PM Modi inaugurates revamped temple destroyed by 15th century Gujarat ruler

Asserting that India is now witnessing “cultural independence that started with Sardar Patel renovating Somnath temple” after Independence, PM Modi on Saturday unfurled a flag after inaugurating a revamped Mahakali temple which was apparently destroyed by 15th century Gujarat ruler Mahmud Begda.

“For five centuries and 75 years of Independence, there was no dhwaja atop Mahakali temple. Today, the flag once again unfurls on the temple. This flag is not only a symbol of our faith and spirituality but it shows that centuries change, eras go by, but our faith remains eternal and strong,” Mr. Modi said addressing a small gathering on the Pavagadh hill in central Gujarat.

The 11th century temple has been redeveloped with new spire and flag a top after a dargah or a shrine which stood atop the temple for nearly 500 years, was shifted with the consent of its caretakers.

The temple is being run by a trust headed by Gujarat BJP treasurer and senior leader Surendra Patel. The temple trust on Saturday issued an advertisement in local media which says “After being destroyed by Mohmad Begda 500 years ago the temple atop and Dhwaja will be restored today.”

As per the details, the temple is said to have been destroyed by 15th century Gujarat ruler Sultan Mahmud Begda (1458 to 1511), who had set up his capital in Champaner near Pavagadh after defeating the Rajput rulers. Begda was the most prominent ruler of Gujarat Sultanate and had earned title Begda, after conquering two main forts of Gujarat: Junagadh and Pavagadh.

It is said that during Begda’s reign; a shrine or Sadanshah Pir Dargah was built after the spire of the temple was destroyed. Now, the shrine has been shifted “amicably” paving the way for redevelopment of the temple with a spire and flag atop.

In his address, Mr. Modi, without mentioning about the temple’s controversial history, said that the country is witnessing restoration of India’s cultural and spiritual glory as a grand temple of Lord Rama is being built in Ayodhya while Kashi Vishwanath temple has already been built. PM also referred to redevelopment of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand.

“Our centres of faith and spiritual glory of India are being re-established. The rebuilding of Mahakali temple at Pavagadh is part of the same ‘ gaurav yatra’,” the PM said in his address.

In fact, neither the State government nor the temple trust have made any statement about shifting of the shrine to pave the way for restoration of the ancient temple on the hills.

The PM, however, said that in the glorious tradition of Somnath, Pavagadh temple has been redeveloped, meaning thereby that like Somnath situated on the coast of Saurashtra region, which is said to have been plundered and demolished by Mahmud of Ghazni and restored after independence by Sardar Patel, Pavagadh temple has been restored now after 75 years of independence.

Champaner was briefly the capital of Gujarat Sultanate after Mahmud Begda won the hill fortress of Pavagadh. Today, Champaner Pavagadh Archeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses some of the landmark monuments and architectural marvels.

The archeological park is a treasure of monuments and palaces, entrance gates and arches, mosques, tombs and temples, residential complexes, water installations such as stepweels; and tanks dating from the eighth to the 14th centuries.

During his reign, Sultan Begda built a magnificent Jama Masjid in Champaner, which ranks amongst the finest architectural edifices in Gujarat. It is an imposing structure on a high plinth with a central dome, two 30 metres in height minarets, 172 pillars, seven mihrabs and carved entrance gates with fine latticed windows called ‘jalis’.

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