Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution from Past to Future !

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution from Past to Present

Nestled in the heart of India’s western state of Gujarat, the Somnath Temple stands as an eternal testament to the devotion and spirituality of countless devotees throughout the ages. With a history dating back millennia, this iconic temple has not only been a center of worship but also a symbol of resilience, faith, and architectural brilliance. In this article, we delve into the captivating chronicles of the Somnath Temple, exploring its rich history, architectural grandeur, religious significance, and the spiritual experiences it offers.

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

A Journey Through Time

The Somnath Temple traces its origins to ancient times, making it one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in India. Legends suggest that Lord Shiva, the deity of destruction and creation, is believed to have established this sacred abode himself. Over the centuries, the temple has witnessed a series of destructions and reconstructions, each phase marked by unwavering determination to restore its glory. From foreign invasions to natural calamities, the temple has stood strong against the tests of time, rising from its ruins like a phoenix.

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present
Somnath Temple

From the eleventh to the eighteenth centuries, foreign invaders such as Muhammad Ghazni and Aurangzeb repeatedly looted the temple of Somnath and destroyed it after looting. However, as the temple was rebuilt after each attack, Somnath has historical as well as mythological significance. Among the total twelve (dwadash) Jyotirlingas of India, the first place is given to Somnath. Located in Gir Somnath district of Gujarat, Somnath Jyotirlinga stands on the banks of the Arabian Sea. It is only 40 kilometers away from Sasan Gir, so many tourists who come for lion sightings in Gir do not miss the sight of Somnath. The temple is magnificent in appearance, its construction is artistic, and it also has a special attraction for tourists as it looks very attractive in the presence of the surging waves of the Arabian Sea. Apart from the sea, there are other attractions around the main temple.

Religious and Mythological Significance

The Somnath Temple holds immense religious significance in Hinduism. It is one of the twelve revered Jyotirlingas, which are believed to be powerful manifestations of Lord Shiva. The temple’s name itself, “Somnath,” translates to “Lord of the Moon,” signifying its close connection to lunar cycles. This link between the divine and the natural world adds a layer of mystique to the temple’s already profound spirituality.

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

As per Hindu mythology, Somnath Jyotirlinga is believed to have been founded by the God of Moon. (Moon is also known as ‘Som’). According to this story, during the construction of the temple, Som called the Brahmins from Chandralok, in which there was a class of worshipers, ritualists, and another class of sculptors. The sculptors built a magnificent temple according to Shilp-Sastra.

According to historical records, the marble used in that temple of Somnath was so clean that the viewer could see his own reflection in it. The pillars of the temple were artistically carved and studded with jewels. Adjacent to the Linga in the sanctum was a Kothigriha (treasury), which housed the jeweled golden ornaments of the idol. Also, the temple had lingams of gold, silver, and different gems, on which precious gems were stitched into the faded Kinkhabi garments and the Kinkhabi curtains of the temple.

The bell chains were made of gold. There was a separate room in the sanctum to keep the jewels offered by the devotees. Various types of perfumes, such as Henna, Khas, Kevada, Gulab, Chameli, etc., were regularly brought here from provinces like Kanoj (Uttar Pradesh) and Kashmir. Ganga water from Prayag, Haridwar, and Kashi was used for the daily worship of Shivling. A large fleet of Camels was deployed to bring saffron and sandalwood from South India here.

Foreign invesion on Somnath

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present
Somnath Temple

The splendor and influence of the Somnath temple were such that its magnificence was discussed not only in India but also abroad. At the beginning of the eleventh century, when Muhammad Ghazni of Afghanistan learned of the magnificence of Somnath, he decided to make an armed invasion of the temple and plunder it. In 1024, Ghazni marched on Somnath with his huge army. After creating great terror, he entered the temple and took away the idol in pieces. The property of the temple was also looted. However, all the properties of the temple could not be taken into his hands. As the Rajputs assembled for security bravely faced Ghazni and had to flee, Ghazni planned an invasion of Somnath the following year with 30,000 cavalry and 30,000 camels. India’s misfortune was that, at that time, the kings of different provinces did not unite and face Ghazni. Therefore, on January 6, 1026 AD, Ghazni invaded the Somnath temple and completely destroyed the temple.

History of Rebuilding Somnath

According to the note of history, in 1144 AD, the ruler of Anhilwad (Patan) Siddharaj Jai Singh‘s successor, Kumarpal, rebuilt the temple of Somnath with the help of King Bhoj Parmar, king of Malwa, and in 1169 AD, King Bhimdev renovated the temple. Also at this newly built temple, Alauddin Khilji attacked twice in 1297 AD. He turned the temple into a ruin. But Somnath was not a temple built to be forgotten in history. Between 1308 AD and 1325 AD, King Mahipal renovated the temple and installed a golden Kalash.

Foreign Invasion Continues:

The pretense of foreign invaders did not move away from Somnath; even after that, different rulers over the years tried to eradicate Somnath from existence. For example, in 1375 AD, Muzaffar Shah II destroyed the temple. Hence, the local people and Brahmins rebuilt the temple. In 1393 AD, Zafaar Khan, the son of Muzaffar Shah, attacked Somnath. King Khengaar, the son of Mahipala of Junagadh, rebuilt the temple. In 1471 AD, Muhammad Begda demolished the Somnath temple and built a mosque. The local people renovated the temple once more. In 1590 AD, Muzaffar Shah III tried to build a mosque in place of the temple, and then Aurangzeb demolished the temple in 1902 AD. But twice, the local people rebuilt the Somnath temple. Thus, the temple of Somnath continued to be broken and rebuilt.

The Final Renovation of Somanath Temple:

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

Finally, in 1951 AD, the present visible temple was rebuilt due to the determination of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the iron man of India. As many as 160 learned Brahmins were selected from different parts of the country for the Prana Pratishtha ceremony. At 9 hours and 46 minutes on May 11, 1951, the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, lifted the Suvarnashalaka, and Vedic chants were chanted by the Brahmins. The entire atmosphere echoed with the sound of ‘Jai Somnath’ as ​​soon as the funeral took place, at the same time bells were ringing across the country as all the temples of India were instructed to ring the bells. Coincidentally, the same date and time as the Somnath temple was looted and ruined centuries earlier by Muhammad Ghazni.

Architectural Marvels Unveiled

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

Standing on the shores of the Arabian Sea, the Somnath Temple boasts a captivating blend of architectural styles, reflecting the various eras it has traversed. The temple showcases intricate carvings, breathtaking spires, and ornate domes that exemplify the mastery of ancient Indian architects. The grandeur of the temple complex is a fusion of Chalukyan, Rajput, and Persian architectural influences, resulting in a visually stunning masterpiece that has left visitors awe-struck for centuries.

The present Somnath temple is built in the ‘Kailaas Mahameruprasad’ style. Built under guidance of a genius sculptor, Prabhashankar A. Sompura, the temple has a grand entrance at the front, named Digvijay Dwar in memory of Jamsaheb of Jamnagar. The temple’s sanctum consists of a meeting hall and a dance hall with a 155-foot-high peak. The kalash of the peak weighs 10 tons, and the flagpole is 27 feet high.Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

Devotees enter the Somnath temple complex through the Digvijay gate. After that, on the right side, after washing the hands and mouth with water, visit Kapardi Vinayaka temple and go towards the temple, in between the memorial of Veer Hamirji Gohil, who was martyred to protect the Somnath temple, and the temple of Hanumanji, and enter the temple. Devotees visit Somnath Jyotirlinga near the sanctum after having darshans of Ganeshji and Hanumanji in the temple and then Nandi.

The Spiritual Sanctity

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present
Somnath Temple.

The spiritual aura of the Somnath Temple is truly enchanting. Pilgrims from across the world visit to seek blessings, solace, and a connection with the divine. The rhythmic chants of sacred mantras, the fragrance of incense wafting through the air, and the tranquil sound of waves crashing against the shore create an ambiance conducive to deep meditation and introspection. Devotees believe that a visit to this temple can cleanse the soul and bring about a sense of inner peace.

The sanctum has a large and magnificent black Jyotirlinga of Somnath. The sanctum is huge, and its doors are covered with gold plates. Devotees cannot enter here. Only priests appointed by the temple can enter the sanctum. Therefore, the devotees who wish to perform the worship have to deposit money at the counter of the temple, where Prasad is also given along with receiving the money. On the day fixed by the devotee, worship is performed by the Brahmins of the temple.

A Mysterious Connection with South Pole

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

After exiting the temple, you can see the vast ocean by sitting on the pier in the shares built in the temple on the beach. Camel riding and horseback riding can be enjoyed by bathing on the beach. A must-see attraction is the ‘North Pole’ Pilgrimage, which indicates that the South Pole can be reached if you continue sailing in the direction of the arrow. There should be no land on the way. This Tirth-Sthamba is ancient and reflects deep Indian knowledge of astronomy. Today, the world lives in the modern age of Google Maps. Everyone knows the geography of the earth. But how could the Indian scholars who had established the pillar at Somnath centuries ago know that the South Pole could be reached in a straight line from here—and that too without the hindrance of geographical territory?

Pilgrimage and Festivals

The annual pilgrimage to the Somnath Temple is a cherished tradition for millions of devotees. The vibrant and joyous celebrations during festivals like Mahashivratri and Kartik Purnima infuse the temple with an aura of festivity. These occasions offer a glimpse into the colorful tapestry of Indian culture as devotees come together to celebrate their shared faith.

Archaeological Treasures

Apart from its religious and spiritual significance, the Somnath Temple has also been a source of historical insights. The temple complex houses an archaeological museum that showcases artifacts, sculptures, and inscriptions dating back centuries. These treasures provide a valuable glimpse into the socio-cultural and artistic aspects of the eras gone by.

The Universal Appeal

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

The allure of the Somnath Temple extends beyond religious boundaries. Its architectural brilliance, historical significance, and serene ambiance attract tourists and history enthusiasts from around the globe. The temple serves as a living testament to India’s rich cultural heritage and its ability to preserve and honor its past while embracing the future.

Preserving the Legacy

Efforts to preserve the legacy of the Somnath Temple are ongoing. Restoration projects, maintenance initiatives, and technological advancements ensure that the temple’s magnificence remains intact for generations to come. This dedication to safeguarding the temple reflects the unwavering commitment of the authorities and devotees alike.

Nearby Places of Pilgimage:

Triveni Sangam is one and a half kilometers away from Somnath Temple. The holy confluence of Hiran, Kapila, and Gupta Saraswati takes place at this place. As these three rivers merge into the ocean, the confluence holds great mythological significance. Devotees are believed to be cleansed of sins by taking a bath here, and this place is ideal for Pitru-tarpan, which attracts large crowds during the months of Chaitra and Bhadrava. Former Chairman of Somnath Trust and former Prime Minister of India, Late. Morarji Desai, sangam Ghat, is named Morarji Desai Ghat in his memory.Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present

Opposite the Triveni Ghat is the Kameshwar Mahadev Temple, established by Jagadguru Shankaracharya, which houses an idol of Adi Shankaracharya and a small cave in addition to Kameshwar Mahadev. Devotees are also worshiped at this place by local priests. Shankaracharyaji, along with his four disciples, resided at this place for some time.

At a distance of barely 500 meters from Triveni Ghat, Gita Mandir and Dehotsarga Temple are located. The Gita Mandir has a beautiful idol of Lord Krishna, and a summary of Lord Krishna’s Gita-upadesha to Arjuna is inscribed on marble tablets. Balaramji’s cave is next to the Gita temple. Balaramji, who is an incarnation of Seshnag, abandoned his body at this place and went to Patallok. Adjacent to Balaramji’s cave is the Lakshminarayana temple, which has beautiful idols of Lakshmiji and Narayana. The temple complex houses a small shrine of Kashi Vishwanath, adjacent to which is the Dehotsarga site, which has Lord Krishna’s feet beautifully carved in marble. It is mentioned in scriptures that Balramji and Shri Krishna were cremated at this place.

Somnath Temple Chronicles: Tracing the Evolution of Somnath Temple from Past to Present
Dehotsarg Teerth

The place where Lord Krishna was cremated is known as Dehotsarga. According to legend, Lord Krishna was sitting under a pipal tree at a place called Bhalka when a hunter named Jara noticed from a distance that the sole of Lord Krishna’s feet resembled the face of a deer, so he shot an arrow in that direction, which hit Lord Krishna’s left leg. As soon as the hunter came closer, he realized that he had mistaken himself for a deer that had been shot by an arrow.

They were actually the feet of Lord Krishna. Aggrieved by this great sin, the hunter wept and fell at the feet of Lord Krishna. Shrikrishna gave him the marquis and then left his body. There is a beautiful temple of Lord Krishna at Dehotsarga. Besides, the ancient barrels are also standing in remembrance of Lord Krishna. The work of developing Dehotsarg as a scenic religious tourist destination is going on in full swing with the cooperation of the Tourism Department of the Central Government.

Explore the Spiritual Majesty of Somnath Temple

Category Information
Location Somnath, Gujarat, India
Google Location Somnath Temple on Google Maps
Famous For One of the twelve Jyotirlingas and a significant pilgrimage site
Best Time to Visit Visit throughout the year, but the winter months (October to March) offer pleasant weather
Temple Timings Open from early morning to late evening; check specific timings for Aarti ceremonies
Entry Fee Entry to the temple is free; charges may apply for special ceremonies or exhibitions
Accommodation Hotels and guesthouses are available in Somnath for a comfortable stay
Local Cuisine Indulge in traditional Gujarati cuisine at local eateries
Transportation Nearest airport: Diu Airport (approx. 80 km away)
Nearest railway station: Veraval Railway Station
Language Gujarati, Hindi, and English are commonly spoken
Currency Indian Rupee (INR)
Safety Tips Respect the religious sentiments, follow temple guidelines, and secure your belongings
Local Etiquette Maintain a peaceful demeanor, dress modestly, and participate in the spiritual ambiance
Emergency Numbers Police: 100, Medical Emergency: 108

 

Conclusion: A Divine Odyssey

The Somnath Temple stands as a true embodiment of divinity, resilience, and cultural heritage. Its storied past, architectural splendor, and spiritual essence continue to captivate the hearts of those who visit. As we gaze upon its awe-inspiring architecture and immerse ourselves in its spiritual aura, we can’t help but be reminded of the eternal nature of faith and the enduring echoes of divinity that resonate within its sacred walls.

Somnath is not just a temple or Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. Rather, it is also an institution or university explaining history to the present generation. There is a mausoleum of braves who fought against many invasions by foreign rulers and died protecting the temple. The temple of Somnath teaches Indians the lesson of unity and integrity. For example, why did Muhammad, sitting in the village of Ghazni in Afghanistan, 2,000 kilometers away from Somnath, come so far? Why was he able to destroy the temple more than once? All the royals along the route by which Muhammad came to Somnath adopted a indifferent attitude and eased the way for him to proceed unchallenged. If all the royals had unitedly faced Muhammad Ghazni, the history of Somnath might have been different today.

In a world where the passage of time often erodes the foundations of history, the Somnath Temple remains steadfast, sharing its chronicles and echoing the sacred whispers of devotion across the ages.

Good to know Before you plan your Trip:

Attire and Dress Code: Dress modestly and respectfully. Avoid wearing revealing or inappropriate clothing as a sign of reverence for the sacred site.

Accommodation: The entire Somnath region is administered by the Somnath Trust. The Trust has made very good accommodation arrangements for the pilgrims, including Dharamshala, guesthouses, etc. Also, a state-of-the-art Lilavati Khevan has been constructed by the Trust. Private hotels are also located in the Somnath region.

Opening Hours: Check the temple’s opening and closing hours in advance. Plan your visit accordingly to avoid any disappointments.

Some devotees also plan pilgrimages to Somnath along with other well-known shrines in the same area. From Somnath, one travels via Goddess Harshad (Harsiddhi Mata), Dwarka via Porbandar, and Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, 18 km from Dwarka. Private travel buses ply from Somnath every morning and reach Taraka in five to six hours.

Pilgrimage Season: Consider visiting during auspicious periods or festivals for a more vibrant and spiritually charged atmosphere.

Timings: The Somnath temple is open to visitors from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aarti is performed three times a day: at 7 a.m., 12 p.m., and 7 p.m. Apart from this, the darshan time of the temple is extended during Mahashivratri, or Shravan month. The Aarti of Somnath temple also remains a pleasurable experience for devotees. In the Aarti, which lasts for 20 minutes, the sound of conch shell, damru, and dhol nagara creates a supernatural atmosphere for the devotees.

Photography and Videography: Respect the rules regarding photography and videography. Some areas may be restricted or require permission.

Security Measures: Be prepared for security checks, especially during peak pilgrimage times. Cooperate with security personnel for a smooth entry. There is a threat of terrorist attack on Somnath temple. Therefore, the government has created a tight security system. Items like belt, mobile phone, camera have to be deposited outside before entering the Somnath temple. Entry is granted only after strict verification at the entrance.

Respectful Behavior: Maintain a respectful demeanor throughout your visit. Keep noise levels low and follow the instructions of temple authorities.

Offerings: It’s a common practice to offer prayers and offerings. Carry some small change for donations or purchasing items for your worship.

Guided Tours: Consider joining guided tours if available. They can provide deeper insights into the temple’s history, architecture, and significance. A sound and light show is performed in the main temple every night from 8 to 9 hours. In that program of 45 minutes, Amitabh Bachchan’s voice gives detailed information about Somnath. It is fun to watch the program while enjoying the cool sea breeze.

Cultural Sensitivity: Respect the customs and practices of the local community. Engage with the temple’s spiritual and cultural aspects with an open heart and mind.

Silence and Meditation: The temple provides a serene environment for meditation and introspection. Embrace the tranquility and take a moment to connect with your inner self.

Environmental Responsibility: Dispose of waste responsibly and contribute to maintaining the cleanliness of the temple premises.

Local Etiquette: Familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette. Greet fellow visitors and locals with warmth and respect.

Weather and Comfort: Check the weather forecast before your visit. Carry essentials like water, an umbrella, and sun protection to ensure your comfort.

Accommodation: If planning an extended stay, research accommodation options nearby. Book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Transportation: Arrange transportation to and from the temple in advance. Be aware of local transportation options and routes.

Local Cuisine: Explore local culinary delights, but be cautious with street food to avoid any health concerns.

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