Information on Somnath :
The Somnath Temple located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat,India is the most sacred of the twelve Jyotirlings (lingas of light) of the God Shiva. Somnath means "The Protector of Moon God".
The Somnath Temple is known as the Shrine Eternal, as although the temple has been destroyed six times it has been rebuilt every single time. On the last occasion, it was built after a plan was mooted by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in November 1947, when he visited the area for Indian Integration of Junagadh, and later after his death carried out by K.M. Munshi, also a Minister in Government of India.
Tourist Attractions in Somnath :
The various tourist attractions in Somnath are the Somnath Temple, Bhalka Tirth and Prabas Patan Museum. The Somnath temple is one of the twelve most sacred shrines dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The temple contains the jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. The Somnath temple was rebuilt and destroyed eight times. This temple was finally rebuilt in 1950 with the support of Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel. The current temple was built as per the traditional designs on the original site by the sea and is a serene, symmetricla and sinuous structure. Today, this majestic temple is a replica of the earlier temple. At Bhalka Tirth, the Lord Krishna was mistaken for a deer and wounded by an arrow.
History of Somnath Mahadev Temple :
The legendary shore temple of Somnath is located near Veraval and is about 80 kms from Junagadh. The Somnath temple is one of the twelve most sacred shrines dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The temple contains the jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. This temple has a very long history. According to the legends, the Somnath temple is very old and was originally built in gold by the Somraj, the Moon God. Later, it was rebuilt by Ravana, in silver; then by Krishna in wood and Bhimdev in stone. Mahmud of Ghazni, upon hearing the description of the richness of the Somnath temple by Al Biruni, an Arab traveller, visited this temple in 1024 AD. At that time, this temple had about 300 musicians, 500 dancing girls and 300 barbers to shave off the heads of pilgrims. After a 2 days battle, Mahmud destroyed the temple and carried away jewels and gold to his homeland. Hence, a tradition got started, the Muslims destroy the temples and the Hindus rebuilt them. The Somnath Temple was raided again in 1927, 1934 and 1706. In 1706, this temple was raided by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. In all, the Somnath temple was rebuilt and destroyed eight times. This temple was finally rebuilt in 1950 with the support of Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel. The current temple was built as per the traditional designs on the original site by the sea and is a serene, symmetrical and sinuous structure. Today, this majestic temple is a replica of the earlier temple.
Rudresvara Temple :
Rudreshvara Temple is a ruined temple located near the Somnath temple. This temple dates from the same time as the Somnath Temple and was laid out in a similar fashion. The sculptures on the walls and doorways give an indication of what the Somnath Temple was like.
Archaeological Museum :
Down the lane to the north of the temple is a museum with important archaeological remains from the former Somnath Temple. The museum is open from 8:30am-12:15pm and 2:30pm-6pm. To some, the museum is even more interesting than the modern temple, for it preserves stone sculptures, inscriptions and pottery from several periods. Though lacking in proper documentation or guidebooks, the time spent here is supremely worth the journey, with the remains of the ancient shrine reconstructed by the Chalukyan Maharaja Shri Mularaja Deva Solanki of Anhilvada Patan.
Bhalka Tirtha and Dehotsarg :
North of Somnath, en route to Veraval, is the famous Lord Krishna temple, Bhalka Tirtha, on the site where Krishna is said to have been mistakenly shot in the foot. Nearby is Dehotsarg, where he succumbed to his mortal wound. The temple at Bhalka Tirth is known as Mahaprabhujis Bethak, and a tulsi tree has been planted in Lord Krishnas memory.
At the Dehotsarg Tirth, in the 9th century AD Shri Vallabhacharya gave discourses on Shrimad Bhagvat Gita for seven days, as well as the revered Gita Mandir, which has eighteen marble pillars with a chapter from the Bhagvat Gita inscribed on each one. The temple also contains a beautiful tribhangi idol of Lord Krishna playing his flute.
Nearby is a place known as Baldev Gufa (cave). According to legend, Lord Krishnas elder brother Baldev disappeared through this cave and went to the netherworld, as he was considered to be an incarnation of Sheshnag, the king of snakes.
Gita Mandir :
Gita Mandir, placed at the confluence of three holy rivers known as Triveni Tirtha, is a Krishna temple built by Birla family in 1970. Mythology says that Lord Krishna walked about 4km from Baluka Tirtha to here after hit by the arrow by a hunter Jara. Gita temple, also known as Birla temple, is a marvellous architectural beauty in Marbles. The images of Gita Hymns are depicted in the inscriptions of marble walls. The Mandir is constructed in such a way that one can hear the echo of his voice inside the temple, so that the Krishna bhajans by the devotees can be echoed in the environments.
Kamnath Mahadev Temple :
The Kamnath Mahadev Temple, built about 200 years ago by a Mayurdhwaj King, is a renowned temple located in Somnath. This is a large temple complex with a holy pond known as Dudhiyu Talav, a water well known as Gangvo Kuvo and a bathing pool named as "Mahadev no Kund". The legendary stories claim that the pond water has majestic healing powers and it is believed that Mayurdhwaj King recovered from leprosy after taking bath in this place. There was a saying in Gujarat, which means, "He who does not bath at the Kund is as good as dead or is a living dead". This is a very famous religious attraction in Gujarat. Thousands of devotees throng to this temple when grandeur fair is conducted at the end of Shravan Maas every year.
Lakshminarayan Temple :
Lakshminarayan Temple is located close by to Gita Mandir (Birla temple) in Somanth. It is ideally located at a pristine location in the Somnath shore. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Lakshminarayan, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. This temple is placed in a very big complex in a spiritual environment. Daily Pujas are offered in this temple. The idols of many other Hindu Gods and Goddesses are also enshrine the temple. The temple is built in modern Indian architectural style is an imposing structure. The glossy marbles with many intricate carvings depicting the puranic stories are real attractions of the temple. The temple has been visited by thousands of devotees every year.
Old Somnath Temple :
Old Somnath Temple is an ancient temple enshrining the sacred Shivlinga, one of the 12 Shiva Jyotirlingas. It is located on the shore of Arabian Sea. Mythological evidences put the foundation of this temple by Soma, the Moon. This temple was constructed by the moon and dedicated to Shiva (Somnath) as the moon got reprieve from the curse of Daksha at this place. This temple was destroyed many times by Muslim invaders and the first was by Mahmud Gazni in 1026 AD and the last time by Mughal emperor Aurangaseb in 1706. The temple was later renovated in 1950. The temple has a high tower of about 50 m height over the main sanctum. The ruins of the ancient temples are seen nearby.
Panch Pandava Gufa :
Panch Pandava Gufa is a temple situated near Lalghati in Somnath. This is a marvellous temple founded by the late Baba Narayandas in the year 1949. This temple is dedicated to five Pandava brothers. This temple, located at an elevated place, offers a beautiful view of surrounding holy city. Imposing idols of five Pandava brothers are enshrined. The idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Rama and Goddess Durga are also installed in this grand modern temple. The temple is built in a scenic environment and the ambiance offers a calm and cool spiritual atmosphere. A Sanskrit college is established in the compound of this temple.
Prasuram Temple :
The Prasuram Temple is located at a holy spot on the banks of the Triveni Ghat. It is believed that Prasuram, one incarnation of Lord Vishnu, had undergone a long period penance in this place to come out from the curse of killing the Kshatriya Kings. It was here Lord Shiva (Somnath) offer relief to him from the immaculate curse. The temple is located at a scenic location with beautiful landscapes and two ancient Kunds (bathing pools). Many devotees visit this temple to pray to Lord Parasuram and spend their time in Dhyanam (meditation). This is one of the rare temples in India dedicated to Parasuram.
Triveni Ghat :
Triveni Ghat in Somanth is the confluence of three holy rivers namely Kapil, Hiran and a mystical River Saraswathy. It is believed that the rivers flow to the ultimate destination of Sea from here. This symbolizes the human birth, life and death. This is a sacred location for taking dip in the Triveni Sangam. It is believed that the holy bath in the waters at this Ghat offers relief from all curses and ills happened in the whole life. Triveni Ghat has a significant place in Hindu Mythology and Puranas. This ghat was mentioned many places in Puranas and great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is believed that Lord Krishna paid a visit to this holy spot after he was hit by an arrow shot by Jara, a hunter. This is a highly revered place in Somnath. The famous temples Gita Mandir and Lakshminarayan temple are located on the banks of Triveni Ghat.
Sana Caves :
The hill has 62 rock shelters scattered at different levels. The most interesting group has ornate carvings and stupas, rock cut pillows, benches and chaityas. Some caves also have a dome and pillared hall. Experts believe that these are among the few earliest caves of Western India dating from 2nd century BC.
Suraj Mandir :
Suraj Mandir, also popularly known as Sun Temple, in Somnath is also an ancient temple dating back to the origin of Somnath temple. This temple is situated at the north of the Triveni Ghat, the confluence of three holy rivers. The temple was set up to offer prayers to Sun God. The temple architecture is amazing with many images of elephants, lions and other birds and animals. This temple also was attacked many a times by Muslim foreign invaders. But later it was renovated to present structure. The temple is a rare specimen of worshiping to nature and is praise worthy symbols of Hindu cultural heritage.
Wandering among the hundreds of fishing-boats, a walk on Veravals picturesque dockyard and long uninterrupted shorelines is a lovely experience, but only if you can handle the smell of fish that hangs over town. A large coastal industrial center, Veraval is known for its fisheries, dominated by the Kharwa fisherfolk and as the gateway to Somnath.
Fishing here is done by trawlers, as well as by traditional boats, and Veraval maintains a boatbuilding industry that still constructs and repairs boats with traditional methods.