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Sri Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple History, Myth, Legend

Shree Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple Story:

According to popular tradition documented by J. Gordon Melton, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple was said to be built at the same site by the Seuna kings of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh is said to have destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II is said to have constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red sandstone.

There is no historical record of an attack on Somnath by Al-Junayd. However, Nagabhata II is known to have visited tirthas in Saurashtra, including Someshvara (the Lord of the Moon) at Somnath, which may or may not be a reference to a Siva temple.

The Solanki king Mulraj possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.n 1024, the temple built by Mularaja was destroyed by the prominent Afghan ruler,Mahmud of Ghazni,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).

In 1296, the temple was once again destroyed by Alauddin Khilji’s army.

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.

In 1375, the temple was once again destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I of the Gujarat Sultanate.

In 1451, the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat.

By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

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.

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.

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

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.

The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away.

In May 1951, Dr.Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, invited by K M Munshi, performed the installation ceremony for the temple.

The President 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”.