Ancient Shiva Temple, Delhi, National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi

History will never be kind to the successive Muslim invaders, the Portuguese and the British who unleashed unimaginable bloodshed, desecrated and looted temples, enforced conversions to Islam and Christianity using heinous means and cheap tactics of offering rice and shelter respectively, slaughtered cows and everything sacred to Hindus and dishonoured the Hindu women and children of Akhanda Bharat.


The imperial capital of Akhanda Bharat in particular has borne the brunt of the savagery, religious intolerance, unmentionable atrocities and deplorable religious persecution of Hindus by the aforementioned barbarians. Extraordinary edifices built by the Guptas, the Gurjara – Pratiharas and the Gahadavalas in and around Delhi were reduced to rubble and mosques and tombs were built from their debris. Such is the legacy of the radical Muslim invaders from the 10th century onwards.


Their abominable acts and display of contempt and disrespect to Hindus and the rich culture, history and heritage of Akhanda Bharat is evidenced in every part of the country that they plundered. An ancient Shiva Temple built by the Gurjara – Pratihara dynasty in perhaps the 8th century was flattened by Shams ud-Din Iltutmish and converted to a maqbara for his eldest son Nasiruddin Mahmud in 1231.


Sultan Ghari as it came to be called is the first maqbara built using the decorative pillars, carved panels and ceilings of the existing temple structures. Shams ud-Din Iltutmish destroyed every shrine on this site including the Shiva Linga whose Shakti Peeta still remains.


The dargah that is in the basement is supported by pillars that have floral and foliage patterns. There are partially defaced Hindu motifs on the brackets of the pillars. Carved lintels of Kamadhenu and Lord Varaha are found embedded in the roof of the tomb. As the roof has elements taken from the various shrines, a Sanskrit inscription can also be found here.


The pillared walkway around the octagonal shaped tomb is adorned with auspicious Hindu iconography. Besides this, there are floral patterns on the sides of the door, the capitals of the pillars have the typical octagonal design, the rotating ceiling of the tomb has an elaborately carved panel seen very often in the temples built by the Pratiharas and the receding design of the ceiling is a very common architectural element of Hindu temples. In fact, artefacts of the Gupta Period have also been discovered in this temple site.


What is most bizarre is the octagonal shape rendered to the tomb which makes one think whether the maqbara really exists and whether the so-called tomb was built from the debris of the Hindu temples or if an existing structure was simply used to build another structure and the Hindu elements were covered up with garish Islamic ornamentation.


A comprehensive ASI survey is in order for the truth to be known.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

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