Sunday, June 7, 2020
Home > Indian Archaeology > The Irony of Somnath Temple Reconstruction | Neera Mishra

The Irony of Somnath Temple Reconstruction | Neera Mishra

We are all familiar that the Somnath Mandir was razed to the ground, it was destroyed, and we are also familiar that it was rebuilt. How many of us are familiar with the painful story of Patel, Gadgil and Munshi that how much trouble they went through to recreate that. Why I am narrating this – because this is the story that I am facing now at Indraprastha Delhi. When Patel visited soon after the partition the site, Gadgil told him that now is the time For us to rebuild our lost heritage. And at a public meeting, then and there same evening, Mr. Patel announced – Yes, we will rebuild it with Government’s support. And he told Gadgil and Munshi to start the process. The process started. Obviously, in Government the process starts, the paper work is done and it is placed.

 If you would remember the Education Ministry was the custodian of culture at that time. And the ASI was automatically under the control of Education Minister of that time. They were countered with the argument by the Education Minister in the first meeting, why should we build a temple? Let it go to ASI, let them maintain the ruins as they are. So these people countered saying, why not? If we can give so much money to rebuild, renovate the masjids and the different medieval period buildings, why not our temple? So, the fight continued. Finally it went up to Gandhi ji.
All these when I read now, I feel very sad that how they were influenced by a colonial mindset.

So, when the matter went up to Gandhi ji, he said, Banana to chahiye mandir lekin not on Government’s money. And the matter had to be halted. But Gadgil and Munshi did not give up. Soon after of course, Mr. Patel died, but they carried on. And finally the day came when Pran Pratishtha of the Murti had to be done. And Rajendra a Prasad ji was invited. That is when Nehru got very angry. And he told Prasad ji that No, you can not go there. This is Hindu Revivalism. And he called Munshi and he said Mr. Munshi, I do not like the way you are doing this Hindu Revivalism. This is not good for us.

Mr. Munshi was so hurt and pained. He did not say anything, he said I will reply to you. In Munshi Papers, available on net, in detail he describes the details of how the meetings happened, what happened, who said what etc. etc. And finally he again says the same thing that I thought Secularism means equality for all religions. So if ASI is getting money todo this and this and this, why not our temple? And of course, Rajendra Prasad ji did not listen to Mr. Nehru. He went and inaugurated and so today we have that Mandir.


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