Somnath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, Gujarat, India. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered the holiest shrines of Lord Shiva. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history, with the current structure being built in 1951. The temple is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus and attracts a large number of visitors every year. It is also an architectural marvel, with intricate carvings and sculptures adorning the walls and pillars of the temple. The temple is situated on the shore of the Arabian Sea and is a popular spot for tourists to witness the beautiful sunsets over the sea.
History of Somnath Temple
The history of Somnath Temple dates back to ancient times and is shrouded in legends and myths. According to Hindu mythology, the temple was originally built by Lord Soma, the Moon God, in gold. It was later rebuilt by Ravana in silver, by Lord Krishna in wood, by King Bhimdev Solanki in stone, and by various other rulers and devotees throughout history.
The temple was destroyed and rebuilt several times, with the most infamous being the destruction of the temple by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024 CE. Mahmud is said to have looted the temple of its riches and destroyed the idol of Lord Shiva, which was made of gold. The temple was rebuilt by King Bhoj of Malwa in the 11th century, and subsequently by various other rulers including the Chalukyas and the Solankis.
In the 14th century, the temple was destroyed by Sultan Alauddin Khilji, who is said to have taken away the lingam from the temple and thrown it into the sea. The temple was rebuilt once again by King Mahipala I of the Chudasama dynasty in the 15th century.
In 1706, the temple was destroyed for the final time by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who is said to have ordered the demolition of all Hindu temples in India. The temple remained in ruins for several centuries until it was rebuilt by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and K. M. Munshi in 1951. The current structure of the temple is a fine example of modern Indian architecture and is a testament to the resilience of the Indian spirit.
Signification of Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered the most sacred shrines of Lord Shiva. It is believed that the lingam (an iconic representation of Lord Shiva) in the temple is a self-manifested (swayambhu) one, which means that it was not created by human hands but appeared on its own. The temple is also believed to be the place where Lord Krishna performed his divine Leelas (miracles) during his lifetime.
Apart from its religious significance, Somnath Temple is also an important symbol of India's cultural heritage and national identity. It is a testament to the resilience of the Indian people, who have rebuilt the temple several times in the face of destruction and adversity. The temple also holds a special place in the hearts of Gujaratis and is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus from all over the world. The temple's location on the shore of the Arabian Sea also adds to its beauty and charm, making it a popular tourist destination.
Architecture of Somnath Temple
The architecture of Somnath Temple has undergone several changes over the centuries due to destruction and reconstruction. The current temple is a beautiful blend of different styles of architecture, including Chalukyan, Solanki, and Rajput.
The temple's main entrance is known as the Mahadwara and features intricate carvings of Hindu deities and mythical creatures. The temple's shikhara (spire) is 150 feet tall and is topped by a gold-plated kalash (pinnacle). The temple also has several mandapas (pillared halls) and a large sabha mandap (assembly hall) where devotees can sit and offer their prayers.
The sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses the lingam of Lord Shiva, which is believed to be self-manifested. The lingam is made of black stone and is 3 feet tall. The temple also houses several other idols of Hindu gods and goddesses, including Lord Ganesha, Goddess Parvati, and Lord Vishnu.
Overall, the architecture of Somnath Temple is a beautiful representation of India's rich cultural heritage and the ingenuity of its people in creating stunning structures that have stood the test of time.
Festivals of Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in the state of Gujarat, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (sacred shrines) of Shiva. Some of the important festivals celebrated at Somnath Temple are:
- Maha Shivaratri: It is the most important festival celebrated at Somnath Temple. It falls on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Phalguna (February-March). Devotees observe a day-long fast and offer special prayers to Lord Shiva.
- Shravan Mahotsav: It is a month-long festival celebrated during the Hindu month of Shravan (July-August). Devotees offer prayers and perform abhishek (ritual bath) of Lord Shiva with holy water, milk, and other items.
- Kartik Purnima: It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October-November). Devotees take a holy dip in the sea and offer prayers to Lord Shiva.
- Diwali: The festival of lights, Diwali is also celebrated at Somnath Temple. Devotees decorate the temple with lights and offer special prayers to Lord Shiva.
- Janmashtami: This festival celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna and is celebrated with great enthusiasm at Somnath Temple. Devotees offer prayers and perform various rituals to seek the blessings of Lord Krishna.
Apart from these festivals, other important events such as Navratri, Holi, and Ganesh Chaturthi are also celebrated at Somnath Temple with great zeal and fervor.
Visiting hours of Somnath Temple
The visiting hours of Somnath Temple vary throughout the year, depending on the season. Here are the general visiting hours for Somnath Temple:
- Summer (April to September): 6:00 AM to 9:30 PM
- Winter (October to March): 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM
Please note that the temple timings may be subject to change on special occasions or during festivals. It is always advisable to check the temple timings beforehand to avoid any inconvenience.
Also, please note that there are certain dress codes and restrictions for visitors to Somnath Temple. Visitors are required to dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering the temple premises. Photography and videography inside the temple are strictly prohibited.
Dress code of Somnath Temple
There is a dress code that visitors are expected to follow when visiting the Somnath Temple in Gujarat, India. Here are some guidelines:
- Modest clothing: Visitors should wear modest clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. Shorts, sleeveless tops, and skirts above the knee are not allowed.
- Traditional attire: It is preferable to wear traditional Indian attire such as salwar kameez, saree, or dhoti-kurta. This is particularly important for those who wish to perform any rituals or offer prayers inside the temple.
- Footwear: Visitors are required to remove their shoes before entering the temple premises. There are shoe stands available outside the temple where visitors can leave their shoes.
- Accessories: Visitors should avoid wearing any accessories made of leather, such as belts or purses, as they are not allowed inside the temple.
It is important to note that these guidelines are in place as a mark of respect for the religious significance of the temple. Visitors who do not adhere to the dress code may be denied entry into the temple.
Poojas and rituals of Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (sacred shrines) of Shiva. Here are some of the poojas and rituals that take place at the Somnath Temple:
- Rudrabhishek: This is a daily ritual performed in the early morning hours where the idol of Lord Shiva is bathed with water, milk, honey, and other sacred items while Vedic hymns are chanted.
- Abhishek: Devotees can perform abhishek (ritual bath) of the idol of Lord Shiva with holy water, milk, and other items.
- Aarti: Aarti is a devotional ritual performed to honor and praise the deity. At Somnath Temple, aarti is performed twice a day - in the morning and evening.
- Bhog: Devotees can offer bhog (food) to the deity. The food is then distributed among the devotees as prasad.
- Shringar Darshan: This is a daily ritual where the idol of Lord Shiva is decorated with flowers, clothes, and jewelry. Devotees can have darshan (viewing) of the deity during this time.
- Pooja Archana: Devotees can perform pooja archana (worship) of the deity with flowers, incense, and other sacred items.
Apart from these poojas and rituals, special poojas and abhisheks are performed during festivals and auspicious occasions. Devotees can also perform various other rituals and prayers as per their beliefs and customs at the Somnath Temple.
Accommodation Near Somnath Temple
There are several accommodation options available near Somnath Temple to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the popular choices:
- Somnath Trust Guest House: This guest house is run by the Somnath Temple Trust and is located within the temple complex. It offers clean and comfortable rooms at affordable rates.
- Hotel Somnath Atithigruh: This hotel is located just 1 km away from the Somnath Temple and offers a range of room types to suit different budgets. It also has a restaurant and other amenities.
- Lords Inn Somnath: This is a 4-star hotel located around 2 km away from the Somnath Temple. It offers well-appointed rooms, a swimming pool, and other facilities.
- Safari Resort: This is a luxury resort located around 8 km away from the Somnath Temple. It offers luxurious tents, villas, and cottages amidst a serene natural setting.
- The Fern Residency: This is a 3-star hotel located around 8 km away from the Somnath Temple. It offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and other facilities.
There are also several other guest houses, hotels, and lodges available in and around Somnath town. It is advisable to book in advance, especially during peak season, to avoid any last-minute hassles.
Attraction Near Somnath Temple
There are several attractions near Somnath Temple that visitors can explore. Here are some popular ones:
- Triveni Sangam: This is the confluence of three holy rivers - Hiran, Kapila, and Saraswati. It is located just a few kilometers away from the temple and is considered a sacred site.
- Bhalka Tirth: This is the place where Lord Krishna is said to have been hit by an arrow and left his mortal body. It is located around 5 km away from the temple and is considered a holy site for Hindus.
- Panch Pandav Gufa: This is a group of five caves located around 2 km away from the temple. According to legend, the five Pandava brothers from the Hindu epic Mahabharata took shelter in these caves during their exile.
- Junagadh Gate: This is an ancient gate located near the temple that dates back to the 10th century. It is an architectural marvel and is considered a significant historical landmark.
- Veraval Beach: This is a beautiful beach located around 6 km away from the temple. It is a popular spot for picnics and water sports.
- Gir National Park: This is a wildlife sanctuary located around 45 km away from the temple. It is home to several rare species of animals, including the Asiatic lion, and is a must-visit for nature lovers.
Apart from these, there are several other temples, monuments, and landmarks that visitors can explore in and around Somnath town.
Things To Do In Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple is one of the most significant Hindu temples in India, and there are several things that visitors can do during their visit to the temple. Here are some popular activities:
- Attend the Aarti: The daily aarti at Somnath Temple is a must-attend for visitors. It is a beautiful ritual that involves lighting of lamps, chanting of hymns, and offering of flowers and incense to the deity.
- Visit the Museum: The Somnath Temple Museum is located within the temple complex and has several artifacts and exhibits related to the temple's history and significance.
- Take a Holy Dip: The temple has a sacred pond called the Koti Tirth, where visitors can take a holy dip and seek blessings.
- Attend the Light and Sound Show: The Somnath Temple Trust organizes a spectacular light and sound show every evening that showcases the temple's history and significance.
- Explore the Temple Complex: The temple complex has several other smaller temples and shrines that visitors can explore.
- Offer Puja and Abhishek: Visitors can also offer puja and abhishek to the main deity and seek blessings.
- Attend Festivals: The temple celebrates several festivals throughout the year, including Mahashivratri, Navratri, and Diwali. Visitors can attend these festivals and witness the temple's grandeur and spiritual fervor.
Apart from these, visitors can also explore the nearby attractions and landmarks, go on nature walks, and indulge in local food and culture.
Best Time To Visit Somnath Temple
The best time to visit Somnath Temple is during the winter months, from November to February, when the weather is pleasant and comfortable. The temperature during this time ranges from 10°C to 25°C, making it ideal for temple visits and sightseeing.
The summer months, from March to June, can be quite hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 40°C. It can be challenging to explore the temple and other outdoor attractions during this time, and visitors may experience discomfort due to the heat.
The monsoon season, from July to September, brings heavy rainfall to the region, and it is advisable to avoid visiting the temple during this time as it can be challenging to navigate through the rain.
It is also worth noting that Somnath Temple is a significant pilgrimage site, and several festivals and events take place throughout the year. Visitors can plan their visit during these festivals, such as Mahashivratri, Navratri, and Diwali, to witness the temple's grandeur and spiritual fervor.
How To Reach Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple is located in the town of Prabhas Patan in the Indian state of Gujarat. Here are the ways to reach Somnath Temple:
- By Air: The nearest airport to Somnath Temple is the Diu Airport, which is around 80 km away. Visitors can take a taxi or bus from the airport to reach the temple.
- By Train: The nearest railway station to Somnath Temple is Veraval Railway Station, which is around 6 km away. There are regular trains from major cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Rajkot to Veraval.
- By Road: Somnath Temple is well-connected by road, and visitors can take state-run buses or private taxis from nearby cities like Ahmedabad, Junagadh, Rajkot, and Dwarka.
- By Ferry: Visitors can also reach Somnath Temple by ferry from nearby destinations like Diu and Veraval. The ferry ride is an excellent way to enjoy scenic views of the coastline and the Arabian Sea.
It is advisable to book transportation in advance, especially during the peak season, to avoid any inconvenience.
What is the significance of Somnath Temple?
Somnath Temple is one of the most significant Hindu temples in India and is considered one of the 12 jyotirlingas (shrines of Lord Shiva) in the country. The temple has a rich history and cultural significance, and millions of devotees visit it every year to seek blessings.
What is the dress code for visiting Somnath Temple?
Visitors are advised to dress conservatively and follow the dress code of the temple, which requires covering the shoulders and legs. Men are not allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless tops, while women are required to wear sarees, salwar kameez, or other traditional attire.
Are there any entry fees to visit Somnath Temple?
No, there are no entry fees to visit Somnath Temple. However, visitors may have to pay for special darshan, abhishek, or other rituals and offerings.
What are the timings of Somnath Temple?
Somnath Temple is open from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day. The temple timings may vary during festivals and special occasions.
Is photography allowed inside the temple complex?
No, photography is not allowed inside the main temple complex. Visitors can take pictures outside the temple and in the museum.
Are there any accommodation options near Somnath Temple?
Yes, there are several accommodation options near Somnath Temple, including guesthouses, hotels, and resorts.
What are the nearby tourist attractions of Somnath Temple?
Some of the nearby tourist attractions of Somnath Temple include Gir National Park, Diu Island, Junagadh Fort, and Porbandar Beach.
Is it safe to travel to Somnath Temple?
Yes, Somnath Temple is a safe place to visit, and the authorities take several measures to ensure the safety and security of visitors. However, visitors are advised to take general safety precautions and be mindful of their belongings.