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

TRENDING

August 22 to be observed as Apostasy Day: International coalition of ex-Muslim groups

By Our Representative
In a unique move, an international coalition of ex-Muslim organisations has decided to observe August 22, 2020 as the Apostasy Day. To be observed for “the abandonment or renunciation of religion”, the coalition, calling upon people to join the call, said, the decision to observe the Apostasy Day has been taken because of apostasy is “punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

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.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.