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Located in the state of Gujarat, on the coast of Arabian Sea, Somnath is one of the holiest pilgrimage spots for Hindus and home to one of the 12 Jyotirlings or religious Shiva shrines of India. This place is as old as creation and its reference is available in Rig Ved also. Somnath means ‘The Protector of (the) Moon God’. The Somnath Temple is known as ‘the Shrine Eternal’ having been destroyed six times and rebuilt six times. According to the legends the temple was built first by Soma or the Moon God in gold, then by Ravana in silver, and lastly by Shri Krishna in wood. The temple is also known by several other names such as Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan or Pattan Somnath.
Most recently it was rebuilt in November 1947, when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel visited the area for the integration of Junagadh and a plan for restoration of its legacy is framed out. This temple had always been the target of invaders who came here for treasures and richness. The ancient inscriptions and carvings found here reveal the place was initially inhabited by the Aryans. The temple is famous round the world for its blended beauty architecture and legend. This interwoven beauty summons scores of tourists as well as devotees to this place from several parts of the globe.
Some of the popular attractions of this place are:
The present temple is built in Chalukya style and has been constructed in such a manner that there is no land in straight-line between Somnath seashore till Antarctica. This is found in an inscription in Sanskrit on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh erected as the sea-protection wall of the Somnath Temple. The summit of this temple rises to a height of 155 feet and atop this there is a Kalash (pot vessel) weighing 10 tons. The flag mast on the peak is 37 feet long which is changed three times during a day. The construction of the present Somnath temple started in 1950. The jyotirlingam pratishthapan ceremony was done by the first president of India, Dr, Rajendra Prasad.
The temple of Somnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Jyotirlinga shrines. This Jyotirlinga shrine is the most sacred of all the twelve Jyotirlinga dedicated to the God Shiva. Devotees as well as tourists from several parts of the world flock here in a large number to seek religious blessing and heavenly grace.
The museum at Somnath is renowned worldwide for its exotic collections of artifacts, which throw light on rich historical as well as a cultural heritage of India. Inside the museum complex one can see the remains of the earlier temples but in the form of a clutter of old carved stones. It also a seashell collection, houses pottery shards, a glass case of water bottles containing water samples from the world prominent rivers like Tigris, Murray, St Lawrence, Danube, Nile and seawater from Tasmania and New Zealand.
This is the mythological place where Lord Krishna was mistaken for a deer and wounded by an arrow while sleeping in a deerskin. The place is situated on the confluence of three rivers. There is a sun temple (Suraj Mandir) nearby which is also a historic temple which was knocked down by Mahmud of Ghazni during his Indian invasion.
This is among the popular attractions of this place famous around the world for its ornate work. The ornamented beauty of this gate fascinated Mahmud of Ghazni so much that he took this gate with himself during his Somnath invasion. Later during the British Era this gate brought back to Somnath and its historic legacy was reinstated.
This was beautiful Sun Temple converted into a mosque during Mahmud of Ghazni’s time. The beauty of this temple enthralled Mahmud of Ghazni so much that he converted it into mosque by destroying deity of this temple.
This temple was built as a substitute for the original Somnath Temple just behind the original temple. Through this temple one can get enthralling view of unending stretch of sea. At this place tourist can enjoy pleasant sands, great sea view, camel and pony rides, coconut stalls, and snack shops.
Other places that can be visited by tourists at Somnath are Jama Masjid, Bhidiyo Pagoda, and several smaller temples located around Somnath town.
Fairs and Festivals:
Though all the major festivals of India are celebrated here with great enthusiasm yet the foremost celebrations of this place are Kartik Purnima in November/December and Maha Shivratri in the month of March. These two festivals are celebrated with great gaiety, which calls on large of tourists as well as visitors to this place from several parts of the globe.
When to Visit Somnath:
The climate of Somnath is mild with the temperature. The summer temperature is ranging between 28°C and 34°C and the winter temperature ranging between 20°C and 28°C. Tourists can visit the place round the year but the best season to visit this place is in winters from October to March.
How to Reach Somnath:
By Air: The nearest airport from Somnath is Keshod 55 km away and linked with Mumbai via daily flights. There are regular buses and taxis plying between Keshod and Somnath.
By Rail: Veraval is the nearest railhead located seven km away from this place. It is connected by train to Ahmedabad and some other cities in Gujarat.
By Road: Somnath is well connected by a good road network to the other nearby places like Veraval, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Junagarh and Porbandar. State transport corporation buses and private coaches run regular service from these places to Somnath.
Where to Stay in Somnath:
At this place there are no major Hotels of India are available. There are guesthouses, rest houses and inns are available for tourists who come here. These guesthouses, rest houses and inns provide world-class facilities and services to visitors. Services are simple but reasonable.
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