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Temple Destruction by Aurangzeb: Literary Evidence (Expanded Version)





Destruction of Hindu Temples by Aurangzeb 
-----------------------------------------

Some literary evidence from the works of the medieval Muslim historians ...

Background:
----------

Islamic literary sources provide far more extensive evidence of temple 
destruction by the Muslim invaders of India in medieval times. They also 
cover a large area, from Sinkiang and Transoxiana in the North to Tamil 
Nadu in the South, and from Siestan province of present day Iran in the 
West to Assam in the East. This vast area, which was long the cradle of 
hindu culture, came to be littered with the ruins of temples and 
monasteries, belonging to all schools of Santana Dharma - Baudhha, Jaina, 
Shaiva, Sakta, Vaishnava, and the rest. Archeological explorations and 
excavations in modern times have proved unmistakably that most of the 
mosques, mazars, ziarats and dargahs which were built in this area, stood 
on the sites of and were made from the materials of deliberately 
demolished Hindu monuments.

Hundreds of medieval muslim historians who flourished in India and 
elsewhere in the world of Islam, have written detailed accounts of what 
their heroes did in various parts of the extensive Hindu homeland as they 
were invaded one after another. It is alear from the literary evidence 
collected alone that all Muslim rulers destroyed or desecrated Hindu 
temples whenever and whereever they could.  Archeological evidence from 
various Muslim monuments, particularly mosques and dargahs, not only 
confirms the literary evidence but also adds the names of some Muslim 
rulers whom Muslim historians have failed to credit with this pious 
performance.

Some of the literary evidence of temple destruction during Aurangzeb's 
rule is listed below.

[Emphasis mine.]

Literary Evidence of Temple Destruction under Aurangzeb's Rule (Partial 
List & Quotes)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. "Mir'at-i-Alam" by Bakhtawar Khan

The author was a nobleman of Aurangzeb's court. He died in AD 1684. the 
history ascribed to him was really compiled by Muhammad Baqa of 
Saharanpur who gave the name of his friend as its author. Baqa was a 
prolific writer who was invited by Bakhtawar Khan to Aurangzeb's court 
and given a respectable rank. He died in AD 1683.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707)
General Order

" ........ Hindu writers have been entirely excluded from holding public 
offices, and ALL THE WORSHIPPING PLACES OF THE INFIDELS AND GREAT TEMPLES 
of these infamous people HAVE BEEN THROWN DOWN AND DESTROYED in a manner 
which excites astonishment at the successful completion of so difficult a 
task. His Majesty personally teaches the sacred kalima to many infidels 
with success. ..... All mosques in the empire are repaired at public 
expense........."

2.  "Alamgir-Nama" by Mirza Muhammad Kazim

This work, written in AD 1688 contains a history of the first ten years 
of Aurangzeb's reign.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707)
Palamau (Bihar)

" .......... In 1661 Aurangzeb in his zeal to uphold the law of Islam 
sent orders to his viceroy in Bihar, Daud Khan, to conquer Palamau. In 
the military operations that followed MANY TEMPLES WERE DESTROYED 
.............."

Koch Bihar (Bengal)

" ......... Towards the end of the same year when Mir Jumla made a war on 
the Raja of Kuch Bihar, the MUGHALS DESTROYED MANY TEMPLES during the 
course of their operations. IDOLS WERE BROKEN AND SOME TEMPLES WERE 
CONVERTED INTO MOSQUES. ........."

3. "Mas'ir-i-'Alamgiri" by Saqi Must'ad Khan

The author completed this history in 1710 at the behest of Inayatu''llah 
Khan Kashmiri, Aurangzeb's last secretary and favorite disciple in state 
policy and religiosity. The materials which Must'ad Khan used in this 
history of Aurangzeb's reign came mostly from the State archives.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707)
General Order

"........ The Lord Cherisher of the faith learnt that in the provinces of 
Tatta, Multan, and especially at Benaras, the Brahmin misbelievers used 
to teach their false books in their established schools, and that 
admirers and students both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great 
distances to these misguided men in order to acquire this vile learning. 
His majesty, eager to establish Islam, issues orders to the governors of 
all the provinces TO DEMOLISH THE SCHOOLS AND TEMPLES OF THE INFIDELS and 
with utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the 
religion of these misbelievers.  ........"

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)

" ....... It was reported that, according to the Emperor's command, his 
officers HAD DEMOLISHED THE TEMPLE OF VISHWANATH AT KASHI. ........"

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)

" ...... During this month of Ramzan abounding in miracles, the Emperor 
as the promoter of justice and overthrower of mischief, as the knower of 
truth and destroyer of oppression, as the zephyr of the garden of victory 
and the reviver of the faith of the Prophet, ISSUED ORDERS FOR THE 
DEMOLITION OF THE TEMPLE SITUATED IN MATHURA< FAMOUS AS THE DEHRA OF 
KESHO RAI. In the short time by the great exertions of his officers the 
DESTRUCTION OF THIS STRONG FOUNDATION OF INFIDELITY WAS ACCOMPLISHED< AND 
ON ITS SITE A LOFTY MOSQUE WAS BUILT at the expenditure of a large sum. ...."

" ...... Praised be the August God of the faith of Islam, that in the 
auspicious reign of this DESTROYER OF INFIDELITY AND TURBULENCE, such a 
wonderful and seemingly impossible work was successfully accomplished. On 
seeing this instance of strength of the Emperor's faith and the grandeur 
of his devotion to God, the proud Rajas were stifled and in amazement 
they stood like images facing the wall. THE IDOLS, LARGE AND SMALL< SET 
WITH COSTLY JEWELS WHIC HAD BEEN SET UP IN THE TEMPLE WERE BROUGHT TO 
AGRA< AND BURIED UNDER THE STEPS OF THE MOSQUE OF BEGUM SAHIB, IN ORDER 
TO BE CONTINUALLY TRODDEN UPON. The name of Mathura was changed to 
Islamabad. ......"

Khandela (Rajasthan)
" ...... Darab Khan who had been sent with a strong force to punish the 
Rajputs of Khandela and TO DEMOLISH THE GREAT TEMPLE OF THE PLACE, 
attacked on March 8th/Safar 5th, and slew the three hundred and odd men 
who made a bold defence, not one of them escaping alive. THE TEMPLES OF 
KHANDELA AND SANULA AND ALL OTHER TEMPLES IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WERE 
DEMOLISHED ........."

Jodhpur (Rajasthan)

" ..... On 24th Rabi S. (Sunday, May 25th), Khan Jahan Bahadur came from 
Jodhpur, AFTER DEMOLISHING THE TEMPLES and bringing with himself some 
cart-loads of idols, and had audience of the Emperor, who higly praised 
him and ordered that the idols, which were mostly jewelled, golden, 
silver, bronze, copper, or stone, should be cast in the yard 
(jilaukhanah) of the Court AND UNDER THE STEPS OF THE JAMA MOSQUE, TO BE 
TRODDEN UPON.  ...."

Udaipur (Rajasthan)

" .... Ruhullah Khan and Ekkataz Khan WENT TO DEMOLISH THE GREAT TEMPLE 
in front of the Rana's palace, which was one of the rarest buildings of 
the age and the chief cause of the destruction of the life and property 
of the despised worshippers. Twenty 'machator' Rajputs who were sitting 
in the Temple vowed to give up their lives; first one of them came out to 
fight, killed some and was them himself slain, then came out another and 
so on, until every one of the twenty perished, after killing a large 
number of the imperialists including the trusted slave Ikhlas. The Temple 
was found empty. THE HEWERS BROKE THE IMAGES. ....."

" ....... On Saturday, the 24th January, 1680 (2nd Muharram), the Emperor 
went to view lake Udaisagar, constructed by the Rana, AND ORDERED ALL THE 
THREE TEMPLES ON ITS BANKS TO BE DEMOLISHED. ........"

" .......... On the 29th January/7th Muharram, Hasan Ali Khan brought to 
the Emperor twenty camel-loads of tents and other things captured from 
the Rana's Palace and REPORTED THAT ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO OTHER 
TEMPLES IN THE ENVIRONS OF UDAIPUR HAD BEEN DESTROYED. The Khan received 
the title of Bahadur Alamgirshahi. ...."

Amber (Rajasthan)

"...... Abu Turab, who had been SENT TO DEMOLISH THE TEMPLES of AMBER, 
returned to the Court on Tuesday August 10th (Rajab 24th), and reported 
that HE HAD PULLED DOWN SIXTY-SIX TEMPLES. ........."

Bijapur (Karnataka)

" ..... Hamiduddin Khan Bahadur WHO HAD GONE TO DEMOLISH A TEMPLE AND 
BUILD A MOSQUE (IN ITS PLACE) in Bijapur, having excellently carried his 
orders, came to court and gained praise and the post of darogha of 
gusulkhanah, which brought him near the Emperor's person. ......"

General Text

"......LARGE NUMBERS OF PLACES OF WORSHIP OF THE INFIDELS AND GREAT 
TEMPLES OF THESE WICKED PEOPLE HAVE BEEN THROWN DOWN AND DESOLATED.  Men 
who can see only the outside of things are filled with wonder at the 
successful accomplishment of such a seemingly difficult task. AND ON THE 
SITES OF THE TEMPLES LOFTY MOSQUES HAVE BEEN BUILT. ...."

4. "Akhbarat"

These were reports from different provinces compiled in the reign of 
Aurangzeb.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707)

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)

" ......... The emporer learning that in the temple of Keshav Rai at 
Mathura there was a stone railing presented by Dara Shikoh, remarked, 'In 
the Muslim faith it is a sin even to look at a temple, and this Dara 
Shikoh had restored a railing in a temple. This fact is not creditable to 
the Muhammadans. REMOVE THE RAILING.' By his order Abdun Nabi Khan (the 
faujdar of Mathura) REMOVED IT. ......."

Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)

" ....... News came from Malwa that Wazir Khan had sent Gada Beg, a 
slave, with 400 troopers, TO DESTROY ALL TEMPLES AROUND UJJAIN. ..... A 
Rawat of the place resisted and slew Gada Beg with 121 of his men. ......"

Aurangabad (Maharashtra)

"...... The Emperor learnt from a secret news writer of Delhi that in 
Jaisinghpura Bairagis used to worship idols, and that the Censor on 
hearing of it had gone there, arrested Sri Krishna Bairagis and taken him 
with 15 idols away to his house; then the Rajputs had assembled, flocked 
to the Censor's house, wounded three footmen of the Censor and tried to 
seize the Censor himself; so that the latter set the Bairagis free and 
sent the copper idols to the local subahdar ......."

Pandharpur (Maharashtra)
"..... The Emperor, summoning Muhammad Khalil and Khidmat Rai, the 
darogha of hatchet-men .... ORDERED THEM TO DEMOLISH THE TEMPLE OF 
PANDHARPUR, and to take the butchers of the camp there AND SLAUGHTER COWS 
IN THE TEMPLE ..... It was done. ...."

On Way to the Deccan

" ... When the war with the Rajputs was over, Aurangzeb decided to leave 
for the Deccan. His march seems to have been marked with A DESTRUCTION TO 
MANY TEMPLES on the way. On May 21, 1681, the superintendent of the 
labourers WAS ORDERED TO DESTROY ALL THE TEMPLES on the route. ....."

Lakheri ( ??? - means the place is not traceable today )

" ....... On 27 Sept., 1681, the emperor issued orders FOR THE 
DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLES at Lakheri. ......"

Rasulpur ( ??? )

".... About this time, April 14, 1692, orders were issued to the 
provincial governor and the district faujdar TO DEMOLISH THE TEMPLES at 
Rasulpur. ....."

Sheogaon ( ??? )

" ...... Sankar, a messenger, was sent TO DEMOLISH A TEMPLE near Sheogaon

Ajmer (Rajasthan)

".... Bijai Singh and several other Hindus were reported to be carrying 
on public worship of idols in a temple in the neighborhood of Ajmer. On 
23 June, 1694, THE GOVERNER OF AJMER WAS ORDERED TO DESTROY THE TEMPLE 
and stop the public adoration of idol worship there. ...."

Wakenkhera (?)

" .... The TEMPLE OF WAKENKHERA IN THE FORT WAS DEMOLISHED ON 2 MARCH, 
1705. ...."

Bhagwant Garh (Rajasthan)

".... The newswriter of Ranthambore REPORTED THE DESTRUCTION OF A TEMPLE 
IN PARGANAH BHAGWANT GARH. Gaj Singh Gor had repaired the temple and made 
some additions thereto. ...."

Malpura (Rajasthan)

" .... Royal orders FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF TEMPLES IN MALPURA TODA were 
received and the officers were assigned for this work. ...."

5. "Fathiyya-i-'Ibriyya"

This is a diary of Mir Jumla's campaigns in Kuch Bihar and Assam. "By 
looting," writes Jadunath Sarkar, "the temples of the South and hunting 
out buried treasures, Mir Jumla amassed a vast fortune. The huge Hindu 
idols of copper were brought away in large numbers to be melted and cast 
into cannon. ...."

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Koch Bihar (Bengal)

" .... Mir Jumla made his way into Kuch Bihar by an obscure and neglected 
highway. .... In six days the Mughal Army reached the capital (19th 
December) which had been deserted by the Rajah and his people in terror. 
The name of the town was changed to Alamgirnagar; the muslim call to 
prayer, so long forbidden in the city, was chanted from the lofty roof of 
the palace, and a mosque was built by DEMOLISHING THE PRINCIPLE TEMPLE. ...."

6. "Kalimat-i-Tayyibat" by 'Inayatullah

This is a collection of letters and orders of Aurangzeb compiled by 
'Inayatullah in AD 1719 and covers the years 1699-1704 of Aurangzeb's reign.

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Somnath (Gujarat)

".... The TEMPLE OF SOMNATH WAS DEMOLISHED early in my reign and idol 
worship (there) put down. It is not known what the state of things there 
is at present. If the idolators have again taken to the worship of images 
at the place, THEN DESTROY THE TEMPLE IN SUCH A WAY THAT NO TRACE OF THE 
BUILDING MAY BE LEFT, and also expel them (the worshippers) from the 
place. ...."

Satara (Maharashtra)

"....  The village of Sattara near Aurangabad was my hunting ground. Here 
on the top of the hill, STOOD A  TEMPLE WITH AN IMAGE OF KHANDE RAI. BY 
GOD'S GRACE I DEMOLISHED IT, AND FORBADE THE TEMPLE DANCERS (muralis) to 
ply their shameful profession. ...."

General Observation

".... THE DEMOLITION OF A TEMPLE IS POSSIBLE AT ANY TIME, as it cannot 
walk away from its place. ...."

Sirhind (Punjab)

".... In a small village in the sarkar of Sirhind, A SIKH TEMPLE WAS 
DEMOLISHED AND CONVERTED INTO A MOSQUE. An imam was appointed who was 
subsequently killed. ...."

7. "Ganj-i-Arshadi"

It is a contemporary account of the destruction of Hindu temples at 
Varanasi in the reign of Aurangzeb.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)

".... The infidels demolished a mosque that was under construction and 
wounded the artisans. When the news reached Shah Yasin, he came to 
Banaras from Mandyawa and collecting the Muslim weavers, DEMOLISHED THE 
BIG TEMPLE. A Sayyid who was an artisan by profession agreed with one 
Abdul Rasul to build a mosque at Banaras and accordingly the foundation 
was laid. Near the place there was a temple and many houses belonging to 
it were in the occupation of the Rajputs. The infidels decided that the 
construction of a mosque in the locality was not proper and that it 
should be razed to the ground. At night the walls of the mosque were 
found demolished. next day the wall was rebuilt  but it was again 
destroyed. This happened three or four times. At last the Sayyid his 
himself in the corner. With the advent of night the infidels came to 
achieve their nefarious purpose. When Abdul Rasul gave the alarm, the 
infidels began to fight and the Sayyid was wounded by the Rajputs.  In 
the meantime, the Musalman residents of the neighborhood arrived at the 
spot and the infidels took to their heels.  The wounded muslims were 
taken to Shah Yasin who determined to vindicate the cause of Islam.  When 
he came to the mosque, people collected from the neighborhood. the civil 
officers were outwardly inclined to side with the saint, but in reality 
they were afraid of the Royal displeasure on the account of the Raja, who 
was a courtier of the Emperor and had built the temple (near which the 
mosque was under construction). Shah Yasin, however, took up the sword 
and started for Jihad.  The civil officers sent him a message that such a 
grave step should not be taken without the Emperor's permission. Shah 
Yasin, paying no heed, sallied forth till he reached Bazar Chau Khamba 
through a fusillade of stones ...... THE DOORS (OF TEMPLES) WERE FORCED 
OPEN AND THE IDOLS THROWN DOWN. THE WEAVERS AND OTHER MUSALMANS 
DEMOLISHED ABOUT 500 TEMPLES. They desired to destroy the temple of Beni 
Madho, but as lanes were barricaded, they desisted from going further. ...."

8. "Kalimat-i-Aurangzeb" by 'Inayatullah

This is another compilation of letters and orders by 'Inayatu'llah 
covering the years 1703-06 of Aurangzeb's reign.

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)
Maharashtra

"....The houses of this country (Maharashtra) are exceedingly strong and 
built solely of stone and iron. The hatchet-men of the Govt. in the 
course of my marching do not get sufficient strength and power (i.e. 
time) TO DESTROY AND RAZE THE TEMPLES OF THE INFIDELS that meet the eye 
on the way. You should appoint an orthodox inspector (darogha) who may 
afterwards DESTROY THEM AT LEISURE AND DIG UP THEIR FOUNDATIONS. ....."

9. "Muraq'at-i-Abu'I Hasan" by Maulana Abu'l Hasan

This is a collection of records and documents compiled by (the above 
named author) one of Aurangzeb's officers in Bengal and Orissa during AD  
1655-67.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Bengal and Orissa

"....Order issued on all faujdars of thanas, civil officers (mutasaddis), 
agents of jagirdars, kroris, and amlas from Katak to Medinipur on the 
frontier of Orissa :- The imperial paymaster Asad Khan has sent a letter 
written by order of the Emperor, to say, that the Emperor learning from 
the newsletters of the province of Orissa that at the village of Tilkuti 
in Medinipur a temple has been (newly) built, HAS ISSUED HIS AUGUST 
MANDATE FOR ITS DESTRUCTION, and THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL TEMPLES BUILT 
ANYWHERE IN THIS PROVINCE BY THE WORTHLESS INFIDELS. Therefore, you are 
commanded with extreme urgency that immediately on the receipt of this 
letter YOU SHOULD DESTROY THE ABOVE MENTIONED TEMPLES. EVERY IDOL-HOUSE 
BUILT DURING THE LAST 10 or 12 YEARS, WHETHER WITH BRICK OR CLAY, SHOULD 
BE DEMOLISHED WITHOUT DELAY. ALSO, DO NOT ALLOW THE CRUSHED HINDUS AND 
DESPICABLE INFIDELS TO REPAIR THEIR OLD TEMPLES. REPORTS OF THE 
DESTRUCTION OF TEMPLES SHOULD BE SENT TO THE COURT UNDER THE SEAL OF THE 
QAZIS and attested by PIOUS SHAIKHS. ......"

10. "Futuhat-i-Alamgiri" by Ishwardas Nagar

The author was a Brahman from Gujarat, born around AD 1654.  Till the age 
of thirty he was in the service of the Chief Qazi of the empire under 
Aurangzeb. Later on, he took up a post under Shujat Khan, the governor of 
Gujarat, who appointed him Amin in the pargana of Jodhpur. His history 
covers almost half a century of Aurangzeb's reign, from 1657 to 1700.  
There is nothing in his style which may mark him out as a Hindu.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)

" .... When the imperial army was encamping at Mathura, a holy city of 
the Hindus, the state of affairs with regard to temples of Mathura was 
brought to the notice of His Majesty. Thus, HE ORDERED THE FAUJDAR OF THE 
CITY, ABDUL NABI KHAN, TO RAZE TO THE GROUND EVERY TEMPLE AND TO 
CONSTRUCT BIG MOSQUES (over their demolished sites). ......."

Udaipur (Rajasthan)

"..... The Emperor, within a short time, reached Udaipur AND DESTROYED 
THE GATE OF DEHBARI, THE PALACES OF RANA AND THE TEMPLES OF UDAIPUR. 
Apart from it, the trees of his gardens were also destroyed. ......"


Partial Bibliography (Expanded)
------------------

Ahmad, Qeyamuddin (ed.), "Patna through the Ages", New Delhi, 1988.

"Alberuni's India", translated by E.C. Sachau, New Delhi Reprint, 1983.

Attar, Shykh Faridu'd-Din, "Tadhkirat al-Awliya", translated into Urdu by 
Maulana Z.A. Usmani.

Bloch J., "Indian Studies", London, 1931.

Chuvin, Pierre, "A Chronicle of the Last Pagans", Harvard, 1990.

Durrant, Will, "The Story of Civilization", New York, 1972.

Elliot and Dowson, "History of India as told by its own Historians", 8 
volumes, Allahbad Reprint, 1964.

"First Encyclopedia of Islam"

"Futuhat-i-Alamgiri" by Ishwardas Nagar, trans. into English by Tasneem 
Ahmad, Delhi, 1978.

Growse,  F.S. "Mathura: A District Memoir", Reprint, Ahmedabad, 1978.

Hosain, Saiyid Safdar, " The Early History of Islam," Vol. I, Delhi 
Reprint, 1985.

"Jami Tirmizi," Arabic text with Urdu translation by Badi'al-Zaman, Vol. 
I, New Delhi, 1983.

"Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan" of Al-Biladhuri, translated into English by F.C. 
Murgotte, New York, 1924.

"Maasir-i-Alamgiri" of Saqi Must'ad Khan, translated into English and 
annotated by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Calcutta, 1947.

"Makke Madine di Goshati", edited by Dr. Kulwant Singh, Patiala, 1988.

"The Rehala of Ibn Battuta," translated into English by Mahdi Hussain, 
Baroda, 1976.

Sarkar, Jadunath, "History of Aurangzeb," 3 Volumes, Calcutta, 1972, 73.