Gujarat - Somnath - The Yotirlingam

 

Somnath – Land of Shiva

Veraval, the nearest railway station of Somnath, is a well known business hub of Gujarat. The ancient port city has now become a fishing port. Veraval was the most important sea port which used to connect Mecca to India. It’s true that the prominence of this port city has diminished but still cargo ships start journey towards Middle East countries from the port of Veraval. The Ship Building Center of Veraval manufactures plenty of ships today. Malaysia is supplying wood for manufacturing ships. Many of the inhabitants of Veraval earn money by selling dried fishes. The smell of dried fish can cause a lot of problems for them who don’t like it. If you catch a glimpse of pigs here and there, then don’t be surprised as it’s a quite common thing in Veraval. More than 300 Bengali families stay in and around the city of Veraval for satisfying their professional needs. Bengali cultures and traditions are quite prominent on the lifestyles of the city dwellers.

Toran Tourist Bungalow, Hotel Park, Safari Resort, Satkar Hotel, Hotel Minaxi, Chetan, Aram Griha, Hotel Kasturi and Hotel Supreme are the noteworthy hotels of Veraval.

The historical Somnath is not very far away from Veraval. The history of Somnath dates back to bygone era. Marco Polo and Al Biruni had illustrated the historical background of the holy Somnath Temple in their inscriptions. The name of the saint, Sri Chaitanya Dev is also associated with Somnath. The existing Somnath Temple had been constructed by Bhimdev using marbles. 300 singers and 500 dancers used to show their talents here previously. 2000 worshippers used to work here for paying tributes to the Almighty. 300 barbers used to work day in and day out to shave the heads of the worshippers. The water and flowers which were used in paying tributes to the God were brought all the way from the River Ganges and the state of Kashmir respectively. It was one of wealthiest and holiest Indian temples during 6th century.

The richness of the temple had attracted innumerable looters. The emperor Mahmud, who attacked the temple and looted expensive articles from the temple, was one of them. He had destructed both the structure and magnificence of the temple. It is believed that the golden Shiva lingam of the righteous Somnath temple was divided into four different parts. All these parts were taken by Mahmud and were dropped in Mecca, Madina and Ghajini. He carried 56 artistic pillars and a sandalwood gate along with him as well. The majestic temple was attacked 17 times. But, the divinity of the temple and its deity are still intact.

The newly built consecrated Somnath temple was erected on the sandstones on 8th May, 1950 on the premise of the old temple. C. C Sompura was the chief architect of the temple. The architectural flair of the colossal temple enthralls one and all. The silver gateway welcomes the swarms of spiritual crowds. The first Indian President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, had inaugurated the idol of the holy temple on 12th May, 1951. The silver idol of Mahadeva is the largest Shiva lingam among 12 Jyotir Lingams. A snake with hood on top of the idol is protecting it from the devils. The reflection of the idol can be seen on the mirror. Mahishashur Mardini and Surya Deb are residing at the left and right hand sides of the prime idol respectively. The idol of Vishnu is carved right in the middle, on the wall. The idols of Narayan and Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwar are embossed at the right and left hand sides of the Vishnu idol respectively. The temple authority follows a praiseworthy style of worship. General people are not allowed to touch the chief idol. You have to stay far away from the idol while watching the divine power in the Garbha Mandir. The worship that takes place in evening is laudable. Climb up the second and third floor to watch the picture exhibition that shows ancient Somnath temple. The temple is open during 6- 21:30. The feral waves of Arabian ocean can be observed from the temple. Waves are hitting the sea beach and the wall of the temple. The sight is magnificent. Spiritual people get into the temple through the Digvijay gate, located at an altitude of 51 feet. A pitcher, weighing 10 tons, is positioned on the 155 feet tall crest of the temple. The diameter of the 37 feet tall flag post is 1 feet. The temple is adorned with lights and it looks lovely during night. You should not miss the 1 hour long light and sound show on the premise of the Somnath temple.

Old and unique temples of bygone era are non-existent now. Ruins of the previous temple structures and sculptures, however, are showcased in the adjoining Prabhas Patan Museum. Surprisingly water brought from seven different rivers (Danuble, Nile, St Lawrence, Tigris, Muray, Hobart, New Zealand) of the world is there in the museum as a part of its impressive collection.

The majestic Somnath temple houses an idol of Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel right at the entrance. A newly built two storied consecrated temple at the back end of the idol resembles and commemorates the old but unique structure of the temple, erected by Ahilya Bai long back in 1783. To recollect the primeval memories of the old temple, the newly built grand temple is named as “puratan (old) temple”. The chief deity of this temple can be accessed by crossing 23 stair ways in the underground Garbha Griha. Black Shiva lingam and his white coated holy hauler are nice to look at. Aheleshwar Shiva is residing at a higher elevation as if he is observing all the activities that are taking place in the temple. With lot of devotions, devotees are regularly paying honor to him.

Besides the renowned righteous temples, few other holy temples, such as, Parvati temple, Chandra Prabhu Jain temple and Hamirji are dotted in and around Somnath.

City dwellers and spiritual crowds enjoy a lot during Shiva Ratri and during the festivity in the month of Karthik (according to the Hindu calendar year).

Previously pilgrims used to get into the divine city through the prime Junagadh doorway. There was another gateway which had been destroyed, nevertheless, by Mahmud. The adjoining Surya temple was later on converted into a mosque during the era of Mahmud. Tourists can catch a glimpse of the old and unique structure of the mosque. Thousands of shrines are scattered around the mosque. The culture and tradition of Mahmud can be witnessed watching the Juma mosque, located amidst the market complex. Bits and pieces collected by Mahmud from the primeval Hindu temples were used artistically to give the Juma mosque a splendid shape. Innumerable substances collected from ancient Hindu temples are maintained and showcased in the neighboring museum.

Stroll through the contiguous Triveni road to watch the spectacular attractions at the roadsides. Walk through the grove of the tamarisk trees to access the Parshuram Tapabhumi. A kund or well was excavated right beside the Parshuram Tapabhumi. Cremation ground is positioned at the opposite side of the well. The ambience around is astonishing. Take a walk straight away to the Shankaracharya temple, located at the left hand side of the road.

The Sarada math is one of the holy spots among four of the Maths constructed by the sage Adi Shankaracharya. Apart from the Nrisinghanath, Shankaracharya and 12th Jyotir lingam, many more hallowed deities are residing here. The oldest Surya temple of the Solanki era is easily accessible from the Sarada Math. The Hindu deity, Surya and his wife are residing together in the holy temple. Apart from the Somnath mahadev and 12 Baneshwar Mahadev, an idol of Acharya Shankar is there as well. Pandavas cave is there right beside the temple.

Even though the name of the adjoining river is Saraswati River, but the water streams of Kapila and Hiranya Rivers are meeting here. This is why the place is aptly named as the Triveni Sangam (Prabhash Patan or Som Tirth). Take a holy bath in the river for getting rid of sins.

If you walk for some more time through the road, then you would hit the Gita Bhawan, placed at the end way. The entire terrain was hidden in the dark woods. A holy tree which is associated with plenty of Hindu mythological tales is standing here. A platform is surrounding the tree. The Gita Mandir, made up of white marbles, is the holy homeland of the deity, Lakshmi-Naraya. Nearby Balaram temple, Nagsthan and Maha Prabhu Ji Baithak are pulling huge numbers of pilgrims as well. A cave connects the Gita Mandir to Parshuram Tapabhumi. It is believed that this cave played an important role while saving the wealth of the temple from the looters.

Amble around to watch all the impressive enticements of the city. It would hardly take 3-4 hours. Diu is a nearby attractive destination. It’s not a bad idea to hire a car from Somnath to Diu, about 87 km away from Somnath.

Bhaluka Tirtha is located on Somnath- Veraval road. It is famous for a hallowed Krishna temple. Hire a car to visit Bhaluka from Somnath. If you are interested, then ask someone to tell you about the associated mythological tales. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the sumptuousness of the idols of Krishna and Byadh. If you have time, then take a holy bath in the adjoining Padam Kund (well).

How to reach: The nearest railway station of Somnath is Veraval. The city of Somnath is well connected to Ahmadabad, Howrah, Porbandar, Rajkot and Junagadh by train. Buses regularly ply to Somnath from Gir, Ambaji, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Porbandar, Dwarka, Ahmadabad, Surat and Diu.

Where to stay: Hotel Shibam, Krishna Hotel, Hotel Shivam, Hotel Mayuram and Dharmashalas.

Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings.

 

                                  Somnath Temple

                                 Somnath Temple

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