Sarayu Trust has recently filed an RTI asking Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) about the list and details of Hindu religious sites that are under the protection of ASI (Delhi circle) and also information regarding evidences where it has been found out that Islamic monuments are constructed over Hindu temples. Unlike other north Indian regions, the official response which we have received from ASI is quite shocking. The RTI response stated clearly that there is no Hindu religious site in Delhi that falls under the protection of ASI and there are no records available to ASI where Islamic monuments are found to be constructed over Hindu Temples.
Now this gives rise to two important questions :
- What happened to the ancient Hindu temples in Delhi region?
- Why does ASI hesitate to inquire on ‘Islamic Monuments & structures’ where traces of Hindu temples are evidently clear?
The most appreciated observations, by several independent scholars and researches (including renowned scholars like Sita Ram Goel, Meenakshi Jain, Harsh Narain, Jay Dubashi and Ram Swarup) regarding the non-existence of ancient Hindu temples in Delhi stems from the fact that the Northern parts of India were always subject to the conquests of the Islamic Invaders into India, and the invasions took a heavy toll of the Hindu heritage structures like Temples, Monasteries and Gurudwaras, Jain Temples etc. Temples were wiped out on industrial-scale and now there is hardly any Hindu temple left in the north that is 200 years old. Magnificent temples once dotted Sindh, Punjab, Kashmir, Delhi and, especially, the Gangetic plains. Even the cities in the north-western part of the subcontinent like Multan and Peshawar were once adorned with architectural marvels that these temples were. But now none of them exist. New Hindu kingdoms ruled by visionaries like Ahilyabai Holkar played a pivotal role in rebuilding most of the important temples across north India. It also shows that Hindus never lost their historical sense and patiently strove to reclaim what legitimately belonged to them.
A renowned historian Meenakshi Jain documented all these facts in her recent work Flight of Deities and Rebirth of Temples: Episodes from Indian History. It beautifully underlines the struggle of Hindus to preserve what was sacred to them in the hope that one day the deities would be restored in their rightful place. The struggle for temples is also the story of the struggle of a civilisation, its determination to survive in the face of unprecedented odds. Temples have become like history immortalised in stone that sing the tales of sorrow, perseverance and hope. What was once the expression of the spiritual, artistic and cultural imagination of a civilisation now stands as the embodiment of the collective historical memory of a wounded civilisation.
Blindfolded Response From ASI.
It is not the historical injustices and devastation that’s painful to Hindus but the refusal to acknowledge the same that strikes deep into the consciousness of the Hindu mind as an act of unbearable travesty. For, it denies them even basic human dignity. It denies their existence, their pain and their hopes. It reduces them to the state of pagans of old Europe and Arabia who didn’t have the right to exist; their temples destroyed, homelands appropriated, the culture assimilated and transformed beyond recognition and, finally, even the historical memory erased.
We are told that no temples were ever destroyed and the Hindu memory is simply the bigotry ingrained by colonial rule. And when evidence was presented, as in the seminal two-volume work Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them by Sita Ram Goel, Arun Shourie, Harsh Narain, Jay Dubashi and Ram Swarup, the response was to brand them as fascists rather than refute the facts presented.
One such example is the Qutb Minar, which had several 26 Hindu Temples and Jain Temples around it and they were razed to the ground and Qutb ud Din Aibak built the Tower upon the remains of the ruins of the Hindu Temples like :
Quwwat Ul Islam mosque is another glaring example of Islamic architectural frauds. Its architecture is full of Hindu motifs and scriptures. Yet ASI’s constant silence on these so-called Islamic structures is not only worrisome but also explains in volumes about the lethargic role of Governments in India, since independence, in hushing up all these facts.
Contradictions In ASI’s Response.
In the recent RTI response, ASI categorically denied any finding in their record which confirms the existence or past presence of any Hindu religious sites on any existing Islamic monuments in the Delhi region. Well apart from the aforementioned photographic evidences and observations of independent historians and researchers, there is something more here to refute the current stated position of ASI. A noted researcher and expert, Stephen Knapp, on Vedic studies and Hindu culture discovered photos that have ASI bearing for authenticity. All these discovered photos confirm that stones dislodged from the minar have Hindu images on the one side and Arabic inscriptions on the other side. Those stones have been removed to the museum. These stones clearly shows that the Muslim invaders only remove the outer dressing of the tower and reverse the stone with Arabic inscriptions and fixed them as it is. They did not even bother to make the stones of the same dimensions, engrave Arabic inscriptions and fix them in the place of original stones.
The observations of Stepen Kanpp reads as follows, “Muslim captors dismantled surface stones of the so-called Kutab tower in Delhi, reversed them and inscribed Koran on the exterior. This Muslim forgery in stone came to light as those stones started falling off the tower. Two such pieces are seen here with Hindu images carved on one side and subsequent Islamic lettering on the other”.
Infact, Stepehn Knapp, has recorded a complete list of Islamic monuments where traces of Hindu temples and architecture are visible on the Monuments. For more information the links of his website can be found here : https://www.stephen-knapp.com/photographic_evidence_of_vedic_influence.htm
Recently, Dr. Rajat Mitra has made important observations on this issue in a video lecture titled : “Why Delhi has no Ancient Hindu temples?” . The video links is provided below :
Video Link : https://youtu.be/EoZNd51BabY
There is another important video, titled : “Qutb Minar – Is India’s First Muslim Monument, a Hindu Temple?” made by Praveen Mohan, that attracted the attention of masses on this issue. In this video he has shown several pieces of evidence that contradicts the official recognition of Qutub Minar as a piece of Islamic architecture. The video link provided below :
Video Link ; https://youtu.be/Lens-aiSXqg
A Battle Worth Fighting For Indians.
Whenever there is a question of impartial inquiry arises on the ‘Islamic monuments’, where traces of Hindu Temples are found, the response in return always revolve around belittling the entire discussion into personal vicious attacks on the individuals and institutions who are interested in knowing the truth. The forgotten history of ancient Hindu religious sites in Delhi region is also no more in exception. But it is indeed a battle worth fighting for two basic reasons :
1. The quest of rediscovering the truth about ancient Hindu religious sites in the north is directly associated with the civilizational identity of this country.
2. The manufactured dominant narrative on this issue is already exposed to more vulnerabilities and loopholes than ever before. A constant push is therefore necessary to uncover the real truth about these ancient monuments which are appeared to be fraudulently projected as masterpieces of Islamic architecture.
However, There are indeed apprehensions as to where this process of reclamation will stop as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of such ‘Islamic monuments’ across India that stand atop demolished temples. And this is where the need for informed dialogue and mutual understanding comes into play. There was nothing stopping Hindus and Muslims in the 1980s from coming to an understanding over the burden inherited from the past, and there is nothing stopping them today. We must remember that we have just set an example in front of the world that a religious community of one billion that struggled for five centuries to reclaim its holy site in Ayodhaya, in the final round, left the solution to reasoned debate among the judiciary. And that the verdict of the judiciary on Ram Janmbhumi Temple has been accepted in majority by the Muslim masses. This is unprecedented in world history and therefore future of such discourses are open to take its own course and atleast for that we have to be hopeful about it.