Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb built Alamgir Mosque in the city of Varanasi. The place is also known as Beni Madhav ka Darera and Aurangzeb's Mosque. The mosque is situated at a prominent site above the Panchganga Ghat with broad steps leading down to the Ganges.
It stands over a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu which was built by a Maratha chieftain Beni Madhur Rao Scindia. The temple was demolished after Aurangzeb captured Benaras and ordered the total destruction of all its Hindu temples. He thereafter built a mosque over the ruins of the temple and named it as Alamgir Mosque after his own honorific title ‘Alamgir’. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the mosque and the state government maintains a cordon of security around it at all times.
From the architectural point of view the mosque is a blend of Islamic and Hindu architecture. It has high domes and minarets, two of which were damaged – one collapsed on its own while the other had to be brought down.
It is believed that the Panchaganga Ghat where the mosque is situated is the place where five streams are said to merge into each other. In the month of October lamps are lit here on top of a bamboo staff to serve as beacon guide to the ancestors.
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