The desecration of Gobind Dev temple in Vrindavan is unique; it was neither complete nor was it converted into a mosque. The structure was cut into half—horizontally. And why? Because whenever Aurangzeb happened to be in Delhi or Agra, at night he would see a mashaal, or torch, lighting up the sky. How can any light shine higher than mine? It must be put out once and for all, felt the emperor. By 1669 he lost his patience, sent his men and had the Gobind Dev temple cut in half, four storeys reduced to two. On the truncated roof he had a mehraberected so that he could pray there on his visit.

Probably, no other desecrated temple had been the subject of so much repair and refurbishment by British rulers. Of supreme importance was the fact of the temple being “restituted” to Hindu devotees. It was the greatest act of shuddhi, or purification, although performed before Swami Dayanand Saraswati reintroduced Vedic procedures. For this act of restitution, F.S. Growse, the magistrate of Mathura district in the 1870s, deserves a place in the hall of Hinduism. The Gobind Dev temple is indeed massive; its plinth is 105 feet by 117 feet. It is estimated that the original height was about 110 feet, without which it would not have been possible to see the mashaal or torch either from Agra or from Delhi. The temple was built in 1590 AD by Maharaja Mansingh of Jaipur.

The temple is also unique for several other reasons, but we shall come to these a little later. For the satisfaction of its desecrators, the sanctum sanctorum was destroyed.