Bhojshala's tumultuous history and Islamic invasion of Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, India

Temple or educational center, Bhojshala, Dhar, 

The Bhojsala complex of Dhar, Madhya Pradesh still remains a controversial site because of legal wrangle between the Hindus and Muslim communities. The former call it Vagdevi' built by the Hindu king Bhoja (12th CE), while the latter  calle  it the Kamal Maula Mosque (which came up in the later period 15th century)  Despite the controversy, the heritage site gets the attention of lots of tourists. This long-held dispute can be solved through dialogue and compromise based more on the historical facts and time of execution of the complex than on religious and emotional narratives. The Muslim side continues to protest in spite of ample historical and archaeological evidences in favor of a Hindu temple.

What is Bhojshala? Bhojshala is a historic temple dedicated to Mata Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom, located in Dhar district, MP. It was established by Raja Bhoj (1000–1055 AD), a prominent and intelligent emperor of the Parmar dynasty known for his promotion of education and literature. Bhojshala functioned as a center for learning, attracting students from across regions to study various disciplines like music, Sanskrit, astronomy, yoga, Ayurveda, and philosophy to promote good welfare and catholicity.

Historical Significance Foundation and Educational Hub: Bhojshala was a major educational institution in Dhar, the capital of Raja Bhoj's kingdom, hosting thousands of students and scholars.

stone inscription about King Bhoja, Dhar, 

Above image: Inscriptions at Bhojshala complex, Dhar- These inscriptions reveal about the crocodile incarnation of Vishnu written in Prakrit, as well as pillar inscriptions containing Sanskrit alphabet and grammatical terminations. Two Sanskrit stanzas pay tributes to the Paramara kings . The These inscriptions and others confirm that King Bhoja's educational center or Saraswati  temple at this disputed site. ...........

Architectural Marvel: The original temple structure was a grand edifice adorned with inscriptions in classical Sanskrit detailing grammar, literature, and praises for emperors following Raja Bhoj.

Islamic Invasions and Destruction

Repeated Attacks: The temple faced multiple devastations by Muslim invaders in 1305, 1401, and 1514 AD. 1305 AD: Alauddin Khilji's forces killed 1200 Hindu students and teachers and destroyed the temple complex. 

Mosque at Bhojshala, Dhar,

Islamic invasion, Dhar. India

Above image:  According to historical sources, in 1305 AD Alauddin Khilji  of Delhi Sultanate  attacked the Bhojshala . Khilji had his army butchered 1200 students studying in Gurukul, because they had refused to convert to Islam. Hence, Khilji converted it into Dargah. Later, Kiliji's army chief Malik Kaufer and later Ulagh Khan  in the 1300s  invaded S. India. In the same period on a war mission to Tamil Nadu's   most famous Srirangam temple dedicated to Raganathar; the merciless army killed 10000 Vaishnavites who resisted the invasion. ................

Jerry-built mosque, Bhojshala, Dhar, MP.

Above image: Mosque, Dhar, Bhojshala complex -Built at Dhar in A.D. 1400 by dismantling temples. Using  materials. enough amount of new work was added to alter  the temple origin (tampering of historical evidence).  Primary among this new Islamic design  elements is the inclusion of pointed arches between the pillars. Being a well refined structure, this This was achieved by  the spandrils being relieved by perforated patterns. Historians asked a simple question. To build the mosque how come the Muslim rulers chose this site?.......................

In 1401 AD: Dilawar Khan transformed part of the temple into a dargah. 1514 AD: Mehmud Shah besieged Bhojshala and further converted parts of it into a dargah, establishing the Kamal Moulana Makbara. 

Conversion to Mosque: Over time, the temple was replaced by the Kamal Maulana Mosque, incorporating remnants of the original Bhojshala, including carved pillars and inscribed stone slabs.

Post-Independence Developments Archaeological Custody: In 1952, the Bhojshala site was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Hindu Activism: Organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Mahasabha started raising awareness about Bhojshala, and the Shri Maharaja Bhoj Smruti Vasantotsav Samiti was established.

Controversies and Modern-Day Disputes Access Restrictions: Before March 12, 1997, Hindus could take darshan but not perform puja at Bhojshala. An order by CM Digvijaya Singh in 1997 allowed Muslims to offer Namaz every Friday while restricting Hindus from entering, except on Vasant Panchami.  British and Post-British Era: The British removed the deity's idol in 1902, now housed in the London Museum. Post-independence, attempts by Muslims to offer Namaz at Bhojshala were met with resistance from Hindu activists.


Bhojshala remains a symbol of cultural heritage and religious contention, reflecting India's complex history of conquest and coexistence. Its past as an educational center founded by Raja Bhoj and its transformation through invasions and conversions underscores the dynamic and often tumultuous history of the region.