Somnath temple

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Perhaps no other pilgrimage in India combines the eternal with the historical as vividly as that to the Somnath temple. ~ L. K. Advani
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. ~ L. K. Advani
Mahmud’s sack of Somnath is too well-known to be retold here. What needs emphasising is that the fragments of the famous Šivaliñga were carried to Ghazni. Some of them were turned into steps of the Jama Masjid in that city. The rest were sent to Mecca, Medina, and Baghdad to be desecrated in the same manner. ~ Sita Ram Goel

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.


  • 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.
  • 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....
  • It is appropriate for me to quote here what Swami Vivekananda said about the lesson of medieval iconoclasm in India’s history. ‘Temple after temple was broken down by the foreign conqueror, but no sooner had the wave passed than the spire of the temple rose up again. Some of these old temples of South India, and those like Somnath in Gujarat, will teach you volumes of wisdom, which will give you a keener insight into the history of the race than any amount of books. Mark how these temples bear the marks of a hundred attacks and a hundred regenerations, continually destroyed and continually springing up out of the ruins, rejuvenated and strong as ever! That is the national mind, that is the national life-current. Follow it and it leads to glory.’
  • The Somnath Mahadev Temple is an important place of worship in Daman. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple situated in the village Dabhel. It is believed that the Shiva Linga originated at its present place on the request of a monk who was a devotee of Shiva. The miraculous incident is believed to have taken place in the 19th century, which induced people to hold this place as holy and they built a small temple. It was rebuilt in the year 1972-73 with glass decorative. Every year there is a fair organized here known as “Gangaji Fair”. Other location of interest are Devka beach and Jampore Beach.
  • Muslims must realize and admit the wrongs perpetrated under the Islamic rule.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, 25 December 1947, in reaction to a Urdu poem protesting against the planned rebuilding of the Somnath temple and calling for "a new Ghaznavi to avenge the renovation of the Somnath temple", quoted by Rajmohan Gandhi: Revenge and Reconciliation, p. 237 and quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa.
  • But so far as the Hindus are concerned, this period was a prolonged spell of darkness which ended only when the Marathas and the Jats and the Sikhs broke the back of Islamic imperialism in the middle of the 18th century. The situation of the Hindus under Muslim rule is summed up by the author of Tãrîkh-i-Wassãf in the following words: “The vein of the zeal of religion beat high for the subjection of infidelity and destruction of idols… The Mohammadan forces began to kill and slaughter, on the right and the left unmercifully, throughout the impure land, for the sake of Islãm, and blood flowed in torrents. They plundered gold and silver to an extent greater than can be conceived, and an immense number of precious stones as well as a great variety of cloths… They took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens and children of both sexes, more than pen can enumerate… In short, the Mohammadan army brought the country to utter ruin and destroyed the lives of the inhabitants and plundered the cities, and captured their off-springs, so that many temples were deserted and the idols were broken and trodden under foot, the largest of which was Somnãt. The fragments were conveyed to Dehlî and the entrance of the Jãmi‘ Masjid was paved with them so that people might remember and talk of this brilliant victory… Praise be to Allah the lord of the worlds.”
    • Wassaf quoted in Sita Ram Goel, The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India (1994)
  • Allãh the Exalted may assign this (reward) to one who builds a house in the path of Allãh… [This auspicious mosque was built]. on the twenty-seventh of the month of RamaDãn, year [sixty-two]. and six hundred from migration of the Prophet (23rd July AD 1264), in the reign of the just Sultãn and [die generous king]. Abu’l-Fakhr (lit., father of pride), Ruknu’d-Dunyã wa’d-Dîn (lit., pillar of State and Religion), Mu’izzu’l-Islãm wa’l-Muslimîn (lit. source of glory for Islãm and the Muslims), shadow of Allãh in [the lands], one who is victorious against the enemies, (divinely) supported prince, Abi’n-Nusrat (lit., father of victory), Mahmûd, son of Ahmad, may Allãh perpetuate his… and may his affair and prestige be high, in the city of Somnãt (i.e. Somnath), may God make it one of the cities of Islãm and [banish?]. infidelity and idols…
    • English translation of Arabic inscription on a mosque in Prabhas Patan. Z.A. Desai :Epigraphia Indica-Arabic and Persian Supplement, 1961, quoted from Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. (Second Enlarged Edition) [1]
  • Brothers and sisters, our religious books have mentioned Somnath Mandir as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (the radiant representation of Lord Shiv). Hence, this temple happened to be the centre of religion, culture and wealth in ancient India and was known all around the world. However, although a centre of faith and worship can be demolished, its source can never wither away. And this is the reason why the flame of worship remained illuminated in the hearts of the Indian people despite the temple being vandalised. The dream of those people is now being met as the PRAN-PRATISTHA is being carried out in the presence of people who have come from different parts of the country. The Somnath temple stands today with its head held high proclaiming that one who is loved by the people, and for whom people carry faith and belief in their hearts can never be destroyed by anyone in this world. Come what may, this temple will stand erect till the time people carry faith for this temple in their heart..... On this holy day, we should learn from the PRAN-PRATISHTA of this Somnath Mandir, and all of us should vouch for the re-establishment of the dominance of India in terms of prosperity in the world. ... I think that this PRAN-PRATISHTA will only be completed on the day, we reclaim that dominance and do justice to the Somnath Mandir. Moreover, we should also strive to achieve the level of cultural brilliance which we had in the ancient times so that when people judge us by today's culture, they should know that we are still far better than them. Sardar Vallabhai Patel started this work of re-establishment. He played a vital role in uniting the fragmented states of India and wished in his heart that with that re-establishment, we should also re-establish this ancient heritage of India. God has fulfilled his dream today, but his vision will only be completed when India achieves the cultural glory which it had in the primitive era. LONG LIVE INDIA”
  • He (Ranjit Singh) worshipped as much in Hindu temples as he did in gurudwaras.... When he had the Afghans at his mercy and wrested Kashmir from them, he wanted the gates of the temple of Somnath back from them. Why should he be making all these Hindu demands? Whatever the breakaway that had been achieved from Hinduism, this greatest of our monarchs bridged in 40 years.
    • Khushwant Singh, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743

Attack on Somnath during Ghaznavid era (Mahmud of Ghazni)[edit]

  • 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.’
  • 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.
  • From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, and destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of 'a holy war' of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilizations, wiped out entire races. Mahmoud Ghazni was an early example of Muslim ruthlessness, burning in 1018 of the temples of Mathura, razing Kanauj to the ground and destroying the famous temple of Somnath, sacred to all Hindus.
  • The linga he raised was the stone of Somnath, for soma means the moon and natha means master, so that the whole word means master of the moon. The image was destroyed by the Prince Mahmud, may God be merciful to him! - AH 416. He ordered the upper part to be broken and the remainder to be transported to his residence, Ghaznin, with all its coverings and trappings of gold, jewels, and embroidered garments. Part of it has been thrown into the hippodrome of the town, together with the Cakrasvamin, an idol of bronze, that had been brought from Taneshar. Another part of the idol from Somanath lies before the door of the mosque of Ghaznin, on which people rub their feet to clean them from dirt and wet.
    • E.C. Sachau (tr.), Alberuni's India, New Delhi Reprint, 1983. Also quoted in Jain, Meenakshi (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts.
  • At that date, the Mohammedan conqueror, Mahmoud of Ghizni, crossed India; seized on the holy city of Somnauth; and stripped of its treasures the famous temple, which had stood for centuries--the shrine of Hindoo pilgrimage, and the wonder of the Eastern world.
  • “The destruction of the temple of Somnãth, was looked upon as the crowning glory of Islam over idolatry, and Sultãn Mahmûd as the champion of the Faith, received the applause of all the Muslim world. Poets vied with each other in extolling the real or supposed virtues of the idol-breaker and the prose writers of later generations paid their tribute of praise to him by making him the hero of numerous ingenious stories.”
    • Muhammad Nãzim. The Lift and Times of Sultãn Mahmûd of Ghazna, second edition, 1971, p. 219. quoted from Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. (Second Enlarged Edition) [2]
  • While rejecting the offer of the BrãhmaNas to ransom the idol of Somnath with its weight in gold, Mahmûd is supposed to have said, “I am afraid that on the Day of Judgment when all the idolaters are brought into the presence of Allãh, He would say, ‘Bring Ãdhar and Mahmûd together one was idol-maker, the other idol-seller’... The Sultãn... then ordered a fire to be lighted round it. The idol burst and 20 manns of precious stones poured out from its inside. The Sultãn said, ‘This (fire) is what Lãt (by which name ATTãr calls Somnãth) deserves; and that (the precious stones) is my guerdon from my God.”
    • Mahmud of Ghazni is made to show his preference for the title of idol-breaker to that of idol-seller. Shykh Farîdu’d-Dîn ATTãr:ManTiqu’t-Tair cited by Muhammad Nãzim. The Lift and Times of Sultãn Mahmûd of Ghazna, second edition, 1971, quoted from Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. (Second Enlarged Edition) [3]
  • “It is stated, that shortly after the birth of Mahmûd, the astrologers of India divined that a prince had been born at Ghazna who would demolish the temple of Somnãth. They therefore persuaded Rãjã Jaipãl to send an embassy to Mahmûd while he was still a boy, offering to pay him a large sum of money if he promised to return the idol to the Hindûs whenever he captured it. When Mahmûd captured Somnãth the Brahmins reminded him of his promise and demanded the idol in compliance with it. Mahmûd did not like either to return the idol or to break his promise. He therefore ordered the idol to be reduced to lime by burning and when, on the following day, the Brahmins repeated their demand, he ordered them, to be served with betel-leaves which had been smeared with the lime of the idol. When the Brahmins had finished the chewing of the betel-leaves they again repeated their demand, on which the Sultãn told them that they had the idol in their mouths.”
    • Futûhu’s-Salãtîn cited by Muhammad Nãzim. The Lift and Times of Sultãn Mahmûd of Ghazna, second edition, 1971, quoted from Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. (Second Enlarged Edition) [4]
  • Even a sufi of the stature of Fariduddin Attar relates with great approval the following tale in his Mantiq-ut-Tãir: “It is said that when the Sultan (Mahmud Ghaznavi) captured Somnath and wanted to break the idol, the Brahmins offered to redeem it with its weight in gold. His officers pointed out to him the advantage of accepting the offer, but he replied: ‘I am afraid that on the day of judgement when all the idolaters are brought into the presence of God, He would say, bring Adhar and Mahmud together; one was an idol-maker, the other an idol-seller.’ The Sultan then ordered a fire to be lighted round it. The idol burst and 20 manns of precious stones poured out from its inside.”
    • Fariduddin Attar quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India. ISBN 9788185990231
  • It is said by Lane Poole that Muhammad of Ghazni " who had vowed that every year should see him wage a holy war against the infidels of Hindustan " could not rest from his idol-breaking campaign so long as the temple of Somnath remained inviolate. It was for this specific purpose that he, at the very close of his career, undertook his arduous march across the desert from Multan to Anhalwara on the coast, fighting as he went, until he saw at last the famous temple: "There a hundred thousand pilgrims were wont to assemble, a thousand Brahmins served the temple and guarded its treasures, and hundreds of dancers and singers played before its gates. Within stood the famous linga, a rude pillar stone adorned with gems and lighted by jewelled candelebra which were reflected in rich hangings, embroidered with precious stones like stars, that decked the shrine..... Its ramparts were swarmed with incredulous Brahmins, mocking the vain arrogance of foreign infidels whom the God of Somnath would assuredly consume. The foreigners, nothing daunted, scaled the walls; the God remained dumb to the urgent appeals of his servants; fifty thousand Hindus suffered for their faith and the sacred shrine was sacked to the joy of the true believers. The great stone was cast down and its fragments were carried off to grace the conqueror's palace. The temple gates were setup at Ghazni and a million pounds worth of treasure rewarded the iconoclast "
    • Lane Poole quoted in B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • Dr. Mishra has also given a detailed account of Hindu heroism in defence of Somanath which Mahmud had attacked in AD 1026. According to Firishta, “The battle raged with great fury, victory was long doubtful.” According to another Muslim account, “Fifty thousand infidels were killed round about the temple.” Dr. Misra comments: “The like of this faith which inspired these fifty thousand sons of the soil to embrace death will be hard to find in the annals of any other land.”
    • Ram Gopal Misra, Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders Upto 1206 A.D., Anu Books, Shivaji Road, Meerut city, 1983. Quoted by: Goel, S. R. (1984). History of heroic Hindu resistance to Muslim invaders, 636 AD to 1206 AD.
  • Mahmud’s sack of Somnath is too well-known to be retold here. What needs emphasising is that the fragments of the famous Šivaliñga were carried to Ghazni. Some of them were turned into steps of the Jama Masjid in that city. The rest were sent to Mecca, Medina, and Baghdad to be desecrated in the same manner.
    • Sita Ram Goel: The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India.
  • SOMNAT. A celebrated city of India, situated on the shore of the sea, and washed by its waves. Among the wonders of that place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnat. This idol was in the middle of the temple without anything to support it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was held in the highest honour among the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck with amazement, whether he was a Musulman or an infidel. The Hindus used to go on pilgrimage to it whenever there was an eclipse of the moon, and would then assemble there to the number of more than a hundred thousand. They believed that the souls of men used to meet there after separation from the body, and that the idol used to incorporate them at its pleasure in other bodies in accordance with their [p. 134] doctrine of transmigration. The ebb and flow of the tide was considered to be the worship paid to the idol by the sea. Everything of the most precious was brought there as offerings, and the temple was endowed with more than 10,000 villages. There is a river (the Ganges) which is held sacred, between which and Somnat the distance is 200 parasangs. They used to bring the water of this river to Somnat every day, and wash the temple with it. A thousand brahmans were employed in worshipping the idol and attending on the visitors, and 500 damsels sung and danced at the door-all these were maintained upon the endowments of the temple. The edifice was built upon fifty-six pillars of teak, covered with lead. The shrine of the idol was dark, but was lighted by jewelled chandeliers of great value. Near it was a chain of gold weighing 200 mans. When a portion (watch) of the night closed, this chain used to be shaken like bells to rouse a fresh lot of brahmans to perform worship. When the Sultan Yaminu-d Daula Mahmud bin Subuktigin went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnat, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Muhammadans. He arrived there in the middle of Zi-l k'ada, 416 A.H. (December, 1025 A.D.). The Indians made a desperate resistance. They would go weeping and crying for help into the temple, and then issue forth to battle and fight till all were killed. The number of the slain exceeded 50,000. The king looked upon the idol with wonder, and gave orders for the seizing of the spoil, and the appropriation of the treasures. There were many idols of gold and silver and vessels set with jewels, all of which had been sent there by the greatest personages in India. The value of the things found in the temples of the idols [p. 135] exceeded twenty thousand thousand dinars. When the king asked his companions what they had to say about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without proper support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron, and that the ingenious builder had skilfully contrived that the magnet should not exercise a greater force on anyone side-- hence the idol was suspended in the middle. Some coincided, others differed. Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were removed from the summit the idol swerved on one side, when more were taken away it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.
    • Asaru-l Bilad of Zakari’ya Al Kazwini (b. in Kazwin, Persia; written c. 1270 CE) In The History of India as Told by its own Historians. Vol I, 97-99. [5] Also quoted in Jain, Meenakshi (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts.
  • The city of Taneshar is highly venerated by Hindus. The idol of that place is called Cakrasvamin, i.e. the owner of the cakra, a weapon which we have already described. It is of bronze, and is nearly the size of a man. It is now lying in the hippodrome in Ghazna, together with the Lord of Somanath, which is a representation of the penis of Mahadeva, called Linga.
    • E.C. Sachau (tr.), Alberuni's India, New Delhi Reprint, 1983 p. 117.
  • The link with Manat added to the acclaim for Mahmud. Not only was he the prize iconoclast in breaking Hindu idols, but in destroying Manat he had carried out what were said to be the very orders of the Prophet.
    • Romila Thapar, quoted from Ayodhya: The Case Against the Temple (2002) by K. Elst.

Attack on Somnath by Ulug Khan (Alauddin Khalji)[edit]

  • “The Mlechchha (asura) stone breakers climbed up the shikhar of the Temple and began to rain blows on the stone idols on all three sides by their hammers, the stone pieces falling all around. They loosened every joint of the Temple building, and then began to break the different layers (thara) and the sculptured elephants and horses carved on them by incessant blows of their hammers. Then, amidst loud and vulgar clamour, they began to apply force from both the sides to uproot the massive idol by means of wooden beams and iron crowbars”
  • “On Wednesday, the 20th of Jamadi-ul Awwal in AH 698 (23 February, 1299), the Sultan sent an order to the manager of the armed forces for despatching the army of Islam to Gujarat so that the temple of Somnat on its shore could be destroyed. Ulugh Khan was put in charge of the expedition. When the royal army reached that province, it won a victory after great slaughter. Thereafter the Khan-i-‘Ãzam went with his army to the sea-shore and besieged Somnat which was a place of worship for the Hindus. The army of Islam broke the idols and the biggest idol was sent to the court of the Sultan.”70
    • Amir Khusrow Khazainu’l-Futuh., About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Somnath (Gujarat) Amir Khusrow , in S.A.A. Rizvi, Khalji Kalina Bharata, Aligarh, 1955, pp. 159
  • “So the temple of Somnath was made to bow towards the Holy Mecca; and as the temple lowered its head and jumped into the sea, you may say that the building first said its prayers and then had a bath… It seemed as if the tongue of the Imperial sword explained the meaning of the text: ‘So he (Abraham) broke them (the idols) into pieces except the chief of them, that haply they may return to it.’ Such a pagan country, the Mecca of the infidels, now became the Medina of Islam. The followers of Abraham now acted as guides in place of the Brahman leaders. The robust-hearted true believers rigorously broke all idols and temples wherever they found them. Owing to the war, ‘takbir,’ and ‘shahadat’ was heard on every side; even the idols by their breaking affirmed the existence of God. In this ancient land of infidelity the call to prayers rose so high that it was heard in Baghdad and Madain (Ctesiphon) while the ‘Ala’ proclamation (Khutba) resounded in the dome of Abraham and over the water of Zamzam… The sword of Islam purified the land as the Sun purifies the earth.”
    • Amir Khusrow Khazainu’l-Futuh. About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Somnath (Gujarat). Amir Khusrow , in Mohammed Habib's translation quoted by Jagdish Narayan Sarkar, The Art of War in Medieval India, New Delhi, 1964, pp. 286-87.
  • Somanath: “They made the temple prostrate itself towards the Kaaba. You may say that the temple first offered its prayers and then had a bath (i.e. the temple was made to topple and fall into the sea)… He (Ulugh Khan) destroyed all the idols and temples, but sent one idol, the biggest of all idols, to the court of his Godlike Majesty and on that account in that ancient stronghold of idolatry, the summons to prayers was proclaimed so loudly that they heard it in Misr (Egypt) and Madain (Iraq)” (Tarikh-i-Alai).
    • Amir Khusru. The instances cited relate to the doings of Jalalud-Din Firuz Khalji, Alaud-Din Khalji and the letter’s military commanders. Quoted in The Tip of An Iceberg (Indian Express, February 19, 1989) and in Shourie, A., & Goel, S. R. (1990). Hindu temples: What happened to them. [6]
  • Alauddin became Sultan in 1296 AD. In 1298 AD he equipped an expedition to Gujarat under his generals Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan. The invaders plundered the ports of Surat and Cambay. The temple of Somnath, which had been rebuilt by the Hindus, was plundered and the idol taken to Delhi for being trodden upon by the Muslims. Kamala Devi, the queen of Gujarat, was captured along with the royal treasury, brought to Delhi and forced into Alauddin’s harem.
    • Sita Ram Goel: The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India.
  • Jalaluddin’s nephew and successor Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316) turned out to be a very strong king. He marched against Devagiri in 1296. On his way through Gondwana and Khandesh he took prisoners a large number of Mahajans and cultivators, and ransomed them for wealth.33 At Devagiri he enslaved a number of the Raja’s relatives, and Brahmans and Mahajans. He put them in shackles and chains and paraded them in front of the fort to pressure the besieged king. After victory, he released many of the captives because of compulsions of the situation. He was only a prince who had marched to the Deccan without the Sultan’s permission. But his taking of slaves in large numbers was in consonance with the policy of Muslim sultans and gave a foretaste of what was to follow during the course of his reign.... In 1299 he despatched a large army for the invasion of Gujarat. There all the major towns and cities like Naharwala, Asaval, Vanmanthali, Surat, Cambay, Somnath etc. were sacked. There the temples were broken, wealth looted and large numbers of captives of both sexes captured, including the famous Malik Kafur and the Vaghela king’s consort Kamala Devi. In the words of Wassaf, the Muslim army in the sack of Somnath “took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens, amounting to 20,000, and children of both sexes… the Muhammadan army brought the country to utter ruin, and destroyed the lives of inhabitants, and plundered the cities and captured their offspring…” In 1301 Ranthambhor was attacked and in 1303 Chittor. In the invasion of Chittor, 30,000 people were massacred in cold blood and obviously females and minors of their families were captured.38 Slaves were also taken in large numbers in the expeditions to Malwa, Sevana and Jalor (1305-1311); these will be referred to again in the course of this study. Maybe the number of captives obtained from Rajasthan was not that large knowing the bravery and chivalry of the Rajputs and their prevailing customs of Jauhar and Sati. But the highly successful Deccan campaigns of Malik Kafur must have supplied a large corps of captives. Besides, Alauddin did not confine to obtaining Hindu slaves....“The Mongol invaders were certainly infidels,” says Mahdi Husain.
    • Wassaf, Mahdi Husain, Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5
  • Minhaj Siraj writes that "Ulugh Khan Balban's taking of captives, and his capture of the dependents of the great Ranas cannot be recounted". Such was the scale of slave-taking by Muslims in Hindustan that information about it travelled abroad, so that Wassaf writes that in the sack of Somnath in 1299 the Muslim army "took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens, amounting to 20,000 and children of both sexes".
    • Minhaj Siraj, Wassaf, quoted in Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • “At the beginning of the third year of the reign, Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan, with their amirs and generals, and a large army marched against Gujarat… All Gujarat became a prey to the invaders, and the idol, which after the victory of Sultan Mahmud and his destruction of (the idol) of Manat, the Brahmans had set up under the name of Somanat, for the worship of the Hindus, was carried to Delhi where it was laid for the people to tread upon…”
    • Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi by Barani. About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) conquests in Somnath (Gujarat) Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. III, p. 163
  • “And in the year AH 698 (AD 1298) he appointed Ulugh Khan to the command of a powerful army, to proceed into the country of Gujarat… Ulugh Khan carried off an idol from Nahrwala… and took it to Dihli where he caused it to be trampled under foot by the populace; then he pursued Rai Karan as far as Somnat, and a second time laid waste the idol temple of Somnat, and building a mosque there retraced his steps.”
    • Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) Patan and Somnath (Gujarat)
  • “In the third year after the accession, the Sultãn sent Ulugh Khãn and Nasrat Khãn, with large armies to invade Gujarãt. They ravaged and plundered Nahrwãlah, and all the cities of the province… Ulugh Khãn and Nasrat Khãn also brought the idol, which the Brãhmans of Somnãth had set up, and were worshipping, in place of the one which Sultãn Mahmûd had broken to pieces, to Delhi, and placed it where the people would trample upon it…”
    • Tabqãt-i-Akharî. Sultãn ‘Alãu’d-Dîn Khaljî (AD 1296-1316) Somnath (Gujarat)

Attack on Somnath by Zafar Khan and by Mahmud Begada[edit]

  • In AH 797 (AD 1394-95) he proceeded for the destruction of the temple of Somnãt. On the way he made Rajpûts food for his sword and demolished whatever temple he saw at any place.
    • Zafar Khan. Sultan Muzaffar Shah I of Gujarat (AD 1392-1410), Tabqat-i-Akhari, Translated from the Hindi version by S.A.A. Rizvi included in Uttar Taimur Kalina Bharata, Aligarh 1959, Vol. II., p.178
  • “…On the return of Moozuffur Khan to Guzerat, he learnt that in the western Puttun district the Ray of Jehrend, an idolater, refused allegiance to the Mahomedan authority. To this place Moozuffur Khan accordingly marched, and exacted tribute. He then proceeded to Somnat, where having destroyed all the Hindoo temples which he found standing, he built mosques in their stead; and leaving learned men for the propagation of the faith, and his own officers to govern the country, returned to Puttun in the year AH 798 (AD 1395).”
    • Zafar Khan. Sultãn Muzaffar Shãh I of Gujarat (AD 1392-1410)Somnath (Gujarat)

Attack on Somnath by Aurangzeb[edit]

  • The temple of Somnath was demolished early in my reign and idol worship (there) put down. It is not known what the state of things there is at present. If the idolaters have again taken to the worship of images at the place, then destroy the temple in such a way that no trace of the building may be left, and also expel them (the worshippers) from the place.'
    • Aurangzeb: Kalimat-i-Tayyibat, quoted in Sarkar, Jadu Nath, History of Aurangzeb, Vol. III, pp. 185-86.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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