Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple
Somnath Jyotirlinga in Gujarat believed to be the first among the 12 Jyotirlingas. If you plan a 12 Jyotirlinga tour, you will most likely visit this temple before other Jyotirlinga temples located across India. Here, Lord Shiva is worshipped as Lord (Nath) of Moon (Soma), as Moon performed tough penance to please Shiva and regain luster he lost due to a curse. The temple has a long history of surviving brutal invasions and stands in full glory, flaunting a stunning architecture and blessing hundreds of devotees visiting the place every day.
Somnath Jyotirlinga in Mythology
Moon (Soma or Chandra) God was married to 27 daughters of Daksha but loved only one named Rohini. An enraged Daksha cursed Moon that he would slowly lose his lustre and fade away completely. Lord Brahma advised Moon to perform penance to please Lord Shiva at Somnath. Pleased by Moon’s penance, Shiva appeared in front of him on Mahashivratri and revived him from the situation. Since then, Moon withers slowly for 15 days and then blooms again in the next 15 days.
Moon built the original Somnath Temple in gold. Lord Shiva established himself as Somnath Jyotirlinga inside the temple and promised to bless whoever visits the place. The demon king Ravana, an ardent Shiva devotee, later rebuilt the temple in silver. Lord Krishna, during his stay at Dwarka in Gujarat, again built the temple in sandalwood.
Somnath Jyotirlinga in History
Somnath Shivalinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga in India and believed to be more than 79,925,105 years old. However, the temple first appeared in the known historical records in the mid-7th century. Here’s the thought timeline of the temple:
- 649: Built by Vallabhi’s Yadava Kings
- 725: Destroyed by Sindh’s Arab Governor Al-Junayd
- 815: Rebuilt by the king named Nagabhata II
- 1024: Destroyed by Afghan Ruler Mahmud of Ghazni
- 1026-42: Rebuilt by King Bhoj and King Bhimdev I in wood
- 1169: Rebuilt by King Kumarapala in stone
- 1299: Destroyed by Alauddin Khalji
- 1308: Rebuilt by King Mahipala I
- 1375: Destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I of Gujarat Sultanate
- 1400: Rebuilt by the local devotees
- 1451: Destroyed by Gujarat’s Sultan Mahmud Begada who also converted the site into a mosque
- 16th century: Rebuilt and renovated by the local devotees
- 1665: Destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and turned into a mosque
- 1783: Queen Ahilyabai Holkar built a new temple at a site adjacent to the original one.
- 1950: After Indian got independence from the British, the deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel began constructing the temple at the original site after relocating the mosque to a new place. The present-day temple got ready in May 1951.
Somnath Jyotirlinga Location
Somnath Temple located on the Arabian Sea coast in the small town of Prabhas Patan in the peninsular region called Saurashtra in Gujarat. Here are its road distances from some of the popular cities:
- Ahmedabad: 407 km.
- Diu: 86 km.
- New Delhi: 1,311 km.
- Jaipur: 1,044 km.
- Indore: 801 km.
- Mumbai: 905 km.
How to Reach Somnath Jyotirlinga?
- By Air: Though the closest airport to Somnath Jyotirlinga is Keshod (about 60 km. away), there is no scheduled flight to the airport. A flight scheduled to start from Mumbai to Keshod from April 2019. The next closest airport to the temple is at Diu (about 85 km. away). However, it has direct flight connectivity only with Mumbai (about 1 hour and operates on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). From Diu, one can easily hire a taxi to reach Somnath. Ahmedabad Airport is about 420 km. Away and has excellent connectivity with major cities in India. From Ahmedabad, one can travel to Somnath by rail or road.
- By Rail: Veraval Junction is about 3 km. from Somnath and has excellent connectivity with cities like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Rajkot, and more. Connecting trains are another option from Delhi and other major cities. From Veraval, auto-rickshaws and cabs can be booked to reach the temple.
- By Road: You may travel to Somnath by road from any part of India. Regular buses ply to the temple from the cities like Ahmedabad and Jamnagar. Taxis can also be hired.
Local Transport: Most of the tourist places in the town are at short distances from Somnath Jyotirlinga. Auto-rickshaws are cheap and fast mode to transit locally. You would come across auto-rickshaw drivers near the main temple who would take you sightseeing across the town in INR 500.
Best Time to Visit Somnath Jyotirlinga
Winter months (October-March) are the best time to visit Somnath Jyotirlinga because of comfortable weather conditions. Summers (April-June) are unbearably hot, while monsoons (July-September) experiences massive rainfall/intolerable humidity/possibility of cyclones.
Places to See on Your Somnath Jyotirlinga Tour
- Somnath Jyotirlinga: The main temple houses the sacred Jyotirlinga and is an architectural wonder flaunting the mesmerizing Chaulukya temple architecture style. The Arabian Sea waves seem to wash the foot of the temple, which is one of the cleanest religious places across India.
- A Banastambha (arrow pillar) on a temple wall has an interesting inscription, which states that there is no piece of land between Somnath Temple and Antarctica.
- The temple opens from 06:00 a.m. to 09:30 p.m.
- No baggage, gadgets, mobile phones, cameras, metals, etc. are allowed inside the temple, and the same can be deposited at the locker room near the temple.
- One can buy a ticket to perform Ganga Abhishekam. Show the ticket to the priest who would then give you a pot of sacred Ganga water which you can pour in a hole, and the water traveling through pipes poured on the holy lingam.
- Different types of poojas booked at the temple in advance. These include Mahanritunjaya Japa, Kalsarp Yoga Pooja, Shivpuran Paath, Rudrabhishek, and more, costing between INR 100 and INR 2,100,000.
- Old Somnath Temple: It is the temple established by Ahilyabai Holkar in 1783. While pilgrims can’t enter the sanctum sanctorum of the main Jyotirlinga temple, they can worship the Shiva Lingam here.
- Triveni Sangam: The holy confluence of rivers Hiran, Kapila, and Saraswati.
- Bhalka Tirtha: A hunter’s arrow hit just a few miles from Somnath Jyotirlinga, Lord Krishna’s foot. It is a belief that the lord went back to his heavenly abode from here.
- Baldev Gufa: It is a belief to be where Krishna’s elder brother Baldev, who was the incarnation of Sheshnag – the king of serpents, went back to his heavenly abode.
- Sun Temple: Dedicated to Surya (Sun God), it is a beautiful temple with old-world charm.
- Panch Pandav Gufa: It is where the five Pandavas hid during the period of vanwas (banishment). Narrow stairs take one to a secret cave with a small temple of Hinglaj Mata, the kuldevi of Pandavas.
- Gita Temple: The beautiful marble temple is known for its acoustics, and the holy scripture Gita inscribes on 18 pillars.
- Shashi Bhushan Temple: Dedicated to Shashi (Moon God), it is the place where Moon performed yagna to please Shiva.
- Prabhas Patan Musem (open from 10:00 a.m. to 05:30 p.m.; closed every Wednesday, entry fee INR 5): It houses the artifacts collected from the remains of the temple every time it was destroyed as well as beautiful art specimen from different eras.
Top Things to Do During Somnath Jyotirlinga Tour
- Don’t miss the fantastic Light & Sound Show titled Jai Somnath (in Hindi and English, ticket cost INR 25/15 per adult/child) at the main temple premises. Held between 08:00 p.m.-09:00 p.m. and narrated by the Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, tells the place’s glorious history.
- Aartis held at 07:00 a.m., 12 noon, and 07:00 p.m. at Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple are incredibly spellbinding and just not worth missing.
- Relax at the stunning Somnath Beach near Somnath Jyotirlinga. You can enjoy captivating sunset views and also enjoy camel and horse riding.
- Top festivals celebrate in Somnath include Kartika Poornima Fair (November), Mahashivratri (February/March), Diwali (October/November) and Holi (March)
Places near Somnath Jyotirlinga
- Gir National park (about 70 km.): Last abode of the majestic Asiatic lions
- Diu (about 86 km.): Famous for beaches and colonial heritage
- Junagadh (about 91 km.): Famous for royal forts and palaces, Buddhist caves and Girnar – the mountains that are holy to Hindus and Jains
- Porbandar (about 128 km.): Birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi
- Dwarka (about 230 km.): One of the Char Dhams (4 highly revered Hindu pilgrimage places) is home to Dwarkadheesh Temple and Nageshwar Mahadev Temple.
Somnath Jyotirlinga Travel Tips
- Accommodations at Somnath include a VIP guesthouse, 18 other guesthouses, and a dormitory maintained by the temple trust. Besides, there is a budget to 3-star hotels available across the town.
- Most of the accommodations also have restaurants serving Indian cuisines (mainly Gujarati and Punjabi) as well as Chinese cuisines. Alcohol, non-vegetarian items strictly prohibited.
- Photography not allowed inside Somnath Jyotirlinga temple.
- Short and revealing clothes should be avoided.
- Golf carts and wheelchairs are available for physically challenged, sick and elderly pilgrims.
To experience Shiva’s presence on Earth, there is no better place than Somnath Jyotirlinga.