In this Srijan Talk, Shri Prafull Goradia talks about his book “Hindu Masjids”. He brings out gory details of how Mandirs were destroyed by Islamic rulers and Masjids built in their place. And in the process, the idols were destroyed and desecrated, and masjids built over the ruins of the mandirs. He mentions, in his talk, the barbaric plunders of Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad Ghori. These Islamic rulers destroyed the temples to loot the temple wealth and with an aim to establish and spread Islam in India.
Shri Prafull Gordia speaks about how restoration of these temples should be of concern and treated as national issues instead of treating them as religious issues. He maintains that very little work has been done by the Archaeological Survey of India.
About Speaker: –
Prafull Goradia, a former parliamentarian, political thinker and entrepreneur is also a prolific writer and has authored several books. They include Dear Editor (1997), Saffron Book (2001) and Hindu Masjids (2002). Read More…
But it’s still very sad that we have been taught our own history by the British and not by anyone else, if at all by some Muslims. Our archaeological survey of India, since Independence has done no exploration, but only hiding or concealing if anything embarrassing has been dug up. Ayodhya is only a first, shall we say, a ray in the sunrise. A lot is left to be done if we have the will to pursue. It should be treated always as a national issue and not a religious one.
So, this was supposed to be Why is it called “Adhai Din Ka Jhopda”? It is so because it took 60 hours to convert it from a set of three Temples into a Mosque. It today it is used as a Mosque. My friend Mr. Phanda who is really the guru of what I have written and particularly he masterminded this. He had not contributed for the Saffron book as much he contributed for the Hindu Masjids.
And after that in ‘exchange of population’. This is a very important policy matter where Jinnah proposed, Ambedkar supported or vice versa. And Dr. Rajendra Prasad also had supported and Gandhiji said no, no; our division is territorial and not religious, division mean the partition. So, these all by Phanda sahab. He is very learned person, an economist by training, but turned into a medieval historian after retirement from the government of India. However, since we have to begin let us say, I’m not very proud to say this, that most of our sources are British and a few others Muslim and hardly any Hindu and as far as we are concerned even if we found any Hindu source we have avoided that. Because, people will question our impartiality and objectivity.
But it’s still very sad that we have been taught our own history by the British and not by anyone else. If at all by some Muslims. Secondly, talking about solutions, although that has been put last in this label. I would say that we should not have treated these. Whatever happened is bygone. But, from now, we can open a new chapter that when dealing with this problem. It is just starting of a new problem (problem’s solution). Ayodhya is only the first ray in the sunrise. Ample things are left still if we have to pursue it. It should be treated always as a national issue and not a religious one. By making it a religious one we create confusion. The moment you make it a national issue the question of the government not participating or supporting will not arise. The government would have the right to choose whether to support you or not. But it would have no hesitation in supporting you if it is a national issue. Now, why do I say this is because… Let’s go back to our own Sardar Patel who for the first time visited Junagarh.
You would have heard of Junagarh. It actually acceded to Pakistan that you probably remember. He visited it on the 12th of November 1947, two months, nearly two months after the partition or the independent day and after finishing his work in the morning, Sardar Sahab went to which is quite near to Somnath because it was always working on in mind. In Somnath, particularly if you are in Gujarat, Somnath is more on your mind then either Ayodhya or Krishna Janmabhumi or for that matter Kashi Vishwanath. So, Somnath he visited in the afternoon on the 12th of November 47 and immediately give instructions that we have to build an impressive good temple of Lord Shiva in on the beach, which is on the Arabian Sea. And must do it quickly, not that make it in years and years delay, and later when he went back, he gave instructions or he made a request to Sri Kanhaiya Lal Munshi. I’m sure have you heard his name, he is probably the most outstanding literate or in Gujarati literature.
It was Kanhaiya Lal Munshi who directed or shall we say from a distance supervised the construction of the new Temple and by 1951 it was ready and it was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad our first president, much against the wishes of Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru, but being a government project, financed by public funding, government did not pay. That was Gandhi ji’s wish. In that too Gandhi ji was interested in interfering. So this is the irony of it.
Now, Nehru would not put his foot down. However arrogant he may have been a dictatorial and so Rajendra Prasad went and inaugurated the temple. This was around sometime in 1951. Now, it was his first example of the government of India supervising or directing the building of a temple called Somnath. Now, this Somnath is not communal as our traditional people say the secularists. If Somnath is not a communal issue, which one is it? Am I making sense? So what’s the problem with say for example, Ayodhya. But that became religious. So government cannot do anything. Supreme court gets into the way, etc. All the complications. To give another example.
I’m sure many of you have heard of Sir Arnold Toynbee, the Philosopher of History, the most distinguished one, who’s talked about in his 10 volumes about ‘how civilizations rise and decline challenge and response’. But that’s not the issue here. He was being such a distinguished man. Mr. Nehru as prime minister had invited him to deliver the Azad Memorial, Azad means Abul Kalam Azad, Memorial lecture and in the course of that lecture Sir Arnold said that he is very embarrassed if not also ashamed, that you people have not replaced Aurangzeb Masjid in Banaras which is a stark site despite you’re having had a partition. And now you have your own state. It’s an insult to your state to tolerate the presence of such an abomination. Because he gave an example of Warsaw in Poland, which somewhere down 1812 or so and had been conquered by the surrounding neighboring 3-4 states and had gone out of existence actually, Poland. And in the process the Russian Czar Empire had taken over Warsaw city and converted the main Catholic Church of Warsaw into an eastern Orthodox Christian Church, which was to humiliate the Polish people because there were not many Orthodox Christians in Poland, it was the Catholic country. As you know, even today it is.
As soon as the world war, first world war ended and there was a question of Russia then. So Poland became free, most of it. And as soon as it became free and the Polish government took over, they actually knocked down, demolished, the same church the Eastern Orthodox conversion, converted church and built a fresh Catholic Church of the same old size as the previous one. Now this is what I’m trying to say is that it was all Christianity Orthodox or minor changes apart. The basic religion was the same and yet because they took it as a matter of National Honor and not a religious matter only. They did it officially, openly and proudly. This is where we are very defendant and shy about it. This is a remnant of the Nehruvian era.
I think we must change, particularly young people like you, must change your outlook. I mean a chap like me has really not seen much of the post Nehruvian era. Although I was in Parliament during Mr. Vajpayee time. But Mr. Vajpayee is prime minister ship was a continuity of or continuation of the Nehruvian tradition. In fact sometimes one felt sitting there that we were more Nehruvian than Nehru. To give you one example, it was DMK one of the Coalition partners. Now DMK is not a Hindu party at all and yet they were happily sitting in Coalition with. Can you imagine the policy compromises in order to give them in the Coalition? So this is the problem and they were not really necessary. The majority was sufficient to not have DMK.
So, when you take these instances, I’m emphasizing this because the details of the Masjids and the original temples are there in whatever little we could find out and it’s in the book. But this principle has never been voiced before that it should be treated as a national issue and not religious because the moment you say religious, it becomes a communal rant. Certainly, all the governments, state as well as centre, without the picture, that weakens the hands of the cause.
Now, of course, there are all very sad tales. The first one we went and saw or at least the one I remember most was Ajmer. There were people all rush in all in million to Moinuddin Chishti Dargah. You know, what is called Ajmer Sarif. People come from all over the places, from Bangladesh etc. But, no one goes a furlong ahead through the market to what is called ‘Adhai Din Ka Jhopra’. It was only furlong far and while we had gone, three of us, to Ajmer and we did not feel enthused to going to Ajmer Sherif and some good men on the street suggested that why don’t you go there? Where (I asked)? Pass through this market and at the end of the market, you will find a very tall Masjid called Adhai Din Ka Jhopra (they told), if I remember the words correctly.
And we reached there and there were of course stray as you will see from some photographs also in the book, if you do see the book. The Stray people are lying there sleeping etc. In other words, no visitors. We were the only visitors. Am I right, Mr. Phanda? That day there was nobody else, there are just people lying around. So, this was supposed to be ‘Adhai Din Ka Jhopra’. Why is it called so? Because, 60 hours it took to convert from a triple Temple into Mosque. Till today, that temple is used as a Mosque. Sometimes, someone comes then he is allowed to pray. And why is it 60 hrs? Because it was converted in 60 hours. Ayodhya was also at least that Babari Structure, be it Makbara or Masjid, it is very difficult to ascertain and particularly, now that it doesn’t exist, but that too was converted in 60 hours. That should also be going through. This is to remember that this example was set by the conversion of Adhai din ka Jhopda.
So a lot has been written on this by Alexander Cunningham. We find this in the 22 volumes that the archaeological society had published on Cunningham’s Journey. Have you heard of Cunningham? Many people may not have heard of Alexander Cunningham. He had really done more archaeology in India, than anybody else. Would that be correct Phanda Sahab? Undoubtedly, I think so. A great deal has been written by him. There were three, very tall temples beautifully carved. This is in 1192 CE or so. Soon after the defeat and killing of Prithvi Raj Chauhan. In that trip itself, from what we heard or what we read after the Battle of Tarain’s, second Battle, and it is very sad sight because it’s temple all the way. The carvings are, have Hindu all the way and yet it is a Masjid.
And you will be know, it is not a temple because the Murti and the Sanctum Santorum etc, all had been removed and destroyed and some bar is there and the Mehrab is therefore in direction to Mecca. And outsides somebody later has made are Islamic screen, which is praised by these people. We didn’t understand much as that was written in Arabic. Anyway, it is pretty looking screen on the front. So that was the conversion. And the story behind it is that Mohammad Ghori and Aibak visited that place soon after the battle of Tarain and Ghori wasn’t very impressed by the temple. So he ordered to remove it and make a Mosque there and on his way he wanted to pray there on his way back. So Aibak being a good slave to the shortest cut possible and in 60 hours had it ready and soon came Mohammed Ghori and prayed there and I suppose he must have given a cheers to Qutub-uddin-Aibak.
Same is the unfortunate story. Probably earlier than or later I am not sure. Quwat-ul-islam immediately near the Qutub Minar. I’m sure everybody has visited. Those who are laymen, who don’t understand this issue may not understand what all oppressions people faced there in order to construct peculiar mix ugly structure. That was done. 27 Jain temples, according to this man Bigler, of the Archaeological Survey of India, 1871. He quotes, of course some this Ibn Batuta and he talks about various ways how happened in all that sort of thing and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of famous Aligarh University. He had written letter on this and if you read what he has written, not much. I mean he’s getting great delight and pleasure in talking about how conquerors destroyed the Jain temples and how Jain or whatever temples and how it was reconstructed and redesigned into this Quwwat-Ul-Islam, might of Islam Masjid.
This is the founder of Aligarh Muslim University. But what is very interesting and has been photographed and printed is image of Ganesh in several places particularly on the outside wall of the so-called Masjid. The same tragedy, you see, in Kanauj which was described as the waterloo of Aryavarta, were all destroyed. The capital of North India was destroyed. I suppose it was first visited by Mahmud of Ghazni and I think he focused less on destruction and more on loot and robbery and Muhammad Ghori concentrated more on destruction. There are several structures because Kanauj after all was a city and today it is an Itra (perfume) garden and Itra production. I mean rose garden and Itra production area.
All these constructions, building, lovely things have been more or less finished or in a destroyed condition or converted. This conversion is another interesting thing. Is that it seems to me and I’m no scholar that probably until the Lodhi came, these conquerors were not able to or did not bring their Architects or Builders. As a result, they took the shortcut to immediately convert. The ideal example is Adhai Din Ka Jhopra, which was done in 60 hours. So those conversions than with the Lodhi came they brought their own style of architecture and they’re all over the place as, what we shall say, the gardens, Lodhi Gardens and the places. But before that are these conversions. We in our book has tried to focus on conversions as opposed to recycle Masjid where the whole temple is brought down two planes level and then with that same debris or most of the same debris is rebuilt on a Islamic design or more or less Islamic design.
Incidentally, this reminds me that this Mir Baqi is Ayodhya Babari structure did not have a central ablution (Wudu- the process of cleaning hands and feet with water before prayer). Not even one Minaret was there. So that is why my suspicions that it was a Makbara for either Mir Baqi or either for Babar and not a Masjid at all. And we have been fed with this hamburger and we seem to have swallowed it. This is a suspicion. Please don’t take it as a weighted opinion.
So Mahmud Ghazni and then of course Mohammed Ghori subsequently who destroyed the city and that’s when I think soon thereafter Jay Chand died. He was around in the Ganga, unfortunately. But more interesting is in a way is Vrindavan, Govind Dev Temple. I’m sure some of you must have gone to Vrindavan and seen it, or not? This is of course a sketch, pencil sketch. We haven’t got a view of the temple as it stands today. This is of course the outside wall, but in the book it is there where a tall probably a hundred and twenty feet tall Mandir was chopped into by half on orders of Aurangzeb in 1670 or so because his ego was offended that there is some flame burning which I can’t escape every evening whether I’m in Delhi or I am in Agra because it is visible in both places. So, remove it or destroy it. As a result, on his instructions, before his forthcoming visit whenever it was maybe three or eight months later, this was cut into half and of course the idol because it was announced that Aurangzeb, the emperor will come and etc. So the priest and all-knew that he is about to come and desecration will happen. So he had transferred it to Jaipur where it was usually hidden. So that way it was saved but nevertheless the sanctum sanctorum was destroyed.
Now all this has been brought out by F.S. Growse. Now again, we fall back on British. Growse was the district collector of Mathura for many years. And in those days, it was called Bengal civil service because East India company’s headquarters were in Calcutta and he has written a marvelous book on his district and really moving and we say that even a Hindu would not have been as sincere in his job, as Growse has been in describing what has happened or what he has been able to discover as to what happened in his district Mathura. So then that thing, that you saw the Mehrab pencil sketch for Aurangzeb’s prayer that Mehrab was built on top on the roof. So that the Jahanpanah could pray and having prayed of course for anybody else to join prayers and it was much later that this same man the district collector F.S. Growse he could not bear it sight. So he I did knocked out.
So today if we go there it is just the original Temple but half and the roof is flat. That is a pathetic sight in its own way and all the Murtis except two, their faces have been disfigured completely chopped and cut. No eyes. No nose etc. And of course when tourists go there or visitors go there the Muslims in the buses the tourist buses severely object that why did you brought us here, stop this nonsense. Because they don’t want others to feel that they feel. They are embarrassed. So they didn’t have much to be embarrassed about except that we haven’t taken the trouble to embarrass them.
Mathura again. A lot of the contribution is, I think, Al- Biruni has done the first loot in Gazni’s time who looted so much gold, silver and precious stones that hundred camels were required for transporting it to Ghazni. You can imagine the amount of stuff that he stole rather. And, of course, Al-Baruni again is quoted by F.S. Growse in his book, memoir of a district collector and this was the end, first end of the Keshav Dev Temple and later, of course several people came and robbed and looted and destroyed. But Aurangzeb was the final destroyer. And whatever was left of the temple, I think on that mount filled up is been built on top in Idgaah, which is what you see now if you go and there is an armed chap with a rifle guard standing there who say “Please don’t come inside” when we went there. He said the same thing please don’t come inside. But we nevertheless went inside because the gate was open and had a good tour of the Idgaah. There is a very ordinary Idgaah. Outside it looks quite impressive. And, you can see it from the court with from where you go and do the son of Krishna, which looks like a servant’s quarter from what it was and what it is today.
It’s a most humiliating for any Hindu to go there if he knows only the background. Most people unfortunately don’t know the background. They feel it would be the same from beginning. But those who have happened to have read the background they feel terrible. And why can’t we make it a national issue and take it over. That is the only solution. Otherwise, how will you ever solve the question of 3,000 estimated, which are approved by epigraphs because there is one great thing about the Muslims. They were not shy about what they did. They would record. That Nawab Sahab came, the Sultan Sahab came, Badshah came and he ordered this and this all happened. We would never say it if you understand what I mean.
Secondly, the other thing is are the written records anything based on those 3000 temples that they’ve talked about. There is a book as you know, there are one or the other written records or epigraphs or both. Now, but all of these cannot converted, they are recycled because once the Lodhis came there after it is all Recycling most of it. Take the Ahmedabad’s Jama Masjid. You can’t make out. There is all the facilities there, everything. But, originally there was a Krishna Temple, a Vishnu temple. This in our book Hindu-Masjid, there is an Atala Devi chapter.
Now, this is a mixture of conversion and recycling because you can see some changes have happened and it is quite large. But Jaunpur, which I’m sure some of you must have been to, the most ugly place because every third or fourth building or house is a Masjid. A Slaughter House. Aweful looking construction etc. But there are still four or five converted Masjid there. Atala Devi is the central one, of course. Still called Atala Masjid actually. Devi, I have added, we have added just to let us say make it humorous. But it’s a colony of Masjid as I’ve said. There was a Vijay Mandal Temple which was converted on the order of the Nawab called Barbecue, Ibrahim barbecue.
I think and Khairudin is the historian of Jaunpur and he has said that Vija Mandal was converted into Khalish Mukhalish, named after some earlier Governor’s or something. And another one was Chuckpur which has been converted into a Jhanjhri Masjid. The pictures are there in this book and it’s a very painful site. So much so that a friend introduced by someone who lent his shopkeeper assistant to assist me visit Jaunpur. So, we got all over Tanga (horse carriage). He sat in front and we sat at the back or made some arrangement and he would whisper to us. He didn’t have the courage to tell us the story of Jaunpur that this is a Mosque and this is a slaughter house or so and so, so that no one can hear him saying. This is the extent of fear in our own country. It is as we experienced then. I hope in the last 5 years we are less afraid.
Now this Bhojshala that is in Dhar. Is it Dhar or Dhaar? Dhaar on the way to Mandu from indoor, we three of us got down from our car. There were three Central Reserve police people in Mufti not in uniform and they stopped us. Saying I’m sorry, sir. You can’t go inside. I said, why? He said it is strict Government’s order. Don’t compel us. Please have a look from outside. If you are keenly interested in visiting the mosque then visit the Laat Masjid over the hill. It isn’t on a mountain, but it was hill. So eventually, he took us into confidence that Hindus can go on Basant Panchami once a year only and Muslims can go every Friday for up to 2 hours, not more and any other religion is not allowed at all. Now this was built apparently by the Raja Bhoja and was a Temple-cum-School-cum-Library of those days of 11th century.
And we just had a peep through the gate but there was nothing much we could see. It is very unfortunate. He (CRPF personnel) says the only way possible is to get a written permission from the district collector to visit. Then only can we allow you to visit. Well, that would have been too complicated. So we left it because we were on our way to Mandu fort and the whole visit would have been upset. And that order of once a year or once a week. Their order still stands despite 15 years of our government. As far as we know if you can find out better by writing an RTI or something. It will be interesting.
The other interesting one is Sidhpur in Gujarat. You may have heard of it, may not have heard of it. It is central place for the Bohras. Do you know the Bohras or not? Bohras are a particular community, Shia’s, for the last 500 years when they were converted and they’re quite good traders. When you meet a Bohrah you will make one thing clear. They were originally Brahmins and only Brahmins and then they were converted. Next thing he’ll do is to order a beef steak. They’re nice chaps otherwise and not militant. They make good money and along with the Khojas and Memans. They are the richest Muslims in India by far. The Muslim cannot claim if they go by these samples, they are a poor community. It is elsewhere that the so-called poverty is there.
Now coming to Sidhpur, is another very interesting examples. Sidhpur we went in and as we got off our vehicle, two of us. We saw two some reserve police (jawans) having a good sleep after an early lunch. It was afternoon and quite hot and they were snoring and so the two of us had a good walking tour of the inside compound. This is at compound. There is one more picture of the gate which we don’t have yet. You can get it from somewhere else. Whenever you see an advertisement of Gujarat tourism that gate is shown. It’s rather nice artistic one, probably a thousand odd years old.
A very strange thing four templates or whatever you call them, four of them are a kind of gates in one of which Murti still exists and water pours over them. In another words worship can happen there. 3 of them are destroyed and several others are meant to be buried in the great hill/hillock, which is the continuation of the compound and there is a road on top and seven temples are buried and on the request of the local community not yet dug up. But very interestingly in 1959 or somewhere. There was a strong representation from the community, local community Sidhpur, that our place, Jami Masjid they call it, should be beautified.
So after some year somebody woke up and the archaeological survey decided as late as 1973 or something to beautify and some budget was granted and beautification started with having to dig up the surrounding area where a garden would be lead in all that. During this dig up various lovely artifacts came out including a Nandi bull and all that. So that created a lot of embarrassment. So it was decided by the leaders of the community, having a strong in immediate request to the archaeological survey authorities to please bury this back, and a lawyer’s name was Qureshi who writes a long report for the minorities to National Minorities Commission. Report number 4 of 1983 he devotes 38 Pages describing the whole event starting from the pressure to beautify and ending with the burial of all the things that were dug up.
So, that is what an outstanding example in our archaeological Survey of India since Independence has done no exploration, but only hiding or concealing. If anything embarrassing had been dug up. Nothing has been done. And if you see most of the monuments including the Jajhari Masjid, then all that etc. Those Masjid in Jaunpur they are rusted. Nobody is able to take care of them and I suppose the budget must be running out and there are probably a lot of officers who do nothing, but maybe take a tour once in a while.
So it’s a very tragic thing and the archaeological survey really whether it should continue as it is or should be closed and something else created, I don’t know. But then I don’t think our culture ministers probably take much interest. They’re busy with their own preoccupations. And as a result, it stays neglected. However this funny thing happened these two fellows who were sleeping in the Jami Masjid at Sidhpur, when they woke up because of our movement exclaimed in amazement, “How did you entered?” in Gujarati. Obviously, they were Saurashtra Reserve Police. Anyway, I said, “Because your gate is open.”
Then they said, “Excuse me but if you would not have come it would be better. If anybody sees you present here, I will be dismissed because we have been ordered by higher authorities to let not enter anyone bacause riot can occur, and 2-3 times it has already happened. So, I beg you with folded hands to please leave this place immediately to save my job.”
And we eventually said that in 10 minutes we will leave. But he negated our request and said to leave in 5 minutes.” Then we said we will not leave at all. As you are resting here we will also rest like you. What will you do then? Then he abided by us to stay there for a few minutes without time limit. Then we came out. Then, of course, after that Mr. Phanda discovered that report – Minorities Commission report – and that give 38 pages.
Can you believe it? But this is again another characteristic that they are frank in what happened. They are not embarrassed to say that we started this movement for improving, we were embarrassed to see these things coming out and we requested including the chief minister of Gujarat to bury it again in the ground. Incidentally for those who don’t know just as Gaya is for the final Shraddh for our parents’ father side there is a Bindu Sagar in Sidhpur, which is for the mother’s side, which many people are not aware of. It shows that we are more interested in our father’s Shraddh, than in our mother’s Shraddh.
Am I right or not? What are the ladies to say? So I think details are plenty, but that will only help to put you to sleep. Same way as Sidhpur reserve police people. So I don’t think I’ll go on. I think we can happily stop here.