The Somnath Temple is among the most important and revered religious sites for Hindus, as it houses the Somnath jyotirlinga. This temple in Gujarat has remained an eyesore for Islamic invaders who plundered, looted and violently attacked India. The Somnath temple was destroyed no less than 12 times, but the sheer grit and determination of devotees have led, to the temple being built from scratch every time. In secular, post-partition India, the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple got especially difficult, particularly under the reign of PM Jawaharlal Nehru, who saw all bids to rebuild the temple as attempts at “Hindu revivalism”.
From having a prime minister who despised all symbols of Hindu culture, to now having one who wears his culture on his sleeve – India has come a long way. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Somnath Temple is being further developed and beautified. Prime Minister Modi is personally attached to developmental and rejuvenation efforts being made in Ayodhya, Varanasi and in Uttarakhand – where the Char Dham highway is being built at a cost of ₹12,000 crores to connect Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of several projects in Somnath in the Saurashtra district of Gujarat. The event, organised via video conferencing, was attended by Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, Union Home minister Amit Shah and MoS for Tourism Shripad Naik. The Prime Minister inaugurated the Samudra Darshan Path, which is a seaside promenade; the Somnath Exhibition Gallery, which exhibits ruins of ancient Somnath; and the redeveloped precinct of the ancient temple in the Somnath complex.
Prime Minister Modi, during the inauguration event, took a dig at destructive forces which aimed at reducing the Somnath Temple into a relic of India’s past. He said, “those destructive forces, and the ideology that establishes an empire on the foundation of terror”, could not last long. Such forces and empires, the prime minister said, “can become dominant for some time in a given era but can never become permanent. They cannot keep humanity suppressed for long.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ensuring that Sardar Patel’s dream of the Somnath Temple being reconstructed, developed and beautified is fulfilled. On November 13, 1947, Sardar Patel had taken a vow to rebuild the Somnath Temple by taking a handful of water from the Arabian Sea. PM Modi is therefore ensuring that Sardar Patel’s pledge is honoured. Jawaharlal Nehru, meanwhile, had put all his weight behind ensuring that the reconstruction of the temple never sees the light of the day.
Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad were not in favour of reconstructing the temple. Nehru saw it as Hindutva revivalism, and Azad wanted to keep the demolished temple in a ruined state as ‘heritage’. Despite Nehru’s strong opposition, the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple was started, although Sardar Patel could not live to see its completion.
Nehru’s hatred for Hindu culture knew no bounds. So, the man even opposed the use of the Government of India’s foreign offices to collect soil, water and other items from different countries for the inauguration of the temple. In the runup to the founding of the temple, Nehru targeted his cabinet colleagues KM Munshi and NV Gadgil, who he said were operating without taking the Union Cabinet into confidence.
Jawaharlal Nehru even objected to the then President, Dr Rajendra Prasad attending the inauguration of the temple. Rajendra Prasad, however, paid no heed to such protests and attended the inauguration ceremony, while even offering to resign before the ceremony. Such was Nehru’s hatred for the temple that he did not allow the PIB to issue a press release on the inauguration of the temple by the President after the ceremony.
Today, Prime Minister Modi is making all resources available for the Somnath Temple development project. He is also the chairman of the Somnath Trust, while Amit Shah is a member of the same. According to News18, to attract more people towards religious places like Somnath, the Tourism Ministry has created a scheme called the Iconic Destination Development Scheme which will get the nod of the Union Cabinet soon.
After the assent of the Cabinet, the revised cost of the master plan for the Somnath project would be ₹282 crores, of which ₹111 crores will come from the Iconic Destination Development Scheme (IDDS) of the Central Tourism Ministry and the remaining ₹171 crores will be pumped in by the Somnath Trust and other government agencies. There are plans to start flights from Keshod airport, apart from the seaplane, ferry, cruise and boat services. Revamping a wall around the temple and lighting arrangement in the Somnath complex is also part of the plan. The IDDS fund by the Government of India, meanwhile, will be used for the construction of a new shopping complex, heritage walk, a new museum, Geeta temple, construction of a new riverfront at Triveni Sangam and anEco-Village Haat.
Prime Minister Modi is restoring the glory of the Somnath temple and elevating its beauty to even greater heights.