreme limit in floral magnificence to which the Dravidian style advanced􏿽 This
building had evidently attracted the special attention of the Muhammadan invaders in their efforts to
destroy the buildings of the city, of which this was no doubt one of the most important, for though many of
the other temples show traces of the action of fire, in none of them are the effects so marked as in this. Its
massive construction, however, resisted all the efforts that were made to bring it down and the only visible
results of their iconoclastic fury are the cracked beams and pillars, some of the later being so flaked as to
make one marvel that they are yet able to bear the immense weight of the stone entablature and roof

Bijapur (Karnataka)
􏿽No ancient Hindu or Jain buildings have survived at Bijapur and the only evidence of their former
existence is supplied by two or three mosques, viz., Mosque No. 294, situated in the compound of the
Collector􏿽s bungalow, Krimud-d-din Mosque and a third and smaller mosque on the way to the Mangoli
Gate, which are all adaptations or re-erections of materials obtained from temples. These mosques are the
earliest Muhammadan structures and one of them, i.e., the one constructed by Karimud-d-din, must
according to a Persian and Nagari inscription engraved upon its pillars, have been erected in the year 1402
Saka=A.D. 1324, soon after Malik Kafur􏿽s conquest of the. Deccan.􏿽28

Badami (Karnataka)
􏿽Three stone lintels bearing bas-reliefs were discovered in, course of the clearance at the second gateway
of the Hill Fort to the north of the Bhûtnãth tank at Badami􏿽 These originally belonged to a temple which
is now in ruins and were re-used at a later period in the construction of the plinth of guardroom on the fort.
􏿽The bas-reliefs represent scenes from the early life of KRISHNA and may be compared with similar
ones in the BADAMI CAVES􏿽􏿽29

The Pattern of Destruction
The Theology of Islam divides human history into two periods-the Jãhiliyya or the age of ignorance which
preceded Allah􏿽s first revelation to Prophet Muhammad, and the age of enlightenment which succeeded
that event. It follows that every human creation which existed in the 􏿽age of ignorance􏿽 has to be
converted to its Islamic version or destroyed. The logic applies to pre-Islamic buildings as much as to pre-
Islamic ways of worship, mores and manners, dress and decor, personal and place names. This is too large
a subject to be dealt with at present. What concerns us here is the fate of temples and monasteries that
existed on the eve of the Islamic invasion and that came up in the course of its advance.

What happened to many 􏿽abodes of the infidels􏿽 is best described by a historian of Vijayanagar in the
wake of Islamic victory in 1565 A.D. at the battle of Talikota. 􏿽The third day,􏿽 he writes, 􏿽saw the
beginning of the end. The victorious Mussulmans had halted on the field of battle for rest and refreshment,
but now they had reached the capital, and from that time forward for a space of five months Vijayanagar
knew no rest. The enemy had come to destroy, and they carried out their object relentlessly. They
slaughtered the people without mercy; broke down the temples and palaces, and wreaked such savage
vengeance on the abode of the kings, that, with the exception of a few great stone-built temples and walls,
nothing now remains but a heap of ruins to mark the spot where once stately buildings stood. They
demolished the statues and even succeeded in breaking the limbs of the huge Narsimha monolith. Nothing
seemed to escape them. They broke up the pavilions standing on the huge platform from which the kings
used to watch festivals, and overthrew all the carved work. They lit huge fires in the magnificently
decorated buildings forming the temple of Vitthalswamin near the river, and smashed its exquisite stone
sculptures. With fire and sword, with crowbars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of
destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been wrought, and wrought so
suddenly, on so splendid a city: teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plenitude of
prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged, and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre
and horrors beggaring description􏿽30

The Muslim victors did not get time to raise their own structures from the ruins of Vijayanagar, partly
because the Hindu Raja succeeded in regrouping his forces and re-occupying his capital and partly because
they did not have the requisite Muslim population to settle in that large city; another invader, the
Portuguese, had taken control of the Arabian Sea and blocked the flow of fresh recruits from Muslim
countries in the Middle East. What would have happened otherwise is described by Alexander Cunningham
in his report on Mahoba. 􏿽As Mahoba was,􏿽 he writes, 􏿽for some time the headquarters of the early
Muhammadan Governors, we could hardly expect to find that any Hindu buildings had escaped their
furious bigotry, or their equally destructive cupidity. When the destruction of a Hindu temple furnished the
destroyer with the ready means of building a house for himself on earth, as well as in heaven, it is perhaps
wonderful that so many temples should still be standing in different parts of the country. It must be
admitted, however, that, in none of the cities which the early Muhammadans occupied permanently, have
they left a single temple standing, save this solitary temple at Mahoba, which doubtless owed its
preservation solely to its secure position amid the deep waters of the Madan-Sagar. In Delhi, and Mathura,
in Banaras and Jonpur, in Narwar and Ajmer, every single temple was destroyed by their bigotry, but
thanks to their cupidity, most of the beautiful Hindu pillars were preserved, and many of them, perhaps, on
their original positions, to form new colonnades for the masjids and tombs of the conquerors. In Mahoba
all the other temples were utterly destroyed and the only Hindu building now standing is part of the palace
of Parmal, or Paramarddi Deva, on the hill-fort, which has been converted into a masjid. In 1843, I found
an inscription of Paramarddi Deva built upside down in the wall of the fort just outside this masjid. It is
dated in S. 1240, or A.D. 1183, only one year before the capture of Mahoba by Prithvi-Raj Chohan of
Delhi. In the Dargah of Pir Mubarak Shah, and the adjacent Musalman burial-ground, I counted 310 Hindu
pillars of granite. I found a black stone bull lying beside the road, and the argha of a lingam fixed as a
water-spout in the terrace of the Dargah. These last must have belonged to a temple of Siva, which was
probably built in the reign of Kirtti Varmma, between 1065 and 1085 A.D., as I discovered an inscription
of that prince built into the wall of one of the tombs.􏿽31
Many other ancient cities and towns suffered the same tragic transformation. Bukhara, Samarkand, Balkh,
Kabul, Ghazni, Srinagar, Peshawar, Lahore, Multan, Patan, Ajmer, Delhi, Agra Dhar, Mandu, Budaun,
Kanauj, Biharsharif, Patna, Lakhnauti, Ellichpur, Daulatabad, Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur, Golconda-to
mention only a few of the more famous Hindu capitals-lost their native character and became nests of a
closed creed waging incessant war on a catholic culture. Some of these places lost even their ancient names
which had great and glorious associations. It is on record that the Islamic invaders coined and imposed this
or that quranic concoction on every place they conquered. Unfortunately for them, most of these
impositions failed to stick, going the way they came. But quite a few succeeded and have endured till our
own times. Reviving the ancient names wherever they have got eclipsed is one of the debts which Hindu
society owes to its illustrious ancestors.

On the other hand, a large number of cities, towns and centres of Hindu civilization disappeared from the
scene and their ruins have been identified only in recent times, as in the case of Kãpi􏿽î, Lampaka,
Nagarahãra, Pushkalãvatî, UdbhãNDapura, Taksh􏿽ilã, Ãlor, Brãhmanãbãd, Debal, Nandana, Agrohã
Virãtanagara, Ahichchhatra, 􏿽rãvastî, Sãrnãth, Vai􏿽ãlî, Vikram􏿽îla, Nãlandã, KarNasuvarNa,
PuNDravardhana, Somapura, Jãjanagar, DhãnyakaTaka, Vijayapurî, Vijayanagara, Dvãrasamudra. What
has been found on top of the ruins in most cases is a mosque or a dargãh or a tomb or some other Muslim
monument, testifying to Allah􏿽s triumph over Hindu Gods. Many more mounds are still to be explored
and identified. A survey of archaeological sites in the Frontier Circle alone and as far back as 1920, listed
255dheris32 or mounds which, as preliminary explorations indicated, hid ruins of ancient dwellings and/or
places of worship. Some dheris, which had been excavated and were not included in this count, showed
every sign of deliberate destruction. By that time, many more mounds of a similar character had been
located in other parts of the cradle of Hindu culture. A very large number has been added to the total count
in subsequent years. Whichever of them is excavated tells the same story, most of the time. It is a different
matter that since the dawn of independence, Indian archaeologists functioning under the spell or from fear
of Secularism, record or report only the ethnographical stratifications and cultural sequences.33
Muslim historians credit all their heroes with many expeditions each of which 􏿽laid waste􏿽 this or that
province or region or city or countryside. The foremost heroes of the imperial line at Delhi and Agra such
as Qutbu􏿽d-Dîn Aibak (1192-1210 A.D.), Shamsu􏿽d-Dîn Iltutmish (1210-36 A.D.), Ghiyãsu􏿽d-Dîn
Balban (1246-66 A D.), Alãu􏿽d-Dîn Khaljî (1296-1316 A.D.), Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1325-51 A.D.),
Fîruz Shãh Tughlaq (135188 A.D.) Sikandar Lodî (1489-1519 A.D.), Bãbar (1519-26 A.D.) and Aurangzeb
(1658-1707 A.D.) have been specially hailed for 􏿽hunting the peasantry like wild beasts􏿽, or for seeing
to it that 􏿽no lamp is lighted for hundreds of miles􏿽, or for 􏿽destroying the dens of idolatry and Godpluralism
􏿽 wherever their writ ran. The sultans of the provincial Muslim dynasties-Malwa, Gujarat, Sindh,
Deccan, Jaunpur, Bengal-were not far behind, if not ahead, of what the imperial pioneers had done or were
doing; quite often their performance put the imperial pioneers to shame. No study has yet been made of
how much the human population declined due to repeated genocides committed by the swordsmen of
Islam. But the count of cities and towns and villages which simply disappeared during the Muslim rule
leaves little doubt that the loss of life suffered by the cradle of Hindu culture was colossal.
Putting together all available evidence-literary and archaeological-from Hindu, Muslim and other sources,
and following the trail of Islamic invasion, we get the pattern of how the invaders proceeded vis-a-vis
Hindu places of worship after occupying a city or town and its suburbs. It should be kept in mind in this
context that Muslim rule never became more than a chain of garrison cities and towns, not even in its
heyday from Akbar to Aurangzeb, except in areas where wholesale or substantial conversions had taken
place. Elsewhere the invaders were rarely in full control of the countryside; they had to mount repeated
expeditions for destroying places of worship, collecting booty including male and female slaves, and for
terrorising the peasantry, through slaughter and rapine, so that the latter may become a submissive source
of revenue. The peasantry took no time to rise in revolt whenever and wherever Muslim power weakened
or its terror had to be relaxed for reasons beyond its control.

1. Places taken by assault: If a place was taken by assault-which was mostly the case because it was
seldom that the Hindus surrendered-it was thoroughly sacked, its surviving population slaughtered or
enslaved and all its buildings pulled down. In the next phase, the conquerors raised their own edifices for
which slave labour was employed on a large scale in order to produce quick results. Cows and, many a
time, Brahmanas were killed and their blood sprinkled on the sacred sites in order to render them unclean
for the Hindus for all time to come. The places of worship which the Muslims built for themselves fell into
several categories. The pride of place went to the Jãmi􏿽 Masjid which was invariably built on the site and
with the materials of the most prominent Hindu temple; if the materials of that temple were found
insufficient for the purpose, they could be supplemented with materials of other temples which had been
demolished simultaneously. Some other mosques were built in a similar manner according to need or the
fancy of those who mattered. Temple sites and materials were also used for building the tombs of those
eminent Muslims who had fallen in the fight; they were honoured as martyrs and their tombs became
mazãrs and rauzas in course of time. As we have already pointed out, Hindus being great temple builders,
temple materials could be spared for secular structures also, at least in the bigger settlements. It can thus be
inferred that all masjids and mazãrs, particularly the Jãmi􏿽 Masjids which date from the first Muslim
occupation of a place, stand on the site of Hindu temples; the structures we see at present may not carry
evidence of temple materials used because of subsequent restorations or attempts to erase the evidence.
There are very few Jãmi􏿽 Masjids in the country which do not stand on temple sites.

2. Places surrendered: Once in a while a place was surrendered by the Hindus in terms of an agreement
that they would be treated as zimmis and their lives as well as places of worship spared. In such cases, it
took some time to eradicate the 􏿽emblems of infidelity.􏿽 Theologians of Islam were always in
disagreement whether Hindus could pass muster aszimmis; they were not People of the Book. It depended
upon prevailing power equations for the final decision to go in their favour or against them. Most of the
time, Hindus lost the case in which they were never allowed to have any say. What followed was what had
happened in places taken by assault, at least in respect of the Hindu places of worship. Thezimmi status
accorded to the Hindus seldom went beyond exaction of jizyaand imposition of disabilities prescribed by
Umar, the second rightly-guided Caliph (634-44 A.D.).

3. Places reoccupied by Hindus: It also happened quite frequently, particularly in the early phase of an
Islamic invasion, that Hindus retook a place which had been under Muslim occupation for some time. In
that case, they rebuilt their temples on new sites. Muslim historians are on record that Hindus spared the
mosques and mazãrs which the invaders had raised in the interregnum. When the Muslims came back,
which they did in most cases, they re-enacted the standard scene vis-a-vis Hindu places of worship.
4. Places in the countryside: The invaders started sending out expeditions into the countryside as soon as
their stranglehold on major cities and towns in a region had been secured. Hindu places of worship were
always the first targets of these expeditions. It is a different matter that sometimes the local Hindus raised
their temples again after an expedition had been forced to retreat. For more expeditions came and in due
course Hindu places of worship tended to disappear from the countryside as well. At the same time, masjids
and mazãrs sprang up everywhere, on the sites of demolished temples.

5. Missionaries of Islam: Expeditions into the countryside were accompanied or followed by the
missionaries of Islam who flaunted pretentious names and functioned in many guises. It is on record that
the missionaries took active part in attacking the temples. They loved to live on the sites of demolished
temples and often used temple materials for building their own dwellings, which also went under various
high-sounding names. There were instances when they got killed in the battle or after they settled down in a
place which they had helped in pillaging. In all such cases, they were pronounced shahîds (martyrs) and
suitable monuments were raised in their memory as soon as it was possible. Thus a large number
of gumbads (domes) and ganjs (plains) commemorating the martyrs arose all over the cradle of Hindu
culture and myths about them grew apace. In India, we have a large literature on the subject in which
Sayyid Sãlãr Mas􏿽ûd, who got killed at Bahraich while attacking the local Sun Temple, takes pride of
place. His mazAr now stands on the site of the same temple which was demolished in a subsequent
invasion. Those Muslim saints who survived and settled down have also left a large number of masjids and
dargAhs in the countryside. Almost all of them stand on temple sites.

6. The role of sufis: The saints of Islam who became martyrs or settled down were of several types which
can be noted by a survey of theirziãrats and mazãrs that we find in abundance in all lands conquered by the
armies of Islam. But in the second half of the twelfth century A.D., we find a new type of Muslim saint
appearing on the scene and dominating it in subsequent centuries. That was the sufi joined to a silsila. This
is not the place to discuss the character of some outstanding sufis like Mansûr al-Hallãj, Bãyazîd Bistãmî,
Rûmî and Attãr. Suffice it to say that some of their ancestral spiritual heritage had survived in their
consciousness even though their Islamic environment had tended to poison it a good deal. The common
name which is used for these early sufis as well as for the teeming breed belonging to the latter-day silsilas,
has caused no end of confusion. So far as India is concerned, it is difficult to find a sufi whose
consciousness harboured even a trace of any spirituality. By and large, the sufis that functioned in this
country were the most fanatic and fundamentalist activists of Islamic imperialism, the same as the latterday
Christian missionaries in the context of Spanish and Portuguese imperialism.

Small wonder that we find them flocking everywhere ahead or with or in the wake of Islamic armies. Sufis
of the Chishtîyya silsila in particular excelled in going ahead of these armies and acting as eyes and ears of
the Islamic establishment. The Hindus in places where these sufis settled, particularly in the South, failed to
understand the true character of these saints till it was too late. The invasions of South India by the armies
of Alãu􏿽d-Dîn Khaljî and Muhammad bin Tughlaq can be placed in their proper perspective only when
we survey the sufi network in the South. Many sufis were sent in all directions by Nizãmu􏿽d-Dîn Awliyã,
the Chistîyya luminary of Delhi; all of them actively participated in jihãdsagainst the local
population. Nizãmu􏿽d-Dîn􏿽s leading disciple, Nasîru􏿽d-Dîn Chirãg-i-Dihlî, exhorted the sufis to serve
the Islamic state. 􏿽The essence of sufism,􏿽 he versified, 􏿽is not an external garment. Gird up your loins
to serve the Sultãn and be a sufi.􏿽34Nasîru􏿽d-Dîn􏿽s leading disciple, Syed Muhammad Husainî Banda
Nawãz Gesûdarãz (1321-1422 A.D.), went to Gulbarga for helping the contemporary Bahmani sultan in
consolidating Islamic power in the Deccan. Shykh Nizãmu􏿽d-Dîn Awliyã􏿽s dargãh in Delhi continued to
be and remains till today the most important centre of Islamic fundamentalism in India.
An estimate of what the sufis did wherever and whenever they could, can be formed from the account of a
pilgrimage which a pious Muslim Nawwãb undertook in 1823 to the holy places of Islam in the Chingleput,
South Acort, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli and North Arcot districts of Tamil Nadu. This region had
experienced renewed Islamic invasion after the breakdown of the Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 A.D. Many
sufis had flocked in for destroying Hindu temples and converting the Hindu population, particularly the
Qãdirîyyas who had been fanning out all over South India after establishing their stronghold at Bidar in the
fifteenth century. They did not achieve any notable success in terms of conversions, but the havoc they
wrought with Hindu temples can be inferred from a large number of ruins, loose sculptures scattered all
over the area, inscriptions mentioning many temples which cannot be traced, and the proliferation of
mosques, dargãhs, mazãrs and maqbaras.

The pilgrim visited many places and could not go to some he wanted to cover. All these places were small
except Tiruchirapalli, Arcot and Vellore. His court scribe, who kept an account of the pilgrimage, mentions
many masjids and mazãrs visited by his patron. Many masjids and mazãrs could not be visited because they
were in deserted places covered by forest. There were several graveyards, housing many tombs; one of
them was so big that 􏿽thousands, even a hundred thousand􏿽 graves could be there. Other notable places
were takiyãs of faqirs, sarãis, dargãhs, and several houses of holy relics in one of which 􏿽a hair of the
Holy Prophet is enshrined.􏿽 The account does not mention the Hindu population except as 􏿽harsh kafirs
and marauders.􏿽 But stray references reveal that the Muslim population in all these places was sparse. For
instance, Kanchipuram had only 50 Muslim houses but 9 masjids and 1 mazãr.

The court scribe pays fulsome homage to the sufis who 􏿽planted firmly the Faith of Islam􏿽 in this region.
The pride of place goes to Hazrat Natthar WalI who took over by force the main temple at Tiruchirapalli
and converted it into his khãnqãh. Referring to the destruction of the Sivalinga in the temple, he
observes: 􏿽The monster was slain and sent to the house of perdition. His image namely butling
worshipped by the unbelievers was cut and the head separated from the body. A portion of the body
went into the ground. Over that spot is the tomb of WalI shedding rediance till this day.􏿽35 Another sufi,
Qãyim Shãh, who came to the same place at a later stage, 􏿽was the cause of the destruction of twelve
temples.􏿽36 At Vellore, Hazrat Nûr Muhammad Qãdirî, 􏿽the most unique man regarded as the invaluable
person of his age,􏿽 was the 􏿽cause of the ruin of temples􏿽 which 􏿽he laid waste.􏿽 He chose to be
buried 􏿽in the vicinity of the temple􏿽 which he had replaced with his khãnqãh.37

It is, therefore, not an accident that the masjids and khAnqAhs built by or for the sufis who reached a place
in the first phase of Islamic invasion occupy the sites of Hindu temples and, quite often, contain temple
materials in their structures. Lahore, Multan, Uch, Ajmer, Delhi, Badaun, Kanauj, Kalpi, Biharsharif,
Maner, Lakhnauti, Patan, Patna, Burhanpur, Daulatabad, Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur, Golconda, Arcot, Vellor
and Tiruchirapalli-to count only a few leading sufi center-shave many dargãhs which display evidence of
iconoclasm. Many masjids and dargãhs in interior places testify to the same fact, namely, that the sufis
were, above everything else, dedicated soldiers of Allah who tolerates no other deity and no other way of
worship except that which he revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

7. Particularly pious sultans: Lastly, we have to examine very closely the monuments built during the
reigns of the particularly pious sultans who undertook 􏿽to cleanse the land from the vices of infidelity and
God-pluralism􏿽 that had cropped up earlier, either because Islamic terror had weakened under pressure of
circumstances or because the proceeding ruler (s) had 􏿽wandered away from the path of rectitude.􏿽 Fîruz
Shãh Tughlaq, Sikandar Lodî and Aurangzeb of the Delhi-Agra imperial line belonged to this category.
They had several prototypes in the provincial Muslim dynasties at Ahmadabad, Mandu, Jaunpur,
Lakhnauti, Gulbarga, Bidar, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golconda. There is little doubt that all masjids and
mazãrs erected under the direct or indirect patronage of these sultans, particularly in places where Hindu
population predominates, stand on the sites of Hindu temples.


No comments:

Post a Comment