The Info List - Somnath

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The SOMNATH TEMPLE located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval
in 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 * 2 Jyotirlinga

* 3 History

* 3.1 History of the temple * 3.2 \'Proclamation of the Gates\' incident during the British period * 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 to it. Somnath
means "Lord of the Soma ", an epithet of Shiva

The Somnath
temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal", following a book of 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 Varanasi
, Rameswaram
, 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
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.


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 Gujarat
and Rajasthan. The Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II is said to have constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red sandstone.

However, there is no historical record of an attack on Somnath
by Al-Junayd. 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 Mularaja
possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple. Somnath
temple, 1869

In 1024, during the reign of Bhima I
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
Alauddin Khilji
's army under the leadership of Ulugh Khan defeated Karandev II
Karandev II
of the Vaghela dynasty
Vaghela dynasty
, and sacked the Somnath
temple. 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 including Amir Khusrau
Amir Khusrau
's Khazainul-Futuh, Ziauddin Barani
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 Somnath
idol 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
Amir Khusrow
to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj

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 Gujarat
including Somnath
and destroyed several temples and mosques.

By 1665, the temple, one of many, was ordered to be destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb . In 1702, he ordered that if Hindus revived worship there, it should be demolished completely.


In 1782-83 AD, Maratha king Mahadaji Shinde
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 ruler 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 Ujjain.

In 1842, 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 India
the 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 the Agra Fort
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 at Somnath
and, according to the historian Romila Thapar
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.

When Patel, K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to Mahatma Gandhi with their proposal to reconstruct the Somnath
temple, 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 Prime Minister 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 of the 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 temple of Somnath
was a symbol.". He added "The Somnath
temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction"


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 inscription in 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
South Pole
at that particular longitude.



Temple in 1957 *

Temple in 2012 *

Temple at dawn


* Prabhas Patan * Bhalka
* Conversion of non-Muslim places of worship into mosques
Conversion of non-Muslim places of worship into mosques
* Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple


* ^ " Somnath
darshan". Official website of Somnath
Temple. Retrieved 19 December 2016. * ^ Gopal, Ram (1994). Hindu culture during and after Muslim rule: survival and subsequent challenges. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 148. ISBN 81-85880-26-3 . * ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (1996). The Hindu nationalist movement and Indian politics: 1925 to the 1990s. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 84. ISBN 1-85065-170-1 . * ^ Ranjan Ghosh (30 June 2012). A Lover\'s Quarrel with the Past: Romance, Representation, Reading. Berghahn Books. pp. 54–. ISBN 978-0-85745-485-0 . * ^ Eck 1999 , p. 107 * ^ See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham * ^ A B Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325 * ^ Harding 1998, pp. 158-158 * ^ Vivekananda Vol. 4 * ^ Venugopalam 2003 , pp. 92–95. * ^ Chaturvedi 2006 , pp. 58–72. * ^ Thapar 2004 , p. 18. * ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2014). Faiths Across Time: 5,000 Years of Religious History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 516, 547, 587. ISBN 1610690265 . * ^ Dhaky & Shastri 1974 , p. 32 cited in Thapar 2004 , p. 23 * ^ Thapar 2004 , pp. 23-24. * ^ Yagnik ">"". The Pioneer. Retrieved 2014-12-15. * ^ Thapar 2004 , p. 79. * ^ Yagnik & Sheth 2005 , p. 40. * ^ Yagnik & Sheth 2005 , p. 47. * ^ Maheshwari, Hiralal (1980). History of Rajastha