Authorities cited security concerns and protection of 'sanctity' of a religious place for the restriction, saying other religions do not allow non-followers to enter their sacred places.

"Shree Somnath Jyotirling is a pilgrimage for Hindus. Non-Hindus will have to obtain permission from General Manager's Office (of the temple) to enter the sacred pilgrim-place," said a notice put up by temple authorities outside the main entrance-gate of the temple last Monday.

Thousands of devotees from across the country visit the temple, which is very heavily protected by police. The famous Shiva temple, located near Veraval town of Gir-Somnath district, is governed by a trustee board headed by former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leader L K Advani are other trustees.

"The decision was taken by the Somnath Trust's secretary (P K Lahiri) two to three days ago and we put a notice accordingly," Vijaysinh Chavda, Deputy Manager of Somnath trust, said.
When asked about reasons behind barring the entry of non-Hindus in the temple without taking permission, Chavda said the decision has been taken due to security reasons.
"Security reasons are always there. Somebody said a woman with Burqa (veil worn by Muslim women) was allowed while she was trying to enter. That raised the suspicion on whether non-Hindus should be checked whether they should be allowed to go and whether something will happen," said Trustee Secretary of Somanth Temple and former IAS officer P K Lahiri.

"If you go to Parsi Agiyari, what they put outside on notice board is non-Parsis are not allowed inside. Can you enter Mecca city? Every religion has its right to regulate," he said.

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