|Proper name:||Somnath Mandir|
|Architecture and culture|
|Important festivals:||Maha Shivaratri|
|1951 (present structure)|
|Creator:||Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (present structure)|
|Temple board:||Shree Somnath Trust of Gujarat|
The Somnath Temple (Gujarati: સોમનાથ મંદિર Sanskrit: सोमनाथ मन्दिर) located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of the god Shiva. It has currently become a tourist spot for pilgrims. The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means "The Protector of (the) Moon god". The Somnath Temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal", having been destroyed many times by Islamic kings and rulers. Most recently it was rebuilt in November 1947, when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel visited the area for the integration of Junagadh and mooted a plan for restoration. After Patel's death, the rebuilding continued under K. M. Munshi, another minister of the Government of India.
As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of protection) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity - each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva] . The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharastra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharastra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Deogarh in Deoghar, Jharkhand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharastra.
In 725 CE Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his armies to destroy the second temple. The Gurjara Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone.
In 1024, the temple was destroyed by the Muslim prominent ruler, Mahmud of Ghazni, who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. The temple was rebuilt by the Gujjar Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhimadev I of Anhilwara (now Patan) between 1026 and 1042. The wooden structure was replaced by Kumarpal (r.1143-72), who built the temple of stone.
In 1296, the temple was once again destroyed by Allauddin Khilji's army, and Raja Karan of Gujarat was defeated and forced to flee. 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,". The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the Linga was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351.
Later on a joint effort of Peshwa of Pune, Raja Bhonsle of Nagpur, Chhatrapati Bhonsle of Kolhapur, Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore & Shrimant Patilbuwa Shinde of Gwalior rebuilt the temple in 1783 at a site adjacent to the ruined temple.
Reconstruction of the Somnath Temple
Before independence, Prabhas Pattan 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 the Deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel came to Junagadh on November 12, 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 Sardar Patel, K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to Gandhi with the proposal of reconstructing 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 K. M. Munshi, who was the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies in the Nehru Government.
The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away. of 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. Rajendra Prasad 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"
This episode created a serious rift between the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who saw the movement for reconstruction of the temple as an attempt at Hindu revivalism and the President Rajendra Prasad and Union Minister K. M. Munshi, who saw in its reconstruction, the fruits of freedom and the reversal of past injustice done to Hindus.
The present temple, which was built by Patel and Munshi, is managed by Shree Somnath Trust.
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 shikhara, 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 straight-line between Somnath seashore till Antarctica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh erected on the sea-protection wall at the Somnath Temple. This Baan-Stambh mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.
'Proclamation of the Gates' Incident
In 1782-83 AD, Maratha king, Mahadaji Shinde (Ruler of North India: Ujjain/ Gwalior/ Mathura) victoriously brought the Three Silver Gates from Lahore, after defeating Muhammad Shah of Lahore. After refusal from Pundits of Guzrath and the then ruler Gaekwad to put them back on Somnath temple, these silver gates were placed in temples of Ujjain. Today they can be seen in Two Temples of India Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Mandir & Gopal Mandir of Ujjain.
In 1842, Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough issued his famous '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 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 Somanatha temple. After much cross-fire 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. So they were placed in a store-room in the 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, reflects the interest aroused in Britain by the gates.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somnath.|
- Romila Thapar, Somanatha: Narratives of a History.
- 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.
- R. 2003, pp. 92-95
- Eck 1999, p. 107
- See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
- Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325
- Harding 1998, pp. 158-158
- Vivekananda Vol. 4
- Chaturvedi 2006, pp. 58-72
- "Leaves from the past".
- Elliot, Sir Henry Miers (1952). The history of India, as told by his own historian Beirouni. 11. Elibron.com. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-543-94726-0.
- Somnath Temple, British Library
- Temples of India, Prabhat Prakashan.
- Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, (Har-Anand, 2009), 278.
- Hindustan Times, 15 Nov, 1947
- Marie Cruz Gabriel, Rediscovery of India, A silence in the city and other stories, Published by Orient Blackswan, 1996, ISBN 81-250-0828-4, ISBN 978-81-250-0828-6
- Mir Jaffar Barkriwala, The Glorious Destruction of Hindoo Temples in Kathiawar and their replacement, Ul Akbari Publications, Bharuch, 1902
- Peter Van der Veer, Ayodhya and Somnath, eternel shrines, contested histories, 1992
- Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, Indian constitutional documents,Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1967
- "JAY-SOMNATH". Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- Gopal Mandir is devoted to the blue God Krishna who is the divine herdsman, the lover of milkmaids and the eighth embodiment of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe. The marble-curled around structure is a superior example of Maratha architecture. Lord Krishna’s two feet tall statue is carved in silver and is placed on a marble-inlaid altar with silver-plated doors. Mahmud of Ghazni had taken these doors from the famous Somnath Temple in Gujarat to Ghazni in Khorasan in 1026 AD. The Afghan trespasser, Mahmud Shah Abdali, later took the gates to Lahore, from where Shrinath Madhavji Shinde today popularly known as The Great Maratha Mahadji Scindia reacquired them. The Scindia ruler later established them in Gopal Mandir, bringing to a halt the doors’ long journey. Bayajibai Shinde, Maharaja Daulat Rao Scindia’s queen, built the temple in the 19th century. Its location in the middle of the market area right in the heart of the city adds to its popularity. Mosque and Tomb of the Emperor Sultan Mahmood of Ghuznee, publisherBritish Library
- The United Kingdom House of Commons Debate, 9 March 1943, on, The Somnath (Prabhas Patan) Proclamation, Junagadh 1948. 584-602, 620, 630-32, 656, 674.
- Thapar, Romila (2005). Somanatha:The Many Voices of History. Verso. p. 170.
- Chaturvedi, B. K. (2006), Shiv Purana (First ed.), New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd, ISBN 81-7182-721-7
- Eck, Diana L. (1999), Banaras, city of light (First ed.), New York: Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-11447-8
- Gwynne, Paul (2009), World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell Publication, ISBN 978-1-4051-6702-4.
- Harding, Elizabeth U. (1998). "God, the Father". Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 156–157. ISBN 978-81-208-1450-9.
- Lochtefeld, James G. (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, Rosen Publishing Group, p. 122, ISBN 0-8239-3179-X
- R., Venugopalam (2003), Meditation: Any Time Any Where (First ed.), Delhi: B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd., ISBN 81-8056-373-1
- Vivekananda, Swami. "The Paris Congress of the History of Religions". The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol.4.
- Thapar, Romila (2004), Somnath: The Many Voices of History, India: Penguin Books India (P) Ltd.
- H. P. Shastri, M. A. Dhaky (1974), The Riddle of The Temple of Somnath, India
- Henry, Cousens (1931), Somnatha and Other Mediaeval Temples in Kathiawad, India: Archaeological Survey of India, Vol XLV, Imperial Press
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somnath.|
- Official Website
- Live Darshan of Somnath Temple
- Somath Jyotirlinga
- Somnath travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Somnath at DMOZ
- Somnath Kite Festival
- Dwarka Somnath Temple Tour