6. The Epigraphic Evidence
THE EPIGRAPHIC EVIDENCE
Commenting on the history of Central Asia, Heinrich Zimmer writes: �During the sixth and early seventh centuries AD the whole tract was controlled by Turkish rulers, but in the course of the seventh, with increasing strength of the T�ang Emperors, China gained control. Finally, however, under the onslaught of Islam, from the eighth century to the tenth, both Buddhist and Manichaean as well as the Nestorian Christian culture and monuments of the region were destroyed.�
Coming to North India, he continues: �In the north very little survives of the ancient edifices that were there prior to the Muslim conquest: only a few mutilated religious sites remain� It is clear from Indian literature that both temples and images must have existed in the second century BC and perhaps earlier. Very little architectural evidence remains, however, antedating the epoch of the Gupta dynasty (C. AD 320-650), for it was precisely in the Ganges Valley, the central and chief area of the Gupta empire, that the Muslim empire flourished a millennium later and most of the monuments above ground were destroyed by the sectarian zeal of Islam. The oldest stone ruins that have been found represent not the beginnings of a style, but fully developed forms.�
He is specific about the destruction of Buddhism in India. �Since the earliest important body of Indian art surviving to us,� he says, � stems from the century of A�oka, it is predominantly Buddhist. During subsequent periods, however, Buddhist and Hindu (Brahmanical) themes alternate in rich profusion. The two traditions flourished side by side, even sharing colleges and monasteries, for nearly two millenniums, until about the height of the Muslim conquest (C. AD 1200), Buddhism disappeared from the land of its birth.�
By now there are hundreds of publications which provide detailed studies of the architecture and sculpture of many Hindu monuments from all over India. But only a few of them, mostly written by foreigners, state clearly that what have been studied are heaps of ruins dug out by archaeologists from under tell-tale mounds. Hindu writers, by and large, leave the impression as if they have studied monuments which stand intact and in all their original majesty. It is only when we come to the plates that the truth dawns upon us. What we find there staring us in the face are mostly ruins with architectural fragments and mutilated sculptures lying scattered on the surface or brought up from underneath.
The travels of Buddhist pilgrims from China and the pre-Islamic epigraphic records on stones and copper plates tell us how many temples and monasteries stood at what place and at what time. Histories written by medieval Muslim historians inform us as to who made these monuments disappear and when. The two sources, taken together, present a total picture which historians have so far studied in separate parts.
Hindus are famous (or notorious) for their poor sense of history as Christians, Muslims and the modern Westerners understand it. Hindus of medieval India were no exception. They have left no record of what happened to their places of worship and pilgrimage at the hands of Islamic iconoclasm. We do come across descriptions of the Muslim behaviour pattern in the Hindu literature from that period. An invariable ingredient of that pattern is the destruction of temples and the desecration of idols. Accounts relating to destruction of particular temples at particular dates and places are very rare. That sort of detailed evidence comes almost entirely from medieval Muslim sources, literary and epigraphic. Archaeological explorations and excavations in modern times have only confirmed and supplemented that evidence.
Times have changed and so also some moral standards of mankind. Religious tolerance is a value which is cherished today universally by the dominant intellectual elite of the world. Muslim theologians, scholars and politicians in present-day India, therefore, want us to believe that Islam stands for religious tolerance and that there was never a time when it interfered by means of force with the religious beliefs or practices of other people. They resent any reference whatsoever to the destruction of Hindu temples by Muslim invaders and rulers in medieval India. Leftist professors and politicians who subscribe to what they describe as Secularism, dismiss this significant chapter in medieval India's history as a canard spread by �Hindu communalists�. As most of these worthies happen to be Hindus by accident of birth, they add considerable weight to Muslim assertions.
There was, however, a time not so long ago when Muslim theologians prescribed and Muslim swordsmen practised destruction of Hindu temples on a large scale. Hundreds of Muslim historians have credited their heroes with what they rightly regarded as a pious performance according to the principal tenets of Islam. Most of these histories, written in India as well as elsewhere in the Islamic world, have been printed and translated in one or more of the modern languages. They are on the shelves of public and private libraries all over the world. Then there are inscriptions in Arabic and Persian which proclaim the destruction of Hindu temples or their conversion into mosques with considerable pride. These, too, have been deciphered, translated and published by archaeological surveys covering India, Central Asia, Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They leave us in no doubt about one of the favourite pastimes of pious Muslim princes in all these countries which constituted at one time the vast cradle of Hindu culture.
In this and the following chapter we shall present evidence of temple destruction from Islamic sources which we have been able to reach within limits of our resources. Many sources have remained untapped. It is hoped that future scholars will fill the gaps in what is a very important subject in the domain of religious studies. Destroying places of worship of the conquered people has been an important aspect of Christianity and Islam. But religious studies in the West have so far neglected this aspect because of their Christian bias. Religious studies in India have failed to take it up partly because we follow the Western patterns of research but mostly because we subscribe to a mistaken notion of Secularism. Secularism arose in the modern West as a revolt against the closed theology of Christianity which had acquired a stranglehold on the State; in India, unfortunately, Secularism has become the biggest single protector of closed theologies promoted by Christianity and Islam.
There will be frequent references to Muslim kings and dynasties in this narrative. Appendix 1 can be consulted for placing every reference in its proper historical context. At a later stage in this study we shall follow the trail of Islamic invasions as they advanced towards different parts of the Hindu homeland and worked havoc all along their path. That will facilitate an understanding of the evidence from modern archaeological explorations and excavations which we shall present subsequently.
There are many Muslim monuments all over India which provide unmistakable evidence that materials from demolished Hindu temples have been used in their construction. Most of them carry inscriptions in Arabic or Persian stating when they were built and by whom. Some of these inscriptions, installed in mosques, proclaim that the mosques occupy the sites of Hindu temples which were destroyed. Others say that temple materials were used in the construction of the mosques. Similar inscriptions on stone slabs lying loose or not in situ have been discovered in many places; it is difficult to determine as to on what mosques or other Muslim monuments they were installed. It is a safe bet that many more inscriptions which refer to destruction of Hindu temples and construction of mosques etc., remain undiscovered or undeciphered or unpublished. Epigraphists in secular India do not seem to be keen or scrupulous in searching and publishing evidence which compromises the picture of this country as a �haven of communal amity and peace before the advent of the British.�
We give below some instances of inscriptions discovered and copied quite some time ago but not published so far:
1. An Arabic inscription was discovered in the Jãmi� Masjid at Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh in 1953-54. It says that the idol was broken and the mosque constructed by Sher Muhammad Khãn Ghãzî in AH 1051 (AD 1641-42). Another inscription in the same place says that this Sher Muhammad Khãn was given the title of Fîrûz Jang by Sultãn Abdullãh Qutb Shãh of Golconda in AH 1055 (AD 1645-46). The inscription has not been published so far.
2. A Persian inscription on the entrance gateway of a mosque at Nuh in the Gurgaon District of Haryana states that the foundation of this mosque was laid by Bahãdur Khãn Nãhar in the reign of Muhammad Shãh, son of Fîrûz Shãh (Tughlaq), from the materials of a Hindu temple in village Sainthali where Hindus used to assemble in large numbers every year. The qãzî of Nauganwa made a representation to Bahãdur Khãn Nãhar who destroyed the temple and completed the mosque in AH 803 (AD 1400). This inscription has yet to be published though it was discovered in 1963-64.
3. Another Persian inscription discovered in the Jãmi� Masjid at Ritpur in the Amraoti District of Maharashtra proclaims that the mosque which was originally built by Aurangzeb on the site of a Hindu temple, having become desolate through passage of time, was reconstructed in AH 1295 (AD 1878) with the help of contributions raised by the local Muslims. This inscription discovered in 1964-65 has not been published so far.
4. An inscription discovered in 1978-79 on the facade of the Jãmi� Masjid in Mahalla Sunhat at Balasore in Orissa states die in AH 1079 (AD 1668-69) a mob of Muslim mendicants (faqîrs) led by Tãlib stormed and set fire to the temple of �rî ChaNdî which was being resorted to by the Hindus. Five years later, the local faujdãr built the mosque on the same site. This inscription, too, remains unpublished.
5. An inscription in the Jãmi� Masjid at Tadpatri in Andhra Pradesh records that the mosque was constructed on the site of a temple by Mahmûd for offering prayers to Allãh. The inscription dated AH 1107 (AD 1695) was discovered in 1980-81. It is not yet published. We do not know anything about Mahmûd who performed this pious deed in the reign of Aurangzeb.
Similar inscriptions are known to exist in some mosques which are still in use. But they cannot be copied because they have been covered with plaster. Years ago, Dr. Bloch had seen an inscription in the Patthar-kî-Masjid at Patna, the capital of Bihar, stating that the materials for the mosque were obtained from a Hindu temple at Majhauli (now in the Gorakhpur District of Uttar Pradesh). The temple was demolished in AH 1036 (AD 1626) by Prince Parwiz, a son of the Mughal emperor Jahãngîr. �I made the car stop,� writes Syed Hasan Askari, �and took my friends to the upper part of the historic Patthar-ki-Masjid. One of my American friends was an Arabist, but there was nothing for him to read, for the demoralised custodians had the inscription plastered with cement, considering that it contained provocative references.� Some friends of this author who visited the Jãmi� Masjid at Sambhal in the Moradabad District of Uttar Pradesh had the same experience when they expressed a desire to have a look at the inscriptions. This mosque was built in AD 1526 by an officer of Bãbur on the site and from the materials of the local Hari Mandir.
It may also be mentioned that similar inscriptions which have been published by the archaeological surveys in countries outside the present-day precincts of India have remained beyond our reach because of the paucity of our means.
that we present below have been deciphered for the most part by learned
Muslim epigraphists and placed in their proper historical context. The
Archaeological Survey of India has published their fascimilies in its learned
journals. They are being presented in a chronological order with reference
to the dates they carry and not in the order in which they were discovered
This inscription can be seen over the inner eastern gateway of the Quwwat al-Islãm Masjid near the Qutb Mînãr. It is in situ. Its language is Persian. It states:
�This fort was conquered and this Jãmi� Masjid built in the months of the year 587 by the Amîr, the great, the glorious commander of the Army, Qutb-ud-daula wad-dîn, the Amîr-ul-umarã Aibeg, the slave of the Sultãn, may God strengthen his helpers! The materials (?) of 27 idol temples, on each of which 2,000,000 Deliwãl had been spent were used in the (construction of) this mosque. God the Great and Glorious may have mercy on that slave, every one who is in favour of the good (?) builder prays for this faith.�
The Amîr mentioned in the inscription was Qutbu�d-Dîn Aibak, a slave of Shihabu�d-Dîn or Muizzu�d-Dîn Muhammad bin Sãm popularly known as Muhammad Ghûrî. Aibak died at Lahore in 1210. He had crowned himself at the same place in 1206 and is counted as the first sultãn of the Slave or Mamlûk Dynasty.
The date AH 587 mentioned in the inscription presents a problem. It corresponds to AD 1191 while it is indisputable according to all sources that Delhi came under Muslim occupation for the first time in 1192, after the second battle of Tarain. Moreover, Delhi like Ajmer, was left at that time in the hands of a Hindu prince who was to rule as a tributary of the Ghurid empire. Soon after, Delhi was besieged by a Hindu army under the leadership of Jhat Rai, a Chauhan general. Qutbu�d-Dîn Aibak whom Muhammad Ghûrî had left in charge of his Indian conquests had to rush back from Meerut which he had captured in the meanwhile. He was able to reoccupy Delhi and drive away the Hindu only in 1193. It is difficult to say whether the destruction of the Hindu temples and construction of the mosque mentioned in the inscription took place during the first occupation in 1192 or the second occupation in 1193. It is surmised that it could not have happened while Delhi was in charge of a Hindu prince, though it is not a very strong argument the Hindu prince must have been a helpless witness of what the conquerors did. The only thing that is certain is that the mosque could not have been built in 1191 when Delhi was still in the hands of an unconquered Hindu king.
The epigraphist has tried to solve the puzzle. �This inscription,� he writes, �exhibits the titles which he had assumed in 602 when he received his manumission from the ruler of Ghaznî. Before that date, as long as his master was alive, there was nothing to prevent him from inscribing his own name on any building he liked, but he could have done so only if he included the name of his overlord in the record. Now in our inscription Shihabuddîn�s name is not mentioned, nor does Qutbuddîn appear in it as anything higher than the Amîr-ul-Umarã. This leads us to the conclusion that the inscription was put up after Qutbuddîn�s death by order of some ruler, who wished Qutbuddîn�s memory to be preserved as the conqueror of Delhi, but who had no interest in having it stated that Shihabuddîn was his sovereign at that time. Had Qutbuddîn�s descendants ruled at Delhi, they might have preferred to assign to him the titles he assumed as an independent ruler; but his successors were not of his lineage� How long after Qutbuddîn�s death it was put up, it is difficult to say. But a terminus ante quem is furnished by Ibn Battûtã who read it when at Delhi during the reign of Muhammad Tughlaq Shãh.� It is surmised that the inscription was installed in the reign of Shamsu�d-Dîn Iltutmish (AD 1210-1236) and the date on it was somehow bungled.
is thus no doubt that the inscription is very old. Ibn Battûta had
reached Delhi in AD 1334 and seen the mosque immediately afar his arrival.
�On the site of this mosque,� he writes, �there was a budkhãna,
that is an idol-house. After the conquest of Delhi it was turned into a
mosque.� He also
makes a mistake about the date of the conquest which he says was given
to him by the Sadr-i-Jahãn, chief justice of Hind and Sind. But
he confirms that �I read that date in an inscription on the arch of the
great congregational mosque there.�
This town is the headquarters of a Taluka in the Mehsana District of Gujarat. The ManSûrî Masjid in the town has been �entirely reconstructed in the past decade or so, but the inscribed tablet from the old mosque has been retained and fixed above the central miHrãb.� The Persian inscription reads as follows:
�The Blessed and Exalted Allãh says, �And verily, mosques are for Allãh only; hence invoke not anyone else with Allãh.� This edifice was (originally) built by the infidels. After the advent (lit. time) of Islãm, it was converted into (lit. became) a mosque. Sermon was (delivered here) for sixty-seven years. Due to the sedition of the infidels, it was again destroyed. When during the reign of the Sultãn of the time, AHmad, the affairs of each Iqtã attained magnificence, Babãdur, the Sarkhail, once again carried out repairs. Through the generosity of Divine munificence, it became like new.�
The inscription does not mention the date when the Hindu temple was destroyed and a mosque built on its site, nor the date when the mosque was repaired after the restoration of Muslim authority. �"The reconstruction,� comments the epigraphist, �must have obviously taken place at a time when Sultãn Ahmad Shãh had established his unquestioned sway over that region, that is to say, in about 1428. Again, it is not easy to determine when the Hindu building was first used as a mosque. It is reasonable to think that after the conquest of Gujarãt, and the consolidation of Muslim rule in the province, by �Alãu�d-Dîn Khaljî, the building might have been used as a place of Muslim worship and it was used as such till the time when, about three quarters of a century later, sometime towards the end of the fourteenth century synchronising with the defiance of central authority by the Gujarãt governor Malik Mufarrîh, the mosque was desecrated or destroyed.�
to sermon being delivered in the mosque indicates that it was a Jãmi�
Masjid. The Hindu temple, too, it means must have been a major temple.
Muslim iconoclasts generally used the sites of the most important Hindu
temples for raising Jãmi� Masjids.
At present this place is the headquarters of a District of the same name in Rajasthan. But in medieval times it had become famous on account of its very strong fort with which was associated the glory of Mewar. It was occupied by Muslims for the first time in AD 1303 after a seize of eight months by �Alãu�d-Dîn Khaljî (AD 1296-1310), the second sultãn of the Khaljî dynasty of Delhi.
At a distance of about one mile outside the Delhi Gate of the fort there is a tomb known as that of Ghaibî Pîr. Opposite to the tomb is a Muslim graveyard in which there is a small one-wall mosque. The prayer niche of the mosque carries a Persian inscription of which only a small portion has survived. The learned epigraphist has read it as follows after restoring some words by conjecture: �He constructed the congregational mosque. There was temple lying in ruins.�
The inscription is not in situ as it belongs to a Jãmi� Masjid which this small mosque is not. The epigraphist thinks that the tablet bearing the inscription seems to be a fragment of another tablet fixed in the west wall of the tomb of Ghaibî Pîr. The second tablet bears another inscription which mentions the name Bu�l Muzaffar, the second Sikandar, that is, �Alãu�d-Dîn Khaljî, and the year AD 1310. �If this guess is correct,� the epigraphist concludes, �it would mean that �Alãu�d-Dîn had ordered the construction in Chitor, of a congregational mosque, which was completed on the day of Sacrifice, the 10th of Dhi�l-Hijja of the year AH 709 (11 May AD 1310). Needless to say, no trace remains of any old mosque in Chitor today.�
There is another
conclusion drawn by the epigraphist after his conjectural restoration of
the first inscription. �It is also interesting to note,� he writes, �provided
of course I am not wrong in my conjectural reading of the second hemistich,
that the said Jãmi� mosque was constructed at the site of a temple
which was then lying in ruins� This is particularly
important as showing that, not always as is generally supposed, the Hindu
buildings were pulled down to provide materials for mosques and other similar
monuments.� We find it difficult to agree.
The conjectural reading, �lying in ruins,� is not the only possible reading.
It can as well be read as �made into ruins�, which is the standard expression
used in many other inscriptions.
It is the headquarters of a Taluka of the same name in the Raichur District of Karnataka. A mosque in this place has a Persian inscription fixed above its door. It reads as follows:
�He (Allãh) is Omniscient. Praise be to Allãh that by the decree of the Nourisher, a mosque has been converted out of a temple as a sign of religion, in the reign of the world-conquering emperor, the king who is asylum of the Faith and possessor of the crown, whose kingdom is young (i.e. flourishing), viz. Fîrûz Shãh Bahmanî, who is the cause of exuberant spring in the garden of religion, Abu�l-Fath the king who conquered (lit. on horseback). After the victory of the emperor, the chief of chiefs, Safdar (lit. the valiant commander) of the age, received (the charge of) the fort. The builder of this noble place of prayer is Muhammad ZaHîr Aqchî, the pivot of the Faith. He constructed in the year eight hundred and nine from the Migration of the Chosen (prophet Muhammad) this Ka�ba like memento.�
The year AH 809
corresponds to AD 1406-07. Fîrûz Shãh Bahmanî
(AD 1397-1422) was the eighth ruler of this independent Muslim dynasty
established by �Alãu�d-Dîn Bahmanî in AD 1347. The capital
of Fîrûz Shãh was at Gulbarga. It was shifted to Bidar
by his son, Ahmad Shãh Bahmanî, some time about AD 1425.
This is a famous town in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, and head-quarters of a distinct of the same name. It was the capital of the renowned Bhoja Parmãra who ruled between AD 1000 and 1055. It has a mausoleum known to be that of Shykh �Abdullãh Shãh Changãl, now in ruins. The doorway of the entrance to the mausoleum has a long inscription in Persian which, after singing fulsome praises of the Shykh, says:
�This centre became Muhammadan first by him (and) all the banners of religion were spread� This lion-man came from the centre of religion to this old temple with a large force. He broke the images of the false deities, and turned the idol temple into a mosque. When Rãi Bhoj saw this, through wisdom he embraced Islãm with the family of his brave warriors. This quarter became illuminated by the light of the Muhammadan law, and the customs of the infidels became obsolete and abolished. Now this tomb since those days has become the famous pilgrimage-place of the world. Graves from their oldness became levelled (to the ground), (and) there remained no mound on any grave. There was [no place] also for the retirement, wherein the distressed dervish could take rest� The Khaljî king MaHmûd Shãh who is such that by his justice the world has become adorned like paradise; he built afresh this old structure, and this house with its enclosure again became new� From the hijra it was 859 (AD 1455) that its (the building�s) date was written anew��
was put up by Mahmûd Shah Khaljî of Malwa, who overthrew the
independent Ghurî dynasty of that province in AD 1436 and ruled as
the founder of the independent Khaljî dynasty of Malwa till 1469.
Nothing is known about �Abdullãh Shãh Changãl except
that he hailed from Medina and was one of the earliest crusaders of Islam
in Malwa. G. Yazdani who has published and translated this inscription
speculates that �Abdullãh belonged to the
army of Mahmûd of Ghaznî who fought with Rãjã
Bhoja� and though he �might have converted only a few Hindus to Islãm,
after a period of four hundred years, can easily have been believed to
have converted Rãjã Bhoja with all his family and others
to Islãm.� It is, however, more probable,
as some other scholars have surmised, that the Hindu king was Bhoja II
who ascended the throne at Dhar in AD 1283 and during whose reign Jalãlu�d-Dîn
Khaljî (AD 1290-1296) of Delhi is known to have invaded Malwa.
In that case Abdullãh Shãh Changãl seems to have been
a Muslim missionary who accompanied the army of Islam from Delhi, destroyed
a Hindu temple, built a mosque in its place, and forced the Hindu king
to profess the faith of the victor.
This is now a small village in the Palanpur Taluka of the Banaskantha District of Gujarat. But in the reign of Mahmûd Shãh I, also known as Mahmûd BegDhã (AD 1458-1511), of Gujarat, it was the seat of a Thana and had a Fort. That is why the place has a Jãmi� Masjid. A Persian inscription, fixed on the central mihràb of the mosque, reads as follows:
�I seek refuge in Allãh from (the mischief of) the accursed Satan (and begin) in the name of Allãh, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to Allãh! Allãh the Blessed and Exalted says, �And verily the mosques are for Allãh only; hence, invoke not anyone else with Allãh.� (The prophet), on him be peace, says �He who builds a mosque in the world, the Exalted Allãh builds for him a palace in Paradise.� In the auspicious time of the government and peaceful time of Mahmûd Shãh, son of Muhammad Shãh, the sultãn, the Jãmi�, mosque was constructed on the hill of the fort of Mãlûn (or Mãlwan) by Khãn-i-A�zam Ulugh Khãn, may Allãh prolong his life for justice, generosity and benevolence, at the request of the thãnadãr Kabîr, (son of Diyã), the building was constructed by a servant of Ulugh Khãn (who is) magnanimous, just, generous, brave (and who) suppressed the wretched infidels. He eradicated the idol-houses and mine of infidelity, along with the idols in the enemy�s country with the blow of the sword, and made ready this abode with different kinds of stone, marble and marim (?). He made its walls and doors out of the stone of the idols; the back of every stone became the place for prostration of the believers� the date was Thursday, fifth of the month of Rajab of the year eight hundred and sixty at the time (5th April, AD 1462).�
At the end of the inscription, we find a verse from the Qur�ãn (73.20). It says, �And whatever of good you send on beforehand for yourselves, you will find it with Allãh - that is the best and greatest in reward. And ask forgiveness of Allãh. Surely, Allãh is Forgiving, Merciful.�
Ulugh Khãn was the title conferred upon �Alãu�d-Dîn
Suhrãb, the Governor of Sultanpur, by Qutbu�d-Dîn Ahmad Shãh
or Ahmad Shãh II (AD 1451-1458) of Gujarat. He �is last heard of
as being sent to fetch Prince Fath Khãn to be crowned as Mahmûd
Shãh I in AH 862 or 863,� that is,
AD 1457 or 1458.
It is the headquarters of a Taluka of the same name in the Bharuch District of Gujarat. Above the central mihrãb of its Jãmi� Masjid there is a Persian inscription providing particulars of its construction. It reads as follows:
�Allãh and His grace. When divine favour was bestowed on Khalîl Shãh, he constructed the Jãmi� Masjid for the decoration of Islãm; he ruined the idol-house and temple of the polytheists, (and) completed the Masjid and pulpit in its place. Without doubt, his building was accepted by Allãh. What a pleasing edifice became the calculation of its year.�
portion of the last line is a chronogram which yields the year AH 911 corresponding
to AD 1505-06. Khalîl Shãh was the third son of Sultãn
Mahmûd BegDhã of Gujarat. At the time he constructed the Jãmi�
Masjid at Amod, he was the Governor of Baroda. He succeeded BegDhã
in AD 1511 as Muzaffar Shãh II and ruled till 1526.
It is a town in the Shivpuri District of Madhya Pradesh. Inside its fort there is a Muslim place of pilgrimage known as the shrine of Shãh Madãr. An inscription from this shrine was removed to the Archaeological Museum at Gwalior. Written partly in Arabic and partly in Persian, it reads:
�Dilãwar Khãn, the chief among the king�s viceroys, caused this mosque to be built which is like a place of shelter for the favourites. Infidelity has been subdued, and Islãm has triumphed because of him. The idols have bowed (to him) and the temples have been laid waste on account of him. The temples have been razed to the ground along with their foundations, and mosques and worship houses are flowing with riches.�
The mosque to
which the inscription refers was built in AH 960 (AD 1552) when Islãm
Shãh, the second king of the Sûr dynasty founded by Sher Shãh
in 1538, was the reigning sultãn. He was the son of Sher Shãh
and ruled from AD 1545 to 1554. The inscription was composed by Sayyid
Ahmad and written by Nazîr Shattãrî. Both
of them belonged to the Shattãrî sect of Sufism. An outstanding
Sufi of this sect, Shykh Muhammad Ghaus, had settled down at Gwalior before
the invasion of Bãbur and helped the latter to seize the fort of
Gwalior in AD 1527. His services have been recognized by Bãbur in
his memoirs. The
Shykh�s shrine inside the fort is reported to have replaced a Hindu temple.
He had received great favours from Bãbur (AD 1526-1530) and Humãyûn
(AD 1530-1538 and 1555-1556). Akbar (AD 1556-1605) �revered the Shykh (Muhammad
Ghaus) and afterwards became his disciple.�
Shãh Madãr belonged to the same Sufi sect.
It is the headquarters of a District of the same name in Uttar Pradesh. Its Hammãm-Darwãza Masjid has three inscriptions which are complimentary to each other. The first inscription which is over the central mihrãb of the mosque says that it was built in the reign of �Abu�l-Muzaffar Jalãlu�d-Dîn Muhammad Akbar Bãdshãh Ghãzi (AD 1556-1605).� The second inscription is built into the wall above the right mihrãb. It reads as follows:
�Thanks that by the guidance of the Everlasting and Living (Allãh), this house of infidelity became the niche of prayer (i.e. mosque). As a reward for that, the generous Lord, constructed an abode for its builder in paradise: The Pen of Reason wrote (the words): the mosque of Nawwãb Muhsin Khãn for the date of its construction.�
The italicised words in the last line form a chronogram and yield the year AH 975 (AD 1567-68), which is the same as in the third inscription fixed above the right mihrãb of the mosque. The builder of the mosque was Nawwãb Muhsin Khãn. Muhammad Fasîhu�d-Dîn writes in The Sharqi Monuments of Jaunpur (Allahabad, 1922) that the materials of the mosque were �taken from those of the temple of Lachman Das, Diwan of Khan-i-Zaman Ali Quli Khan� Akbar made over an the property of the Diwan to Nawab Mohsin Khan.�
is surprising,� writes the learned epigraphists, W.H. Siddiqi and Z.A.
Desai, �that practically nothing is known about Nawwãb Muhsin Khãn,
the builder of this mosque and several other edifices, from contemporary
or later records. The tide Nawwãb prefixed to his name clearly suggests
that he was a man of high status in the reign, probably holding jãgîr
or a high post in the sarkãr of Jaunpur, which was included
in Akbar�s time in the sûba of Allãhãbãd.� Abu�l
Fazl mentions a Muhsin Khãn in Akbar Nãma in the annals
of the year 1571. He was a brother of the �celebrated Shihãbu�d-Dîn
Ahmad Khãn� who belonged to �a Sayyid family of Nishãpur
in Iran.� This Muhsin Khãn is probably the same as the Muhsin Khãn
who, according to Abu�l Fazl again, �in AH 982 participated in the Bengal
expedition led by Khãn-i-Khãnãn Munîm Khãn.�
It is now a village in the Khed Taluka of Poona District in Maharashtra. The old Jãmi� Masjid of this place is known for two Persian inscription on two of its pillars. Joined together, the inscriptions read as follows:
�Oh Allãh! Oh Muhammad! O �Alî! Mir Muhammad Zamãn made up his mind, he opened the door of prosperity on himself with his own hand. He demolished thirty-three idol-temples (and) by divine grace, laid the foundation of a building in this abode of perdition. That the mosques are Allãh�s, therefore call not upon any one with Allãh (Qur�ãn LXXII, 18). He opened the arms of magnanimity with goodness and scattered gold, (and) laid the foundation of a mosque like the palace of paradise. I went in contemplation and sought its date from Wisdom. Wisdom was astonished and said, he built this blessed building.�
contained in the italicised words yields the year AH 994 (AD 1586). The
Poona region at that time was in the Nizãm Shãhî kingdom
of Ahmadnagar. The ruler was Murtazã Nizãm Shãh I
(1565-1588) during whose reign the kingdom reached its greatest territorial
extent. The epigraphists do not tell us anything about Mîr Muhammad
Zamãn, the builder of the mosque. But one thing is clear from the
mention of Imãm �Alî in the inscription, namely, that Mîr
Muhammad Zamãn was a Shi�ah.
This is a town in the Sriperumbudur Taluka of Chingleput District in Tamil Nadu. It has a mosque which has two inscriptions, one in Persian and the other in Telugu. The Persian inscription states that the mosque was built in AH 1063 (AD 1653) in the reign of Sultãn �Abdullãh Qutb Shãh (AD 1626-1672) of the Qutb Shãhî dynasty of Golconda when Mîr Jumlã was the governor of the Carnatic province. The builder was Rustam ibn Zul-Fiqãr of Istarabad in Iran. �In the margin of the tablet,� writes the epigraphist, G. Yazdani, �two Persian couplets are carved, the letters of which have been abraded by the effect of weather. The following words, however, can be deciphered: �Destroyed the house of idols� and built a mosque, demolished� infidels� built�.�
The Telugu version, engraved below the Persian inscription, mentions Rustam, the builder, as �Havaludãrû of the fort at Pûnamalli� and Mîr Jumla as �Hajarati Navãbu-Sãhebulugãru, the agent of Hajarati Ãlampanna Sultãnu Abdullã Kutupu �abãrãjugãru, the lord of Golconda throne.� The mosque, it says, is �to last as long as the Moon and Sun,� and �those that cause obstruction (to it) will incur the sin of killing cow at Kã�i [Varanasi].� The epigraphist adds, �The superstructure of the mosque is built of brick and mortar, the base being of stone, which may have originally formed part of a Hindu temple.�
whose name was Muhammad Sayyid was �an adventurer from Ardistãn
in Persia.� He rose in the service of the Sultãn of Golconda as
whose general he invaded the Carnatic and became Governor of the conquered
territories. �By plundering Hindu temples,� writes J.N. Chaudhuri, �and
searching out hidden treasures, Mir Jumla accumulated a vast fortune, and
according to Thevnot, he had twenty maunds of diamonds in his possession.
His jãgîr in Carnatic was like a kingdom� He
was almost an independent ruler and absented himself from the court of
Golconda. Alarmed at the growing power of the Wazir, the Sultãn
attempted to bring him under his control but Mîr Jumla entered into
intrigues with Bijãpur and Persia.�
Later on, he deserted his first employer and entered the service of the
Mughals under Aurangzeb. He destroyed many Hindu temples while operating
as a Mughal general in Kuch Bihar.
It is the headquarters of a Taluka of the same name in the Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh. It is famous for its fort which was held by the Vijayanagara kings before it fell to the Qutb Shãhî rulers of Golconda. The big mosque on the Udayagiri Hill has a Persian inscription which reads as follows:
�Ghãzî �Alî, lord of the age, victor in war� with the help and support of the victorious king, pivot (Kutb) of the world, king (Shãh) of the throne of the Dakhan, from one end to the other, he (Ghãzî �Alî) burnt away the sweepings of idolatry� with the fire of his sword (he) burnt in one moment the idol of the idol-worshippers; he killed all, that breaker-through (annihilator) of the army; when he captured the fort of Udayagiri, the world became full of Jessamine; (he) began to construct the mosque and the date was, �Founder of the mosque - (Ghãzî) �Alî the iconoclast�.�
The chronogram yields the year AD 1642-43. Ghãzî �Alî was presumably a general of Abdullãh Qutb Shãh (AD 1626-1672) of Golconda. Nothing more is known about him.
The small mosque on the same Hill carries another Persian inscription which reads as follows:
�During the days of Abdulla Kutb Shãh, the pride of kings, Husain Khãn secured the blessings of God in that he constructed a new mosque and embellished it. May God accept it for the purpose of prayers. A thousand and sixty and ten and one elapsed from Hijra (AD 1660-61). He destroyed a temple and constructed the House of God.�
Husain also was
most probably another general of the same Sultãn of Golconda. Histories
of the reign or period do not supply information about his status or role.
It is the headquarters of a Taluka of the same name in the Nizamabad District of Andhra Pradesh. �The place,� writes G. Yazdani, �is strewn with sculptures of Jaina and Brahmanical professions of faith� Contemporary history does not mention Bodhan; but the array of antiquities and the discovery of both Hindu and Muslim inscriptions in recent times establish the fact that the town possessed considerable religious and strategic importance in early days.�
The town has a mosque known as Deval Masjid. It carries two inscriptions which state that it was built in the reign of Muhammad Tughlaq (AD 1325-1351). �The Deval Masjid,� comments G. Yazdani, �as its name signifies, was originally a Hindu temple, and converted into a mosque by Muhammad Tughlaq at the time of his conquest of the Deccan. The plan of the building is star-shaped; it has undergone little alteration at the hands of Moslems excepting the removal of the shrine-chamber and the setting up of a pulpit. The original arrangement of the pillars remains undisturbed and the figures of tirthankaras may be noticed on some of them to this day.� The date of the conversion of this temple into a mosque is not mentioned in the inscriptions. The building of the temple is assigned by experts to 9-10th century AD.
The eastern part of the same town has a small mosque known as the �Ãlamgîrî Masjid. One of the two inscriptions on this mosque reads as under:
�In obedience to the commandment of the Almighty God, the Lord of both the worlds; and in love of� the exalted Prophet: During the reign of Shãhjahãn, the king of the seven climes, the viceregent of God (lit. Truth), the master of the necks of people� the benevolent and generous Prince Aurangzeb, whose existence is a blessing of the Merciful God on people: He built a house for worship with (all) the qualities of heaven: after the site has been previously occupied by the temple of infidels��
chronogram, �Most blessed House�, given at the end of the inscription
yields the year AH 1065 (AD 1655) �which tallies with the period of Aurangzeb�s
governorship of the Deccan, shortly before his marching upon Delhi against
his imperial father.�
The Jãmi� Masjid in the heart of this Hindu city has a Persian inscription which reads as follows:
�In the reign of Shãh �Ãlamgîr Muhîu�ddin Walmillah, the king of the world, Aurangzeb, who is adorned with justice, the lustre of Islãm shone forth to the glory of God; for �Abd-un-Nabi Khãn built this beautiful mosque. This second �Holy Temple� caused the idols to bow down in worship. You will see the true meaning of the text, �Truth came and error vanished.� Whilst I search for a tãrikh, a voice came from blissful Truth ordering me to say �Abd-un-Nabi Khãn is the builder of this beautiful mosque.� May this Jãma Masjid of majestic structure shine forth for ever like the hearts of the pious! Its roof is high like aspirations of love; its court-yard is wide like the arena of thought.�
which contains the name of the builder, �Abdu�n-Nabî Khãn,
yields the year AH 1470 corresponding to AD 1660-1661. �Abdu�n-Nabî
Khãn had risen high in the service of Shãh Jahãn.
He fought on the side of Dãrã Shukoh in the decisive Battle
of Samugadh in 1658. After the defeat and flight of Dãrã
Shukoh, he joined service under Aurangzeb who appointed him faujdãr
in various places. �Abdun Nabi Khãn,� says
Mã�sîr-�Ãlamgîrî, �after removal
from his post in Fathpur Jhunjhnu, was created a 2-hazari and appointed
faujdãr of Mathurã.� Jadunath
Sarkar adds, �Aurangzeb chose him as faujdãr of Mathurã probably
because he, being �a religious man� (as the Court history calls him), was
expected to enter heartily into the Emperor�s policy of 'rooting out idolatry.�
Soon after joining this post Abdun Nabi built a Jama� Masjid in the heart
of the city of Mathurã (1661-1662) on the ruins of a Hindu temple. Later,
in 1669, he forcibly removed the carved stone railing presented by Dara
Shukoh to Keshav Rai�s temple. When in 1669, the Jat peasantry rose
under the leadership of Gokla, the zamindar of Tilpat, Abdun Nabi marched
out to attack them in the village of Bashara, but was shot dead during
the encounter (about 10th May).�
There is a small mosque on the right hand side of the GaNe�a Gate in the fort at Gwalior, headquarters of a District in Madhya Pradesh. It has a Persian inscription which reads as follows:
In the reign of the great Prince Ãlamgîr,
Like the full shining moon,
The enlightener of the world,
Praise be to God that this happy place,
Was by Motamid Khãn completed as an alms.
It was the idol temple of the vile Gwãlî,
He made it a mosque, like a mansion of paradise.
The Khãn of enlightened heart,
Nay light itself from head to foot,
Displayed the divine light, like that of mid-day,
He closed the idol temple:
Exclamations rose from earth to heaven,
When the light put far away the abode of darkness,
Hatif said �light be blessed.�
�Gwãlî� mentioned in the inscription refers to the famous Siddha Gawãlîpã after whom Gwalior is supposed to have been named. Whatever be the truth of the legend, a temple dedicated to Gawãlîpã did exist at the site now occupied by the mosque. A small temple dedicated to the Siddha exists even now in the vicinity of the mosque. It seems to have been built after the fort was freed from Muslim occupation.
who destroyed the original temple and built the mosque on its site was
the Governor of Gwalior under Aurangzeb. The chronogram in the inscription
gives AH 1075 (AD 1664) as the date when the mosque was completed.
It is the headquarters of a Taluka of the same name in the Akola District of Maharashtra. The central mihrãb of its Jãmi� Masjid carries a Persian inscription which reads as follows:
�In the name of Allãh, the Beneficent, the Merciful. There is no god except Allãh. Muhammad is His Prophet, verily. In the just reign of �Ãlamgîr, the king who is the asylum of Faith (and) whose universal generosity makes the sea and mine shame-stricken, one of his devoted servants, Muhammad Ashraf of god faith, saw a place where there was a temple. Like Khalîl (Prophet Abraham), he broke the temple at the command of God, and arranged for the construction of a very steadfast mosque. Year (AH) one thousand and seventy-eight� (AH 1078 = AD 1667).
Nothing is known
from history about Muhammad Ashraf who constructed this Jãmi� Masjid,
though it ran be surmised that he was some official of the Mughal empire
under Aurangzeb (AD 1658-1707).
It is the headquarters of a District of the same name in the State of Karnataka. It was the capital of the Bahmanî Empire from AD 1422 to 1569 when it became the seat of the Barîd Shãhî kingdom, one of the five Muslim states which arose on the eclipse of the Bahmanî dynasty. There is a small mosque on the slope of a mountain, some two miles to the south-east of Bidar. It has an inscription in Persian which says:
�God there is none but He and we worship not anyone except Him. (He) built a mosque in place of the temple, and wrote over its door the (Qur�ãnic) verse-�Verily, We conquered.� When the exalted mind of the Khedive, the refuge of Religion, supported by Divine Grace, Abu�z-Zafar MuHi-ud-dîn Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahãdur �Ãlamgîr, the victorious, was inclined to, and occupied in, destroying the base of infidelity and darkness and to strengthen the foundation of Islamic religion, the humblest servant Mukhtãr Khãn al-Husaini as-Sabzwãrî, the governor of the province of Zafarãbãd, demolished the temple and built a mosque and laid out a garden which by the Grace of the Omniscient God were completed on the 25th of Rabi�-ul-Awwal in the 14th year of the auspicious reign (AH 1082) corresponding with the date contained in this hemistich-By the Grace of God this temple became a mosque��
year of the Christian era was 1670. Aurangzeb was the Mughal emperor from
AD 1658-1707. Mukhtãr Khãn was his local officer. It may
be noticed that Bidar is described as Zafarãbãd in this inscription.
This is only one instance of many attempts to Islamicise the names of Indian
cities, towns and even villages. Many of these Islamic place-names have
become current so that the original names have to be excavated from ancient
records. Others did not stick and are found only in Muslim histories.
This is now a small town in the Bellary Taluka of the Bellary District of Karnataka. The name means �pile of wealth� which is justified by its location in a rich wet land as compared to the dry land around it. Its Lãd Khãn�s Masjid has a Persian inscription regarding the construction of the mosque. �The present building of the mosque,� writes G. Yazdani, �is of modest dimensions and does not seem to be very old, but it is not unlikely that it stands upon the site of an older mosque.� The inscription reads as follows:
�In Eternity when the Founder of the Fort of �blue firmament� opened the gates of grace and benevolence and mercy into the face of mankind, since then a ball of �religion� and �state�, justice and benevolence, was thrown in the pologround and arena of the world. Each of the rulers, monarchs and sovereigns came (into this world) in turn, and manifested majesty according to his �star�; (each) gallopped the horse of ambition, but could not bear away the ball, hence (each) threw down the ball of his head on the chaughãn of �prostration�. Now when the turn of Mas�ûd Khãn came, he bore away the ball with the chaughãn of courage. Know him of pure faith and belief, and of mature fortune and glory; his justice has been praised by Naushîrwãn and his generosity (applauded) by Hãtim. The court of his (kingly) grace is (resplendent) like the Moon; but in the battle-field his awe destroys heads, his wrath and grace in respect of infidelity and faith add darkness and light (to each). Destroyed temples and idols and built mosques and Mihrãbs, levelled the mountains in several places and raised walls touching the sky��
goes on to credit Mas�ûd Khãn with the construction of a gate
at Adoni and another at Sirkopa (Siruguppa) in the year AH 1086, corresponding
to AD 1674. �Mas�ûd Khãn�s name,� comments G. Yazdani, �is
given by Khãfî Khãn in connection with the conquest
of the fortress of Ãdoni by the Mughal army under Firoz Jang in
AH 1098-99 (AD 1687-88). Mas�ûd Khãn
defended the fort gallantly on behalf of the Bijapur king, but being unsuccessful
in repulsing the Imperial troops, he ultimately made over to them the key
of the Fortress and asked for the safety of his life.�
His bragging about his own prowess was of no avail when he was faced with
superior military might.
It is the headquarters of a District of the same name in the State of Andhra Pradesh. �Kadapa means a �gate� in Telegu and the name is said to be derived from the fact that Cuddapah town is the gate to the holy places at Tirupati.� The District was a part of the Chola Empire of Tanjore from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. In the fourteenth century it became a part of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Qutb Shãhî Sultãns of Golconda seized it after the defeat of Vijayanagara in 1565 and renamed it Neknãmãbãd. It passed under Mughal rule in 1688.
A mosque in Cuddapah town carries an inscription which reads as follows:
�In the name of God, the most Merciful and Compassionate. Praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds, and blessing and peace be upon Muhammad, the apostle of God, and upon all his descen