Invasion of Ghazni Mohammed :
- Until the rise of the west, India was possibly the richest country in the world. Such a country presented an irresistible target for the ravening Mongols and their descendents who settled in present day Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, all within comparatively easy reach of north-western India.
- The northwest was, at this time, a mish-mash of warring kingdoms, more interested in sending scores with their neighbours than in unifying against the Mongols. It is then unsurprising that Mahmud Ghaznavi’s armies so handily defeated those of the Indian kings.
- Born in 971 AD, Mahmud Ghaznavi was the eldest son of Subuktagin, the king of Ghazni (in present day Afghanistan). When Subuktagin attacked King Jaipala of Punjab, Mahmud fought for his father in the battlefield.
Though Mahmud was the eldest son of his father, it is said that in his last days, Subuktagin was not happy with Mahmud. So, when Subuktagin died in 997 AD, his younger son Ismail became the king of Ghazni. Ismail reigned only for a little time. Very soon, Mahmud defeated him and became the king.
- Mahmud began a series of seventeen raids into northwestern India at the end of the 10th century. Nonetheless, he did not attempt to rule Indian Territory except for Punjab, which was his gateway to India.
- His first expedition was directed against the frontier towns in 1000 AD.
- His second expedition was against Jaipala, the Hindushahi king of Punjab whom he defeated in the First Battle of Waihind. Jaipala could not survive the shock of humiliation and he burnt himself to death. He was succeeded by his son, Anandpala in 1002 AD.
- In his sixth expedition, Mahmud defeated Anandpala in the II Battle of Waihind (1008). Anandpala had organized a confederacy of rulers of Ujjain, Gwalior, Kalinjar, Kannauj, Delhi and Ajmer, but the alliance was defeated.
- In his other expeditions, Mahmud plundered Nagarkot, Thaneshwar, Kannauj, Mathura and Somnath.
- His sixteenth expedition was the plunder of Somnath temple (dedicated to Shiva) in 1025 AD, situated on the sea coast of Kathiarwar.
- After looting the Somnath temple, when Mahmud was going back to Ghazni, the Jats had attacked his army. So, to punish the Jats, he returned and defeated them in 1026.
- The objective of Mahmud’s expeditions was to plunder the riches of temples and palaces and was not interested in expanding his empire to India. However, he later annexed Punjab and made it a part of his kingdom, just to have easy access.
He patronized 3 persons :
- Firdausi (Persian poet, known as Homer of the east) who wrote Shahnama.
- Alberuni (a brilliant scholar from Central Asia) who wrote Tahqiq-I-Hind.
- Utbi (court historian), who wrote Kitab-ud-Yamni.
The Somnath Temple located in the Kathiarwar region of Gujarat, is one of the twelve Jyotiriings (golden lingas) symbols of the God Shiva. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Somnath mean “The Protector of Moon God”. It is known as ‘the Shrine Eternal’, as although the temple has been destroyed six times it has been rebuilt every single time.
The first temple of Somnath is said to have existed before the beginning of the Christian era. The second temple, built by the Maitraka kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat, replaced the first one on the same site around 649 AD. In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind sent his armies to destroy the second temple.
The Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815 AD, a large structure of red sandstone. Mahmud of Ghazni attacked this temple in 1025 AD, and looted it of gems and precious stones. He then massacred the worshippers and had the temple burnt. It was then that the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was entirely destroyed.
The temple and citadel were sacked, and most of its defenders massacred; Mahmud personally hammered the temple’s gilded lingam to pieces and the stone fragments were carted back to Ghazni, where they were incorporated into the steps of the city’s new Jamiah Masjid.
The fourth temple was built by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Gujarat between 1026 AD and 1042 AD. The wooden structure was replaced by Kumarpal who built the temple of stone. The temple was razed in 1297 when the Sultanate of Delhi conquered Gujarat, and again in 1394 AD. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the temple again in 1706 AD.
The present temple is the seventh temple built on the original site. It was completed on December 1, 1995 and the then President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma dedicated it in the service of the nation. The present temple was built by the Shree Somnath Trust which looks after the entire complex of Shree Somnath and its environs.