Table of Contents
India as a country has in store so much of historical and cultural relevance and nothing can describe that rich history than the ancient constructions. These constructions are something we still find in the country and it highlights the rich past that the country has been through. Being a land of religious faith that gives a lot of importance to its religions, you will find stunning temples here too. These temples are important sites of pilgrimage for the devotees. However not just that these temples are also a sign of the cultural and historical past as well. One such temple is the Somnath Temple. The Somnath Temple is one of the most revered shrines of Lord Shiva and is an important site of pilgrimage for the Shiva devotees.
This temple tells you a story that goes long back to ancient times. Even after a chain of constructions and reconstructions the temple has not lost its charm even a bit. Also the legends, stories and history attached to this temple makes it even more important. Located in Gujarat this is definitely one of the temples that is a must visit. So if you are visiting Gujarat you have to make sure that you are including this temple in your itinerary. In this article I will mention everything that you probably need to know before planning a visit to the temple. Keep on reading this article because this will be a helpful read for you if you are planning a successful trip to the Somnath Temple.
Where is Somnath Temple located?
Somnath Mandir Road, Somnath Prabhas Patan, Gujarat
Somnath Temple timings: Darshan timings from 6 am to 9:30 pm. The Aarti timings are 7 am, 12 pm and 7 pm. Light and Sound Show timing is 7:45 pm
Entry fee of Somnath Temple: There is no entry fee to enter the temple. The entry fee for light and sound show is Rs. 25
How to reach Somnath Temple
Nearest airport to Somnath Temple is Keshod which is located at a distance of 55 km. But the major airport which connects most of the cities is Porbandar Airport located at a distance of 120 km from the temple. Another airport is the Rajkot Airport which is located 200 km away from the temple.
Nearest railway station to Somnath Temple is the Somnath Railway Station that is located at a distance of 2.4 km and you can reach there in about 6 minutes. The Veraval Railway station is yet another railway station located at a distance of 7 km.
You can also reach the temple by road as it is located at an accessible location. The temple is about 82 km away from Junagadh, 120 km away from Porbandar and 270 km away from Bhavnagar. Furthermore the temple is also 400 km away from Ahmedabad. You can either take a bus or take a hired car to reach the temple from nearby cities.
Best time to visit Somnath Temple
The ideal time to visit this temple is the cooler months between October to February. This is an all year round destination so technically you can visit the Somnath temple any time of the year. But if you are visiting here during the cooler months then it would undoubtedly be more comfortable for you. You will be able to explore the whole temple complex well. However in terms of weather you can skip visiting here during the summer months though. This location tends to get really hot during the summers so it would be uncomfortable to visit here during that time.
In terms of festivals you can visit here during Maha Shivaratri that usually falls in the months of February or March. It is the most important festival here and the temple celebrates the festival with much grandeur. People from everywhere come during this time to offer their prayers to God. Another important festival here is the Kartik Purnima that happens close to the festival of Diwali. You can visit here during that time too. During major festivals the temple rises up to its best with a lot of decorations and rituals. So if you are interested to witness that side of the temple, do visit during those times.
Overview of Somnath Temple
The Somnath Temple located in Gujarat is an important shrine of Lord Shiva as it is the first among the 12 Jyotirlingas. According to legends Jyotirlingas are self manifested temples where Lord Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. The construction of this temple is somehow unknown and there is no exact date of construction. But the history of the temple goes back to 649 BC and even back. The temple is located at the Triveni Sangam where three rivers namely Saraswati, Hirana nd Kapila meet. However the present construction of the temple belongs to 1951 after it got destroyed. But this is one of the oldest temples in the country as well as popular as the Prabahas Teertha.
In a lot of ancient sacred texts you will find the mention of this temple as the Prabhash Teertha like Sreemad Bhagvat Gita, Rig Veda, Skanda Purana and Shiv Puran. From the older times this temple has been one of the most important temples. Another thing that makes this temple even more special is the fact that it has passed the test of time. Many rulers have attacked and plundered this temple multiple times. And if you are wondering who attacked Somnath Temple then the list is big. More than 17 times rulers like Mahmud of Ghazni, Aurangzeb and Alaudding Khilji etc have attacked this temple. Even after all that there had been constructions and reconstructions of this temple. Today it is a popular site of pilgrimage for the devotees. A lot of people visit this temple on a regular basis to pay their visit to Lord Shiva.
Somnath Temple History
According to legends Somraj is the moon God who first built this temple. There is a story behind the construction of this temple too. Legends say that Somraj was married to 27 daughters of King Daksha however he was only biased towards one of them with his love. The other wives were therefore infuriated and took this issue up to their father. Daksha was equally agitated and therefore cursed Soma that he would wane. However it was then he constructed a Shiva Lingam in Prabhash Teertha and also prayed to Lord Shiva, he asked for his forgiveness and Lord Shiva removed his curse partially. Therefore there is still a periodic waning of the moon according to that curse. According to beliefs Soma built this temple in Gold however later Ravana rebuilt the temple in silver. Again later Krishna made this in wood and Bhimdev in stone.
Al Beruni the famous traveler described the beauty of this temple in his writing. However, that invited the attacks on this temple. The temple was plundered and destroyed too. If you want to know who destroyed Somnath Temple it is the legendary plunderer Mahmud of Ghazni. Before this attack the Somnath Temple was a wealthy temple. There were more than 300 musicians, 300 barbers and 500 dancing girls here. However after the attack Mahmud of Ghazni took over everything in a 2 days battle. Over 70000 defenders died while fighting in the battle. Mahmud totally destroyed the wealthy temple and for the next many years the temple witnessed many other battles and conquerors as well. After the attack of Mahmud in 1026, Ulugh Khan also attacked the temple in 1299. Then Muzaffar Shah attacked the temple in 1395and finally Mughal emperor Aurangzeb attacked this temple in 1665.
Then in 1951 the present structure of this temple came into form. Sardar Ballavbhai Patel was the person behind the reconstruction and revival of this temple. At present the temple is one of the most important temples in Gujarat as well as in the whole of India. The temple witnesses a huge chunk of devotees on a daily basis.
Architecture of Somnath Temple
The construction of this temple followed a Chalukya style of architecture. Here you will find an arrow pillar that mentions that the temple is located at a land where it is the first point of land in the north to the South Pole at the particular longitude. Also you will find balconied corridors here with Nataraja or the dancing form of Lord Shiva in it. On the top of the temple tower there is a flag that has symbols of Nandi and Trishul in it. Overall you can see a very deep Jain influence in the design of the temple even though it is a Brahmanical Temple. This is a symmetrical structure painted in creamy colour that oozes out an old world charm. You will find a large black Shiva lingam here which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and is one of the most sacred shrines of Lord Shiva.
The Somnath Temple in Gujarat is one of the most revered Hindu temples and if you are a devotee of Lord Shiva then this temple will be even more important for you. The history, the construction and reconstruction along with the religious significance of this temple makes it an important shrine of lord Shiva. As one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples of Lord Shiva the Somnath Temple definitely deserves a special mention. In no way you can afford to miss visiting this temple if you are in that area. So let me know when you are planning a visit to the Somnath Temple. Also don’t forget to let me know if this article is helpful for you in planning a trip to this beautiful temple in Gujarat.