famous mystic poet, Shaikh Farid-ud-Din Attar calls it by the name of Lat, another
important deity worshipped by the Arabs at Mecca;3 but this view is equally wrong. The
shrine, however, rose to great prominence chiefly on account of the favourable
geographical situation of the town of Somanatha, it being an important port of call for
ships between Africa and China. Possibly the sailors carried the fame of the idol far and
wide. But from times immemorial it was a centre of tremendous living faith, and by the
10th century had come to occupy a pre-eminent position among the shrines of India.4
According to the Wafayatu'l Ayan of the famous chronicler Ibn
Khallikah, Sultan Mahmud was told that each of the thirty rings round the idol represented
a period of 1,000 years of its worship.
3. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol.
VII, p. 893.
4. Ibid; Tahqiq ma lil-Hind by Al-Biruni (English translation by Sachau), Vol. 11,
p. 103; Rauzatu's Safa of Mir Khwand, Persian text (Nawal Kishor edition), Vol. IV,