The proposed project area substantially overlaps with the pilgrimage route to the antargriha (inner sanctum) of the Vishwanath temple. This sacred zone, as architectural and urban historian Madhuri Desai’s insightful work shows, emerged as a result of multiple realignments of pilgrimage practices and a few inventions.
Her close study of numerous texts and representations shows that a major reconfiguration of sacred zones happened after the Ghurid invasions in the 12th century when the city and its temples were disrupted.
In the following two centuries, as Desai describes, “scholarly activism and state support” brought the focus of development and investment on Vishwanath temple. One of the key moments in the city was the period of Raja Todarmal, an influential Rajput official in Akbar’s court in the 16th century, who extensively developed the area and the temple.
The demolition of Vishwanath temple in the 17th century and the building of a mosque on its plinth impacted the course of the city. The extant plinth became the rallying point. After Aurangzeb’s death, some rulers made repeated attempts to rebuild the temple. The kings of Amber in the 17th century even undertook a detailed survey of the area, mapped properties and lanes, and produced survey maps called tarah, which are available in the Jaipur Palace archives and published in Desai’s book. However, for good reasons, the idea to pull down the mosque and build a temple was given up. Finally, in the 18th century, the Holkar queen, Ahaliyabai, built a new Vishwanath temple adjacent to the mosque, and the sacred zone around it developed.
After independence, status quo prevailed for a long time, and temple and