The most sacred among the 12 jyotirlings in India, Somnath Temple is located in Veraval region of Junagadh district. Somnath means ‘Lord of Moon’ and the town gets its name from the Somnath Temple
According to legend, Som, the Moon God built the Somnath Temple from gold, Ravan made it from silver, Lord Krishna made the temple from wood and King Bhimdev of Anhilwad made the temple from stone.
Som constructed the temple out of respect after Lord Shiva cured his illness that was caused by Som’s father-in-law Daksha Prajapati’s curse. Daksha Prajapati had cursed Som as he was infatuated with Rohini and was not paying adequate attention to his other 26 wives who were all daughters of Prajapti. It is believed that Lord Brahma advised Som to build the temple to honor Lord Shiva.
The Somnath Temple is the seventh temple built to commemorate Lord Somnath, who was also known as Bhairaveshwar, Shravanikehswar and Shrilingeshwar, in Sat Yug, Treta Yug and Dwapar Yug respectively.
Earlier known as ‘Prabhas Patan’, the town remains a quintessential pilgrim town. The temple has been built at the tip of the landmass in Gujarat and no land exists between the temple and the South Pole. The temple is also believed to be the place where the holy river Saraswati meets the sea.
The temple is built in Solanki style. The sabha mandap (assembly hall), sanctum sanctorum (innermost shrine) and the shikhar (top) was built in the first phase followed by the nritya mandap (dancing hall). The apex of the temple reaches a height of 155 ft and the kalash (pot) on top weighs 10 tons. The temple was razed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1025 AD.
Somnath is mentioned in the Puranas and the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. Lord Krishna is believed to have been shot in the foot with an arrow in the region. The Yadav community, the descendents of Lord Krishna, is said to have fought among them and caused the downfall of the entire community in this region.
After the integration of Junagadh with the Union of India, the then Deputy PM of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel visited Junagadh in November 1947 and ordered the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple.
The ruins of the Somnath Temple were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque was shifted a few miles away. The temple was built in 1951. A statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stands in front of the temple as a mark of honour for his contribution to the building of the temple.
The Somnath Temple is visited by millions of devotees every year. It is not just the temple, but other tourist attractions like Somnath Museum, Somnath beach and Junagadh Gate also attract visitors. The Sound and Light Show held in the temple is another attraction.
WHERE TO STAY
Being a temple town, there are several options to stay in Somnath. There are 18 guest houses that offer mid-range accommodation and a VIP guest house run by the trust that runs the Somnath Temple.
Dharamsalas and Sanskritik Bhavans are also available. Most of the dharamssalas and guest houses do not take bookings as they are served on first come first serve basis.
WHERE TO EAT
Options to eat are limited. Food served in eateries near the temple, are mostly vegetarian and basic. There are stalls that sell buttermilk, chocolates and ice creams.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Somnath is between October to March as the weather remains cool and conducive for visiting the temple.
WHAT TO SEE
Somnath Temple: One of the 12 jyotirlings, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is a beautiful mix of art and history. The temple is open for darshan from 6 am to 9 pm. Arati is done thrice everyday at 7 am, 12 pm and 7 pm.
Laxminarayan Temple: The message of Lord Krishna in the Bhagvad Geeta is carved in the 18 marble pillars. The temple is also popularly known as the Gitamandir.
Parshuram Temple: It is a sacred spot on the banks of the holy Triveni River where Lord Parshuram conducted penance.
Triveni Sangam Snanghat: The Hiran, Kapila and Saraswati Rivers have their confluence here and is considered a sacred spot for Hindus.
NEAR TO SOMNATH TEMPLE
Gir National Park: Sasan-Gir National Park, better known as Gir National Park, is the last remaining refuge of Asiatic lions in India. Spread over 1,412 sq km park in Junagadh district of Gujarat, the national park was the erstwhile game preserve of the Nawab of Junagadh.
Junagadh: Junagadh means ‘Old Fort’ and it is the seventh largest city in Gujarat. It was once part of Saurashtra state and later part of Bombay.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Somnath Temple is as given below. The best time to visit Somnath Temple is also specified.