Location: Prabhas Patan, Veraval, Gujarat.
Deity: Lord Shiva
Timing for Darshan: 6.00 AM to 9.00 PM
Timing for Aarti: 7.00 AM, 12 Noon, and 7.00 PM
Jai Somnath (The Light and Sound Show): 8.00 PM to 9.00 PM
The Somnath Temple, also known as Deo Patan, is situated in Prabhas Patan, Veraval, Gujarat. It is first among the 12 Jyotirlinga. Somnath translates into “the Lord of the soma, or the moon.” Reconstructed many times, the first structure is estimated to be built between 1st-millennium to about the 9th-century CE. The temple has been the subject of archaeological studies for years, especially during the colonial era. In this process, it was revealed, the temple was being converted to a mosque . After the independence, those ruins were demolished and under the orders of the first home minister Patel, the temple was reconstructed in the Māru-Gurjara style of Hindu temple architecture. The contemporary temple was completed in 1951 after Sadar’s death.
MythologyThe Somnath Temple is not mentioned in ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts, however the site, Prabhas Patan is mentioned in ancient texts. The Bhagavata Purana, mentions it as a tirtha along the coastline of Saurashtra. The Somnath Temple has been linked with Prabhas through a myth. The site is Triveni Sangam i.e. the rivers Kapila and Hiran met the mythical river Sarasvati . It is believed that Soma i.e. Chandra deva who was cursed by his father-in-law. Upon marrying the 27th daughter of Daksa, Chandra started neglecting his other wives. His other wives complaint to Daksa, who then put a curse on Chandra, to break the curse, he worshiped lord Shiva in Somnath and he bathed in the river and regained his lustre therefore the name of the town is Prabhas, meaning the same, and the alternatives names are Somnath and Someshwar which also come from this tradition.
Prabhas is also mentioned in Mahabharat as place near the coastlines of Dwarka, where Arjun and Balaram went to tirtha and a place where shir Krishna went to spend his final days.
Kalidas mentions Somnath in his poem ‘ Raghuvamsa‘ in the 5th century.
The Chaulukya king Mularaja, might have built the first temple before 997 C.E., however many believe he renovated an earlier small temple. In the post- independence excavation, the structure matched with the description provided by Al-biruni. In 1026, during reign of Bhim I the temple was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni, the contemporary Turkic Muslim ruler. Kumarapala, rebuilt the temple. According to an inscription he replaced the old wooden temple with a strong structure built with excellent stones and studded it with jewels. In 1299, Alauddin Khalji's army invaded Gujarat, defeated the Vaghela king Karna and sacked the temple. The temple was rebuild again in 1308 by Mahipala I, the lingam was installed by his son Khengara sometime between 1331 and 1351. Amir Khusrow, noted that in late 14th century, Gujarati Muslim piligrams would stop and pay their respects before departing for Hajj. In 1395 C.E., the temple was destroyed by Zafar Khan. In 1665, Aurangzeb ordered to destroy the temple and in 1705, he warned that if Hindus revive the place of worship, it would be completely destroyed. During the Martha expansion, The Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore rebuilt a temple at Somnath.
Pre-independence, the Somnath Temple was in Junagadh State, which was annexed after the referendum. Sardar Patel came to stabilise the state with Indian army, upon the visit, he ordered the reconstruction of the Somnath temple. The reconstruction was not funded by the state instead donation was collected from the public. After the death of Patel and Gandhi, the project was continued under Munshi, then Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and headed by the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. In October 1950, the site was cleared, the present mosque was shifted few kilometres away. In May of 1951, Rajendra Prasad, then president performed the installation ceremony.
Present Architecture of The Temple
The current temple is a Māru-Gurjara architecture-style temple. The temple is an epitome of the Sompura Salats work, one of Gujarat's master masons. The main architect Prabhashankarbhai Oghadbhai Sompura, he included the old recoverable parts of the structure in the new design.
The new structure has two-level temple with a pillared mandapa and 212 relief panels. The temple sikhara is 15 metres in height above the sanctum and attached to it, is a 8.2 metre tall flag pole. The temple has three major parts- the Garbh Girh, sabha mandap and Nitrya Mandap.
Upon the reconstruction, the artwork of the previous structure was recovered and reused.The new structure integrated the old panels with new ones, the color of the two is distinguishable. The panels and artwork are found to the south and southwest of the temple.
An original, defaced, semi-destroyed statue of Nataraja is placed on the south side. A mutilated statue of Nandi is on the right. There are traces of shiva-Parvati panels.
The light and sound show
Jai Somnath is the light and sound show at Somnath temple. Voiced by Amitabh Bachchan as the voice of the ocean, aims to educate about the history of Somnath. During the laser light the legends, myths, and history is narrated. The show begins with chants of ‘om Nama shiva’. Not only does It describes the Hindu mythology but also tells the story of invasions and reconstructions throughout the course of its existence.
Aside from its religious relevance, Somnath Temple is a major attraction to many foreign as well as domestic tourist. Its masonry and craftmanship are appreciated for its uniqueness and beauty, while staying true to the old structure. As Rajendra Prasad said Somnath temple stands for the power of reconstruction which is always greater than the power of destruction.