Aurangzeb’s temple-breaking legacy according to Mughal records – FACT-India

Shivaji Museum, Pune

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum of Indian History, Pune

This FACT-India exhibition below contains Firmans, original edicts in Persian issued by Emperor Aurangzeb, preserved at the Bikaner Museum, Rajasthan, India.

Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb

Emperor Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb, Emperor Shah Jahan‘s sixth son, was born on 24th October 1618 at Dohad in Madhya Pradesh, and wrested India’s crown from his father before the end of June 1658, after defeating his brother Prince Dara Shukoh‘s armies, first at Dharmat near Ujjain (15th April 1568) and the second, led by Dara himself, at Samugarh on 29th May 1658. The war of succession to the richest throne in the world was practically over with this victory, and Aurangzeb secured his position by making Murad, his brother and accomplice in his impetuous pursuit for power, his prisoner, by treachery, on 25th June. He had already made his old father Emperor Shah Jahan a prisoner in the Agra Fort (8th June 1658).

Shah Jahan survived his confinement by nearly eight years and the disgraceful manner of his burial will ever remain a stigma on this unscrupulous son Aurangzeb’s advent to the throne in his father’s life time was not welcomed by the people of India, because of the treacherous manner it was achieved; but public opinion became all the more hostile towards him when Prince Dara Shukoh, the favourite son of Shah Jahan, the translator of the Upanishads, and a truly liberal and enlightened Musalman, was taken prisoner on the Indian border, as he was going to Persia. Dara was paraded in a most undignified manner on the streets of Delhi on 29th August 1659. The French doctor, Bernier, was an eye-witness to the scene and was deeply moved by the popular sympathy for Dara which so much alarmed Aurangzeb that he contrived to have a decree from his clerics announcing death-sentence for his elder brother on the charge of apostasy.

Throughout the war of succession, Aurangzeb had maintained that he was not interested in acquiring the throne and that his only object was to ward off the threat to Islam, which was inevitable in case Dara Shukoh came to power. Many, including his brother Murad, were deceived by this posture. After his formal accession in Delhi (5th June 1659) he posed as a defender of Islam who would rule according to the directions of the Shariat, and with the advice of the clerics or Ulama for whom the doctrines, rules, principles and directives, as laid down and interpreted in the 7th and 8th century Arabia, Persia and Iraq, were inviolable and unchangeable in all conditions, in all countries, and for all times to come.

One of the main objectives of Aurangzeb’s policy was to demolish Hindu temples. When he ordered (13th October 1666) removal of the carved railing, which Prince Dara Shukoh had presented to the Keshava Rai Temple at the Krishna Janmabhumi in Mathura, he had observed ‘In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple’, and that it was totally unbecoming of a Muslim to act like Dara Shukoh (Akhbarat (Aurangzeb’s Court Bulletin),  13th October 1666). This was followed by destruction of the famous Kalka Temple in Delhi (Akhbarat, 3rd and 12th September 1667).

In 1669, shortly after the death of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber, a general order was issued (9th April 1669) for the demolition of temples and established schools of the Hindus throughout the empire and banning public worship. Soon after this the great Temple of Keshava Rai was destroyed (Jan.-Feb. 1670) and in its place a lofty mosque was erected. The idols, the author of Maasir-i-Alamgiri informs, were carried to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque built by Begum Sahiba in order to be continually trodden upon, and the name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad. The painting below is thus no fancy imagination of the artist but depicts what actually took place.

This was followed by Aurangzeb’s order to demolish the highly venerated Temple of Vishwanath at Banaras, Keshava Rai Temple (Jan.-Feb. 1670), and of Somanatha. To save the idol of Shri Nathji from being desecrated, the Gosain carried it to Rajputana, where Maharana Raj Singh received it formally at Sihad village, assuring the priest that Aurangzeb would have to trample over the bodies of one lakh of his brave Rajputs, before he could even touch the idol.

Aurangzeb’s zeal for temple destruction became much more intense during war conditions. The opportunity to earn religious merit by demolishing hundreds of temples soon came to him in 1679 when, after the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur in the Kabul Subah, he tried to eliminate the Rathors of Marwar as a political power in Rajputana. But Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar, in line with the great traditions of his House, came out in open support of the Rathors.. This led to war with both Mewar and Marwar during which the temples built on the bank of Rana’s lake were destroyed by his orders (Akhbarat, 23rd December 1679) and also about three hundred other temples in the environs of Udaipur, including the famous Jagannath Rai Temple built at a great cost in front of the Maharana’s palace which was bravely defended by a handful of Rajputs.

Not only this, when Aurangzeb visited Chittor to have a view of the famous fort, he ordered the demolition of 63 temples there which included some of the finest temples of Kumbha’s time. From Marwar (in Western Rajasthan) alone were brought several cart-loads of idols which, as per Aurangzeb’s orders, were cast in the yard of the court and under the steps of Jama Masjid. Such uncivilized and arrogant conduct of the Mughal Emperor alienated Hindus for ever, though they continued to be tolerant towards his creed.

In June 1681, orders, in a laconic two-liner, were given for the demolition of the highly venerated Jagannath Temple in Orissa (Akhbarat, 1st June 1681). Shortly afterwards, in September 1682, the famous Bindu-Madhav Temple in Banaras was also demolished as per the Emperor’s orders (Akhbarat, Julus 26, Ramzan 20). On 1st September 1681, while proceeding to the Deccan, where his rebel son Prince Akbar, escorted by Durga Das Rathore, had joined Chhatrapati Shivaji’s son, Shambhaji, thus creating a serious problem for him, Aurangzeb ordered that all the temples on the way should be destroyed. It was a comprehensive order not distinguishing between old and newly built temples (Akhbarat, Julus 25, Ramzan 18). But in the district of Burhanpur, where there were a large number of temples with their doors closed, he preferred to keep them as such, as the Muslims were too few in number in the district (Akhbarat, 13th October 1681). In his religious frenzy, even temples of the loyal and friendly Amber state were not spared, such as the famous Temple of Jagdish at Goner near Amber (Akhbarat, 28th March and 14th May 1680). In fact, his misguided ardour for temple destruction did not abate almost up to the end of his life, for as late as 1st January 1705 we find him ordering that the Vithoba Temple of Pandharpur be demolished and the butchers of the camp be sent to slaughter cows in the temple precincts (Akhbarat, 49-7).

The number of such ruthless acts of Aurangzeb make a long list but here only a few have been mentioned, supported by evidence, mostly contemporary official records of Aurangzeb’s period and by such credible Persian sources as Maasir-i-Alamgiri.

In obedience to the Quranic injunction, he reimposed jizyah on the Hindus on 2nd April 1679, which had been abolished by Emperor Akbar in 1564, causing widespread anger and resentment among the Hindus of the country. A massive peaceful demonstration against this tax in Delhi, was ruthlessly crushed. This hated tax involved heavy economic burden on the vast number of the poor Hindus and caused humiliation to each and every Hindu. In the same vein, were his discriminatory measures against Hindus in the form of exemption of the Muslims from the taxes (Akhbarat, 16th April 1667), ban on Atishbazi (fireworks) and restriction on Diwali, replacement of Hindu officials by Muslims so that the Emperor’s prayers for the welfare of Muslims and glory of Islam, which were proving ineffective, be answered. He also imposed a ban on ziyarat (pilgrimage) and gathering of the Hindus at religious shrines, such as of Shitla Mata and folk Gods like Pir Pabu, another ban on their travelling in palkis (sedan chairs), or riding elephants and Arab-Iraqi horses, as Hindus should not carry themselves with the same dignity as the Muslims! In the same vein came brazen attempts to convert Hindus by inducement, coercion or by offering qanungoship (district administrator ?) and to honour the converts in the open Court. His personal directions were that a Hindu male be given Rs. 4 and a Hindu female Rs. 2 on conversion (7th April 1685). “Go on giving them”, Aurangzeb had ordered when it was reported to him that the Faujdar of Bithur, Shaikh Abdul Momin, had converted 150 Hindus and had given them naqd (cash) and saropas (dresses of honour) (Akhbarat, 11th April 1667). Such display of Islamic orthodoxy by the state under Aurangzeb gave strength and purpose to the resistance movements such as of the Marathas, the Jats, the Bundelas and the Sikhs.

On the 12th May 1666, the dignity with which Shivaji carried himself in the Mughal court and defied the Emperor’s authority, won him spontaneous admiration of the masses. Parkaldas, an official of Amber (Jaipur State) wrote in his letter dated 29th May 1666, to his Diwan. “Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence Shivaji has shown such audacity and returned harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more….”  When Shivaji passed away on April 1680 at the age of 53 only, he had already carved a sufficiently large kingdom, his Swarajya, both along the western coast and some important areas in the east as well.

Aurangzeb could never pardon himself for his lack of intelligence in letting him escape from his well laid trap and wrote in his Will that it made him “to labour hard (against the Marathas) to the end of my life (as a result of it)”. He did not realize that it was his own doing: the extremely cruel manner even for those times – in which he put to death Shivaji’s eldest son, Shambhaji made the Maratha king a martyr in the eyes of the masses and with that commenced the people’s war in Maharashtra and the Deccan which dug the grave of the Mughal empire.

Till the very end Aurangzeb never understood that the main pillars of the government are the affection and support of the people and not mere compliance of the religious directives originating from a foreign land in the seventh-eighth centuries.

His death after a long and ruinous reign lasting half a century, ended an eventful epoch in the history of India. He left behind a crumbling empire, a corrupt and inefficient administration, a demoralized army, a discredited government facing public bankruptcy and alienated subjects. – Aurangzeb Info Home 

Mogul Empire

Mughal Empire map based on a sheet of Irfan Habib’s “An Atlas of Mughal Empire”, Oxford Univ. Press, Delhi (1982).

Prince Dara Shukoh translating the Upanishads.

Prince Dara Shukoh translating the Upanishads.

Prince Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan, was like his great ancestor Akbar, a very liberal and enlightened Musalman and a true seeker of truth. Akbar respected all religions – Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc., and gave their votaries complete religious freedom. He was ever keen to discuss and understand their religious beliefs, practices and philosophy and, in order to make the Musalmans familiar with the culture, and universal values, philosophy and traditions of India, he had the great epics of India – Ramayana and Mahabharat – translated into Persian. He also arranged for the translation of the Atharvaveda.

Continuing the unfinished work of Emperor Akbar, Prince Dara Shukoh too, assisted by the Indian scholars, translated Bhagvad Gita, Prabodha Chandrodaya (a philosophical drama written in 1060 A.D.), and Yoga Vashishtha into Persian. He also translated the Upanishads, which are the fountain-head of Indian philosophy, with the help of learned pandits from Banaras, well versed in the Vedas and the Upanishads. The translation of the Upanishads by him entitled Sirr-i-Akbar (The Grand Secret) was completed on the 28th June 1657, shortly before the commencement of the war of succession, which he lost to his crafty and unscrupulous brother, Aurangzeb who ruled India from 1659-1707.

In the painting, Dara is shown translating the Upanishads, assisted by Indian scholars. – Exhibit No. 2 

Prince Dara Shukoh paraded in public before being executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb on 29th April 1659.

Prince Dara being paraded in Delhi before his execution (29th April 1659).

The painting based on Dr. Bernier’s eyewitness account, shows captive Dara Shukoh and his son being carried on an elephant on the streets of Delhi, girt round by troops ready to foil any attempt to rescue the prisoner, and led by Bahadur Shah on an elephant. Behind Prince Dara Shukoh is Nazar Beg, their goaler. Dara is shown throwing his wrapper to a beggar who had cried out, “Dara! When you were master, you always gave me alms, today I know well thou hast naught to give”. Describing the scene Bernier writes, “The crowd assembled was immense; and everywhere I observed the people weeping and lamenting the fate of Dara in the most touching language … men, women and children were wailing as if some mighty calamity had happened to themselves”.

The outburst of popular sympathy for Dara Shukoh and the contemptuous response which Aurangzeb had received from the people for his outrageous treatment of his brother made him procure in all haste a decree from the Islamic clerics in his own pay, and had his elder brother beheaded on the charge of apostasy.

This was a sad end of a genuine seeker of truth, translator of the Upanishads, author of many works on Sufi philosophy, and one who could have revived and carried the enlightened policies of his great ancestor Akbar to fulfillment. – Exhibit No. 3 

Aurangzeb's firman against the Keshava Rai Temple in Mathura issued Rabi II 24 / 13 October 1666.

Keshava Rai Temple: “Even to look at a temple is a sin for a Musalman”, stated Aurangzeb. Umurat-i-Hazur Kishwar-Kashai Julus (R.Yr.) 9, Rabi II 24 (13 October 1666).

“It was reported to the Emperor (Aurangzeb) that in the Temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura, there is a stone railing presented by Bishukoh (one without dignity i.e. Prince Dara, Aurangzeb’s elder brother). On hearing of it, the Emperor observed, “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple and this Bishukoh has installed this kathra (barrier railing). Such an act is totally unbecoming of a Musalman. This railing should be removed (forthwith)”. His Majesty ordered Abdun Nabi Khan to go and remove the kathra, which is in the middle of the temple. The Khan went and removed it. After doing it he had audience. He informed that the idol of Keshava Rai is in the inner chamber. The railing presented by Dara was in front of the chamber and that, formerly, it was of wood. Inside the kathra used to stand the sevakas of the shrine (pujaris) and outside it stood the people (khalq)”.


Aurangzeb’s solemn observation recorded in his own court’s bulletin that “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple” and therefore, presentation of a stone railing to Keshava Rai Temple by Dara was “totally unbecoming of a Musalman” casts serious doubts about a few instances of religious toleration and temple grants attributed to him. Only two years before his long awaited death, he had ordered (1st January 1705) to “demolish the Temple of Pandharpur and to take the butchers of the camp there and slaughter cows in the temple…. It was done” (Akhbarat, 49-7, cited in J.N. Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.III, 189). ‘It was reported to the Emperor (Aurangzeb) that in the Temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura, there is a stone railing presented by Bishukoh (one without dignity i.e. Prince Dara, Aurangzeb’s elder brother). On hearing of it, the Emperor observed, “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple and this Bishukoh has installed this kathra (barrier railing). Such an act is totally unbecoming of a Musalman. This railing should be removed (forthwith)”. His Majesty ordered Abdun Nabi Khan to go and remove the kathra, which is in the middle of the temple. The Khan went and removed it. After doing it he had audience. He informed that the idol of Keshava Rai is in the inner chamber. The railing presented by Dara was in front of the chamber and that, formerly, it was of wood. Inside the kathra used to stand the sevakas of the shrine (pujaris) and outside it stood the people (khalq)’. – Exhibit No. 6 

Demolition of the Keshava Rai Temple at the Krishna Janmabhumi, Mathura

Demolition of the Keshava Rai Temple at Mathura and building of the Shahi Idgah Masjid in its place  (13th January – 11th February 1670).

The great Temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura was built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela during Jahangir’s time at a cost of thirty-three lakhs of rupees. The Dehra of Keshava Rai was one of the most magnificent temples ever built in India and enjoyed veneration of the Hindus throughout the land [as it stood at Sri Krishna’s birth place]. Prince Dara Shukoh, who was looked upon by the masses as the future Emperor, had presented a carved stone railing to the temple which was installed in front of the deity at some distance; the devotees stood outside this railing to have darshan of Keshava Rai. The railing was removed on Auranzeb’s orders in October 1666.

The Dehra of Keshava Rai was demolished in the month of Ramzan, 1080 A.H. (13th January – 11th February 1670) by Aurangzeb’s order. “In a short time, by the great exertion of the officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum”. To the author of Maasir-i-‘Alamigiri, the accomplishment of this “seemingly impossible work was an instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith”. Even more disgraceful was transporting the idols to Agra and burying them under the steps of the mosque of the Begum Sahib “in order to be continually trodden upon”.

The painting shows the demolition of the great temple, on Aurngzeb’s orders in progress and subsequent uncivilized conduct towards the idols. – Exhibit No. 13

Aurangzeb's firman ordering the demolition of the Kalka-Temple on Rabi I, 23 / 3 September 1667.

Demolition of Kalka Temple I. Siyah Waqa’i – Darbar Regnal Year 10, Rabi I 23 (3 September 1667).

Aurangzeb's firman regarding the demolition of the Kalkaji Temple in Delhi on Rabi I, 23 / 3 September 1667.

Demolition of Kalka Temple II. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla Julus 10, Rabi II 3 (12 September 1667).

“Saiyad Faulad Khan reported that in compliance with the orders, beldars were sent to demolish the Kalka Temple which task they have done. During the course of the demolition, a Brahmin drew out a sword, killed a bystander and then turned back and attacked the Saiyad also. The Brahmin was arrested”.


There are only a few recorded instances of armed opposition by outraged Hindus, such as at Goner (near Jaipur), Ujjain, Udaipur and Khandela, but there must have been many more such instances of angry outbursts and resistance against Muslim vandalism which do not find mention in the official papers of Emperor Aurangzeb.

Most of the Hindus took the destruction of these temples philosophically considering these as acts of ignorance and folly for a vain purpose. They regarded that it was beyond the understanding or intelligence of the Musalmans to comprehend the principle behind the idol worship or the fundamental oneness of saguna and nirguna worship. The Hindus believed that the Gods and Goddesses leave for their abode before the hatchet or the hammer of the vile “mlecchas” or “asuras” so much as even touched the idols. The idea has been well described in Kanhadade Prabandha (written in 1456 A.D.) when giving an account of the destruction of the Somnath Temple by Sultan Alauddin’s troops in 1299. – Exhibit No. 8

Aurangzeb's firman ordering the demolition of the Vishwanath Temple at Varanasi in August 1669 A.D.

Demolition of the Temple of Viswanath, Varanasi (August 1669). 

It was reported that, “according to the Emperor’s command, his officers had demolished the Temple of Viswanath at Kashi”. (Maasiri-‘ Alamgiri, 88)


Kashi is one of the mort sacred towns in India and reference to the worship of Shiva as Vishveshvara goes back to very early times. Kashi itself enjoys highest sanctity since times immemorial. According to the Puranas, every foot-step taken in Kashi Kshetra has the sanctity of making a pilgrimage to a tirtha. Lord Vishvanatha is regarded as the protector of Kashi and the belief is that one earns great religious merit by having darshan of the deity after having bathed in the Ganges. After destruction of the temple on Aurangzeb’s orders, a mosque was built which still stands there as a testimony of the great tolerance and spirit of forgiveness of the Hindus even towards those who had for centuries desecrated and destroyed their temples and other places of worship and learning, and also as a lesson that “mutually uncongenial cultures”, when forced by circumstances to intermingle in the same geographical area, result in such calamities. A portion of the sculpture of the demolished temple, probably built in the late 16th century, still survives to tell the fate of Aurangzeb’s vandalism and barbarity. The present temple of Vishveshvara was built by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore. – Exhibit No. 11 

Aurangzeb's general order for the demolition of Hindu temples (9th April 1669) included the Somnath Temple in Gujarat.

Demolition of the Somnath Temple

About the time the general order for destruction of Hindu temples was issued (9th April 1669), the highly venerated Temple of Somanath built on the sea-shore in Kathaiwad was also destroyed. The famous temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva. In the 11th century, the temple was looted and destroyed by Mahmud Ghaznavi. It was rebuilt by King Bhim Deva Solanki of Gujarat and again renovated by Kumarapal in 1143-44 A.D. The temple was again destroyed by Alauddin Khalji’s troops in 1299. In a rare description of the scene of a temple destruction, like of which continued to occur time and again during the long and disastrous rule of the Musalman rulers in India, we have the following account. “The mlechchha stone breakers”, writes Padmanabha in his classic work “climbed up the shikhar of the temple and began to rain blows on the stone idols on all three sides by their hammers, the stone pieces falling all around. They loosened every joint of the temple building, and then began to break the different layers (thara) and the sculptured elephants and horses carved on them by incessant blows of their hammers. Then, amidst loud and vulgar clamour, they began to apply force from both the sides to uproot the massive idol by means of wooden beams and iron crowbars” (Kaanhadade Prabandha, Canto I, Vs. 94-96).

After the destruction of the Somnath Temple during Alauddin’s time, it was rebuilt again. When Aurangzeb gave orders for its destruction, the scene must have been little different from the one described by Padmanabha. The artist in his painting has tried to recreate the scene. – Exhibit No. 14 

Hindus forced to pay the jizya tax.

Hindus forced to suffer humiliation by paying the Jizyah tax.

On 2nd April 1679, Aurangzeb re-imposed jizyah upon the Hindus which had been abolished by Emperor Akbar in 1564. The author of Maasir-i-Alamgiri writes: ‘As all the aims of the religious Emperor (Aurangzeb) were directed to the spreading of the law of Islam and the overthrow of the practices of the infidelity, he issued orders … that from Wednesday, the 2nd April 1679/1st Rabi I, in obedience to the Qur’anic injunction, “till they pay Jizyah with the hand of humility”, and in agreement with the canonical traditions, Jizyah should be collected from the infidels (zimmis) of the capital and the provinces’.

The economic burden of Jizyah was felt most by the poor who formed the vast majority of the Hindus; for the middle classes and the rich, it was not so much the economic burden which mattered but the humiliation involved in the prescribed mode of payment, which the Jizyah collector could always insist upon, as of right i.e. by insisting that he would accept it only when paid personally. The Qur’anic injunction that war must be made upon all those who do not profess Islam “till they pay Jizyah out of their hand and they are humiliated”, was interpreted to mean that the Hindus must be made conscious of their inferior position when paying this tax.

In the painting, a number of Hindus, both rich and poor are lining up to pay Jizyah while the arrogant Jizyah collector is picking up the coins from the palm of a Hindu Jizyah payer. Some people have come from the neighbouring areas in their bullock-carts; their bullocks are resting under the shade of the trees. – Exhibit No. 18

Hindus forbidden to ride in palkis or on horses.

Restrictions on Hindus: Forbidden to travel in palkis or ride on elephants and Arab-Iraqi horses.

In March 1695, all the Hindus, with the exception of the Rajputs, were forbidden to travel in palkis (litters), or ride on elephants or thorough-bred horses, or to carry arms. (Muntakhab-ul-Lubab, ii, 395; Maasir-i-Alamgiri, 370 and News Letter, 11 December 1694).

In the sketch, well to do Hindus are being made to alight from palki (sedan chair), elephant and good horse by Mughal officers. The need to issue this derogatory order was the requirement also recorded in Fatwa-i-‘Alamgiri, that Hindus should not be allowed to look like Muslims, that is carry themselves with the same dignity. The folly and futility, or even danger of applying or observing the guiding principles, practices and law prescribed, interpreted, or recommended in the seventh and eighth centuries in Arabia, after a lapse of ten centuries in a country like India, was never realized by the Muslim clerics or their Emperor. – Exhibit No. 36 

Shivaji leaving Aurangzeb's court in anger.

Shivaji leaving Aurangzeb’s court in anger.

Shivaji reached Agra on the 12th May 1666 by noon, and had to be rushed to the court to attend the special darbar on Aurangzeb’s 50th lunar birthday. Shivaji was presented to the Emperor by Asad Khan in the Diwan-i-Khas and was then directed to stand in the line of 5 hazari mansabdars (rank holders). “The Emperor neither talked nor addressed any word to him”. The work of the court proceeded and Shivaji seemed to have been forgotten.

Shivaji was not expecting this kind of reception. He was very much upset when Kumar Ram Singh (son of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber), in response to his query, informed him that the noble standing in front of him was Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur. He flared up “Jaswant, whose back my soldiers have seen! I to stand behind him? What it all means”?

He was made to feel neglected in other ways also. At this he began to fret and “his eyes became wet with anger”. The Emperor noticed the commotion and told Ram Singh, “Ask Shivaji, what ails him”. When Kumar came, Shivaji burst forth, “You have seen, your father has seen, and your Padishah has seen, what sort of man I am, and you have wilfully made me stand up so long. I cast off your mansab ….”

After saying this he then and there turned his back to the throne and rudely walked away. Kumar Ram Singh caught hold of his hand, but Shivaji wrenched it away….

In the painting, the above scene, based on a contemporary letter, has been depicted. Shivaji is shown coming out of the court in great anger, his back towards Aurangzeb, his sword half drawn, and Kumar Ram Singh of Amber trying in vain to pacify him. Wrote Parkaldas of Amber to the State’s Diwan in his letter of 29th May 1666, “The people had been praising Shivaji’s high spirit and courage before. Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence he has shown such audacity and returned harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more…. – Exhibit No. 37

Hindu court officials forcefully converted to Islam.

Aurangzeb restoring the office of ‘qanungoship’ to Hindu officials who were forced to become Musalmen.

Qanungoship (district official) on becoming Musalman: There are a large number of Akhbarat (Aurangzeb’s Court Bulletins) which mention that either Qanungoi was restored on becoming Musalman, or that a person or persons were appointed Qanungos on accepting Islam, or that they agreed to become Musalman, obviously under pressure or as inducement.

A typical entry in the Akhbarat, such as of R. Yr. 10, Zilqada / April 22, 1667, reads “Makrand etc., in all four persons, became Musalman. The Qanungoi of Parganah Khohri was restored to them. Four Khil‘ats were conferred upon them”. Sir Jadunath Sarkar is right in saying that “Qanungoship on becoming a Muslim”, had become a proverb.

As Qanungo had intimate knowledge of the customs and tenures of the land, he could serve as the best agent for protecting the interests of the Musalmans and in extending influence of Islam in the rural areas. The sketch shows four Qanungos being restored their Qanungoi on becoming Musalman. – Exhibit No. 44 

» See more of the exhibition here. See list of exhibition posts in FACT-India (Aurangzeb) sidebar. 

Police raid FACT exhibition in Madras in 2009

Police raid FACT exhibition in Madras in 2009

Chennai police ransacking the Aurangzeb exhibition in 2008.

Nawab of Arcot Amir Abdul Ali

Nawab of Arcot Muhammed Abdul Ali: He insisted that the FACT-India exhibition of paintings of temple demolition, shown in the Lalit Kala Akademi in Chennai on March 3 to 7, 2008 amounted to “fabrication and distortion of history” and that Emperor Aurangzeb had never done anything to harm the Hindus. In fact the Nawab’s own ancestors had destroyed temples in Gingee, Arcot, and Vellore.*

Francois GautierFrancois Gautier says

“Nobody c[an] question the historicity of our Aurangzeb paintings, but nevertheless, when we exhibited them in Chennai in 2008, the Nawab of Arcot, whose ancestor was nominated by Aurangzeb, complained to the then CM’s son, Stalin, who got the police to close down the exhibition. The police were extremely harsh: they threw some of the paintings on the ground and imprisoned the two harmless old ladies who were guarding the exhibition.” See full story hereThe New Indian Express report here; Kanchan Gupta’s Pioneer column here.


The Nawabs of Arcot were sectarian temple-breakers just like the founder of their dynasty, the religious bigot Aurangzeb. A quick perusal of Sita Ram Goel’s Hindu Temples: What Happened To Them, Vol. I, gives an extraordinarily long list of the Hindu temples destroyed or occupied in Arcot, the capital of the Nawabs, when they occupied the Hindu pilgrimage town in 1712. The list of temples destroyed or occupied by Muslims for Arcot and Vellore (Arcot is now part of Vellore city), and Gingee, the original capital of the Nawabs,  reads:

Arcot was a city of temples before its occupation by the Nawabs of Arcot:

  1. Jãmi Masjid. Temple site.
  2. Tomb of Sadatullah Khãn. Atreya Temple materials used.
  3. Masjid and Mazãr of Tîpû Awliyã. Temple site.
  4. Dargãh of Sayyid Husain Shãh. Temple site.
  5. Qalã-kî-Masjid. Temple site.
  6. Masjid of Shãh Husain Chishtî. Temple site.
  7. Masjid and Gumbad of Pãpã ShahId. Temple site.
  8. Gumbad of Shãh Sãdiq with a graveyard. Temple site.
  9. Masjid and Mazãr of Shãh Azmatu llãh Qãdirî. Temple site.
  10. Masjid of Shykh Natthar. Temple site.
  11. Masjid of Murãd Shãh. Temple site.
  12. Masjid of Mîr Asadu llãh Khãn. Temple site.
  13. Masjid of Maulawî Jamãl Alî. Temple site.
  14. Masjid and Gumbad of Sayyid Ahmad alias Yãr Pîr. Temple site.
  15. Masjid of Chandã Sãhib. Temple site.
  16. Masjid of Miskîn Shãh with Gumbad of Amîn Pîr. Temple site.
  17. Masjid and Mazãr of Hazrat Usmãn Khãn Sarwar. Temple site.
  18. Masjid in the Maqbara of Mughlãnî. Temple site.
  19. Masjid of GhulAm Rasûl Khãn. Temple site.
  20. Masjid of Shãh Ghulam Husain Dargãhi. Temple site.
  21. Masjid of Hãfiz Abdul Azîz. Temple site.
  22. Masjid of Hãfiz Karîmu llãh. Temple site.
  23. Masjid and Gumbad in Tajpura. Temple site. Outside the city.
  24. Takiyã of Qãtil Pãndû Sarguroh. Temple site.
  25. Masjid and Gumbad of Ahmad Tãhir Khãn. Temple site.
  26. Masjid, Khãnqãh, Graveyard and Gumbad in Hasanpura. Temple site.
  27. Gumbad of Hazrat Antar Jãmi with the Idgãh. Temple site.
  28. Takiyã, of Sãbit Alî Shãh. Temple site.
  29. Masjid and Mazãr of Sayyid KarIm Muhammad. Qãdirî. Temple site.
  30. Masjid of Sã datmand Khãn. Temple site.
  31. Masjid of Abu l-Hasan Zãkir. Temple site.
  32. Masjid of Da ûd Beg. Temple site.
  33. Masjid and Gumbad of Hazrat Shãh Nãsir. Temple site.
  34. Masjid of Punjî. Temple site.
  35. Mazãr of Yadu llãh Shãh. Temple site.
  36. Rangîn Masjid. Temple site.
  37. House of Relic which has a footprint of the Holy Prophet. Converted temple.

Above is the list for Arcot, the capital of the Nawabs. The list for neighbouring Vellore follows:

  1. Jãmi Masjid. Temple site.
  2. ChhoTî Masjid. Temple site.
  3. Mazãr of Nûr Muhammad Qãdirî who laid waste many temples. Temple site.
  4. Mazãr of Shãh Abu l-Hasan Qãdirî.
  5. Mazãr of Abdul Latîf Zauqî. Temple site.
  6. Mazãr of Alî Husainî Chishtî. Temple site.
  7. Mazãr of Hazrat Alî Sultãn. Temple site.
  8. Mazãr of Amîn Pîr. Temple site.
  9. Mazãr of Shah Lutfu llah Qãdirî. Temple site.
  10. Mazãr of Sãhib Pãdshãh Qãdirî. Temple site.

And the list for Gingee, the Nawabi capital before it was moved to Arcot:

  1. Masjid (1718). Temple site.
  2. Masjid (1732). Temple site.
  3. Masjid in the Fort. Temple site.

The Arcot Nawabs are the concern here and we have given the record for their capital at Arcot-Vellore and Gingee. For the whole of the area they governed, from the Krishna River in the north to Madurai in the south, the record of temple breaking is very long. Go to Hindu Temples: What Happened To Them, Vol. I posted on the Voice of Dharma website for the complete all-India record.


Read on-line books

  • Ma’asir-i Alamgiri of Saqi Musta’d Khan > Download
  • History of Aurangzib (Vol. 1), Sir Jadunath Sarkar > Download
  • History of Aurangzib (Vol. 2), Sir Jadunath Sarkar > Download