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The majestic Somnath Temple, also known as “The Shrine Eternal” is located at Prabhas Pattan near Veraval port in Saurashtra, Gujarat. No pilgrimage is complete without visiting this magnificent shrine built in honor of Lord Shiva. Further, the word Somnath literally translates to “Lord of the Soma”, Soma being the Moon God. It is also one of the oldest temples of India finding mentions in Rig Veda, Skandpuran, Shivpuran and Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta. It is believed to be the first Jyotirlinga among the 12 Holy Jyotirlingas.
Moreover, the temple is divided into three main areas – the Garbhagraha, the Sabhamandapam and the Nrityamandapam. The Shikhar of the temple is 150 feet high. The Kalasam or the Kalash weighs 10 tonnes. The flag pole at the top is 8.2 mt long. The temple reflects the skills of the Sompura Salats, Gujarat’s famed stone masons.
An inscription in Sanskrit found in the Banastambha also known as the “Arrow Pillar”, Abadhit Samudra Marg and Tirstambh indicates that there is no land in a straight line between the seashore until Antarctica.
Somnath Temple History
As per the historians, the time of construction for the first temple at Somnath is unknown. However, around 649 CE the Seuna kings of Vallabhi ( Yadavas of Devagiri) built the second temple. They ruled parts of present-day Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
Al-Junayd, the Governer of Sindh destroyed the temple in around 725 CE during invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The King Nagabhata ll constructed the third temple in 815 CE. In 1024, Mahmud of Ghazni again attacked the Somnath temple. Then, King Bhoja of Malwa and King Bhimdev I of Patan reconstructed the temple.
Alauddin Khilji’s forces again destroyed the temple. Then King Mahipala, the then king of Saurashtra rebuilt it in 1308. Moreover, in 1375 and 1451 by Muzaffar Shah I of the Gujarat Sultanate and Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat respectively, made repeated assaults at the temple.
The temple also faced the ire of Aurangzeb in 1665. In 1783 the Peshwas, Bhonsles, Queen Ahilyabai of Indore and Shrimant Patilbuwa Shinde of Gwalior together reconstructed it. The present temple is said to be built in the Chalukya style or the “Kailash Mahameru Prasad” style.
The legend of Someshwar Kund
According to the legend, Daksha cursed Chandra decrease in size every day because he showed more affection to his wife Rohini. As a result he ignored his other 26 wives who were all daughters of Daksha. Then, after paying penance to Lord Shiva at the site, Shiva granted him a boon that he would grow for 15 days and then lose one Kala (shade) every day and decrease in size for 15 days. As a result, Someshwar Kund honours Shiva for removing the curse.
According to the legends, Garbhashay initially contained many gems. Over a period of time, many invaders took them. Moreover, three silver gates originally belonging to the Somnath temple were brought back to India from Lahore after defeating Muhammad Shah by the Maratha king Mahadaji Shinde. After unsuccessful attempts to re-install them in the Somnath temple, they were then gifted to two temples in Ujjain – the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga and Gopal Mandir where they can still be seen.
Significance of Somnath temple
The Somnath Temple is the Primary or the First Jyotirlinga among the 12 Jyotirlingas in Hindu mythology. Lord Shiva appeared in a fiery column of light from this Linga. The Linga is Swayanbhu (self – born) in nature and millions of people in India and around the world worship it.
It is “Shrine eternal” because it was destroyed six times in history but still every time, was rebuilt in glory.
Syamantak Mani, the Philosopher’s stone associated with Lord Krishna is hidden inside Shiva Linga in the temple. This stone is supposed to be magical with the ability to produce gold. It is responsible for creating a magnetic field around itself which keeps the Linga floating above the ground.
The Linga consits of iron, and the roof of the sanctum is of loadstone. Builder of the shrine assured that the magnetic force exerted by the loadstone kept the Linga floating in the air. One can wash away your sins by taking a dip in the holy water of the Someshwar Kund.
Prabhas Pattan has been a pilgrimage since ancient times because this is the holy site of Sangam or confluence of three great mythological rivers – the Saraswati, the Hiranya and the Kapila. It is also the site where Lord Krishna was resting under a tree when an arrow struck him. He then started his final journey in life from here.
Somnath Temple Timings
Somnath Temple opens for darshan at 6 am and closes at 10 pm.
The Aarti at the main shrine happens at 7 AM, 12 Noon and 7 PM.
Free stalls are available for shoes. Lockers are also available for storing Cameras and Phones at the entrance of the temple.
Wheelchair facilities for disabled and senior citizens are also available at the gate of the temple, and Lift facilities are available inside the temple.
Online darshan facilities are also available.
Somnath Temple Dress code
The Somnath Temple management recommends that one should avoid dresses such as mini-skirts, revealing tops, shorts, etc.
Festivals celebrated at Somnath Temple
Shravan month – Shravan Maas falls on the fifth month of the Hindu calendar, starting late July and ending by the third week of August
Shivratri – It is the day when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. It usually occurs in late February to early March.
Golokdham Utsav – It signifies the birth of Lord Krishna, more popularly known as Janmashtami.
Kartik Purnima Fair for five days
Somnath Sthapana Divas
Somnath Temple Sevas
Homatmak Atirudra – This yagna is the most powerful and the most sacred yagna out of all the Mahayagnas. Conducting this Yagna washes away your sins and brings peace and prosperity. Further, Atirudra consists of eleven recitations of Maha Rudra.
Homatmak Maharudra – This Pooja involves 56 highly learned Vedic Pandits reciting Rudras in one place. The priest also recites Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda and Atharva Veda in front of the deities of the temple.
Homatmak Lagurudra – This Abhishek is done to resolve issues related to health and wealth. It also removes the evil effects of planets in the horoscope.
Savalaksha Samput Mahamrityunjaya Jaap – This Abhishek increases longevity and immortality of the person.
Other Poojas and Abhishekams include Savalaksha Bilva Pooja, Kalsarpa yog Nivaran Vidhi, Shivpuran Path, Mahadugdh Abhishek, Gangajal Abhishek and Navagraha Jaap.
How to reach Somnath Temple
By Road – Somnath connects well to major cities in Gujarat like Ahmedabad, Junagadh, Dwarka and Chorwad by state roadways.
By Train – The nearest railway station is Somnath (0.5 km). Regular train service is available from all major cities in Gujarat.
By Air – The nearest airport is Diu, which is 85 km away.
Where to stay at Somnath Temple
Rooms operated by the Somnath Temple management are available at nominal rates. Accommodations can be booked in the Sagar Darshan Atithi Gruh, Lilavati Atithi Bhavan, Maheshwari Atithi Bhavan by visiting the official website www.somnath.org
Private hotels are abundant near the Somnath Temple complex. Make sure that you carry a valid Identity proof for booking a room
Where to eat at Somnath Temple
All the Guesthouses managed by the Somnath Temple trust hosts a Restaurant, which serves various cuisines like Gujarati, Punjabi and Chinese.
Small eateries are abundant around the temple complex.
Bhalka Tirth – It is about 5 km from the Prabhas – Veraval highway. At this location, the arrow fired by the poacher Jara hit Sri Krishna, who was resting under a Peepal tree. The Lord Sri Krishna then walked and reached the banks of River Hiran from where he started his last journey.
Shree Golokdham Tirth or Shree Neejdham Prastham Tirth – It is on the banks of River Hiran, 1.5 km away from the Somnath Temple. The footprint of Lord Krishna is carved here to mark the site of Neejdham Prasthan Leela. Baldev, the elder brother of Lord Krishna also took his last journey from here in his original serpent form.