Somnath Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Prabhas Patan in Saurashtra. Saurashtra is a place on the Western Coast of Gujarat. Somnath Temple is the first among the 12 Jyotirlinga Temples of Lord Shiva. It is one of the most important tourist spots in Gujarat. Every year thousands of tourists visit the temple.
The temple was destroyed several times by different invaders and also reconstructed many times after destruction. The present-day temple was reconstructed in 1951 in the Chaulukya Style. The construction orders were passed by Sardar Ballavbhai Patel who was the Home Minister of India. Unfortunately, the temple was completed after his death.
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India is now the President of the Somnath Temple trust.
The Somnath temple is considered one of the most sacred temples in India. There are many legends related to it. The name Somnath means King of Som or Lord of Som. Here ‘Som’ means Moon or we can say Somnath means Lord of King of the Moon. Somnath is another name of Lord Shiva.
K. M. Munshi defined Somnath Temple as the Shrine of the Eternal in his book. He also mentioned who and when destructed and reconstructed the temple over the years.
According to Hinduism, there are 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva scattered all over India. Somnath Mandir is considered as the first among all the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. In this shrine, Lord Shiva has appeared in the form of light. It is said that jyotirlinga shrines are the temples where Lord Shiva appears partly.
All the 12 Jyotirlingas have different names but are dedicated to Lord Shiva. This shows that the 12 Jyotirlingas are dedicated to 12 different manifestations of Lord Shiva.
All these 12 Jyotirlingas have one thing in common, the Lingam. All these 12 Jyotirlingas don’t have any man-made idol of Lord Shiva. A lingam is worshipped in these 12 shrines.
Lingam is a form of Lord Shiva which denotes that Lord Shiva has no beginning and no end. He is one supreme power that is above all the things in the universe. A lingam also indicates the infinite nature and power of Lord Shiva.
Somnath Temple is a pilgrimage site from ancient times. It is the place where Triveni Sangam happened. Triveni Sangam is where three rivers Kapila, Hiran, and Saraswati met.
There is a legend related to the Somnath Temple. It is said that once Som. The God of the Moon lost its glow due to a curse. To regain its glow, he bathed in the Saraswati River and regained its glow. The name of the town Prabhas means luster or glow. Somnath and Someshwar are the two alternative names of Prabhas.
Destruction and Reconstruction of Somnath Temple
No one to date knows the actual time when the very first temple was created and who created it.
But some texts in history say that the temple was extended in 649 CE by the Yadav Kings of Vallabhi. In 725 CE, the first destruction of the temple was carried out by the governor of Sindh, Al-Junayd.
The temple was again reconstructed by King Nagabhata II of Gujara-Pratihara in 815 CE with large red sandstones.
Later in 1024, Turkish ruler Mahmud Ghazni attacked the Somnath Temple, demolished it, and broke the jyotirlinga in the temple. Mahmud Ghazni of Turk killed 50,000 Hindu devotees who defended the temple.
Solanki King of the Chalukya dynasty started rebuilding the temple in 1143 and completed the construction in 1172 AD. He added some valuable stones and precious jewels on the walls of the temple while building it.
Again in 1299, Ulugh Khan, the army general of Alauddin Khilji destroyed the Somnath Temple by defeating the then King Karna of Vaghela. Then, Kanhadade Prabandha recovered the Somnath Idol and freed the Hindu prisoners by attacking the Delhi Army in Jalore.
After the destruction by Ulugh Khan, the temple was again rebuilt by Mahipala I in 1308. Mahipala I was the Chudasama King of Saurashtra. After the reconstruction, his son Khengara installed the Lingam in the temple in 1341.
In the 14th century, Amir Khusrow requested the Gujrati Muslims pilgrims to pay respect to the temple before going to Hajj.
Zafar Khan destroyed the temple for the third time in 1395. Zafar Khan was the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate. He later founded the Gujarat Sultanate.
When Aurangzeb came in power, in 1665 he ordered the destruction of many temples across India. Somnath Temple was one of the temples which were on the list of the temple that was to be destroyed. In 1702, he went further by ordering the complete demolition of the temple if any Hindu continued worshipping there.
The final reconstruction of the temple was started by Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Ballavbhai Patel. Sardar Ballavbhai Patel passed the order of temple reconstruction on 12 November 1947.
The proposal for the reconstruction of the temple was accepted by Mahatma Gandhi after K. M. Munshi and Sardar Ballavbhai Patel approached him. Gandhi accepted the proposal and said that the funds for the reconstruction of the temple should be collected from the public.
Both Gandhi and Sardar Ballavbhai Patel died and the work of temple construction continued under K. M. Munshi.
The reconstruction of the temple was completed in 1951 and President Rajendra Prasad was invited to the inauguration ceremony of the temple. The present design of the temple was inspired by the Chaulukya style.
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