Situated on the south-west coast of Saurashtra, near Veraval in Gujarat, Somnath is considered as one of the most sacred pilgrimage centres of India. The small town is famous for the Somnath Temple, which finds mention in holy ancient Purans like Skandpuran, Shreemad Bhagavat, and Shivpuran. It is also one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Here, facing the Arabian Sea, stands the glorious temple of Somnath that enshrines the mighty Jyotirlinga.
The temple is believed to have been built in 4-phases - in gold by Lord Soma, in silver by Ravana , in wood by Lord Krishna and in stone by King Bhimadeva. The temple was so highly praised about its wealth and riches by the Arab traveller Al Baruni that notorious pillager Mahmud Gazni attacked the temple twice and took a large amount of valuables. The temple is also an example of the Hindu resilience and unity as despite been repeatedly desecrated and plundered by the Muslim invaders it was rebuilt each time to stand in its full splendour.
’Somnath’ stands for the Moon God and the temple derives its name from the legend that it was built by none other than Moon God himself. The legend goes that Moon was married to 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati but he used to love ‘Rohini ’ the most among all of them. The negligence towards his other wives infuriated Daksha and he cursed Chandra (Moon) that he would wane. The disturbed Chandra, went to Brahma and sought his help. With Brahma’s advice Chandra came down to Prabhas and worshipped Lord Shiva for six months and was blessed to grow in one half of the month and to wane in the other. On being requested by the Moon and other gods, Shiva resided there (Somnath) eternally in the form of Somchandra (Jyotirlinga).
Somnath is also famous for being the sacred place where Lord Krishna took his last journey to Neejdham after getting struck by a stray arrow of a tribal man. In Somnath, there exists the Triveni Ghat that is the sacred sangam of three rivers having great religious importance. There are various temples at the bank of this ghat that have been a constant source of spiritual inspiration to devotees for centuries.
Apart from the religious grandness that Somnath commands it is also known for its historic importance and scenic beauty. Somnath temple being one of the wealthiest temples of its time, the town has always been an obvious target of foreign invaders. The town has witnessed several invasions, desecrations and plunders since centuries from Mahmud Gazni in 1026 to Aurangazeb in 1706 and has emerged stronger each time. Being a lovely beach destination, Somnath also attracts tourists who come in the search of natural beauty and fun.
Stay options in Somnath are limited to very basic hotels, guest houses and dhramshalas. Shri Somnath Trust offers accommodation in 16 air-conditioned rooms, it also has 200 basic rooms in a different complex. Rooms can be taken from the trust office. One can also stay at Veraval, 5-6 km away from Somnath. Hotel Toran, Hotel Park and Hotel Rajdhani are a few decent hotels in Veraval.
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