Know your history Part 2:

Islamic Invasion in India stripped it off it’s legacy and culture. The thriving hubs of Indian consciousness and knowledge were calculatively captured, destroyed and desecrated to reduce the citizens as slaves. Our temples and universities which were the breeding ground of Sanatana Dharma were destroyed to establish cultural hegemony by numerous Islamic invaders. One of such numerous examples of destruction is the Bijamandal Masjid alias Bijaya Temple in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh.

The Bijaya Temple was a temple dedicated to Goddess Charchika(Chandi) in Vidisha, Modern day Bhilsa in Madhya Pradesh. In India many temples were destroyed, plundered, looted, desecrated and mosques were erected using the ruins of the temple at the same site. The Bijaya Temple is one who met the same fate.

The Bijaya Temple was an architectural marvel in India and it’s grandeur was equated to that of the mighty Konark Temple in Odisha which is a declared world heritage site by UNESCO. But today stripped of all it’s grandeur and glory, what stands behind is the ruins of a thriving hub of Santana dharma, in a state of melancholy, portraying the magnanimous atrocities and brutalities of Islamic Invaders and Rulers in India.

The Bijamandal Mosque, erstwhile Bijaya Temple was constructed by King Naravarman, the Parmar king of Malwa, according to an inscription in one of the pillars of the former temple. The original temple was dedicated to the Presiding Deity, Mother Goddess Vijaya, the granter victory. This is also clearly mentioned by ASI at the site.

The etmyology of the name of the temple as Bija is a distorted version of the name of the residing deity, Goddess Bijaya.

At first it was looted and desecreted by Sultan Illtutmish who indulged in Iconoclasm at the temple site. Later it was looted and plundered by Allauddin Khilji. His record was followed by Bahadur Shah Zafar of Gujarat.

However, the final blow to the temple came from Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, between 1658-1707 AD when he looted, plundered and completely destroyed the temple building the Bijamandal Masjid using the ruins of the temple. He buried all the idols of the temple at the northern side of the temple.

For around 300 years the temple was used as a central prayer hall and mosque especially during Eid. But as the divine would wish, on one stormy night in monsoon of 1991 the northern side wall of the mosque collapsed (Islamic Architecture, Ha!) and came out the Mahishashura Mardini idol which was around 8 feet and Ganesha idol. Not only that, sanskrit verses from the Mahabharata and Ramayana can also be seen on the pillars and walls of the now defunct temple.

The ASI was then left with no choice for further concealment and consignment into oblivion, and had to accept the truth of the Bijamandal Mosque. The fact is to be noted that the platform on the northern side under which the original Hindu idols were hid was used for prayers during Eid. The then District Collector, having control over this town came forward in 1991, offering surveyors of the ASI around the temple excavation site to avoid any inconvenient circumstances that could be caused by locals of that area.

The ASI then retrieved exquisite and splendid piece of architecture from the site. But within a month of the beginning of the excavation activity the ASI was ordered to stop excavation work at the place and the officer incharge and district collector were transferred.

Sir Alexander Cunningham who was the first Director of the Archaeological Survey of India established by Lord Canning, the Viceroy, in 1862 visited this site in 1874 and 1876. This is what he wrote in Volume X of the ASI Report: Inside the town there is a stone Masjid called Bijay Mandir, or the temple of Bijay. This Hindu name is said to have been derived from the original temple Bijay Rani.

The temple was thrown down by the order of Aurangazeb and the present Masjid erected in its place; but the Hindus still frequent it at the time of the annual fair. By the Musalmans it is called ‘The Alamgiri Masjid’, while Bhilsa (earlier name of Vidisha) itself is called Alamgirpur. The building is 781/2 feet long by 261/2 feet broad and the roof is supported on four rows of plain square pillars with 13 openings on front.

Till now the history of the Bijamandal Mosque is not completely known as no govt. after that ever took up the excavation work at the temple site.

Author: Saptashree Tripathy