IT IS AN ARTICLE OF FAITH at The Dharma Dispatch that an inevitable facet of our service to Sanatana Dharma also includes the telling and retelling of past sufferings. Bad news cautions. Good news lulls. Undoubtedly, the reign of Aurangzeb is perhaps the worst of bad news as far as the Hindu civilisational memory is concerned. Indeed, the attitude towards Aurangzeb shown by some powerful sections of the Muslim community in our own time offers one of the most telling evidences for this fact. Most of the Muslim clergy today, especially on TV debates, are quite candid in their assertion that the Gyanvapi “mosque” is a settled fact—i.e., the Hindus have no claim over the original Kashi Visvavantha Temple. Neither is this bigoted claim restricted only to the Kashi Visvanatha Temple but that is a story for another day.
But this only makes it imperative to fish out at least a partial list of the Hindu temples that Aurangzeb destroyed on an epic scale throughout India. As we remarked elsewhere, every Hindu temple destroyed and replaced with a mosque is conquered territory, and Hindus have ceded enough over the centuries. It was the prolonged chain of all such cessations that led to the “creation“ of Pakistan.
Without further ado, the following is a brief list of some of the major Hindu temples that Aurangzeb destroyed (both while he was still a Prince and after he became the Sultan) throughout India. The circumstances leading to the destruction of each temple are also briefly given, verbatim from primary sources. These sources include but are not limited to Jadunath Sarkar’s extraordinary volumes on Aurangzeb, William Crooke’s Handbooks, De Graaf’s chronicles, Aurangzeb’s Farmans, Charles Stewart’s accounts, Akhbarat, and the Masir-i-Alamgiri.
This list is by no means exhaustive and is meant to be a ready reckoner of sorts given the manner in which Aurangzeb has been elevated almost to sainthood by the secular mafia masquerading as historians.
1. The temple of Chintaman, situated close to Saraslipur, and built by the jeweller Sitadas, was converted into a mosque named Quwat-ul-Islam by order of the Prince Aurangzib, in 1645. He slaughtered a cow in the temple.
2. “In Ahmadabad and other parganas of Gujarat in the days before my accession [many] temples were destroyed by my order.”
3. “The village of Satara near Aurangabad was my hunting-ground. Here, on the top of a hill, stood a temple with an image of Khande Rai. By God’s grace I demolished it, and forbade the temple dancers (murlis) to ply their shameful trade.”
4. Aurangzeb’s order to the Subahdar of Gujarat: “In the city and parganas of Ahmadabad (i.e., Gujrat), the Hindus following their superstitious customs light lamps in the night of Diwali…It is ordered that in bazars there should be no illumination at Diwali.“
1. “It has been decided according to our Islamic Canon Law that no new temple should be allowed to be built.”
2. “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 the worshippers from the place.”
3. “On Dec 19, 1661, Mir Jumla entered the city of Cooch-Bihar, which had been evacuated by its king and people, and appointed Sayyid Mohammed, Sadiq to be chief judge, with directions to destroy all the Hindu temples and to erect mosques in their stead. Mir Jumla himself with a battle-axe broke the image of Narayan.”
4. “The Emperor learning that in the temple of Keshav Rai at Mathura, there was a stone railing presented by Dara Shukoh, remarked, ‘In the Muslim faith it is a sin. even to look at a temple, and this Dara had restored a railing in a temple! This fact is not creditable to the Muhammadans. Remove the railing. By his order Abdul Nabi Khan (the Faujdar of Mathura) removed it.”
5. Nov 20, 1665: “As it has come to His Majesty’s knowledge that some inhabitants of the mahals appertaining to the province of Gujarat have again built the temples which had been demolished by imperial order before his accession...therefore, His Majesty orders that the formerly demolished and recently restored temples should be pulled down.’’
6. April 9, 1669: “The Emperor ordered the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and strongly put down their teaching and religious practices.’’
7. May 1669: “Salih Bahadur, mace-bearer, was sent to pull down the temple of Malarna [Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan].”
8. Sep 2, 1669: “News came to Court that according to the Emperor’s command, his officers had demolished the temple of Vishwanath at Benares.”
9. January, 1670: “In this month of Ramzan, the religious-minded Emperor ordered the demolition of the temple at Mathura known as the Dehra of Keshav Rai. His officers accomplished it in a short time. A grand mosque was built on its site at a vast expenditure. The temple had been built by Bir Singh Dev Bundela at a cost of 33 Lakhs of Rupees. Praised be the God of the Great Faith of Islam that in the auspicious reign of this destroyer of infidelity and turbulence, such a marvellous and seemingly impossible feat was accomplished. On seeing this strength of the Emperor's faith and the grandeur of his devotion to God, the Rajahs felt suffocated and they stood in amazement like statues facing the walls. The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels, which had been set up in the temple, were brought to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque of Jahanara, to be trodden upon continually."
10. “Emperor Aurangzeb partially destroyed the Sitaramji temple at Soron; one of his officers slew the priests, broke the image, and defiled the sanctuary at Devi Palan in Gonda."
11. April 7, 1670: “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."
12. "Order issued on all faujdars of thanas, civil officers (mufasaddis), agents of jagirdars, Kroris, and amlas, from Cuttack 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.”
13. “In every pargana, officers have come from the thanas with orders from the Presence [i.e., Aurangzeb] for the destruction of idols.” This letter was preserved in the Yasho-Madhav temple of Dhamrai in the Dacca district, dated 27 June, 1672.
14. “Darab Khan was sent with a strong force to punish the Rajputs of Khandela and demolish the great temple of that place. He attacked the place on 8th March, 1679, and pulled down the temples of Khandela and Sanula and all other temples in the neighbourhood.”
15. May 25, 1679: “Khan-i-Jahan Bahadur returned from Jodhpur after demolishing its temples, and bringing with himself several cart-loads of idols. The Emperor ordered that the idols, which were mostly of gold, silver, brass, copper or stone and adorned with jewels, should be cast in the quadrangle of the Court and under the steps of the Jama Mosque for being trodden upon.”
16. January 1680: “The grand temple in front of the Maharana’s mansion at Udaipur—one of the wonderful buildings of the age, which had cost the infidels much money, was destroyed and its images broken.”
17. ”On 24 January 1680, the Emperor went to view the lake Udaisagar and ordered all the three temples on its banks to be pulled down.”
18. “On 29 January, Hasan Ali Khan reported that 172 other temples in the environs of Udaipur had been demolished.”
19. “On 22 February, the Emperor went to look at Chitor, and by his order the 63 temples of the place were destroyed.”
20. August 1680: “Abu Turab returned to Court and reported that he had pulled down 66 temples in Amber.”
21. “On August 2, 1680, the Temple of Someshwar in western Mewar was ordered to be destroyed.”
22. September 1687: “On the capture of Golkonda, the Emperor appointed Abdur Rahim Khan as Censor of the city of Haidarabad with orders to put down infidel practices and heretical innovations and destroy the temples and build mosques on their sites.”
23. 1690: “Instances of Aurangzib’s temple destructions at Ellora, Trimbakeshwar, Narsinghpur, Pandharpur, Jejuri, and Yavat (Bhuleshwar).”
24. 1693: “The Emperor ordered the destruction of the Hateshwar temple at Vadnagar, the special guardian of the Nagar.”
25. April 3, 1694: “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 Bairagi 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 Bairagi free and sent the copper idols to the local subahdar."
26. Mid of 1698: “'Hamid-ud-din Khan Bahadur who had been deputed to destroy the temple of Bijapur and build a mosque (there), returned to Court after carrying out the order and was praised by the Emperor.”
27. Aurangzeb’s letters of 1698 to Ruhullah Khan, Zulfiqar Khan, and Mughal Khan ordering temple destructions in Maharashtra: “The demolition of a temple is possible at any time as it cannot walk away from its place. The houses of this country [Maharashtra] are exceedingly strong and built solely of stone and iron. The hatchet-men of the Government in the course of my marching do not get sufficient strength and power 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.”
28. January 1, 1705: “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.”
CLEARLY, THIS LIST is just the tip of the iceberg. Two important themes emerge. The first is the obvious and undisguised Islamic bigotry coursing through Aurangzeb’s veins unambiguously expressed in such violent language of intolerance. The mere sight of a temple aroused cataclysmic hatred within him. The second is the sheer geographical extent of Aurangzeb’s temple destructions: Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. That’s almost seventy percent of undivided India’s landmass. Pious Islamic deeds piously, proudly documented by Aurangzeb himself. A gift and an inspiration for posterity. Small wonder that a whole gamut of future fanatics like Shah Waliullah, Syed Ahmed Khan, Allama Iqbal and Zia-ul-Haq held Aurangzeb as a role model and lamented the loss of his guidance for properly putting the infidel Hindus in their place.
The final chapter of this story still hasn’t been written.
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