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  Home > Holiday Ideas > Pilgrimage India > Somnath - Protector of the Moon God

Somnath - Protector of the Moon God

 
Legend goes that the Moon God - Chandra or Soma - was married to the 27 daughters of King Daksha. However he favoured only one queen Rohini, over his 26 other wives which enraged his father-in-law. Further, he became arrogant of his radiant beauty. So, Daksha cursed him that he'd lose his beauty and radiance and wane into darkness. A scared and repentant Soma then prayed to Lord Shiva for deliverance from this curse at the Jyotirlinga, after which he was blessed by Shiva to regain his radiance every time it was lost. So the Moon would wane, but then grow and shine again, in an eternal cycle.
Somnath Temple, Gujarat

As Shiva 'protected' Soma, he came to be known as Somnath & the temple that the Moon originally built in respect and as a tribute to the benevolence of Shiva, the Somnath Temple.
It's said that, Soma the moon God, built the first temple in gold, Ravana in silver, Krishna in sandal-wood and king Bhimdev of Gujarat in stone.

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The first of the 12 Jyotirlingas, Somnath is naturally steeped in legend and held in high esteem by Hindus, especially those who worship lord Shiva as their guardian God. The Somnath temple is also known as 'the Shrine Eternal', as although the temple has been destroyed 6 times it has been rebuilt at the very same place, every single time!

While the present Somnath Temple was reconstructed - for the 7th time - thanks to the efforts of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel,  the temple is now maintained by the Shree Somnath Trust which looks after the entire complex of Shree Somnath and its surroundings.

The name 'Somnath' means 'Protector of the Moon'. ('Som or Soma' = The moon, born from the eyes of Atri, son of Brahma; made the sovereign of plants and planets & 'Nath' = Protector, sovereign or father)

The Somnath temple is a testimony to an amazing mix of art and science and obvious history - Dramatic in build, the splendid architecture, intricate stone carvings and breath-taking sculptures in the Somnath temple, reflect the great artistic skill of the 'Sompuras', Gujarat's master masons. Uniquely, the Somnath temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in between the Somnath temple seashore till Antarctica! A calculation found inscribed on the sea-protection wall at the Somnath Temple! The 'Darshani' gates of the Golden Temple in Amritsar are in fact the Somnath Temple gates that were brought back by the army of the mighty Jat-Sikh King Maharaja Ranjit Singh from Afghanistan.

Places of Interest
Bhalka Tirtha, Gujarat

Prabhas Patan (Bhalka Tirtha):  'Bhalka' is the name of the village, and 'Tirtha' indicates that it is a holy place. Legend says that it is at this spot, a small distance from Veraval, that Jara, a Bhil hunter, mistakenly shot an arrow that hit Krishna's foot, while Lord Krishna was absorbed in deep thought. There is a temple built by the Banayan tree here, which is said to be the same tree under which Krishna was sitting. At the temple altar here, there is a white idol of Krishna in a sitting posture. One can see the bottom of Sri Krishna's foot, pink colored with different auspicious symbols. Nearby is the hunter, Jara, with folded hands and one knee on the floor.

Somnath
Light & Sound Show
The Somnath temple is illuminated every evening. 'Jay Somnath', a Light & sound show is also held every night during 8.00 to 9.00pm, which showcases the majesty of the Somnath temple and is quite a nice experience.

Gita Mandir: Located at the confluence of three rivers, or Triveni Tirtha, Gita Mandir is about 1km south of the Somnath Temple by the sea. It is said that Lord Krishna walked about 4 km from Bhalka Tirtha to this place after he was shot in the foot by Jara, the Bhil hunter, and left the earth at this point. The divine message of Shrimad Bhagvat Geeta is carved on eighteen marble pillars at the Temple.

In a close temple cluster here are also, the 'Balramjiki Gufa' the place from where Shri Krishna's elder brother Balaram is said to have taken the journey of Nirvana & Parshuram Tapobhumi, where the warrior sage Parshuram carried out penance and was relieved from the sin of his Kshatriya killings.

Suraj Mandir, Gujarat

Suraj Mandir: It is a very ancient temple  and  dedicated to the Sun god. It was plundered by Mahmud of Ghazni, but still has some interesting carving on it.

The Ahilyabai Temple close-by was built by the queen mother Shri Ahalyabai Holker during 1782. It worked as substitute for the original Somnath Temple during the Muslim rule. This temple is a must visit.

Fairs & Festivals
at Somnath
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.

Just behind the temple is the Somnath beach with pleasant sands, great sea view, camel and pony rides, coconut stalls, and snack shops.

The museum at Somnath houses the remains of the earlier temples, in the form of a clutter of old carved stones, pottery shards and such historical objects

Other places of interest at Somnath are the Jama Masjid, Bhidiyo Pagoda, and several smaller temples.

Places Nearby
Gir National Park, Gujarat

Gir National Park: The Gir National Park is the last home of the Asiatic Lion and is situated around 43 km off Somnath. This 1400 sq km sanctuary was set up to protect the lions whose numbers at one point had come down to less than 200. Now the number is believed to have reached around 285 at the last count. Read more on Gir National Park

Veraval Sea coast, Gujarat

Veraval: Veraval is a major fishing port and a base point for the visit to Somnath &  Porbandar another major and historical port town about 122 km away.

Chorwad: Chorwad is a new beach resort developed by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat at a distance of around 26 km from Somnath.


Stay Options

Travellers to Somnath can avail the guest house facilities of Shree Somnath Trust.  The trust maintains a VIP Guesthouse, 18 other guest houses and an economical dormitory. There are more than 200 rooms in the trust guest houses. For booking and more information, contact: 02876-231212, 231200.
Check more hotels in Somnath.


How to reach

By Air: The nearest Airport is at Keshod (47 km) while the nearest major airport to Somnath is at Diu, (90 km). Both the airports are connected with Mumbai.

By Rail: Veraval, the closest railway station, is well connected to major cities in Gujarat and Mumbai.

By 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 5 km, Mumbai 890 km, Ahmedabad 400 km, Bhavnagar 260 km, Junagarh 85 km, and Porbandar 122 km..

Somnath Temple at Veraval (Gujarat) is connected by road to both major cities of Rajkot and Bhavanagar by branches of NH-15.

 - Road route from Rajkot to Veraval on NH 15 is via  - Gondal – Jetpur – Junagarh – Keshod (airport) to Veraval
- Road route from to Bhavnagar to Veraval is by a scenic Expressway that passes along the coast, through  - Trapaj - Mahuva - Una – Dholasa - Kodinar - Lodwa  to  Veraval.

Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Somnath is during winter in the months of October to March when the weather remains soothing and pleasant.


About Somnath: Somnath Information & Fact File
Altitude  202 meters
Temp
Summer 36 (Max) & 28 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Winter 26 (Max) & 19 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Best time to Go October – March
Monsoon July – August
Summer April – June
Winter December – January
Clothes Cottons all year round
Nearest Airport Diu, 90 km – well connected from Mumbai
Nearest Railway Station Veraval, 5 km – Connected with all the major cities of Maharashtra and Gujarat
Bus Station Somnath, well connected with all the cities in Gujarat
Hospital & Doctor

Pondicherry has several Govt. Missionary and Private Hospitals well equipped to handle emergencies.

Places to see Prabhas Patan (Bhalka Tirtha), Gita Mandir, Sita Mandir, Ahilyabai Mandir, Somnath Beach, State Museum…
   
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