Somnath Temple is the first among the 12 holy Jyotirlingas. This sacred temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The word Somnath translates to ‘The Lord of the Moon‘ which is a form of Lord Shiva. The temple is located at Prabhas Patan, near Veraval port in Saurashtra, Gujarat. It is also called “The Shrine Eternal” because the temple was looted and destroyed six times in the past. However, it was gloriously rebuilt every single time after that.

Somnath Jyotirlinga – Gir, Gujarat

History of Somnath Jyotirlinga

It is believed that the original temple was built by the Moon God with gold in the Satya Yuga; by Ravana in Treta Yuga in silver; and by Lord Krishna in Dwapara Yuga in sandalwood.

This temple has been looted and demolished many times by various invaders – including Mahmud of Ghazni (1024), Afzal Khan, and Ala-ud-din Khilji’s commander (1296), Muzaffar Shah (1375), Mahmud Begada (1451), and later Aurangzeb (1665).

Many rulers reconstructed the temple: Shri Vikramaditya of Ujjaini (about 2500 years ago), the Vallabhi kings (in the period 480-767 CE), Bhimadeva of Anhilawada (in 11th century AD), and Khangara, the king of Junagadh (in 1351 AD) among many others.

It has been reconstructed about 17 times! The modern structure has been constructed by India’s former deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel between 1947 and 1951 in sandstone.

An incredulous story behind Somnath Jyotirlinga

It is believed that Chandra, the moon god, was married to the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. However, he favored Rohini over all the rest. This angered Prajapati, who insisted that he be impartial in his affections. When Chandra did not heed his warnings, Prajapati cursed him and made him lose his luster.

Without moonlight, the world became dark; so all the gods requested Prajapati to retract his curse. Daksha suggested that Chandra pray to Lord Shiva, which is why the Lord is referred to as Somnath or Someshwar, Lord of the Moon. It is said that Chandra also bathed in the Saraswati river to regain his luster, which is the reason for the waxing and waning of the moon and the tides in this seashore location.

Some interesting facts about Somnath Jyotirlinga

  • In a chapter in the Skanda Purana, Prabhasa Khanda mentions this temple. It is also mentioned in the Rig Veda and the Bhagavat.
  • The temple is built in such a location that there is no land in a straight line to its south till Antarctica. This is inscribed on one of the pillars – since 7 AD. This makes it a sea-protected site.
  • It is believed that the Shivalinga was hidden within the hollowness of the Syamantak Mani or the philosopher’s stone (associated with Lord Krishna) – a stone with alchemic properties – able to produce gold. This stone was also believed to have magnetic properties which enabled the Shivalinga to remain suspended in mid-air!

While you can visit this pilgrimage center all through the year, winter (October to March) would be the ideal time to visit it. Visiting it during Mahashivratri (11th March this year) would be the ultimate treat for any devotee!

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