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What was the belief of Hindus about Somnath temple?

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Somnath was a famous sacred temple of Hindus. Hindus believed that he who would attack Somnath , himself will be annihilated. When Mahmood Ghaznavi came to know of this, he attacked Somnath and conquered it.

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 Chaulukya style of Hindu temple architecture and completed in May 1951.


There are various accounts of why and how Mahmood Ghazni attacked Somnath. In his book Pakistan or The Partition of India, Dr B.R. Ambedkar refers to the raids on Somnath and quotes the description given by Al’Utbi, the historian of Mahmood Ghazni: ‘He demolished idol temples and established Islam. He captured…cities, and destroyed the idolaters, gratifying Muslims. He then returned home and promulgated accounts of the victories obtained for Islam…and vowed that every year he would undertake a holy war against Hind.’

L.K. Advani, My Country My Life (2008). ISBN 978-81-291-1363-4

Perhaps no other pilgrimage in India combines the eternal with the historical as vividly as that to the Somnath temple.... Whenever I have visited Prabhas Patan and watched the waves of the sea lapping up the feet of the Somnath temple, I have wondered how much of India’s timeless history has been witnessed by this imposing and lonely-looking shrine.

Munshi’s novel provides a poignant account of how Somnath was both a witness to, and a target of, foreign invasions during the medieval period. Mahmood Ghazni, a Turkish sultan of the province of Ghazni in Afghanistan, attacked India seventeen times in a span of twenty-five years between the years AD 1001-26. Somnath was a particularly coveted target for him. Muslim chronicles indicate that 50,000 Hindus died in the battle for Somnath in AD 1024. The Shiva lingam was destroyed by the sultan himself. After the battle, Mahmood and his troops are believed to have carried away vast amounts of gold and other riches stored in the temple. They are also said to have taken Hindu statues and buried them at the entrance of a mosque in Ghazni so that the faithful could trample on them. Munshi’s novel describes not only the destruction and pillage of the Somnath temple, and the betrayal by some Hindus on account of petty caste considerations, but also the heroic defence by its devotees, who would reconstruct it after each successive attack.

L.K. Advani, My Country My Life (2008). ISBN 978-81-291-1363-4

Describing Somnath temple as a symbol of national faith, the President elaborated: ‘By rising from its ashes again, this temple of Somnath is to say proclaiming to the world that no man and no power in the world can destroy that for which people have boundless faith and love in their hearts… Today, our attempt is not to rectify history. Our only aim is to proclaim anew our attachment to the faith, convictions and to the values on which our religion has rested since immemorial ages.’

It is not out of place here to mention that the news of the reconstruction of the Somnath temple met with angry condemnation in Pakistan. A public meeting was held in Karachi to denounce the Indian government’s action.

The Somnath temple today stands as a sobering reminder that a weak nation that cannot defend itself against external attacks stands to lose much more than its political freedom; it risks losing its cultural heritage, which is the heart and soul of India. By reconstructing the Somnath temple, as one of the early acts of the Government of India, Sardar Patel and Munshi, with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi and Rajendra Prasad, made it a proud testimony of India’s determination to erase the history of bigoted alien attacks and regain its lost cultural treasure
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