LUCKNOW: The ‘mosque over temple’ claim challenging the existence of ‘Tile Wali Masjid’ is not new, nor is the demand by BJP leaders and right-wing activists to rename Lucknow to Lakshmanpur, as they strongly believe that the ancient City of Nawabs was founded by Lord Ram’s brother, Lakshman.
The ‘perennial’ belief was further fueled in 2018 when BJP veteran Lalji Tandon’s book – ‘Ankaha Lucknow’ or ‘Untold Lucknow’ was published. The book further fomented controversy over its claim that the largest Sunni mosque in Lucknow – the ‘Tele Wali Masjid’ was built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb on the ‘Lakshman Teela’ – a platform raised form said to have been named after Lord Ram’s brother, Lakshman.
The book also said that the city was originally called Lakshmanavati, then Lakshmanpur then Lakhnavati, before finally becoming Lucknow.
The book claimed the existence of a ‘Shesh Gufa’ on the Lakshman Teela – evidence of Lucknow’s connection to Lakshman. The ‘Gufa’, according to Tandon’s book, was demolished during the reign of Alauddin Khilji while the mosque rose above the ‘Teela’ during the tenure of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
In the same year, there was also a request for the installation of a statue of Lakshman in front of the Tile Wali Masjid and a proposal was submitted to the Lucknow Municipal Corporation by BJP corporators.
Now, with Kashi-Mathura’s issues in the spotlight, the Tile Wali Masjid has also drawn attention once again, with right-wing members seeking its investigation, accusing the mosque administration of destroying evidence. related to the Hindu religion present there.
“It is a known fact that Lucknow was named after Lakshman and the mound on which the Tile Wali Masjid now stands, was once known as Lakshman Tila. There was once a great temple there. I am sure that experts will find the remains of the temples if an excavation is carried out on the mound,” said Amit Puri, a senior BJP official.
The “mosque over temple” claim was dismissed by Maulana Wasif Hasan, co-mutwalli Tile Wali Masjid, who said the claims were less historically and more politically motivated. However, he accepted the fact that the mosque appeared during the regime of Aurangzeb.
Recently, the “perennial issue” of renaming Lucknow to Lakshmanpur gained momentum again when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Lucknow, tweeted: “Sheshavatar Bhagwan Lakshman ki pawan nagri Lucknow mein aapka swagat aur abhinandan”. Interestingly, the tweet also kicked off speculation that the Yogi government known for renaming was about to rename Lucknow.
So far Yogi government has renamed Faizabad railway station as Ayodhya Cantt and Mughalsarai Junction as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction. Further, he changed the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj and hinted at the possibilities of changing the names of Sultanpur, Mirzapur, Aligarh, Firozabad and Mainpuri.
Furthermore, the Saffron Brigade also demanded to rename Agra to Agravan, Muzaffarnagar to Luxmi Nagar, Miyanganj (a town in Unnao district) to Mayaganj, Aligarh to Harigarh and Mainpuri to Maya Puri.