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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 1395, the temple was destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last
governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate. In 1451, it was desecrated by Mahmud
Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat.
In 1546, the Portuguese, based in Goa, attacked ports and towns in Gujarat
including Somnath and destroyed several temples and mosques.
By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal
emperor Aurangzeb. In 1702, he ordered that if Hindus had revived worship there, it
should be demolished completely.
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.
In 1782-83 AD, Maratha king Mahadaji Shinde, victoriously brought the Three
Silver Gates from Lahore after defeating Muhammad Shah of Lahore. After refusal from
Pundits of Guzrath and the then ruler Gaekwad to put them back on Somnath temple,
these silver gates were placed in the temples of Ujjain. Today they can be seen in two
temples of India, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga and Gopal Mandir of Ujjain.
In 1842, Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough issued his famous Proclamation
of the Gates, in which he ordered the British army in Afghanistan to return via Ghazni
and bring back to India the sandalwood gates from the tomb of Mahmud of Ghazni in
Ghazni, Afghanistan. These were believed to have been taken by Mahmud from
Somnath. There was a debate in the House of Commons in London in 1843 on the
question of the gates of the Somanatha temple. After much crossfire between the British
Government and the opposition, the gates were uprooted and brought back in triumph.
But on arrival, they were found to be replicas of the original. They were placed in a
store-room in the Agra Fort where they still lie to the present day.
In the 19th century novel The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, the diamond of the
title is presumed to have been stolen from the temple at Somnath and, according to the
historian Romila Thapar, reflects the interest aroused in Britain by the gates.
Reconstruction of the Somnath 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
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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
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"
Architecture of the present temple
The present temple is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture or
"Kailash Mahameru Prasad" style and reflects the skill of the Sompura Salats, one of
Gujarat's master masons. The temple's
, or main spire, is 15 metres in height,
and it has an 8.2-metre tall flag pole at the top.
The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in a straight line
between Somnath seashore until Antarctica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on
the Bāṇastambha erected on the sea
protection wall. The Bāṇ
astambha mentions that
it stands at a point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the north to
the South Pole at that particular longitude.
Somnath railway station is also considered the attraction for tourists, because of
its unique temple-based design. This station ends the railway tracks.
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Ghazwa-e-Hind or the final battle of India is an Islamic term mentioned in some
hadiths predicting a final and last battle in India and as a result, a conquest of the whole
Indian sub-continent by Muslim warriors. The term has recently become a subject of
vast criticism in media for being used by the extremist Taliban organization Al-Qaeda to
justify their terrorising activities in the subcontinent.
For two and a half centuries from the mid 13th, the politics in the Northern India
was dominated by the Delhi Sultanate and in the Southern India by the Vijayanagar
Empire which originated as a political heir of the erstwhile Hoysala Empire and Pandyan
Empire. However, there were other regional powers present as well. In the North,
the Rajputs were a dominant force in the Western and Central India. Their power
reached to the zenith under Rana Sanga during whose time Rajput armies were
constantly victorious against the Sultanate army. In the South, the Bahmani
Sultanate was the chief rival of the Vijaynagara and gave Vijayanagara tough days
many a times. In the early 16th centuryKrishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara
Empire defeated the last remnant of Bahmani Sultanate power after which the Bahmani
Sultanate collapsed. It was established either by a Brahman convert or patronized by a
Brahman and form that source it got the name Bahmani. In the early 16th century, it
collapsed and got split into five small Deccan sultanates. In the East, the Gajapati
Kingdom remained a strong regional power to reckon with, so was the Ahom
Kingdom in the North-east for six centuries.
In 1526, Babur, a Timurid descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan from Fergana
Valley (modern day Uzbekistan), swept across theKhyber Pass and established
the Mughal Empire, which at its zenith covered modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, India
and Bangladesh. However, his son Humayun was defeated by the Afghan warrior Sher
Shah Suri in the year 1540, and Humayun was forced to retreat to Kabul. After Sher
Shah's death, his son Islam Shah Suri and the Hindu emperor Hemu Vikramaditya, who
from Punjab to Bengal and had established a secular rule in North India from Delhi till
1556 after winning Battle of Delhi. Akbar's forces defeated and killed Hemu in
the Second Battle of Panipat on 6 November 1556.
Akbar's son, Jahangir more or less followed father's policy. The Mughal dynasty
ruled most of the Indian subcontinent by 1600. The reign of Shah Jahan was the golden
age of Mughal architecture. He erected several large monuments, the most famous of
which is the Taj Mahal at Agra, as well as the Moti Masjid, Agra, the Red Fort, the Jama
Masjid, Delhi, and the Lahore Fort. The Mughal Empire reached the zenith of its
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territorial expanse during the reign of Aurangzeb and also started its terminal decline in
his reign due to Maratha military resurgence under Shivaji. Historian Sir. J.N.
Sarkar wrote, "All seemed to have been gained by Aurangzeb now, but in reality all was
lost." The same was echoed by Vincent Smith: "The Deccan proved to be the graveyard
not only of Aurangzeb's body but also of his empire".
The empire went into decline thereafter. The Mughals suffered several blows due
to invasions from Marathas and Afghans. During the decline of the Mughal Empire,
several smaller states rose to fill the power vacuum and themselves were contributing
factors to the decline. In 1737, the Maratha general Bajirao of the Maratha
Empire invaded and plundered Delhi. Under the general Amir Khan Umrao Al Udat, the
Mughal Emperor sent 8,000 troops to drive away the 5,000 Maratha cavalry soldiers.
Baji Rao, however, easily routed the novice Mughal general and the rest of the imperial
Mughal army fled. In 1737, in the final defeat of Mughal Empire, the commander-in-chief
of the Mughal Army, Nizam-ul-mulk, was routed at Bhopal by the Maratha army. This
essentially brought an end to the Mughal Empire. In 1739, Nader Shah, emperor of Iran,
defeated the Mughal army at the Battle of Karnal. After this victory, Nader captured and
Throne. The Mughal dynasty was reduced to puppet rulers by 1757. The remnants of
the Mughal dynasty were finally defeated during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also
called the 1857 War of Independence, and the remains of the empire were formally
taken over by the British while the Government of India Act 1858 let the British
Crown assume direct control of India in the form of the new British Raj.
The Mughals were perhaps the richest single dynasty to have ever existed.
During the Mughal era, the dominant political forces consisted of the Mughal Empire
and its tributaries and, later on, the rising successor states
including the Maratha
which fought an increasingly weak Mughal dynasty. The Mughals, while often
employing brutal tactics to subjugate their empire, had a policy of integration with Indian
culture, which is what made them successful where the short-lived Sultanates of Delhi
had failed. This period marked vast social change in the subcontinent as the Hindu
majority were ruled over by the Mughal emperors, most of whom showed religious
tolerance, liberally patronising Hindu culture. The famous emperor Akbar, who was the
grandson of Babar, tried to establish a good relationship with the Hindus. However, later
emperors such as Aurangazeb tried to establish complete Muslim dominance, and as a
result several historical temples were destroyed during this period and taxes imposed
on non-Muslims. Akbar declared "Amari" or non-killing of animals in the holy days of
Jainism. He rolled back the jizya tax for non-Muslims. The Mughal emperors married
local royalty, allied themselves with local maharajas, and attempted to fuse their Turko-
Persian culture with ancient Indian styles, creating a unique Indo-Saracenic
architecture. It was the erosion of this tradition coupled with increased brutality and
centralization that played a large part in the dynasty's downfall after Aurangzeb, who
unlike previous emperors, imposed relatively non-pluralistic policies on the general
population, which often inflamed the majority Hindu population.
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Contemporaries referred to the empire founded by Babur as the Timurid empire,
which reflected the heritage of his dynasty, and was the term preferred by the Mughals
themselves. Another name was Hindustan, which was documented in the Ain-i-Akbari,
and which has been described as the closest to an official name for the empire. In the
west, the term "Mughal" was used for the emperor, and by extension, the empire as a
whole. The use of Mughal derived from the Arabic and Persian corruption of Mongol,
and it emphasized the Mongol origins of the Timurid dynasty, gained currency during
the 19th century, but remains disputed by Indologists. Similar terms had been used to
refer to the empire, including "Mogul" and "Moghul". Nevertheless, Babur's ancestors
were sharply distinguished from the classical Mongols insofar as they were oriented
towards Persian rather than Turco-Mongol culture.
The Mughal Empire was founded by Babur, a Central Asian ruler who was
descended from the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur (the founder of the Timurid Empire)
on his father's side and from Chagatai, the second son of the Mongol ruler Genghis
Khan, on his mother's side. Ousted from his ancestral domains in Central Asia, Babur
turned to India to satisfy his ambitions. He established himself in Kabul and then pushed
steadily southward into India from Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass. Babur's forces
occupied much of northern India after his victory at Panipat in 1526. The preoccupation
with wars and military campaigns, however, did not allow the new emperor to
consolidate the gains he had made in India. The instability of the empire became
evident under his son, Humayun, who was driven out of India and into Persia by rebels.
Humayun's exile in Persia established diplomatic ties between the Safavid and Mughal
Courts, and led to increasing Persian cultural influence in the Mughal Empire. The
restoration of Mughal rule began after Humayun's triumphant return from Persia in
1555, but he died from a fatal accident shortly afterwards. Humayun's son, Akbar,
succeeded to the throne under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped consolidate the
Mughal Empire in India.
Through warfare and diplomacy, Akbar was able to extend the empire in all
directions and controlled almost the entire Indian subcontinent north of the Godavari
river. He created a new class of nobility loyal to him from the military aristocracy of
India's social groups, implemented a modern government, and supported cultural
developments. At the same time, Akbar intensified trade with European trading
companies. India developed a strong and stable economy, leading to commercial
expansion and economic development. Akbar allowed free expression of religion, and
attempted to resolve socio-political and cultural differences in his empire by establishing
a new religion, Din-i-Ilahi, with strong characteristics of a ruler cult. He left his
successors an internally stable state, which was in the midst of its golden age, but
before long signs of political weakness would emerge. Akbar's son, Jahangir, ruled the
empire at its peak, but he was addicted to opium, neglected the affairs of the state, and
came under the influence of rival court cliques. During the reign of Jahangir's son, Shah
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Jahan, the culture and splendour of the luxurious Mughal court reached its zenith as
exemplified by the Taj Mahal. The maintenance of the court, at this time, began to cost
more than the revenue.
Shah Jahan's eldest son, the liberal Dara Shikoh, became regent in 1658, as a
result of his father's illness. However, a younger son, Aurangzeb, allied with the Islamic
orthodoxy against his brother, who championed a syncretistic Hindu-Muslim culture, and
ascended to the throne. Aurangzeb defeated Dara in 1659 and had him executed.
Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him
incompetent to rule and had him imprisoned. During Aurangzeb's reign, the empire
gained political strength once more, but his religious conservatism and intolerance
undermined the stability of Mughal society. Aurangzeb expanded the empire to include
almost the whole of South Asia, but at his death in 1707, many parts of the empire were
in open revolt. Aurangzeb's son, Shah Alam, repealed the religious policies of his father,
and attempted to reform the administration. However, after his death in 1712, the
Mughal dynasty sank into chaos and violent feuds. In 1719 alone, four emperors
successively ascended the throne.
During the reign of Muhammad Shah, the empire began to break up, and vast
tracts of central India passed from Mughal to Maratha hands. The far-off Indian
campaign of Nadir Shah, who had priorly reestablished Iranian suzerainty over most of
West Asia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, culminated with the Sack of Delhi and
shattered the remnants of Mughal power and prestige. Many of the empire's elites now
sought to control their own affairs, and broke away to form independent kingdoms. But,
according to Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, the Mughal Emperor, however, continued
to be the highest manifestation of sovereignty. Not only the Muslim gentry, but the
Maratha, Hindu, and Sikh leaders took part in ceremonial acknowledgements of the
emperor as the sovereign of India.
The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II made futile attempts to reverse the Mughal
decline, and ultimately had to seek the protection of outside powers i.e. from the Emir of
Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Abdali, which led to the Third Battle of Panipat between the
Maratha Empire and the Afghans led by Abdali in 1761. In 1771, the Marathas
recaptured Delhi from Afghan control and in 1784 they officially became the protectors
of the emperor in Delhi, a state of affairs that continued further until after the Third
Anglo-Maratha War. Thereafter, the British East India Company became the protectors
of the Mughal dynasty in Delhi. The British East India company took control of the
former Mughal province of Bengal-Bihar in 1793 after it abolished local rule (Nizamat)
that lasted until 1858, marking the beginning of British colonial era over the Indian
Subcontinent. By 1857 a considerable part of former Mughal India was under the East
India's company's control. After a crushing defeat in the war of 1857
1858 which he
nominally led, the last Mughal, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was deposed by the British East
India Company and exiled in 1858. Through the Government of India Act 1858 the
British Crown assumed direct control of East India company held territories in India in
the form of the new British Raj. In 1876 the British Queen Victoria assumed the title of
Empress of India.
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Explanations for the decline
Historians have offered numerous explanations for the rapid collapse of the
Mughal Empire between 1707 and 1720, after a century of growth and prosperity. In
fiscal terms the throne lost the revenues needed to pay its chief officers, the emirs
(nobles) and their entourages. The emperor lost authority, as the widely scattered
imperial officers lost confidence in the central authorities, and made their own deals with
local men of influence. The imperial army, bogged down in long, futile wars against the
feuds over control of the throne. After the execution of emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1719,
local Mughal successor states took power in region after region.
Contemporary chroniclers bewailed the decay they witnessed, a theme picked up
by the first British historians who wanted to underscore the need for a British-led
Since the 1970s historians have taken multiple approaches to the decline, with
little consensus on which factor was dominant. The psychological interpretations
emphasize depravity in high places, excessive luxury, and increasingly narrow views
that left the rulers unprepared for an external challenge. A Marxist school (led by Irfan
Habib and based at Aligarh Muslim University) emphasizes excessive exploitation of the
peasantry by the rich, which stripped away the will and the means to support the
regime. Karen Leonard has focused on the failure of the regime to work with Hindu
bankers, whose financial support was increasingly needed; the bankers then helped the
Maratha and the British. In a religious interpretation, some scholars argue that the
Hindu Rajputs revolted against Muslim rule. Finally, other scholars argue that the very
prosperity of the Empire inspired the provinces to achieve a high degree of
independence, thus weakening the imperial court.
Main article: Mughal emperors
Was a direct descendant of
Genghis Khan through his
mother and was descendant
of Timur through his father.
Founded the Mughal Empire
Battle of Panipat (1526), the
Battle of Khanwa (1527),
and the Battle of Ghagra
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