About Somnath temple:
The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Junagadh in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot of Gujarat. Reconstructed several times in the past after repeated destruction by several Muslim invaders and rulers, the present temple was reconstructed in Chaulukya style of Hindu temple architecture and completed in May 1951. The reconstruction was started under the orders of the Home Minister of India Vallabhbhai Patel and completed after his death.
According to tradition, the Shivalinga in Somnath is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, where Shiva is believed to have appeared as a fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears.
Each of the 12 jyotirlinga sites take the name of a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is a lingam representing the beginning-less and endless stambha (pillar), symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. In addition to the one at Somnath, the others are at Varanasi, Rameswaram, Dwarka, etc.
It is said that the original temple of Somnath was built by the Moon God and was made of gold. After it was razed to the ground, it was rebuilt with silver by Ravana. When the silver temple was knocked down, it was reconstructed in wood by Krishna. And when this was pulled down, an edifice of stone was erected by Bhimdev.
This is the first among the twelve Jyotirlings. Since ancient times, Prabhas Patan has been a pilgrimage center, being the confluence of the mythological Saraswati, Hiranya and Kapila. Legend has it that Lord Shiva’s Kalbhairav linga is situated at Prabhas. It is also associated with the moon as the Moon God is also said to have worshipped this Shivling. This is also the reason why this temple is popularly known as Somnath, the one named after the moon.
Remains found from the region and descriptions in the writings of Indians and foreigners suggest that the place was a colony of the Aryans in the ancient times. This temple of religious as well as historical significance is believed to have been built sometime around AD
In AD 1026, Mahmud of Ghazni first looted the temple, and then came Afzal Khan, the commander of Ala-ud-din Khilji and later Aurangzeb. It is said that the temple was looted and destroyed as many as seventeen times.
The Iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was instrumental in the construction of the present temple, an edifice reminding visitors of the splendor of the original Somnath temple. Renowned temple architect Prabhaschandar designed it and the first President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad installed the Jyotirling in the new temple on May 11, 1951.
Fairs & festivals:
Somnath celebrates a large fair on the day of the full moon of Kartik Purnima in November/December. Maha Shivratri in the month of March is also a major festival here.
How to reach:
Air – The nearest airport from Somnath is Keshod, 55 km away and linked to Mumbai. There are regular buses and taxis plying between Keshod and Somnath.
Rail – The nearest railhead is seven km away at Veraval, which is connected by train to Ahmedabad and some other cities in Gujarat.
Road – State transport corporation buses and private coaches run regular service to other cities in the region. Somnath is connected by a good road network to the other nearby places like Veraval 7 km, Mumbai 889 km, Ahmedabad 400 km, Bhavnagar 266 km, Junagarh 85 km, and Porbandar 122 km.
Local transport: Private taxis, Auto rickshaws, Chhakadas, and buses are all available to move around Somnath and the other place in the vicinity.