Destroying shrines

Print edition : January 09, 2015

Kar sevaks atop the dome of the Babri Masjid before its demolition in 1992. Photo: SANJAY SHARMA/INDIAPIX NETWORK

A colonnade inside the chaitya in Karla, Pune district. The votive stupa here was reconstructed into a large lingam so that the Buddhist rock-cut monastery could become a Shaiva temple. It then reverted to being a Buddhist chaitya hall when the site was restored in colonial times . Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The gold-plated pillars of the Somanath temple near Veraval in Saurashtra, Gujarat. The temples looted and desecrated tended to be the richer ones with treasuries of gold and jewels as well as those that were the symbols of the ruling dynasty. Photo: AFP

The Buddhist archaeological site Takht i Bahi in Pakistan's north-west. The monastery complex is thought to have been built over a Zoroastrian place of worship. Photo: AFP/ITALIAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MISSION

The garbha griha of the Sri Krishna temple, with the Idgah masjid in the background, at Mathura. The reasons for both the construction and the destruction of the temple at Mathura were not unconnected to the entanglements of the Mughal court, the Bundella chiefs and the Rajput clans, over a long period. Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Religious faith has never been the sole reason for the destruction of places of worship; greed and a desire to assert power are also at play. The Babri Masjid’s demolition was motivated more by the desire for political supremacy than by religious animosity.
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