Somnath

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Somnath Temple
सोमनाथ मंदिर
સોમનાથ મંદિર
Front view of the "present" Somnath Temple
Front view of the "present" Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple  सोमनाथ मंदिरસોમનાથ મંદિર is located in Gujarat
Somnath Temple  सोमनाथ मंदिरસોમનાથ મંદિર
Somnath Temple
सोमनाथ मंदिर
સોમનાથ મંદિર
Location within Gujarat
Name
Proper name Somnath Temple
Devanagari सोमनाथ मन्दिर
Sanskrit transliteration Sōmanātha mandira
Tamil சோம்நாத் கோயில்
Marathi सोमनाथ मंदिर
Bengali সোমনাথ মোন্দির
Geography
Coordinates 20°53′16.9″N 70°24′5.0″E / 20.888028°N 70.401389°E / 20.888028; 70.401389Coordinates: 20°53′16.9″N 70°24′5.0″E / 20.888028°N 70.401389°E / 20.888028; 70.401389
Country  India
State Gujarat
District Gir Somnath
Locale Veraval
Culture
Primary deity Somnath (Shiva)
Important festivals Maha Shivaratri
Architecture
Architectural styles Hindu temple architecture
History and governance
Date built 1951 (present structure)
Creator Vallabhbhai Patel (present structure)
Temple board Shree Somnath Trust of Gujarat
Website somnath.org
Sanctum sanctorum of the temple

The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.[1] It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot for pilgrims and tourists. The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means "Lord of the Soma", an epithet of Shiva.

Somnath Temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal". This legendary temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times by Islamic kings and Hindu kings respectively.[2][page needed] Most recently it was rebuilt in November 1947, when Vallabhbhai Patel visited the area for the integration of Junagadh and mooted a plan for restoration. After Patel's death, the rebuilding continued under Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, another minister of the Government of India.[3][4]

The temple is open daily from 6AM to 9PM. There are 3 aarti daily; in the morning at 0700, at 1200 and in the evening at 1900.

It is also believed that this is the place where Krishna ended his lila on earth and left for his heavenly abode.[1]

Jyotirlinga[edit]

The shiva linga in Somnath is believed to be one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears.[5][6]

The jyotirlinga is taken to be the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyotirlinga shrines are the places where Shiva is believed to have appeared as a fiery column of light.[5][6] Originally there are believed to have been 64 jyotirlingas and 12 of them were considered to be very auspicious and holy.[7]

Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites take the name of a different manifestation of Shiva.[8] At all these sites, the primary image is a lingam representing the beginningless and endless stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.[8][9][10] Even though there are believed to have been 64 jyotirlingas, twelve of them are considered to be very auspicious.[7] In addition to the one at Somanath, the others are at Varanasi, Rameswaram, Dwarka etc.[7][11]

A Picture of the Somnath Temple from the Beach

History[edit]

Timeline of destruction and reconstruction of the ancient Temple[edit]

According to the religious traditions documented by J. Gordon Melton, the first Siva temple at Somanath was built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple was built at the same site by the Seuna kings of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh, who invaded various parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan, is said to have destroyed the second temple. The Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II is said to have constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red sandstone.[12]

According to historians, the first verifiable temple was built by the Solanki king Mularaja sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.[13]. However, the site of Somnath had been a pilgrimage site from ancient times on account of being a triveni sangam (the joining of three rivers — Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati River). 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.[14] There is no historical record of a temple destroyed by Al-Junayd. However, Nagabhata II is known to have visited tirthas in Saurashtra, including Someshvara (the Lord of the Moon) at the site, which may or may not be a reference to a Siva temple.[15]

Somnath temple, 1869

In 1024, the temple built by Mularaja was destroyed by the prominent Afghan ruler, Mahmud of Ghazni,[16][17] who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. The temple was rebuilt by the Paramara king Bhoja of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhimdev I of Anhilwara (now Patan, Gujarat) between 1026 and 1042. This appears to have been a wooden structure, which was replaced by a stone temple by Kumarpal (r.1143-72).[18][19]

In 1296, the temple was once again destroyed by Alauddin Khilji's army.[16][19] 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.[19] In 1375, the temple was once again destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I of the Gujarat Sultanate.[19] In 1451, the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat.[16][19]

By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.[20] Later the temple was rebuilt to its same glory adjacent to the ruined one. 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.

'Proclamation of the Gates' Incident during the British raj[edit]

In 1782-83 AD, Maratha king Mahadaji Shinde, 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 the temples of Ujjain. Today they can be seen in two temples of India, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga and Gopal Mandir of Ujjain.[21]

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.[22] 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.[21] 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.[23]

Reconstruction of the Somnath Temple[edit]

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.[24]

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[25] 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 in the Nehru Government.[25]

The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away.[26] 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.[27] 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.".[28] He added "The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction"[28]

The present temple, which was built by Patel and Munshi, is managed by Shree Somnath Trust.

Architecture of the present temple[edit]

Bāṇastambha (Arrow Pillar)

The present temple is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture or "Kailash Mahameru Prasad" style[29] 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.[29]

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 or "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.[30]

Gallery[edit]

Other Places[edit]

Railway Station[edit]

Somnath railway station is also considered the attraction for tourists, because of its unique temple-based design. This station ends the railway tracks.

This picture is taken before the renovation of the station by Station Superintendent Iqbal Bloch. He was the first station master to work in the station. It is also considered an attraction in Somnath.

Hotels[edit]

Because of the high number of tourists many hotels are present in the area. List of Hotels in Somnath Hotels Operated By Somnath Trust Hotel Somnath Atithigruh+ 91 02876 233790 Maheswari Atithigruh+91-2876-231212 Lilavati Bhavan Atithigruh+91-2876-231212 Sagar Darshan+91-2876-231212

Private Hotels 1. Hotel Lords Inn Somnath 2. Hotel Subh Suvidha 3. Hotel Sukhsagar 4. Hotel Sun Plaza 5. Hotel Dreamland 6. Hotel Tulsi 7. Hotel Somnath Sagar 8. Hotel Shreehari 9. Hotel Shree Rudraksh 10.Hotel Sitara 11.Hotel Shivsadan 12.Hotel Ganesh 13.Hotel Shivsadan 14.Hotel Mayuram 15.Hotel Shivam 16.Hotel Nandi 17.Hotel Avadh 18.Hotel Vinayak 19.Hotel Anand Inn 20.Hotel Swagat

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Jay Somnath". Official website of Somnath Temple http://www.somnath.org. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Thapar 2004
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ a b Eck 1999, p. 107
  6. ^ a b See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
  7. ^ a b c Venugopalam 2003, pp. 92–95
  8. ^ a b Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325
  9. ^ Harding 1998, pp. 158-158
  10. ^ Vivekananda Vol. 4
  11. ^ Chaturvedi 2006, pp. 58-72
  12. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2014). Faiths Across Time: 5,000 Years of Religious History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 516, 547, 587. ISBN 1610690265. 
  13. ^ Thapar 2004, pp. 23-24.
  14. ^ Thapar 2004, p. 18.
  15. ^ Dhaky & Shastri 1974, p. 32 cited in Thapar 2004, p. 23
  16. ^ a b c "Somnath Temple". Gujarat State Portal. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ "Somnath Temple". British Library. 
  19. ^ a b c d e Temples of India. Prabhat Prakashan. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, (Har-Anand, 2009), 278.
  21. ^ a b "Mosque and Tomb of the Emperor Sultan Mahmood of Ghuznee". British Library. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Thapar 2004, p. 170
  24. ^ Hindustan Times, 15 Nov, 1947
  25. ^ a b 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
  26. ^ Mir Jaffar Barkriwala, The Glorious Destruction of Hindoo Temples in Kathiawar and their replacement, Ul Akbari Publications, Bharuch, 1902
  27. ^ Peter Van der Veer, Ayodhya and Somnath, eternel shrines, contested histories, 1992
  28. ^ a b Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, Indian constitutional documents,Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1967
  29. ^ a b "Shree Somnath Trust :: Jay Somnath". Somnath.org. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  30. ^ "Somnath Temple - ~ Fun With Best Friends ~". Indianfriendhood.in. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]