Jehangir rebuilding Mathura temple

Bir Singh Bundela

Bir Singh Bundela


Many temples had been destroyed in wars and raids by mughal and other invaders in India. One such temple was the temple dedicated to Sri Krishna in Vrindhavan and Mathura. When Jehangir became emperor he made Bir Singh Bundela the ruler of Orchha in 1605. Bir Singh asked Jehangir permission to build a temple for Lord Sri Krishna in Vrindhavan, Mathura. The Krishna Temple at Mathura was destroyed by Sikandar Lodhi in 16th century. Lodhi also prohibited bathing in Yamuna river by hindus and shaving their heads or doing any hindu rituals on the banks. Jehangir not only gave permissionto build temple but  apparently paid thirty three lakhs to Bir Singh Bundela  to build this temple. He also removed all restrictions that were in place before at Mathura for hindus. Jehangirs mother Hira Kunwari the wife of Akbar was a great devotee of Sri Krishna. Even Prince Dara Sikoh, son of Shah jahan had presented a carved stone railing to the temple during his visit there. But it was removed on orders of Aurangzeb in 1666. Aurangzeb demolished the entire Keshav Rai temple in 1670.

How Bir Singh Bundela became close to Jehangir aka Prince Salim is an interesting story. Prince Salim had great issues with Abul Fazl and hated him from long. Abul Fazl was the chronicler and friend of Akbar and Akbar trusted his words very much more than Salim too. Once Akbar got very unwell when Salim was in early 20s. Fazl suggested that Prince Salim may have poisoned him, and Akbar chided his son. Prince Salim left room in tears. Later it was found that Akbar was given stale dead animal meat that made him  very sick. Another time Akbar told Salim to get the women of family to Kashmir. It was snowing heavily and blizzards and landslides were taking place. So Salim left women half way and went to inform Akbar that he will get them to Kashmir after weather is better. Abul Fazl said, it was Salims prerogative to follow Akbars orders and not decide what to do himself. Akbar got furious on Salim and slammed him in front of all courtiers and commanders. Salim got so upset at this open humilation that he did not come out of his tent full day even for meals. There were other incidents too that made Salim hate Abul Fazl. So when he rebelled against Akbar in 1599, Abul Fazl started speaking against his rebellion in court and the fact that Salim was unfit to ascend mughal throne. That infatiuated Salim, so he called a chieftain of Orchha Bir Singh Bundela and told him that if he kills Fazl he will reward him with lots of money. Bir Singh Bundela carried out his orders and sent his head to Salim in Allahabad fort. Akbar was very angry at Salim and attacked Orchha and took it under his control in 1604. Bir Singh Bundela and his family went into hiding.  

Finally in 1605 when Akbar died, Salim became emperor and made Bir Singh Bundela King of Orchha. When Bir Singh Bundela became King of Orchha he asked permission to build the Keshav rai temple in Vrindavan, Mathura. Jehangir granted permission and gave a sum of thirty three lakhs for building the temple. It was one of the most magnificent temple built in Mathura. Aurangzeb had grave issues not only with Hindu religious practices but he disliked Jehangir his grandfather because of various incidents. He ordered demolition of temple in 1670.

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