Mahmud Ghazni’s Invasions of India
Name of the Battle: Mahmud Ghazni’s Invasions of India
Venue: Various Parts of India
Year: 1000-1027 AD
In 998 AD, the Turkish conqueror, Mahmud of Ghazni, succeeded his father, and established a huge empire in Central Asia, with capital at Ghazni, the present-day South Kabul. He was 27 years old then and the first ruler to get the title as “Sultan”, which means authority, thereby implying his power and strength. For 17 times, he attacked India during the period between 1000 and 1027 AD, a significant event in the history of India.
The reasons that led to the invasions
Mahmud of Ghazni had started his invasions in India during the period when the Rajput power had declined. The two main reasons that led to the conquest of India by Mahmud Ghazni was firstly, to accumulate the vast amount of wealth that existed in India, and secondly, to spread Islam. Another reason was that he wanted to transform Ghazni, his capital city, into a region of formidable power in the entire Central Asia’s political scenario.
He raided India for the first time in 1000 AD. After that, he is said to have conquered India 17 times, till his death. He was resisted by King Jaipal and then by his son Anandpal but both of them were defeated. Between 1009 AD and 1026 AD, the places that Mahmud of Ghazni invaded were Kabul, Delhi, Kanauj, Mathura, Kangra, Thaneshwar, Kashmir, Gwalior, Malwa, Bundelkhand, Tripuri, Bengal and Punjab. He died in 1030 AD, and before his death, his last invasion of India was in 1027 AD. In 1027 AD, he invaded the Somnath temple in Gujarat, on the coast of Saurashtra or Kathiwar. This was supposed to be his biggest invasion as he had looted all treasures and precious items of the fortified temple.
Strength of the warring forces
Mahmud Ghazni’s invaders were more of fast moving cavalry, while the Indian armies were mainly of elephants. The army of Rajputs, no doubt, evolved during the Mughal rule, which was also appreciated by the Mughals. But this expansion and evolution of the Rajput’s army was nothing in comparison to the Turkish invaders and could not keep pace with the military tactics and troops of Mahmud Ghazni.
Aftermath of the battle: winner and loser
Obviously, the clear winner was Mahmud Ghazni. It is said that he always attacked India during the hot summer seasons and with the onset of monsoons, would go back to Ghazni, the reason being, he wanted to avoid the flooding rivers of Punjab, so that his forces won’t get trapped there. In all his 17 invasions, a number of dynasties were conquered by him.
First invasion of Mahmud Ghazni in 1000 AD : Mahmud of Ghazni first invaded modern Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1000 AD. He defeated Hindu shahi kingdom ruler Jaya Pala, who killed himself later, and his son Ananda Pala became his successor.
1005 : Ghazni invaded Bhatia.
1006 : Ghazni invaded Multan. During this time, Ananda Pala attacked him.
1007 : Mahmud of Ghazni attacked and crushed Sukha Pala, ruler of Bhatinda.
1011 : Ghazni raided Nagarkot in the Punjab hills.
1013 : This was Mahmud’s 8th expedition into Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan, the shahi kingdom under Anand Pala, who was defeated by Ghazni in the Battle of Waihind, the Hind shahi capital near Peshawar.
1014 : Thanesar was conquered by Mahmud.
1015 : Kashmir was attacked by Mahmud.
1018 : He attacked Mathura, where a number of coalition of rulers were defeated, including a ruler called Chandra Pala.
1021 : Mahmud conquered Kanauj by defeating Kanauj King Chandella Ganda. In the same year he defeated and killed two more rulers, Shahi Trilochana Pala and his son Bhima Pala, thereby conquering Rahib and Lahore (modern Pakistan).
1023 : Gwalior was invaded and conquered by Ghazni.
Last invasion of Mahmud Ghazni, 1027 : In 1027, he attacked the Somnath temple. The brave Hindu Rajputs tried to defend the temple when the enemy tried to get inside it. The Hindus fought very bravely and initially the enemies could not damage the temple. However, after 3 days of fights, Mahmud Ghazni’s troops were successful in plundering the Somnath temple, in which the sacred idol, Linga was destroyed. Ghazni looted all the treasures of the temple, which was at that time worth 20-million Dinars, more than eighty times of what he had collected in his first invasion. Around 5000 Hindus died during this last invasion.
The larger implications of the battle
Mahmud’s invasions of India were no doubt bloody. He was a ruthless raider and plunderer of wealth.
In each invasion of an Indian dynasty, he carried back vast wealth with him.
Places like Mathura, Kanauj, Thaneshwar were transformed into ruins.
The demolition of the Shiva temple at Somnath earned him tremendous hatred of many Hindus.
He looted the wealth of the temples and then destroyed them completely at various places such as Jwalamukhi, Maheshwar, Narunkot and Dwarka.
Though his invasions did not show any systematic effort to conquer the subcontinent, they led to the foundation of the Turkish rule in India and his conquest opened the gates of India to be conquered from the Northwest.
Mahmud Ghazni built a large empire covering Samarkand in the north, Gujarat in the south, Punjab in the east and Caspian sea in the west. His empire included Persia, Afghanistan, Trans-oxyana, and Punjab.
He was considered a great Islamic Hero.
The overall place and significance of the invasions in Indian history
The 17 invasions of India undertaken by Ghazni, one after the other, revealed the Indian rulers’ military weakness.
These invasions also disclosed how the Rajput rulers had no political unity among themselves.
These conquests proved that the Muslims were superior to Hindus in the field of war, discipline and duty.
With Ghazni’s invasions, the economic condition of India weakened.
Huge wealth was looted out of the country.
The resources of India were drained out by his repeated conquests and India was deprived of her manpower, which also adversely affected the future political scenario of the country.
There was a huge setback to Indian arts, architecture and sculpture due to the demolition of idols and temples.
Islam also gained a major foothold in India after the attacks.
The conquests also led to a growing hatred and fear among the Hindus and the Muslims.
However, these conquests also led to the coming of the Sufis or the Muslim saints for more Hindu-Muslim interaction.
Ghazni’s conquests, especially the inclusion of Punjab and Afghanistan in his kingdom, made the Indian frontiers weak. This made easier for other Afghan and Turkish rulers to enter India into the Gangetic valley at any time. One special mention is of Muhammad Ghori’s invasion of India.
Last Updated on : December 23, 2014
Front view of the present Somnath Temple
|Proper name||Somnath Temple|
|Sanskrit transliteration||Sōmanātha mandira|
|Primary deity||Somnath (Shiva)|
|Important festivals||Maha Shivaratri|
|Architectural styles||Hindu temple architecture|
|History and governance|
|Date built||1951 (present structure)|
|Creator||Vallabhbhai Patel (present structure)|
|Temple board||Shree Somnath Trust of Gujarat|
The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means “Lord of the Soma“, an epithet of Shiva.
Somnath Temple is known as “the Shrine Eternal”. This legendary temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times by Islamic kings and Hindu kings respectively.[page needed] Most recently it was rebuilt in November 1947, when Vallabhbhai Patel visited the area for the integration of Junagadh and mooted a plan for restoration. After Patel’s death, the rebuilding continued under Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, another minister of the Government of India.
The temple is open daily from 6AM to 9PM. There are 3 aarti daily; in the morning at 07:00, at 12:00 and in the evening at 19:00.
The Shiva linga in Somnath is believed to be one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears.
The jyotirlinga shrines are the places where Shiva is believed to have appeared as a fiery column of light. Originally there are believed to have been 64 jyotirlingas and 12 of them were considered to be very auspicious and holy.
Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites take the name of a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is a lingam representing the beginningless and endless stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. Even though there are believed to have been 64 jyotirlingas, twelve of them are considered to be very auspicious. In addition to the one at Somanath, the others are at Varanasi, Rameswaram,Dwarka etc.
The site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times on account of being a triveni sangam (the joining of three rivers — Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati River). Soma, the Moon god, is believed to have lost his lustre due to a curse, and he bathed in the Sarasvati River at this site to regain it. The result is the waxing and waning of the moon, no doubt an allusion to the waxing and waning of the tides at this sea shore location. The name of the town Prabhas, meaning lustre, as well as the alternative names Someshvar and Somanath (“lord of the moon” or “moon god”) arise from this tradition.
History of the Temple
According to popular tradition documented by J. Gordon Melton, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple was said to be built at the same site by the Seuna kings of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh is said to have destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Gurjara-Pratihara kingNagabhata II is said to have constructed the third temple in 815 CE, a large structure of red sandstone.
There is no historical record of an attack on Somnath by Al-Junayd. However, Nagabhata II is known to have visited tirthas in Saurashtra, including Someshvara (the Lord of the Moon) at Somnath, which may or may not be a reference to a Siva temple. The Solanki king Mulraj possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.
In 1024, the temple built by Mularaja was destroyed by the prominent Afghan ruler, Mahmud of Ghazni, who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. The temple was rebuilt by the Paramara king Bhoja ofMalwa and the Solanki king Bhimdev I of Anhilwara (now Patan, Gujarat) between 1026 and 1042. This appears to have been a wooden structure, which was replaced by a stone temple by Kumarpal (r.1143-72).
In 1296, the temple was once again destroyed by Alauddin Khilji‘s army. Raja Karan of Gujarat was defeated and forced to flee. According to Taj-ul-Ma’sir of Hasan Nizami, the Sultan boasted that “fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword” and “more than twenty thousand slaves, and cattle beyond all calculation fell into the hands of the victors.”
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 1375, the temple was once again destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I of the Gujarat Sultanate. In 1451, the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat.
By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. 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.
‘Proclamation of the Gates’ Incident during the British raj
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 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 Government.
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 śikhara, 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 or “Arrow Pillar” erected on the sea-protection wall. The Bāṇastambha 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.
- “Jay Somnath”. Official website of Somnath Templehttp://www.somnath.org. Retrieved 12 April 2015. External link in
- Thapar 2004
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- Jaffrelot, Christophe (1996). The Hindu nationalist movement and Indian politics: 1925 to the 1990s. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 84. ISBN 1-85065-170-1.
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- See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
- Venugopalam 2003, pp. 92–95
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- Vivekananda Vol. 4
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- Thapar 2004, p. 18.
- Melton, J. Gordon (2014). Faiths Across Time: 5,000 Years of Religious History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 516, 547, 587. ISBN 1610690265.
- Dhaky & Shastri 1974, p. 32 cited in Thapar 2004, p. 23
- Thapar 2004, pp. 23-24.
- “Somnath Temple”. Gujarat State Portal. Retrieved 1 November2014.
- Elliot, Sir Henry Miers (1952). The history of India, as told by his own historian Beirouni. 11. Elibron.com. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-543-94726-0.
- “Somnath Temple”. British Library.
- Temples of India. Prabhat Prakashan. Retrieved 1 November2014.
- Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, (Har-Anand, 2009), 278.
- “Mosque and Tomb of the Emperor Sultan Mahmood of Ghuznee”. British Library. Retrieved 1 November 2014. Cite error: Invalid
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- The United Kingdom House of Commons Debate, 9 March 1943, on The Somnath (Prabhas Patan) Proclamation, Junagadh 1948. 584-602, 620, 630-32, 656, 674.
- Thapar 2004, p. 170
- Hindustan Times, 15 Nov, 1947
- Marie Cruz Gabriel, Rediscovery of India, A silence in the city and other stories, Published by Orient Blackswan, 1996, ISBN 81-250-0828-4,ISBN 978-81-250-0828-6
- Mir Jaffar Barkriwala, The Glorious Destruction of Hindoo Temples in Kathiawar and their replacement, Ul Akbari Publications, Bharuch, 1902
- Peter Van der Veer, Ayodhya and Somnath, eternel shrines, contested histories, 1992
- Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, Indian constitutional documents,Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1967
- “Shree Somnath Trust :: Jay Somnath”. Somnath.org. Retrieved1 November 2014.
- “Somnath Temple – ~ Fun With Best Friends ~”. Indianfriendhood.in. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
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