Somnath Temple is a very sacred temple for those who believe in Hinduism. Somnath temple is also known as Dev Patan. This temple is located in Prabhas Patan, Veraval in the state of Gujarat, India. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and the first one.
There is no solid proof of who built this temple first, but it is believed that this temple was first built by Chandradev and hence the name of this temple was Somnath. Som is a name of Lord Chandradev. This temple holds a special place in the history of India. This temple was looted many times by Muslim invaders but it is still immortal and indelible.
In the 11th century, Mahmud Ghaznavi looted this temple for the first time and tried to destroy its glory. After this, many more Muslim invaders looted this temple and tried to destroy its glory. But this temple still stood in some form or the other. When India became independent from the British, then India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had an eye on him. He decided to renovate this temple and in 1951 this temple was revived but by then Sardar Patel had died.
Meaning / Importance of Somnath :-
“Som” means moon and “Nath” means God. Meaning the one who is the God of the moon is Somnath. There is also a story behind this incident which is related to Lord Shiva, Chandra Dev and Prajapati Daksha.
Location of Somnath Mandir
The Somnath Temple is located on the seashore at Prabhas Patan near Veraval in the Saurashtra region of the Gujarat state of India. It is at a distance of 7 kilometers from Veraval Railway Junction. It is about 440 kilometers from Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. The nearest airport is Diu, which is approximately 63 kilometers away. Apart from this, Porbandar is also counted among its nearest airports and the distance from Porbandar to Somnath temple is around 130 kms. You can easily get local taxis and other ride from the airport.
The port of Veraval also has an ancient history. The port of Veraval was used for trade in ancient times. The Persian historian of the 11th century has also mentioned this – he says that the reason for the special fame of the Somnath temple is the port situated on it. Veraval Bandargarh was the station for those who used to go between East Africa and Sufla country of China. Somnath Temple became a very famous and prosperous temple because of its special location.
Triveni Sangam is about 6 kilometers away from Somnath temple. Triveni Sangam is the confluence of Kapila, Hiran and Saraswati rivers. Here these three rivers meet together, hence it is called Triveni Sangam.
Significance of Somnath Temple as a Jyotirlinga
Somnath temple is considered to be one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. This thing is also mentioned in Shivpuran. However, in Hindu religion, it has been said that there are 64 Jyotirinalagas, out of which 12 are the main ones. Jyotirlinga means – a linga that is luminous. It is believed that Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Jyoti at all the Jyotirlingas. When the moon was cursed to decay due to the curse of Prajapati, then he went to the shelter of Lord Shiva to avoid it. He worshiped him. Then He appeared in the form of light and saved his lives. Then later Chandradev built a temple of Lord Shiva there and decorated it with the name of Somnath. Somnath is also considered to be the oldest of all the 12 Jyotirinalgas.
Some important information related to Somnath temple –
There is no mention of Somnath temple in the mythological Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. The description of Dev Patan or Prabhas Patan is found in its place. According to chapters 109, 118, and 119 of Van Parva of Mahabharata, Prabhaspatan is described as a place of pilgrimage in place of Somnath temple. Exactly the same description in section 10 of the Bhagavata Purana. 45 and 10. It is also found in 78 where Prabhas Patan is described as a place of pilgrimage in place of the temple.
Meaning of Prabhas Patan: –
The city of Somnath temple is called Prabhaspatan. The name of this place also has a history. According to a story, when the moon had lost its lustre, it regained its luster by taking a bath in the Saraswati river flowing in this region. Later on the basis of this incident the city was named Prabhas Patan. Later the name of the temple was also emphasized by the name of Chandra Dev and the name of this temple was named Somnath.
Mention of Somnath temple in Kalidas’s Raghuvansham
The mention of Somnath temple is also found in the creation of Adikavi Kalidas. Although Kalidas has described it as a place of pilgrimage of Lord Shiva. In Raghuvansham composed by him, he has described some of the major pilgrimage centers of Lord Shiva. He has described Kashi Vishwanath of Banaras, Mahakal Temple of Ujjain, Trimbak, Prayag, Pushkar, Gokarna and Somnath-Prabhas
History of Somnath Temple
We first get the history of Somnath temple in the ninth century. History before that we get the place of Somnath in the form of pilgrimage of Prabhaspatan. Although some historians believe that Lord Shiva’s Jyotirlinga was there even before that but it would be in the form of a small temple.
In the 9th century, the Gurjar king Nagabhatta first mentioned the existence of a temple at that place. He wrote in his article that he has visited Lord Shankar’s Jyotirlinga at Someshwar (Somnath Temple) and also visited other pilgrimage centers of Saurashtra.
Romila Thapar, a well-known historian, denies the fact that the Somnath temple is eternal. She says that Mularaja of the Chalukya dynasty might have built the temple in the 10th century. Some historians refute his point by saying that the Chalukya dynasty might have renovated the earlier small temple.
When Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of India, decided to restore the temple in 1950, excavations at that time found the ruined remains of the 10th century, which are among the oldest known remains. Historian Madhusudhan Dhaki believes that it was destroyed by Mahmud Ghaznavi.
In the year 1026, during the reign of Bhima, Turkish Muslim invader Mahmud of Ghazni attacked the Somnath temple. He plundered the wealth and property of the temple and he destroyed the roof of the temple. According to an estimate, during that time the robber Mahmud Ghaznavi looted 20 million dinars from the Somnath temple.