“Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History” by Romila Thapar


I read this book for the book discussion of Delhi Heritage Walks and it was so fascinating that I finished reading in less than 2 days (about 200 pages). I have a fascination for history but this book is different from other historical books in that unlike most historical books that describe a trail of events, this book is describing different voices of a single historical event- the raid of Somanatha temple by the Afghan ruler- Mahmud of Ghazani and how the single event has been modified by different sources to suit their own interests.

downloadThe original Hindu and Jain sources of the period barely mention the event and it is fast forgotten and the temple soon becomes derelict on its own due to perishing trade in that region. But it is fascinating how the event is given such significance in the later British sources earlier to represent the defeat of Hindu pride by the Muslim invaders. It is also funny as to how the gates of Somanatha Temple are added by a British which have no mention earlier and still they become the central point of negotiations post that till the gates are brought back and then forgotten completely when it is ascertained that the Gates have Islamic architecture and not Hindu. The event is still being cited by the RSS and other Hindu fanatics.

Thus it is important for anyone to read all historical sources before one forms an opinion about any event because history will always bear the perspectives of the author.

This review was more from the perspective of a layman like me. For a historian’s perspective please do read this blog: http://blog.delhiheritagewalks.com/dhw-book-club-discussion-on-romila-thapars-somanatha-6-dec-15/#more-2408

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A dreamer. An intellectual, spoiled by the world of literature trying to find sanity through traveling and expression through Visual Art and writing! Hope you like my expressions on this blog!!

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