Somnath, a little temple town is situated along the West Coast, close to the Gir Forests. Though famed for the Somnath temple, the place also, has a few other attractions that have a lot of legends and history associated with the same, with the main Somnath temple having its mention in the age-old Rig Veda. Let’s have a quick tour of some of these –
The main attraction here, this shore temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga and hence, a key pilgrimage spot for a lot of people. The temple is believed to have been originally, built by Lord Soma (Moon God) and subsequently rebuilt by Ravana, Krishna and then, Bhimdeva. It has been destroyed by various invasions, including the first one by Mahmud Ghazni and what is currently seen, and is a rebuilt version of the old temple. The temple itself is magnificent and one can appreciate the beautiful carvings on the roof and walls within. The light show takes place every evening and one should definitely opt for the same. The show beautifully showcases the history of the temple. An interesting story behind the temple involves the story of Lord Soma who is said to have married 27 daughters of King Daksha, but was partial to one – Rohini. King Daksha cursed the Lord causing him to lose his brilliance. It is said that Lord Soma prayed and meditated here to Lord Shiva, who took pity on him and reduced his curse such that he would wax for 15 days and wane for the rest in a month.
Within the temple, watch out for a pillar by the sea with an arrow (image above) that points to South Pole. It is said that the path of light from reaches the South Pole at the end of the Ocean, without any obstructions in its way.
5kms from the temple, is the Somnath beach.The beach is a great place to relax and as you walk along the same, one should try and spot the Swayambhuva (self appeared) natural lingas.
Located close to the Somnath temple and known as the old Somnath temple, this monument was built by Ahilyabai to protect the actual and original linga from destruction. One can see glimpses of the original Somnath temple here. The original linga has been preserved in the basement of the temple . Here one can actually go into the inner sanctum, close to the idol
Around 2-3 kms away from the Somnath temple, on the Verawal- Prabhaspatan highway, is located a temple dedicated to Shri Krishna. It is said that this is where Sri Krishna was shot by a poacher and where he ended his life. The poacher mistook his foot to be a deer and shot an arrow which led to the death of Sri Krishna. There is a beautiful statue of Shri Krishna in a sleeping pose under a tree. It is said that after forgiving the poacher, the injured Sri Krishna walked to the river Hiren and departed from his mortal existence. His footprints are said to have been preserved in marble in a shrine at this spot.
Close to the Bhalka Teertha, you find the beautiful Gita mandir made of marble , with the entire Gita inscribed on its 18 pillars. Dedicated to Sri Krishna, it is said that it is built around the spot where he took rest on his way to the Triveni Tirth, after getting wounded. Built by the Birlas, this temple has amazing acoustics where every sound echoes back to you. Within and around the temple campus are some more amazing places to sight see – including Dauji ni Gufa, Laximnarayan Mandir and the Triveni Sangam.
Dauji ni Gufa is a cave where Sri Krishna’s older brother, symbolised by a snake, departed from Earth.
The Triveni sangam is a confluence of three rivers: the Hiranya, the Kapila, and the Saraswati, though the later is now dried up. The campus as a whole, is a beautiful and peaceful place to just enjoy the banks of the river Hiran and the divine surroundings. It is said that the waters here can miraculously cure people of various diseases. However, in the current state, just sit on the banks and enjoy the calm waters. The sangam has a lot of fish and one can buy crackers from the local shops nearby to feed them.
Panch Pandav Gufa
Dedicated to the 5 pandavas, it is said that during the Pandava exile, the 5 brothers had used the cave as a place to hide and were immersed in prayers that invoked Lord Shiv. This is a narrow cave that allows only single person to enter at a time. It has a small idol of Hidimba Devi, who is said to have appeared before the Pandavas and is said to be the Kuldevi of Pandavas
Kamnath Mahadev Temple
The temple is an old one dedicated to Lord Shiv. It is said that it is here that Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Kamdev. There are 13 Shivlingas that greet you when you enter the place. As you go in further, you can find an old cave with a very old idol of Lord Shiv. The place also, has a pond called Dudhiyu Talav. It is said that the water in the pond has magical properties that help cure King who built this temple, King Mayurdhwaj of leprosy.
With so much of spirituality, beauty and calmness around the place, Somnath gives one a feeling of peace and serenity.
Best time to visit Somnath is between November – February.
The place is crowded on Kartika Purnima (Full moon ) owing to the special prayers session in Somnath Temple.
Accommodation is available in the form of small hotels.
A lot of tourists opt to stay in Veraval which is around 6 kms away from Somnath.
There are plenty of buses available from Ahmedabad and other major cities in Gujarat for Somnath.
Verawal station, which is 6kms away from Somnath, is well connected by rail from most stations in Gujarat
Mumbai and Ahmedabad are the closest airports. Diu airport is closer than these cities but the frequency of flights is limited and are only from Mumbai.