History is one such subjects that has been giving creeps to students from across the world since times immemorial. But when you look back, you realize that history wasn’t as bad a subject either, especially ancient Indian history. It is one portion of history that never fails to make us realize how lucky we are to be part of a religion and race that has been synonymous to pride, valor, goodness and everything in between. But sadly, are we acquainted with our history properly?
The answer to this will be a big no. It is true that we are fed with numerous chapters from the ancient Indian history since our childhood but that is only a certain portion. In reality, we are not as much aware of our valiant past as we should have. So, in this article, we wish to acquaint you with the Battle of Somnath, a battle which has been regarded as the symbol of undying faith since times immemorial.
A Brief History of Somnath Temple
One of the oldest temples of India, the Somnath Temple is situated in Kathiawad area of Gujarat and is considered to be the first Jyotirlinga shrine of the country. The temple is regarded to be the abode of Lord Soma or Lord Shiva and has various myths and legends surrounding its building and existence.
While myths and legends associated with the temple can never be proved, historical facts can never lie. You would be surprised to know that this paragon of Hindu faith and religion was attacked many times before the Governor of Sind Junayd ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Murri completely destroyed it in 725 CE. Although he was successful in destroying the temple, destruction of the faith instilled in the hearts of people was not possible for him.
The temple was rebuilt in 815 CE by Gurjar-Pratihar King, Nagbhatta II. History tells us that this temple was a vivid exemplification of architectural brilliance – its walls and pillars were engraved with stories from Indian epic and Vedas.
The Ultimate Assault
The beautiful temple built by Nagbhatta II stood the test of time and natural calamities. Despite being in close proximity to the Thar desert and the Arabian sea, the temple did not get destroyed and was visited by everyone from near and far till Mahmud Ghazni attacked it in 1024 AD.
Ghazni attacked the temple from the direction of Thar Desert. But would they have been able to destroy an entire temple in Rajputana without facing any obstruction? Never. The valiant Rajputs, under the leadership of 90-year-old Rana Ghogna tried with all their might to save their motherland from foreign attacks. In fact, the old Rajput ruler remained on the spot with his army steadily for ten long hours to prevent the huge wave of cavalry from destroying the temple. He did not move and found it better to give his life at the blow of swords instead of hiding or retreating.
However, despite such efforts, they couldn’t save the temple from the barbarism of Ghazni, who not only looted the temple but also ripped it off its idol.
What Happened Next?
The temple was demolished but the faith remained intact. This is why Raja Bhoja did not let the sacrifice made by Raja Ghogna go down the drain. He rebuilt the temple once again. Not just that, he fruitfully hindered another attack on the sacred temple, this time made by Salur Ghaznavi in 1033 CE. Partnering with Raja Sukhdev, Raja Bhoja was able to curb the pride of the burgeoning Muslim Empire in the South Asia by slaying 100,000 of the remaining Ghaznavi combatants in the Battle of Bharaich.
This battle re-established Rajput valor and kept the Muslim invaders at bay for 150 more years!
Re-Assembling The Parts Of The Temple
After the attack by Mahmud Ghazni, severed parts of the temple were scattered in various parts of the entire southeast and central Asia. It was, however, Mahadaji Shinde – the famous ruler of Maharashtra – who defeated the last traces of Afghans in India and got trace of the lost silver gates of the Somnath Temple. Although Shinde brought back the lost glory of Somnath Temple, the pundits of the Kathiawad temple refused to put them back, as a result of which those were kept in the temples of Gopal Mandir of Ujjain and Mahakaleswar Jyotirlinga.
Later, during the British rule, the first Earl of Ellenborough ordered the British Army in 1842 to uproot the sandalwood gates from the tomb of Mahmud Ghazni and bring back to India. Although it was brought to India after much discussion, those were found to be duplicates and have been kept in the store room of Agra Fort ever since.
The present-day temple is a reconstructed version of the erstwhile temple and was completed in 1951. It conforms to the Chalukya school of architecture.