The SOMNATH TEMPLE located in
Prabhas Patan near
Saurashtra on the western coast of
Gujarat , is believed to be the
first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of
Shiva . It is an
important pilgrimage and tourist spot of Gujarat. Destroyed and
reconstructed several times in the past, the present temple was
reconstructed in Chalukya style of
Hindu temple architecture
Hindu temple architecture and
completed in May 1951. The reconstruction was envisioned by
Vallabhbhai Patel and was completed under
K. M. Munshi , the then head
of the temple trust.
* 1 Etymology
* 3 History
* 3.1 History of the temple
* 3.2 \'Proclamation of the Gates\' incident during the British
* 3.3 Reconstruction, 1950–1951
* 4 Architecture of the present temple
* 4.1 Gallery
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
* 8 External links
The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected
Somnath means "Lord of the Soma ", an epithet of
Somnath temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal", following a book
K. M. Munshi by this title and his narration of the temple's
destruction and reconstruction many times in history.
According to tradition, the Shivalinga in
Somnath is one of the
twelve jyotirlingas in India, where
Shiva is believed to have appeared
as a fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the supreme,
undivided reality out of which
Shiva partly appears.
Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites take the name of a different
manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is a
lingam representing the beginning-less and endless stambha (pillar),
symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. In addition to the one at
Somnath, the others are at
Dwarka , etc.
The site of
Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times on
account of being a Triveni sangam (the confluence of three rivers —
Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati ). Soma , the Moon god , is
believed to have lost his lustre due to a curse, and he bathed in the
Sarasvati River at this site to regain it. The result is the waxing
and waning of the moon, no doubt an allusion to the waxing and waning
of the tides at this sea shore location. The name of the town Prabhas,
meaning lustre, as well as the alternative names Someshvar and Somnath
("The lord of the moon" or "the moon god") arise from this tradition.
HISTORY OF THE TEMPLE
According to popular tradition documented by
J. Gordon Melton , the
first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some
unknown time in the past. The second temple is said to have been built
at the same site by the "Yadava kings" of
Vallabhi around 649 CE. In
725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh is said to have
destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of
Nagabhata II is said to have
constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red
However, there is no historical record of an attack on
Nagabhata II is known to have visited tirthas in
Saurashtra, including Someshvara (the Lord of the Moon), which may or
may not be a reference to a Siva temple because the town itself was
known by that name. The
Chaulukya (Solanki) king
built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though
some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier
Somnath temple, 1869
In 1024, during the reign of
Bhima I , the prominent Turkic ruler
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni raided Gujarat, plundering the
Somnath temple and
breaking its jyotirlinga. He took away a booty of 20 million dinars.
Historians expect the damage to the temple to have been minimal
because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which
make no mention of any damage to the temple. However, powerful
legends with intricate detail developed in the Turko-Persian
literature regarding Mahmud's raid, which "electrified" the Muslim
world according to scholar
Meenakshi Jain .
The temple at the time of Mahmud's attack appears to have been a
wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time (kalajirnam).
Kumarapala (r. 1143–72) rebuilt it in "excellent stone and studded
it with jewels," according to an inscription in 1169. In 1299,
Alauddin Khilji 's army under the leadership of
Ulugh Khan defeated
Karandev II of the
Vaghela dynasty , and sacked the
According to Taj-ul-Ma'sir of
Hasan Nizami , the Sultan boasted that
"fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword" and
"more than twenty thousand slaves, and cattle beyond all calculation
fell into the hands of the victors". Legends in the later texts
Kanhadade Prabandha (15th century) and Khyat (17th century) state that
the Jalore ruler
Kanhadadeva later recovered the
Somnath idol and
freed the Hindu prisoners, after an attack on the
Delhi army near
Jalore. However, other sources state that the idol was taken to
Delhi, where it was thrown to be trampled under the feet of Muslims.
These sources include the contemporary and near-contemporary texts
Amir Khusrau 's Khazainul-Futuh,
Ziauddin Barani 's
Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi and Jinaprabha Suri's Vividha-tirtha-kalpa . It
is possible that the story of Kanhadadeva's rescue of the
is a fabrication by the later writers. Alternatively, it is possible
that the Khilji army was taking multiple idols to Delhi, and
Kanhadadeva's army retrieved one of them.
The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the
Chudasama king of
Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengar
sometime between 1326 and 1351. As late as the 14th century, Gujarati
Muslim pilgrims were noted by
Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to
pay their respects before departing for the
In 1395, the temple was destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan,
the last governor of
Gujarat under the
Delhi Sultanate . In 1451, it
was desecrated by
Mahmud Begada , the Sultan of Gujarat.
In 1546, the Portuguese , based in
Goa , attacked ports and towns in
Somnath and destroyed several temples and mosques.
By 1665, the temple, one of many, was ordered to be destroyed by
Aurangzeb . In 1702, he ordered that if Hindus revived
worship there, it should be demolished completely.
\'PROCLAMATION OF THE GATES\' INCIDENT DURING THE BRITISH PERIOD
In 1782-83 AD, Maratha king
Mahadaji Shinde , victoriously brought
back three silver gates from
Lahore after defeating Mahmud Shah
Abdati, to Somnath. After refusal from priests of
Gujarat and the then
Gaekwad to put them back on
Somnath temple, these silver gates
were placed in the temples of Ujjain. Today they can be seen in two
temples of India, Mahakaleshwar
Jyotirlinga and Gopal Mandir of
Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough
Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough issued his the
Proclamation of the Gates, in which he ordered the British army in
Afghanistan to return via Ghazni and bring back to
sandalwood gates from the tomb of
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni in Ghazni,
Afghanistan. These were believed to have been taken by Mahmud from
Somnath. There was a debate in the House of Commons in London in 1843
on the question of the gates of the temple. After much crossfire
between the British Government and the opposition, the gates were
uprooted and brought back in triumph. But on arrival, they were found
to be replicas of the original. They were placed in a store-room in
Agra Fort where they still lie to the present day.
In the 19th century novel
The Moonstone by
Wilkie Collins , the
diamond of the title is presumed to have been stolen from the temple
Somnath and, according to the historian
Romila Thapar , reflects
the interest aroused in Britain by the gates.
K.M. Munshi with archaeologists and engineers of the Government
of India, Bombay and Saurashtra, with the ruins of
Somnath Temple in
the background, July 1950. Early picture of the present temple
Before independence ,
Prabhas Patan was part of the princely state of
Junagadh , whose ruler had acceded to Pakistan in 1947. After India
refused to accept his decision , the state was made a part of India
and Deputy Prime Minister Patel came to
Junagadh on 12 November 1947
to direct the stabilization of the state by the Indian Army and at the
same time ordered the reconstruction of the Somanath temple.
K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to
Mahatma Gandhi with their proposal to reconstruct the
Gandhi blessed the move, but suggested that the funds for the
construction should be collected from the public and the temple should
not be funded by the state. He expressed that he was proud to
associate himself to the project of renovation of the temple.
However, soon both Gandhi and Sardar Patel died and the task of
reconstruction of the temple continued under Munshi, who was the
Minister for Food and Civil Supplies,
Government of India headed by
Jawaharlal Nehru .
The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at
that site was shifted few kilometres away. In May 1951, Rajendra
Prasad , the first President of the Republic of India, invited by K M
Munshi, performed the installation ceremony for the temple. The
President said in his address, "It is my view that the reconstruction
Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a
magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of
India's prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient
Somnath was a symbol.". He added "The
signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the
power of destruction"
ARCHITECTURE OF THE PRESENT TEMPLE
Bāṇastambha (Arrow Pillar)
The present temple is built in the Chalukya style of temple
architecture or "
Kailash Mahameru Prasad" style and reflects the
skill of the Sompura Salats , one of Gujarat's master masons. The
temple's śikhara , or main spire, is 15 metres in height, and it has
an 8.2-metre tall flag pole at the top.
The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in a
straight line between
Somnath seashore until
Antarctica , such an
Sanskrit is found on the Bāṇastambha (Sanskrit:
बाणस्तम्भ, lit. arrow pillar) erected on the
sea-protection wall. The Bāṇastambha mentions that it stands at a
point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the
north to the
South Pole at that particular longitude.
Somnath Temple in 1957
Somnath Temple in 2012
Somnath Temple at dawn
Conversion of non-Muslim places of worship into mosques
Conversion of non-Muslim places of worship into mosques
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
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