Thursday, 31 December 2015

Destruction of Hindu Temples by Aurangzeb

Before accession.

"The temple of Chintaman, situated close to Sarashpur, and built by Sitadas jeweller, was converted into a mosque named Quwat-ul-islam by order of the Prince Aurangzib, in 1645' (Mirat-i-Ahmadi, 252.) The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. I. pt. 1. p. 280, adds that he slaughtered a cow in the temple, but Shah Jahan ordered the building to be restored to the Hindus.

"In Ahmadabad and other parganahs of Gujrat in the days before my accession [many] temples were destroyed by my order. They have been repaired and idol worship has been resumed. Carry out the former order.'1 Farman dated 20 Nov., 1665. {Mirat, 275).

"The village of Sattarah 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." Aurangzib to Bidar Bakht in Kalimat-i-Tayyibat, 7 b.

After accession.

"It has been decided according to our Canon Law that long-standing temples should not be demolished, but no new temple allowed to be built...Information has reached our...Court that certain persons have harassed the Hindus resident in Benares and its environs and certain Brahmans who have the right of holding charge of the ancient temples there, and that they further desire to remove these Brahmans from their ancient office. Therefore, our royal command is that you should direct that in future no person shall in unlawful ways interfere with or disturb the Brahmans and other Hindus resident in those places."—Aurangzib's "Benares farman" addressed to Abul Hassan, dated 28th Feb., 1659

"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."—Letter of Aurangzib in the last decade of his reign. Inayetullah's Ahkam, 10a, Mirat, 372.

19 Dec., 1661. Mir Jumla entered the city of Kuch Bihar, which had been evacuated by its king and people, and "appointed Sayyid Md. Sadiq to be chief judge, with directions to destroy all the Hindu temples and to erect mosques in their stead. The general himself with a battle-axe broke the image of Narayan."—Stewart's Bengal.

"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 Muham-madans. Remove the railing.' By his order Abdun Nabi Khan (the faujdar of Mathura) removed it."— Akhbarat, 9th year, sheet 7, (14 Oct., 1666).

9th April. 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."—Masir-i-Alamgiri, 81. (De Graaf, when at Hughli in 1670. heard of the order. Orme's Frag., 250.)

May, 1669. "Salih Bahadur, mace-bearer, was sent to pull down the temple of Malama."—M.A. 84.

2nd Sep. "News came to Court that according to the Emperor's command, his officers had demolished the temple of Bishwanath at Benares."—Ibid., 88.

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 linstance of their  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."—Ibid

7th April, 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." —Akhbarat, 13th year, sheet 17.

"Order issued on all faujdars of thanahs, 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 news-letters 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."—Muraqat-i-Abul Hassan, (completed in 167Q-A.D.) p. 202.

"In every parganah officers have come from the thanahs with orders from the Presence for the destruction of idols."—A letter preserved in the Yasho-Madhav temple of Dhamrai in the Dacca district, dated 27 June, 1672, and printed in J. M. Ray's Bengali History of Dacca, i. 389.

"Darab Khan was sent with a strong force to punish-the Rajputs of Khandela and demolish the great temple of that place." (M.A. 171.) "He attacked the place on 8th March, 1679, and pulled down the temples of Khande and Sanula and all other temples in the neighbourhood." {M.A. 173.)

"25 May 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."—M.A. 175.

Jan. 1680. "The grand temple in front of the Maha-rana'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." (M.A. 186.) "On 24 Jan. the Emperor went to view the lake Udaisagar and ordered all the three temples on its banks to be pulled down." (p 188.) "On 29 Jan. Hassan Ali Khan reported that 172 other temples in the environs of Udaipur had been demolished." (p. 189.) "On 22nd Feb. the Emperor went to look at Chitor. and by his order the 63 temples of the place were destroyed." (p. 189.)

10 Aug. 1680. Abu Turab returned to Court and reported that he had pulled down 66 temples in Amber" (p. 194). 2 Aug. 1680. Temple cf Someshwar in western Mewar ordered to be destroyed.—A dab, 287a and 290a.

Sep. 1687. On the capture of Golkonda, the Emperor appointed Abdur Rahim Khan as Censor uf the city of Haidarabad with orders to put down infidel practices and [heretical] innovations and destroy the temples and build mosques on their sites.—Khafi Khan, ii. 358-359.

Middle of 1698. "Hamidudcin Khan Bahadur who had been deputed to destroy the temple of Bijapur and build a mosque (there), returned to Court after carrying the order out and was praised by the Emperor."— M.A. 396

"The demolition of a temple is possible at any time, as it cannot walk away from its place."—Aurangzib to Zulfiqar Khan and Mughal Khan in K. T. 39 a.

"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 (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."—Aurangzib to Ruhullah Khan in Kalimai-i-Aurangzib, p. 34 of Rampur MS. and /. 35 a of I. 0. L. MS. 3301.

"1 Jan. 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."—Akhbarai, 49-7.


  1. There has been a recent attempt to show Aurangzeb as "tolerant" of other faiths, and that his political acumen overcame his religious zeal in destroying temples and idols. But your excellent post above makes it clear that he was a intolerant fanatic by far. Thanks for the detailed documentation. I enjoy your blog!

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