8. Instant Vandalism
Externally it is a square of 259 feet each side, with four peculiar star-shaped towers at the corners. There are only two entrances, one to the east and the other to the south, the north side being built against the scarped rock of the hill. The interior consists of a quadrangle 200 feet by 175 feet, surrounded on all four sides by cloisters of Hindu pillars. The mosque itself, which forms the western side of the quadrangle, is 259 feet long by 57/1/2 feet broad, including the great screen wall, which is no less than 11 1/2 feat thick and 56 feet high.
The Jhopra is among the first in a series of temple desecrations perpetrated by foreign rulers of India. The earlier atrocities were by Mahmud Ghazni, who raided but did not stay back to rule. The triple temples were so attractive that the desecrator chose to retain all, or most of the pillars. There are 70 of them under three roofs, which meet and appear to be one integrated whole. And there are other pillars beyond the covered edifice, which looks like a pavilion in splendid stone.
The pillars are some 30 feet high gorgeously carved either with exquisite designs up to a height of about 26 feet, thereafter adorned with delicate figurines. Uncannily, there is not a single figure whose face has not been cut off. Nowhere on Europe does one see such acts of vandalism, except what the original barbarian vandals themselves perpetrated under their king Gaiseric, in the wake of the conquest of Rome in 455 AD. Hereafter, the word vandal became synonym with wilful desecration and destruction. The figurines on all the relics on display at the Rajputana Museum as well as those salvaged by the Archaeological Survey of Indi (ASI) duly locked in the compound of the Jhopra have been systematically defaced.Amongst the thousands of stone heads, not a single nose or an eye is visible.
Mind you, the ASI has done nothing to excavate or salvage anything in the comlplex since independence. With the passing of the Protection of National Monulmeets Act, 1951 (see Annexure II), all archaeological activities have been frozen.The credit for the excavations goes to Cunningham and Dr. D R Bhandarkar; duing the first half of the 20th century by the latter. Details, are available in the Rajasthan District Gazetteer, Ajmer, 1966.
Muhammad Ghauri presumably Offered prayers within the stipulated two and a half days Subsequently in about 1200 AD the Adhai Din Ka Jhopra was completed with a well-carved facade which is best described in the words of the ASI Report for 1893 :
The whole of the exterior is covered up with a network of tracery so finely and delicately wrought that it can only be compared to a fine lace. Cunningham described the exterior of the Jhopra even more eloquently: For gorgeous prodigality of ornament, beautiful richness of tracery, delicate sharpness off finish, laborious accuracy of workmanship, endless variety of detail, all of which are due to the Hindu masons, this building may justly vie with the noblest buildings which the world has yet produced.
This relief in Ajmer Museum is carved of intricately related figures, obviously intended for decorative effect. It rises above mere adornment by the delicate application of the chisel to achieve a composition which is compact and balanced.