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Why were the temples first targets of the conquerors?

Last Updated : 26 May, 2023
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Temples and mosques were wonderfully built because they are the places to worship. They exhibit the power, abundance, and greatness of the ruler. The rulers often invest a lot of money, decoration, and maintenance for temples and so the foreign conquerors make it their first target. Most prominent examples are Somnath in Gujarat, attacked and looted several times by Mahmud of Ghazni who carried away many things from it.

How did the temples define the importance of the ruler?

Temples performed a massive function in defining the importance of rulers in many ancient civilizations. The exact ways wherein temples did so numerous across special cultures and time intervals, however here are a few fashionable aspects:

1. Divine Authority: Temples regularly strengthened the ruler’s authority by associating them with the divine. Rulers have been frequently depicted as being chosen through the gods or as divine themselves, and temples served as places of worship for the gods and their earthly representatives. By preserving a near date with the temple and collaborating in religious rituals, rulers validated their connection to the divine realm and their legitimacy to rule.

2. Rituals and Ceremonies: Temples supplied a platform for vital religious ceremonies and rituals that showcased the ruler’s power and authority. Rulers regularly participated in these rituals as crucial figures, appearing in symbolic acts that emphasized their role as mediators between the earthly and divine nation-states. These ceremonies, which include coronations or temple dedications, served to boost the ruler’s importance and function in the societal hierarchy.

3. Patronage and Building Projects: Rulers often acted as buyers of temples, investing in their production, enlargement, and maintenance. By investing resources in temple tasks, rulers proved their wealth, energy, and commitment to religious practices. Temples served as seen symbols of the ruler’s prosperity and piety, reinforcing their function as a benefactor of the network and the spiritual establishment.

4. Administrative Control: Temples regularly had sizable land holdings, wealth, and large personnel. Rulers exerted manipulation over those resources, the usage of them to consolidate their authority. They appointed high-rating officers inside the temple hierarchy, giving them each spiritual and administrative obligations. By controlling the temples and their belongings, rulers may want to exert impact over spiritual matters and use the establishments to strengthen their own role.

5. Propaganda and Iconography: Temples frequently featured elaborate paintings, inscriptions, and statues that depicted the ruler and their achievements. These visual representations served as propaganda, glorifying the ruler’s accomplishments, army victories, and divine connections. The temple’s structure and ornamentation, alongside the inclusion of the ruler’s name in inscriptions, helped to perpetuate the ruler’s memory and legacy.

It’s crucial to word that the particular methods in which temples defined the significance of rulers vary across distinct civilizations and historic intervals. Examples of such civilizations include historical Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Maya, ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire, amongst others.

Building the temples

The biggest temples were completely developed by rulers. The other, lesser divinities in the temples were divine beings and goddesses of the partners and subordinates of the ruler. The temple was a small-scale model of the world managed by the lord and his partners. As they adored their divinities together in the regal temples, maybe they brought the simple rule of the divine beings on the planet.

As each new administration came to control, kings needed to underline their ethical right to be rulers. Building worship places gave rulers the opportunity to announce their close relationship with God, particularly significant during a time of quick political change. Rulers additionally offered support to the learned and devout and attempted to change their capitals and urban areas into incredible social communities that carried popularity to their standard and their domain.

Buildings and Rulers

Architecture reached new heights during the Mughal rule. Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, and mainly Shah Jahan were immensely interested in literature, art, and architecture. In his autobiography, Babur mentioned his interest in laying out gardens.

These gardens were called Chahar bagh(four gardens). After Akbar, some of the most beautiful Chahar baghs were constructed by his descendants in Kashmir, Agra, and Delhi.
There were many prominent architectural innovations that took place during Akbar’s rule.

During Shah Jahan’s reign, various prominent elements of Mughal architecture were fused together to make great constructions. A lot of construction activities happened during the rule of Shah Jahan mainly in Agra and Delhi. The ceremonial halls were built for public and private audiences. Shah Jahan’s audience halls were particularly built to simulate a mosque. The podium on which his throne was there was generally described as the qibla, The concept of the king as an agent of God on earth was proposed by these architectural appearances.

The relationship between justice and the court was highlighted by Shah Jahan in his newly built court in the Red Fort, Delhi. The development of Shah Jahan’s audience hall was anticipated to convey that the king’s integrity would treat the rich and the poor as equals forming a world where all could live together in peace. His capital was Agra in the beginning years of his rule. In this city, the king constructed homes on the banks of the river Yamuna. These were set in the center of gardens constructed in the Chahar bagh arrangement. Shah Jahan accustomed the river-front garden in the design of the Taj Mahal, the greatest architectural accomplishment of his rule.

Why were the temples the first targets of the conquerors?

Temples were frequently centered by means of conquerors for several reasons, which vary depending on the conquerors’ motivations and the specific historic context. Here are some commonplace motives why temples have become prime targets:

1. Wealth and Resources: Temples were frequently repositories of wealth and precious assets. Over time, they accrued big amounts of gold, silver, precious stones, and different treasures donated by way of worshippers or received via temple activities. Conquerors noticed those riches as proper spoils of battle, imparting them with a significant financial providence. Temples have been regularly seemed as symbols of opulence and electricity, making them appealing objectives for conquest.

2. Symbolic Importance: Temples held deep cultural and non-secular significance within societies. By taking pictures and desecrating temples, conquerors may want to strike at the heart of the conquered civilization’s identity and undermine its religious and cultural basis. Defiling or destroying temples become a manner to illustrate dominance and superiority over the conquered humans, sending an effective message of conquest and asserting control.

3. Political Power: Temples often wielded big political influence. They served as centers of administration, schooling, and social enterprise. By gaining manipulate over the temples, conquerors may want to efficiently dismantle the prevailing electricity structure and update it with their very own management. Temples were also important hubs for disseminating records and communicating with the population, making them strategic objectives for exerting control over the conquered territories.

4. Control over Religion: Religion played a crucial function in lots of historical societies, and temples had been imperative to spiritual practices. By controlling the temples, conquerors could exert influence over non secular affairs, manipulating or reshaping non-secular ideas to align with their personal ideologies. This manipulation of the non-secular and spiritual realm became a way of consolidating their authority and ensuring the loyalty of the conquered population.

5. Erasure of Previous Culture: Conquerors regularly sought to erase or subjugate the existing tradition and assimilate the conquered population into their own civilization. Temples had been visible as strongholds of the conquered tradition and were focused on destruction or repurposing to weaken the conquered civilization’s identification. Replacing present temples with systems devoted to the conquerors’ deities or transforming them into symbols of the brand-new ruling energy helped solidify the conquerors’ management and reshape the cultural landscape.

It’s critical to be aware that those reasons are not exhaustive, and the motivations for focusing on temples could vary depending on the conquerors’ specific dreams, spiritual beliefs, or cultural attitudes closer to conquered civilizations. Additionally, ancient examples of such conquests can be discovered throughout one-of-a-kind regions and time periods, along with ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Americas, among others.

Related Links

  1. Pirs and Temples
  2. Nagara Style of Temples
  3. How did a temple communicate the Importance of a King?

FAQs on Temples first targets of the conquerors

Q 1. In between the 8th and 18th centuries, there were mainly two types of structures constructed. What were they?


Tombs, palaces, forts and private temples and First type and the buildings and constructions meant for public like temples and mosques, tanks and wells, bazaars etc. are second type of structures.

Q 2. Mention any 3 important temples built in the southern part of India.


  • Brihadiswara temple in Tanjore was built by the cholas
  • The pallavas built shore temple and rath temple
  • Gopurams of Kanchi and Madurai were built by the Pandyas

Q 3. Why were religious places i.e. temples and mosques constructed marvelously?


Temples and mosques were wonderfully built because they are the places to worship. They exhibit the power, abundance and greatness of the ruler.

Q 4. Discuss the Khajuraho temples.


It is located  in present day Madhya Pradesh. These temples were built by Candela dynasty in 9th and 10th century. The complex has the royal private temples which means the common people were not allowed inside.

Q 5. Discuss about pietra dura.


It is a decorative art. In this technique, highly polished different coloured stones were cut and fitted as per requirement. This art came to light immensely in 16th and 17th centuries.

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