Few incidents in history cannot be forgotten ever. Plunder and loot of Bhagwan Somnath temple in Gujarat and killing of thousands of devotees and the destruction of the temple are un-fateful and unforgettable incidents. Shree Somnath is first among the twelve Aadi Jyotirlingas of India. It has a strategic location on the western coast of India. It is reported and proven that Bhagwan Parshuram first built it.
Since the beginning, the temple has been a great attraction and the most sacred shrine in the world, from Asia to Greece. Till the 9th century, this temple had remained an attraction for international travellers and devotees.
On the other hand, it was also targeted by invaders many a time in this century. Medieval period history is full of plunder, devastation and killings, especially by Islamic invaders. One of them was attacked and hit by Islamic barbarian Mahmud Ghaznavi on January 8, 1026. On that unfortunate day, Mahmud Ghaznavi not only ruined the temple and plundered its treasures but also killed every devotee of the Somnath temple. He did the same thing with women devotees; either he killed them or kidnapped them with himself. Those innocent devotees and women he kidnapped with himself were sold in the slave market.
That was not for the first time that the Somnath temple was attacked. The temple was attacked and ambushed earlier too, and after this incident too. However, the attack by Mahmud Ghaznavi crossed all the limits of barbarism. Therefore, it is still not forgotten. The first attack on Somnath temple was carried out by Junaid, governor of the Arab. Junaid was looking after Sindh after the victory of Muhammad Bin Qasim after victory over Sindh. He had barged in by sea route and suddenly attacked Somnath temple. He killed all those who came his way. His sole aim was only to plunder, loot and misappropriate Somnath’s wealth and precious properties inventory and kidnap the women. However, he returned soon.
After his retreat, the temple was again restored by Raja Nagbhatt of Gujarat. Subsequently, the temple was attacked by Mahmud Ghaznavi. Albruni, who was with Ghaznavi in his every loot and destruction, has not only described all the attacks by Ghaznavi but also his strategies then. According to Albruni, Mahmud Ghaznavi had deputed a few of his agents into the temple, who were eloping themselves, hiding their identities. They were living as priests, travellers and traders. Mahmud Ghaznavi had also sent an astrologer.
When Ghaznavi attacked Somnath, Bhimdev, the then ruler of Gujarat, believed in astrology, and Ghaznavi knew this. So, he sent an agent in the guise of an astrologer, who was a linguist. He had advised Bhimdev not to attack Ghaznavi for at least 24 hours. And he followed the trap and did not attack Ghaznavi, who also wanted to avoid any confrontation en-route Somnath. The king was also misguided that Ghaznavi would attack Gujarat, so all the security had been beefed up for the protection of the capital of the state.
Taking undue benefit of this, Ghaznavi attacked Somnath, where about fifty thousand devotees had gathered for special celebrations and worshipping, men, women and children. According to Albruni, Somnath was attacked by five thousand soldiers of Ghaznavi. First, devotees were killed, and then Shivalingam was demolished. Hundreds of women were raped and later sold in the slave market.
This is how Somnath temple was attacked later by Alauddin Khilji in 1297, Muzaffar Shah in 1397, and Aurangzeb in 1665 and 1706. Despite all the attacks, after Independence in 1947, the temple was again brought into its existence