Certain places hold an important place in Indian history. Somnath temple is one. No General Knowledge book ever fails to mention the name of Somnath temple because of the number of plunders this temple had suffered at the cruel hands of invaders in the past; Mahmud Ghaznavi alone attacked it 17 times! One is bound to wonder as how much wealth and wisdom this place must have held to be the target of so many misfortunes! Whatever might have happened in the past, the temple still stands as tall as an important pilgrimage centre on the edge looking down on the Arabian Sea, shining bright.
“The Somnath Temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction”- Dr Rajendra Prasad, The first President of India.
Somnath: The location
The small town of Somnath is located in Prabhas Pattan near Veraval in the western Gujarat. The famous temple with the same name is built right at the bank of Arabian Sea.
Somnath: The Place
Literal meaning of Somnath is- God of Moon (Som-Moon and Nath-God). Story goes back in time immemorial. according to legends, Drunk in vanity of his sheen once Moon forgot to behave. He was cursed as a result of which he became lusterless and ugly. To repent for his bad Karma , he meditated at Somnath; worshiped Shiva wholeheartedly. He was the first to build a temple of Gold in the name of Shiva there. Because he, Shiva, freed the Moon of his miseries, the temple came to be known as Som Nath.
As for any physical structure, the temple also deteriorated with time, and was rebuilt by Ravana, a staunch follower of Shiva in metal Silver. Time changed, the form and figure of the Somnath temple also changed, but it never vanished into anonymity. The silver structure was replaced with wood afterwards. The temple that we see today was built after the Indian independence in year 1951.
Somnath: The Journey
Somnath is easily approachable by road or railway. We took a night train from Ahmedabad till Veraval which is 6 km from the temple site.
It was early morning. People outside the railway station suggested what we should be ideally doing in the town. Our trip was already planned, hence, we asked them to leave us at Leelawati Guest House first of all.
En route volley of boats and an unpleasant odour kept us company for long. Leelawati Guest House is run by the Somnath Trust along with two more such guest houses in the town. You can book them online.
Because we came early, a wait for the checkout for earlier guests was unavoidable. The guest house runs a big Dinning Area where we had our breakfast.
In the meantime, our rooms were vacated. We rushed to freshen up and set to see the marvel of history!
Somnath Temple: When We Met
Somnath temple is at a stone’s throw from the Leelawati Guest house. We went there walking. I must tell you- The temple is a treat to the eyes even from far.
- No cameras, phones or bags are allowed inside the temple premises
- There is a counter to deposit all your belongings
The temple is a gigantic structure and leaves you spell-bound. There are corridors on the sides of main temple to roam around which also give the awesome sea view. The Arabian sea touches the feet of Somnath Temple as if paying regards. There is a Pillar on top of which is an arrow pointing into the sea. It is said that if an arrow is shot from this point, no land would come between Somnath and Antarctica.’
Do you know Somnath is also the place where Krishna took his last breath as a human.
Possibly, I am first one to say, but in our history, Pandvas were one of the biggest explorers. They went in every direction of the subcontinent and left their foot prints in some form. We got to see a cave there named, ‘Pandava Goofa’.
Other attraction at Somnath are-Somnath Beach, Triveni Sangam, Ban Ganga, Ram mandir and Sun temple.
The Triveni sangam is a place where three rivers, Kapila, Saraswati, Hiran meet the sea. This place is considered very sacred in Hindu religion. For us, it was also the site of amazing bird watching.
In all, one day is sufficient to explore Somnath. We left the place in night. But before that, we did watch the mind-blowing light and sound show on the face of Somnath Temple. Amitabh Bachchan completely did justice to glory of the temple in his voice. It was really a visit full of new realizations and pride.
That’s all for now.
Here is the previous Oriental AfterGlow Travel Tale: Unfinished Adventure inside caves.