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Relief of Men riding elephants at Sanchi Stupa of Vidisha

Vidisha, anciently known as Besnagar, is a city in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Vidishā was the administrative headquarters of Bhelsa, or Bhilsa (or Bhilsan, Bhilsah, Bhailsan, Bhilastan, Bailsan), during the Medieval period.


  • Bhilsan (Bhilsa, Vidisha) he (Alberuni) calls “a place most famous among the Hindus.”
    • Alberuni, I 202, quoted from K.S. Lal , Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India (1973) 36
  • After he returned to the capital in the year AH 632 (AD 1234) the Sultan led the hosts of Islam toward Malwah, and took the fortress and town of Bhilsan, and demolished the idol-temple which took three hundred years in building and which, in altitude, was about one hundred ells.
    • Iltutmish at Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh). Tabqat-i-Nasiri, translated into English by Major H.G. Reverty, New Delhi Reprint, 1970, Vol. I, pp. 621-22. also in Elliot and Dowson II, also in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. with different translation.
  • “In AH 631 he invaded Malwah, and after suppressing the rebels of that place, he destroyed that idol-temple which had existed there for the past three hundred years....
    • Iltutmish at Vidisha and Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi, of Yahya Sirhindi, Translated from the Urdu version by Dr. Ãftab Asghar, second edition, Lahore. 1982.
  • “…In 631 (1233), Shamsuddin marched to Malwa and conquered the city of Bailsan and its fort and demolished its famous temple. The historians have narrated that its citizens built the temple by digging its foundation and raising its walls one hundred cubits from the ground in 300 years. All the images are fixed with lead. The temple is called Gawajit (?) (Vikramajit) Sultan of Ujjain Nagari. The history of the temple is a proof of what is said about its construction and demolition, that is, eleven hundred years. People of Hind are ignorant of history.”
    • Sultan Shamsu’d-Din Iltutmish (AD 1210-1236) Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh) Zafaru’l-Walih Bi Muzaffar Wa Ãlihi Zafaru’l Walih Bi Muzaffar Wa Ãlihi, translated into English by M.F. Lokhand­wala, Baroda, 1970 and 1974, Vol. II, p. 575.
  • Sages such as Sri Aurobindo who have meditated on Hindu iconography, and savants such as Ananda Coomara-swamy, Stella Kramrisch, and Alice Boner who have studied the subject, assure us that the forms and features of Hindu icons have a source higher than the normal reaches of the human mind. The icons are no photocopies of any human or animal forms as we find them in their physical frames. They are in fact crystallizations of the abstract into the concrete, of the infinite into the finite. They always point beyond themselves, and a contemplation of them always draws us from the outer to the inner. Hindu Šilpašãstras lay down not only technical formulas for carving holy icons in stone, and metal, and other materials. They also lay down elaborate rules about how the artist is to fast, and pray, and otherwise purify himself for long periods before he is permitted, if at all, to have a psychic image of the God or Goddess whom he wants to incarnate in a physical form. It is this sublime source of the Šilpašãstras which alone can explain a Sarnath Buddha, or a Chidambram Natarãja, or a Vidisha Varãha, to name only a few of the large assembly of divine images inhabiting the earth. It is because this sublime source is not accessible to modern sculptors that we have to be content with poor copies which look like parodies of the original marvels.
    • S.R. Goel, Defence of Hindu Society, Chapter 5
  • “Afterwards he went towards Bhîlsã which country had been conquered for Islãm by Sultãn Shamsu’d-dîn (Altamsh), King of Delhî. Since eighteen years the estate of Bhîlsã had been subject to Silahdî, and the laws of Islãm had been changed there for the customs of infidelity. When the Sultãn reached the above place, he abrogated the ordinances of infidelity and introduced the laws of Islãm, and slew the idolaters and threw down their temples…”
    • Sultãn Bahãdur Shãh of Gujarat (AD 1526-1537) Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh) Mir‘ã-i-Sikandarî, translated by Fazlullah Lutfullah Faridi, Dharampur (Gujarat), Gurgaon Reprint, 1990, p. 171.
  • “When he advanced from the capital of Karra, the Hindus, in alarm, descended into the earth like ants. He departed towards the garden of Behar to dye that soil with blood as red as tulip. He cleared the road to Ujjain of vile wretches, and created consternation in Bhilsan. When he effected his conquests in that country, he drew out of the river the idols which had been concealed in it.”
    • About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) in Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh) Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. III, p. 542.ff
  • “ ’Alau’d-din at this time held the territory of Karra, and with the permission of the Sultan he marched to Bhailsan (Bhilsa). He captured some bronze idols which the Hindus worshipped and sent them on carts with a variety of rich booty as presents to the Sultan. The idols were laid before the Badaun gate for true believers to tread upon…”
    • Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi by Barani. About Sultan Jalalu’d-Din Khalji (AD 1290-1296) conquests in Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh) Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. III, p. 148
  • “He permitted ‘Alauddin for a religious war in Bhilastan. Jalaluddin had marched to Mandu. ‘Alauddin influenced his uncle by the booty of the religious war. It was immense. It contained a Nandi idol carved in yellow metal and equal in weight to an animal. Jalaluddin ordered it to be placed at the entrance to the Gate of Delhi famous as Badaun Gate. He was pleased with ‘Alauddin and put the ‘Diwan-ul-‘Ard’ under his charge and added Oudh to Kara…”
    • Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh) Zafaru’l-Walih Bi Muzaffar Wa Ãlihi, Zafaru’l Walih Bi Muzaffar Wa Ãlihi, translated into English by M.F. Lokhand­wala, Baroda, 1970 and 1974, Vol. II, 626-8. As quoted in Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol II, Ch. 7.
  • About the same time Malik Alãu’d-Dîn, the nephew of the Sultãn, begged that he might have permission to march against Bhîlsah and pillage those tracts. He received the necessary orders, and went and ravaged the country and brought much booty for the Sultãn’s service. He also brought two brass idols which had been the object of the worship of the Hindus of these parts; and cast them down in front of the Badãûn Gate to be trampled upon by the people…
    • Tabqãt-i-Akharî. Sultãn Jalãu’d-Dîn Khaljî (AD 1290-1296). Badauni I. also in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history. 153. in different translation . Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Among Indian secularists, the done thing is to deny the long history of Islamic temple-destruction. Government policy is to sweep the topic under the carper whenever it raises its head, as by fortuitous archaeological discoveries. Thus, at the Rudramahalaya complex in Siddhpur, Gujarat, ASI excavation work was stopped under Muslim pressure, when temple remains came to light. When a flood brought Hindu sculptures under and around the Bijamandal mosque in Vidisha (where four successive Hindu temples had been destroyed by Shamsuddin Iltutmish, Alauddin Khilji, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and Aurangzeb) to the surface in 1991, the ASI was likewise prevented from excavating further.
    • Koenraad Elst,The argumentative Hindu (2012)
  • “One night during the monsoon of 1991, the rain was so heavy that it washed away the wall that was concealing the frontage of the Bijamandal mosque raised by Aurangzeb in 1682” in Vidisha, and “the broken wall exposed so many Hindu idols that the Archaeological Survey of India had no choice but to excavate”, as mentioned by Prafull Goradia: “Heritage hushed up”....
    • Ayodhya: the case against the temple, by Koenraad Elst (2002)
  • “In the year AH 692 (AD 1293), the King marched against the Hindoos in the neighbourhood of Mando, and having devastated the country in that vicinity, returned to Dehly. In the mean time, Mullik Allood-Deen, the King’s nephew, governor of Kurra, requested permission to attack the Hindoos of Bhilsa, who infested his province. Having obtained leave, he marched in the same year to that place, which he subdued; and having pillaged the country, returned with much spoil, part of which was sent to the King. Among other things, there were two brazen idols which were thrown down before the Budaoon gate of Dehly, to be trodden under foot...“Julal-ood-Deen Feroze was much pleased with the success and conduct of his nephew on this expedition, for which he rewarded him with princely presents, and annexed the province of Oude to his former government of Kurra.”
    • Sultãn Jalãlu’d-Dîn Khaljî (AD 1290-1296) Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Jalaluddin Khalji led an expedition to Ranthambhor in 1291 AD. On the way he destroyed Hindu temples at Jhain. The broken idols were sent to Delhi to be spread before the gates of the Jama Masjid. His nephew Alauddin led an expedition to Vidisha in 1292 AD. According to Badauni, Alauddin “brought much booty to the Sultan and the idol which was the object of worship of the Hindus, he caused to be cast in front of the Badaun gate to be trampled upon by the people. The services of Alauddin were highly appreciated, the jagir of Oudh also was added to his other estates.”
    • `Abd al-Qadir Bada'uni, quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India. ISBN 9788185990231 Ch. 6
  • The Bijamandal mandir was destroyed on orders of Aurangzeb in 1682 ce and a mosque built on its ruins. Alexander Cunningham, who visited Bhilsa in 1874 and 1876, wrote of the temple,
    Inside the town there is a stone Masjid called Bijay Mandir, or the temple of Bijay. The Hindu name is said to have been derived from the founder of the original temple, Bijay Rani. The temple was destroyed by the order of Aurangzeb, and the present Masjid was erected in its place; but the Hindus still frequent it at the time of the annual fair. By the Muhammadans it is called the Alamgiri Masjid, while Bhilsa itself is called Alamgirpur
    • About Bijamandal mandir at Vidisha. Alexander Cunningham (Cunningham ASI Reports X 1880: 35) in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history.156ff
  • Of the mosque built over that temple, the ASI recorded,
    This mosque is built on the site of, and in the main with the materials of a large old Hindu temple. The plinth of the temple is still to be seen underneath the mosque. Most of the numerous pillars, pilasters and lintels used in the building are carved in the Hindu and Jain style of the medieval period, and some also bear Sanskrit inscriptions. No doubt is thus left that the major portion of the materials with which the mosque is constructed were taken from one or more older temples. An inscription on one of the pillars mentions a temple of the goddess Charchika, which was perhaps identical with the demolished temple on the site of which the mosque now stands. The old temple, it is said, was built by Vijaya, a Baniya lady. This perhaps explains the reason why the mosque still goes by the Hindu name of Bijay mandal, which is nothing but a corrupt form of Vijaya- mandira.
    • About Bijamandal mandir at Vidisha. ASI, (ARASI 1921-22: 41). in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history.156ff
  • In 1991, heavy rains washed away the wall that concealed the frontage of the mosque. A large number of sculptural pieces, some as high as eight feet, were brought to light. They had been buried under a platform on the northern side, which was used as the Hall of Prayer, especially during Eid. The statues had remained concealed from the time of the destruction of the Bijamandal temple, almost three centuries earlier. The huge cache left the Archaeological Survey of India with little option but to excavate the site. However, it soon received instructions to stop all work. The name of the mosque, Bijamandal mosque, preserved its Hindu association.
    • About Bijamandal mandir at Vidisha. Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Espisodes from Indian history.156ff

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