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On Ahmedabad Foundation Day, read about trail of destruction of Hindu temples in the city by the Islamic Sultans

The 'foundation' of Ahmedabad as a city as it stands today was laid by Ahmed Shah. However, it existed as Karnavati and Asawal before the barbarians invaded us and destroyed our temples.

On 26th February 1411 Ahmed Shah (First), the self-proclaimed “Nasir-ud-dunya Wad-dín Abul fateh Ahmed Shah” laid the foundation of a new capital city on the banks of Sabarmati which was earlier known as Asawal and ruled by Asha Bhil. The ancient city in western India was also known as Karnavati. In the name of making a new capital city, Ahmed Shah (First) of the Gujarat Sultanate destroyed old temples around and went on to build Islamic structures on the temple sites using the temple rubbles.

As Ahmedabad ‘established’ by Ahmed Shah turns 612 and enters into the 613th year on 26th February 2023, let us not forget the tyranny this land has survived. The era of the Gujarat Sultanate has turned this land of temples into an abode for medieval Islamic structures which are built on the temple sites using the rubbles of the same temples destroyed by the barbarians.

Muzaffarid Dynasty

Barring invasions of Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Mamluk, and Qutubuddin Aibak, the land of Gujarat remained under the control of Hindu Rajput kings of Gujarat till 1297 when Alaudding Khilji defeated Raja Karnadevaraya of Anhilwada (present-day Patan). Gujarat remained under the control of the Delhi Sultanate till 1407 when Zafar Khan – who in 1391 was appointed as a governor of the Delhi Sultanate declared himself an independent ruler of the Gujarat area. As this invader was also called Muzaffar Shah, this dynasty is called the Muzaffarid dynasty. This Muzaffar Shah destroyed the Somnath temple twice.

We have mostly heard of Somnath Mandir invasion and destruction by Islamic invaders. However, in Ahmedabad alone, dozens of temples were destroyed and even today Islamic structures stand on the ruins of our temples. In the book “Hindu Temples – What happened to them?”, historian Sitaram Goel covers 9 out of 18 such sites in the Ahmedabad district area.

The 18 structures in Ahmedabad cover the sites in Patan, Asawal, and Chandravai areas. The Palace and Citadel of Bhadra, Ahmed shah’s mosque in Bhadra, Jami Masjid of Ahmed Shah, Haibat Khan’s Mosque, Rani Rupmati’s Mosque, Rani Bai Harir’s Mosque, Malik Sarang’s Mosque, Mahfiz Khan’s Mosque, Sayyid Alam’s Mosque, Pattharwali Mosque, Sakar Khan’s Mosque, Baba Lulu’s Mosque, Shykh Hasan Muhammad Chishti’s Mosque, Mosque at Isanpur, Mosques, and Mazars of Malik Shaban, Rani Sipri, and Shah Alam, and the Maqbara of Ahmed Shah.

Besides this, a mosque each in Dekwara, Isapur, Usmanpur, Ranpur, and Paldi is built on a temple’s site. Some of them are built by Delhi Sultanate while others were built by the Gujarat Sultanate. There are six sites in Dholka that are having Islamic structures built by destroying a temple or by using temple material. They are – the Mosque and Mazar of Bahlol Khan Ghazi, Mazar of Barkat Shahid, Tanka or Jami Mosque, Hilal Khan Qazi’s Mosque, Khirni Mosque, and Kali Bazar Mosque. All six structures are built in the 14th century when Gujarat was ruled by Delhi Sultanate.

Sayyid’s Mosque and Jami Mosque in Mandal are built by razing temples. The Dargah of Shykh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Bakhsh and the Maqbara of Sultan Mahmud Begada both are built using temple materials.

Here is how Islamic rulers of present day Ahmedabad destroyed our temples.

Ahmed Shah (First)

Ahmed Shah (First) was the grandson of Muzaffar Shah. He laid the foundation of what is known as Ahmedabad today. He destroyed many temples and converted them to mosques and other Islamic structures.

The Twitter handle of “Reclaim Temples” documents such occupied Hindu sites where Islamic tyrants have built Islamic structures. It tweeted, “Ahmed Shah’s Masjid in Ahmedabad Gujarat is a Hindu temple seized and converted to a Masjid by Sultan Ahmed Shah 1 in 1414 AD. Hindu temple ceilings, pillars, motifs, and other temple designs can be seen. However, all the sculptures of Hindu Gods were removed.”

In the next tweet, “Reclaim Temples” says, “Jama Masjid Ahmedabad in Gujarat is a Bhadrakali temple which was forcefully converted into a Masjid by Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1415 AD. Garbhagrihas, the mutilated sculpture of Hindu Gods, Hindu temple motifs prove that it is a Hindu temple under Muslim occupation.”

The Dargah of Shykh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Bakhsh in Sarkhej is also built by this Ahmed Shah. Ahmed Shah’s tomb is situated near Jama Mosque in Manek Chouk of Ahmedabad and it is built using temple material. He also built the Citadel of Bhadra from the rubble remains of Bhadrakali Temple. He ruled the Gujarat sultanate from 1411 to 1442 and destroyed many other temples to convert them into Islamic structures in his 32 years of rule.

Mahmud Begada

Mahmud Begada ruled the Gujarat Sultanate for 54 years that is from 1458 to 1511. Out of around 166 years of the Gujarat Sultanae’s Muzaffarid dynasty rule, almost 87 years of rule is under Ahmed Shah (First), and Mahmud Begada. This Mahmud Begada is called Begada because he won two important forts (gadh) of Junagadh and Pavagadh. Be means two in Gujarati. Gadh means fort. This Mahmud Begada was more fundamentalist than the earlier Sultans of this dynasty. In 1472, he destroyed Dwarka, one of the four most holy places of Hinduism.

He spread Islam wherever he attacked. He destroyed temples and built Islamic structures on those sites. Talking about Ahmedabad in particular, suburbs like Alimpura, Isanpur, Islampur, and Vatva – all of them were populated by his nobles who were not so noble in fact. Many mosques are built in these areas in his tenure, most of which are originally temples that were converted to mosques. Malik Sarang – one of his governors – was Rajput by birth. Sarangpur suburb and Malik Sarang’s mosque are named after him. The whole Gujarat Sultanate and this dynasty had many such converted commanders. He would win during the border expansion, asking the captive king to accept Islam, and killing the king who refused.

In Ahmedabad, Mahmud Begada built Rani Rupmati Mosque. He also destroyed the Kalika Devi temple on Pavagadh in Gujarat. Begda had completely destroyed the Shikhara and then to further insult the Hindus, right where the Shikhara was there in the garbhagruh (sanctum sanctorum), a Dargah of one Sadanshah Peer was constructed. After the attack, for over 500 years, no Dhwaja was unfurled at the Mandir. In Hinduism, it is considered inauspicious to unfurl a Dhwaja on a Shikhara that is destroyed. Hence, for over 500 years, Maa, in her own temple, was stuck under a Dargah. The Dargah has now been shifted and the temple reclaimed in 2022. Finally, the Dhwaja flies on the mandir decades after it was destroyed by Islamic invader.

Mahmud Begada would use conquered temple sites for funerals and would make tombs inside the sanctum sanctorum. His burial site is also a temple converted to Maqbara. It is located in the Sarkhej area of Ahmedabad. His wife Rajbai (originally a Hindu woman) is also buried in a similar manner. This is in addition to major temples destroyed and converted to mosques by him in Junagadh, Vadodara, Bharuch, and Surat when he was alive.

Bhadra Fort and Jami Mosque

Bhadra Fort is the place where the Rajputs of Gujarat ruled the old city. The tyrants of the Gujarat Sultanate just reinforced the old structure, yet most Marxist and Islamist historians tend to credit Ahmed Shah (First) for its construction. The fort surroundings had an ancient temple of Bhadra Kali that is the goddess Lakshmi. It was desecrated and converted to a mosque by Ahmed Shah (First). He also desecrated a temple inside the fort to build a mosque.

Remains of colonial rule

Teen Darwaza, Sarkhej Roza, Shah Alam’s Roza, and Siddi Sayyid Mosque are among other remains of the colonial rule of the Gujarat Sultanate that can still be seen in Ahmedabad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said on the occasion of the 75th independence day that people should get rid of the symbols of colonial rules and embrace the future of New India.

Whether Ahmedabad manages to reclaim its lost heritage, only time will tell. But one can always read history to know about the ruins on which it was built over 600 years ago.

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