ASI to conduct a survey in Bhojshala complex

ASI to conduct a survey in Bhojshala complex

This article covers ‘Daily Current Affairs’ and the topic details of ”ASI to conduct a survey in Bhojshala complex”. This topic is relevant in the “History” section of the UPSC CSE exam.


Why in the News?

The Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Archaeological Assessment of India (ASI) to perform a scientific assessment of the Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex to demystify its character.


Historical Background:

  • Origin: The Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex dates back to the 11th Century AD when it was erected as a temple dedicated to the goddess Sarasvati by Paramara King Bhoja.
  • Dual Heritage: Despite being converted into a mosque, remnants of the original temple’s architectural elements endure within the structure. Additionally, inscribed slabs in Sanskrit and Prakrit hint at its illustrious past.


Patronage of King Bhoja:

  • Cultural Legacy: King Bhoja’s legacy extends beyond architecture; he is revered as a great supporter of arts and literature, with the establishment of the renowned Bhojashala serving as a testament to his contributions.
  • Shared Worship: Through an agreement with the ASI, Hindus conduct puja ceremonies at the temple every Tuesday, while Muslims offer Namaz every Friday, highlighting the shared cultural significance of the site.


Architectural Story of the Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque Complex

The Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, presents a fascinating blend of architectural elements, reflecting its layered history. This section delves into the key features that speak volumes about the monument’s evolution.



  • The complex boasts numerous sandstone pillars, each a testament to the craftsmanship of the 11th and 12th centuries. These pillars, with their unique designs, offer a glimpse into the earlier architectural style of the monument. 
  • During the construction of the mosque, some of these pillars were repurposed. Stacked upon each other, they served to elevate the ceiling, mirroring practices seen in the Ajmer Sharif Dargah and the Qutb Minar complex in Delhi. This technique highlights the pragmatic approach taken during the mosque’s construction.



  • The complex features domes constructed using a trabeate style. This technique involves horizontal beams supporting the roof, likely reflecting the influence of earlier Hindu temple architecture. 
  • These domes are further adorned with intricate cusped decorations and lotus motifs, adding a touch of elegance. The presence of these domes hints at a possible shift in the monument’s purpose over time.


Mihrab and Minbar

  • The inclusion of a mihrab, a prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca, and a minbar, a raised pulpit, are clear markers of Islamic influence. 
  • These elements, believed to have been added in the 14th century by the Malwa Sultanate rulers, provide evidence of a later phase in the monument’s history.


Dispute and Legal Proceedings:


  • Debated Origins: The central contention revolves around the original status of the site as a temple, with claims that the Bhojshala and Vagdevi temples were razed to construct the mosque.
  • Legal Challenges: Challenges to the lawsuit’s admissibility have been raised, citing the principle of res judicata, indicating prior dismissal of similar petitions by the High Court’s Principal Bench in 2003.


Judicial Intervention

  • Mandate for Clarity: Acknowledging the enigmatic nature of the temple’s history, the High Court mandated a comprehensive scientific survey by the ASI to determine its true character.
  • Scientific Endeavour: The ASI was tasked with employing advanced methods like GPR-GPS and carbon dating for excavation and investigation within the Monument Act’s framework.


Methods Employed by ASI for Excavation


Invasive Techniques:

  • Stratigraphic Excavation: Utilising stratigraphic principles, archaeologists excavate layers to reconstruct the site’s history, albeit at the cost of destruction.
  • Data Interpretation: While invasive methods yield direct insights, they simultaneously erase invaluable historical layers.


Non-Invasive Approaches:

  • Active Methods: Injecting energy into the ground allows for the measurement of material properties, aiding in identifying subsurface structures.
  • Passive Techniques: These methods measure existing physical properties without disturbing the site, offering insights into hidden features.


Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Carbon Dating:

  • GPR Utilisation: ASI employs GPR to create a 3-D model of buried structures, though interpreting the data requires expertise due to potential false images.
  • Carbon Dating: By measuring carbon content, archaeologists can estimate the age of organic materials, providing crucial insights into the site’s timeline.


Limitations and Challenges:


  • Ambiguity in Data: Similar responses from different materials can lead to confusion, complicating the identification of archaeological targets.
  • Interpretational Hurdles: Complex structures and heterogeneous materials pose challenges in accurately interpreting survey data, necessitating meticulous analysis.
  • Influence of Bias: Emotional and political factors can influence interpretations and decisions, particularly in contentious cases involving religious sites, adding layers of complexity to the investigation.



The endeavour to unveil the true heritage of the Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex stands as a testament to the intersection of history, culture, and modern scientific inquiry. Through meticulous excavation and analysis, the ASI endeavours to reconcile the past with the present. It will shed light on a site shrouded in historical ambiguity and cultural significance.

Download Yojna daily current affairs eng med 14th March 2024


Prelims practise questions


Q1. Consider the following statements: 

  1. Bhojshala Temple was originally a temple dedicated to the goddess Sarasvati
  2. King Bhoja was responsible for constructing the Bhojshala Temple
  3. As per the agreement with the ASI, Hindus can conduct puja ceremonies at the temple every Monday.

How many of the statements given above are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None




Mains practise questions


Q1. Compare and contrast the architectural styles of Nagara temples with Dravidian temples. Highlight important characteristics like the vimana, gopuram, mandapa, and shikhara and explain how they reflect regional diversity in temple architecture.


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