Skip to main content

Now 5 acres for Charminar in Hyderabad? 'Conflict' around Bhagyalaxmi Temple

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah (1580-1611 CE), the fifth sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda, laid the foundation of its iconic Charminar to symbolise the founding of Hyderabad. Hyderabad was intended as a citadel of Muslim power in the Deccan. Qutb Shah was an accomplished poet and wrote his poetry in Persian, Telugu and Urdu. His famous ghazal “piya baaj pyaala piya jaye na, piya baaj ek din jiya jaye na” is still a favorite in soirees today.
In 1589 CE Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah married a Hindu woman, Bhagmati, reputed to be a courtesan and who remained with him as his Queen till his death in 1611 CE. The sultan bestowed the title of Hyder Mahal on Bhagmati and hence the name of the new city came to be Hyderabad. The contemporary Mughal poet Faizi wrote to Akbar that the place commemorates “a hardened whore".
There is a sectarian conflict brewing out of a plan to expand the Bhagyalaxmi Temple growing out of the southeastern corner of Hyderabad's iconic Charminar. One must relate the name of this temple to the demand in certain rabid RSS sections to rename the city as Bhagyanagar. A BJP MLA, Raja Singh, from the nearby Hindu dominated constituency of Maharajganj, has been quite shrill about this. Given Bhagmati's questionable antecedents, the types of Raja Singh need a better genealogy for Bhagyanagar.
I have been visiting the Charminar since I was a child and have also seen the small stone with vermillion applied it grow from a passer-bys whim to a small shrine and now a full blown temple. The present governor, a RSS appointee, even visited the temple to offer prayers further sanctifying its illegality. It has grown like a cancer and right under the nose of the Charminar Police Station.
Over the years I have been asking various people in authority to demolish it. Neither the police, nor any CM or even the Majlis (MIM) leadership care about it. Now the builders of the temple are claiming that it was the Charminar that came around it. This is a travesty and an outright lie. This temple must be removed and the Charminar restored to its original conception. The two then and now photos tell the truth.
According to Jean de Thévenot, a French traveller of the 17th century whose narration was complemented with the available Persian texts, the Charminar was constructed in the year 1591 CE, to commemorate the beginning of the second Islamic millennium year (1000 AH). The event was celebrated far and wide in the Islamic world, thus Qutb Shah founded the city of Hyderabad to celebrate the event and commemorate it with the construction of this building. Due to its architecture it is also called as Arc de Triomphe of the east.
The conflict has arisen even though ASI, which manages the Charminar, has declared the temple structure as an unauthorised construction
Contrary to a widely held misconception the monument has no religious overtones. It has never been used as a mosque. To me it is a rare instance of secular Islamic architecture in India. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the current caretaker of the structure, mentions in its records, "There are various theories regarding the purpose for which Charminar was constructed. However, it is widely accepted that Charminar was built at the center of the city, to commemorate the eradication of cholera", a deadly disease which was wide spread at that time.
True, there is a mosque on the fifth deck. But that was part for the course in all Muslim regime structures. Even the Taj Mahal, a maqbara, has a mosque. This reflected the socio-political reality of the era.
A temple named Bhagyalakshmi Temple is now located at the southwest base of Charminar. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which manages the Charminar has declared the temple structure as an unauthorised construction. Hyderabad High Court has stopped any further expansion of the temple. While the origin of the temple is currently disputed, the current structure that houses the idol was erected in the 1990s.
Several magazines and newspapers have published old photographs showing that the temple never existed. A temple became visible in Charminar photos only after 1990.
I wonder how the courts will view the desecration of the Charminar. Maybe they will give the people of Hyderabad five acres of land elsewhere to build a new Charminar?
---
*Well-known policy analyst. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

Comments

Anonymous said…
i got hi res pictures without the temple

TRENDING

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Is sacrilege charge against Punjab Dalits any different from Pak blasphemy cases?

Lakhbir Singh, his wife By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  There is no doubt that Sikhism actually was a revolt against the Brahmanical system and superstition. Guru Granth Saheb is perhaps the only Holy Book which contains matters from different religions as well as those of various Sufi saints, including Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid and others. The aim of Sikhism was to create an egalitarian society, and, definitely, Punjab that way is far better than many other States in India, where violence against Dalits is rampant.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn B'desh anti-minority violence

By Our Representative  Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.