Temple architecture

No, this temple of Chittor was not transformed into a mosque

A photograph of a structure that appears to be a temple with a dome on top is going viral on social media with various captions suggesting the structure was a temple that has been converted into a mosque.

Surendra Poonia, a BJP member, shared the photo with a Hindi caption that read: “The architecture of the Mughals and the rest of the invaders was so unique and strange that whatever they built, they always kept a temple in his basement.” Poonia’s tweet refers to the plot that 22 locked rooms in the basement of the Taj Mahal house Hindu idols.

Users @SujinEswar1 and @Chetankumar_111 tweeted the photo claiming that a Hindu temple in Chittor had been converted into a mosque by the Mughals.

The photo of this structure was also going viral on Twitter in 2020 with the same claim and was also circulating on Facebook.

Fact check

We did a Google reverse image search on the photo and came across a forum from 2011, where a certain Sudipto Ray posted photos of his road trip from Kolkata to Rajasthan. In his posts, Sudipto shared the viral image with the caption “An obvious temple, converted into a mosque”.

Photos preceding the viral image also suggested it was in Chittor. Taking that as a clue, we did a keyword search on Google and came across the same structure on Alamy. According to the description on Alamy, the structure is a former temple in Rattan Singh Palace, Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan.

We did a second keyword search and came across another photo showing the front part of the temple. According to legend, it was an ancient Shiv temple in the fort of Chittorgarh. We again did a reverse image search on Google which led to Wikipedia, according to which the name of the temple is “Shringar Chauri”.

Thanks to Google Earth Pro, we have geolocated the temple at these coordinates 24°53’33.06″N, 74°38’40.47″E. The front and the back of the temple are visible on the view from the street.

We also found a photo of the Shringar Chauri temple on ASI’s Jodhpur Circle website.

An official ASI document available on the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA) website describes Shringar Chauri as a Jain temple built in 1448 by Velaka, son of Kola, the treasurer of Maharana Kumbha.

Similarly, in the book “Archaeological Survey of India: Report of a Tour in the Panjab and Rajputana in 1883-84, Vol. XXIII,” author A. Cunningham wrote, “Halfway between the storehouse and the bastion is a carved stone temple now called the Sringar-Chauri…built by the Jain treasurer of Rana Kumbha.” This suggests that at one time the temple was known by a different name to locals.

It is also important to note that there are many temples in the region that have domes above them. Domes seem to be a common feature of temples in the region.

Alt News has contacted Prof. MK Pundhir, an expert in medieval archeology at Aligarh Muslim University’s Department of History. He said: “Every time the fort was captured by someone in power, it was devastated. Despite this, there is no evidence to suggest that the Shringar Chauri temple was converted into a mosque by building a dome over it. Moreover, if that were the case, the Rajputs would have destroyed the dome whenever they took control of it, as it symbolized extraterrestrial power.

Alt News also accessed the book ‘Chittorgarh’ published in 1928 compiled by Pt. Shobalal Shastri. The book has a chapter dedicated to Shringar Chauri and it suggests that the temple was originally built in 1277 by King Ratan Singh but was destroyed during the First Siege of Chittor (1303) and was rebuilt by Treasurer Velaka in 1448. There is no mention of it being turned into a mosque.

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To conclude, the claim that the Shringar Chauri temple has been converted into a mosque is groundless. This claim is part of a series of conspiracies suggesting that ancient Hindu structures across India were destroyed by invading powers and mosques were built on them.

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