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Hindu Temples destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb was the third son of Emperor Shah Jahan, who was born on 3rd November 1618 at Dohad in Madhya Pradesh. He wrested his crown from his father before the end of June 1658, after defeating his brothers and by already making his old father Emperor Shah Jahan a prisoner in the Agra Fort (8th June 1658). Aurangzeb was one of the most fierce ruler India has ever seen who wanted to wipe off any other religions in India during his reign. Then in those times Hinduism was flourishing and was targeted for the obvious reasons.

Hindu temple destroyed by Aurangzeb

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Aurangzeb dismantled several Hindu temples in North, West and South India to wipe off the historical significance. It was because he was a radical believer in Islam and wanted everyone to become like him. Ensuing, he destroyed many Hindu temples or even converted many of them into Mosques.

1. Somnath Temple

Photo by abhinav Singh on 500px.com

Somnath Temple is believed to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva which is located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat. Destroyed and reconstructed several times in the past, the present temple was reconstructed in Chaulukya style of Hindu temple architecture and completed in May 1951. The reconstruction was envisioned by Vallabhbhai Patel and was completed under K. M. Munshi, the then head of the temple trust.

The entire temple priests were massacred and the temple valuables looted during the sack by Ghazni. There is also an interesting story that Muslim invaders believed that the devils idols are kept in the temple of Al-Lat etc. and that is why it was sacked again and again. It is known that many pre-Islamic Arabians came to this temple for pilgrimage as the god here represented their moon god. It is said that the temple was looted and destroyed as many as seventeen times. Mahmud of Ghazni first looted the temple, and then came Afzal Khan, the commander of Alauddin Khilji and later Aurangzeb. The great Temple was sacked again and again from Ghazni to the Muslim dynasties of Gujarat to the Portuguese and up till Aurangzeb. A symbol of a great civilization laid in ruins till Vallabhai Patel decided to rebuild it. Today, the temple has been restored.

2. The Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple

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Also, simply called the Krishna Janmabhoomi, Krishna Janmasthan or Kesava Deo Temple, it is located in the holy city of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Like the Dwarkadish Temple in Dwarka, Gujarat, the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple is also said to have been built by the Hindu god Krishna’s grandson, Vajra. While the mythical Yadava king is credited for its creation, the temple underwent a significant upgrade during the reign of Chandragupta II, around 400 AD. Having being demolished in 1017 AD, the temple was rebuilt by Bir Singh Bundela or Vir Singh Deo, an Orchha king under the Mughal Empire. The Krishna Janmbhoomi temple was also destroyed by emperor Aurangzeb and Shahi Idgah mosque was built above the Keshava Deo Temple.

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With the next temple only being built in 1965 after a long political dispute that is still ongoing. This fourth temple is what you see today, but the historical center of this place remains unchanged; you can still see the ancient prison cell where it is said that Krishna was born on a dark, rainy night. Inside the mosque, broken and defaced sculptures inside the mosque made up of temple ruins. There is stone installed by ASI that proudly states the fact that this site was actually made by the ruins of the temple.

3. The Kashi Vishwanath

Located in Varanasi, the temple town that claims to be the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. However, the original Jyotirlinga of Kashi Vishwanath is not available. The old temple was destroyed as a result of the Mughal invasion. Historical records suggest that it was destroyed many times by Muslim rulers.

A choice target for Muslim invaders, the prominent edifice was destroyed in 1194 CE, then rebuilt 20 years later, only to be demolished again in the 15th century. Under the reign of the unusually tolerant Akbar in the 16th century, it was rebuilt once again; but Akbar’s grandson, Aurangzeb, destroyed it yet again in 1669, building Gyanvapi Mosque in its place. The present temple was erected a few feet from the mosque in 1780 by Maratha queen Ahilya Bai Holkar. The gold roof seen in the photo below was donated in 1839 by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of Punjab.

4. Vishveshwur Temple

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On the site of Vishveshwur Temple, Gyanvapi mosque was built by Alamgir Aurangzeb. That temple was very tall and held as holy among Hindus. On this very site and with those very stones he constructed a lofty mosque, and its ancient stones were rearranged after being embedded in the walls of the mosque. It is one of the renowned mosques of Hindustan.

5. Govind Dev Temple

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In India, many rich and marvelous Hindu temples were destroyed and converted into mosques during Islamic rule. Another example of it is the Mosque at Mathura: “Alamgir Aurangzeb built a mosque at Mathura. This mosque was built on site of the Govind Dev Temple which was very strong and beautiful as well as exquisite..”

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6. Vijay Temple

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The city of Vidisha lies in the state of Madhya Pradesh, around 60km from the capital city of Bhopal. Vidisha is famous for its Bijamandal Masjid and its interesting history. The Bija Mandal Mosque is another example of the Hindu temples that were robbed, plundered, demolished, destroyed and converted into mosques using the same raw materials from the demolished temples. Bijamandal having lost all its ancient grandeur stands still through the passage of time as a bitter, painful and sad reminder of the invasions and brutality of Mughals and Islamic invaders. The Bijamandal mosque was constructed using the raw materials of the demolished Hindu temple, dedicated to honoring Goddess Charchika, which was built by the erstwhile Paramar Kings.

Aurangzeb looted, plundered and demolished the temple in 1658-1707 AD. He buried all the treasured idols at the northern side of the temple and converted it into a mosque. For around 300 years, the now protected ASI monument was used as a central prayer hall and mosque for celebrations and large gatherings, especially during Eid.

7. Bhima Devi Temple

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Bhima Devi Temple is located in Pinjore, Haryana. Panchapura from which modern name Pinjore has derived mentions of Panchpura in the Handi stone inscriptions (1167 AD) also seem to refer to this place. The name Pinjore also appears to be based on the myth that the Pandavas had stayed here during the course of their exile. Later on, this place also came to be known as Bhima Nagar– after a much revered local temple that came to be created at this ancient site. These evidences suggest that the ancient site of Panchapura and Bhima Nagar must have been a place of considerable importance between 9th to 12th century AD. The evidence further suggests that the ancient temple site of Bhima Devi was systematically demolished repeatedly possibly by the contemporary Muslim invaders with the last blow coming when Aurangzeb reigned. The adjoining Mughal Garden was possibly built using the rubble of the temple.

As a result of scientific clearance at the site, three stone plinths of a prominent ancient temple have come to light along with a number of beautiful sculptural and architectural remnants. The presence of these three plinths indicates that the temple was built in the ‘Panchayatan’ style of temple architecture. Panchayatan means a group of five temples with a main shrine in the center and four sub shrines at each cardinal direction.

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8. Madan Mohan Temple

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One an area where the temple is located was just a wild forest lies the Madan Mohan temple near the Kali Ghat in Vrindavan. Although the original statue of Lord Madan Gopal does not lie in the temple anymore, it is one of the oldest temples built in this region. In the past, During Aurangzeb’s rule, the statue was shifted to Rajasthan to safeguard it from destruction.

A copy of the original image is worshipped at the temple today, while the original one is still kept at Karauli in Rajasthan. The temple is smaller than other ancient structures but is adorned with beautiful carvings. Tall and narrow in shape, the present red colored structure was constructed in the 19th century by Shri Nandalal Vasu. The original one was destroyed during the Mughal conquest. During the attack of Aurangzeb on Vrindavan, the spire (Shikhara) of the original temple was dismantled. So, a new temple was built next to it down the hill in the early 19th century (the year 1819) by Sri Nand Kumar Bose of Bengal as the old temple was unfit for worship.

9. Chausath Yogini Temple

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Located in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, Chausath Yogini temple is the abode of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva along with 64 Yoginis. A Yogini is a female attendant of the Goddess Parvati. The temple is located near the Narmada river and some 5 km away from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. It is the only temple where Ganeshani or Vainayaki the feminine form of Ganesha can be seen. She is one among chausath yoginis.

There is an interesting story behind this temple that is linked with Aurangzeb who once decided that he would kill anybody whom he put his sword on and did not hear any sound. He came to the Chausath Yogini temple and he put his sword on every Yogini idol and destroyed it since he didn’t hear any sound from the idols. In the end, he went to the idol of Lord Shiv-Shakti. As soon as he put his sword on Lord Shiva’s leg, suddenly he heard a sound of bees and flow of milk from his leg. Aurangzeb decided not to damage the idol.

10. Ellora, Trimbakeshwar, Narasinghpur, and Pandharpur

Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple

During the Mughal era, several Hindu temples were destroyed. Along with them, Aurangzeb enjoyed destroying Hindu temples during his long campaign and ordered to destroy the temples at Ellora, Trimbakeshwar, Narasinghpur, and Pandharpur and build mosques on the sites.