SOMNATH TEMPLE (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Art & Culture)

News-CRUX-10     19th January 2024        
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Context: Seventy-three years ago, somnath temple was inaugurated in a grand ceremony by the President of India, even as the Prime Minister opposed the government associating closely with a religious event,

Somnath Temple

  • Located in: Prabhas Patan, Veraval, Gujarat, Somnath is a vital Hindu pilgrimage site, considered the holy place of the First Aadi Jyotirling Shree Somnath Mahadev and the sacred soil where Lord Shri Krishna took his last journey, according to the temple's website.
  • Attacks on Somnath: Throughout history, the Somnath temple faced numerous attacks, with Mahmud of Ghazni's devastating assault in 1026 CE being the most destructive according to historical accounts.
  • Akbar's Tolerance and Aurangzeb's Destruction: In the sixteenth century, Akbar allowed worship in the Somanatha temple, demonstrating tolerance. However, three generations later, Aurangzeb ordered its destruction in 1706, converting it into a mosque.
  • Maratha Queen's Restoration Efforts: Falling into disuse and disrepair, Maratha queen Ahalyabai Holkar rebuilt a small temple at the site in 1782, initiating restoration efforts.
  • Symbol of British Retaliation: The British Governor General Lord Ellenborough highlighted Somnath as a symbol of Islam's excesses on Hindus in 1842, during a retaliatory strike after the British Army's losses in Afghanistan.
  • Post-Independence: Following Independence, the decision to reconstruct Somnath was announced by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1947. Despite opposition from Nehru, a Trust was established, and funds were raised from the public.