Major Temples of Gujarat
by V.A.Ponmelil (Feedback)
Major Temples of Gujarat > Sri Somanath Temple
Sri Somnath temple is known as the Eternal Shrine as it has withstood the shocks of time and the attacks of the destroyers. Situated in Prabhas Kshetra in Saurashtra at 79 kms from Junagadh and 25 kms from Chorwad on the western cost of Gujarat, it was the most revered shrine having one of the twelve pre-eminent Jyothirlingas.
There are several names for Somnath acquired during long history as Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan, or Pattan Somnath. This temple has glorious legend and history. Its reference can be traced in Rig Ved also. This temple facing east once had a large central hall with three entrances.
There are richly carved doorways with sculptured representations of Nandi, and figures of many goddesses and female attendants. A mutilated form of Nataraja, the dancing Shiva can be seen in the balconied corridor.
The legend says that Somraj, the moon god, built this Somnath temple originally in gold. The Moon or Soma with his wife Rohini worshipped the deity “Sparsha Ling” of the temple to free himself from the curse of his father-in-law, Daksha Prajapati. Lord Shiva pleased with his penance restored his light for half of the month. Hence the deity here is known as Someshwar or Somnath, Lord of the moon and the place is called as the Prabhas. Later, Ravana rebuilt the temple in silver. Then again Lord Krishna rebuilt it in wood. Krishna was hurt here at Bhalka in his foot by the arrow of a hunter who mistook him to be a deer.
There is Bhalkha Tirth temple at this sacred place. The mortal remains of Krishna were cremated at Dehotsarga, on the banks of river Hiren. The temple was again built by King Bhimdev Solanki in stone in the 10th century. The temple was very rich and courted over 300 musicians and 500 dancing girls. On hearing the description of the temple by Arab traveler Al Biruni, the Mahmud of Ghazni raided the temple in 1024 A.D and looted it carrying way the loads of jewels and gold on many camels. Each time the Somnath temple was destroyed, it was rebuilt again and again.
In 1706 A.D., it was demolished by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The present temple was rebuilt for the seventh time on the original site in 1950 A.D., with the support from Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel who was the first Deputy Prime Minister of India and was called as the iron man of India. Its reconstruction was completed on December 1st 1995 and the then president of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma dedicated it in the service of the nation.
The present temple referred as Kailash Mahameru Prasada is built by Shree Somnath Trust which looks after the entire complex of Shree Somnath and its environs. The temple has Chalukya style of temple architecture reflecting the inherent skill of Sompuras, the Gujaraj’s master masons. There are the Shikhar portion, the Garbh Gruh, the Sabha Mandap and the Nritya Mandap in the temple. The Temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in between from Somnath sea-shore to Antartica, the South Pole.
The inscription in Sanskrit can be seen on the arrow-pillar erected on the sea protection wall of Somnath temple. The places around the temple include Prabhas Patan Museum with art treasures, and the Somnath beach with pleasant sands. There also other famous places such as the Bakhla Tirth, the Triveni Tirth, Surya Mandir, Ahilya Mandir and Veraval beach near the temple.
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