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Somnath – The Holy Abode of Lord Shiva
The Temple at a Glance
Somnath, or “The Shrine Eternal”, is one of the most sacred places for the followers of Hindu religion. The shrine which has been destroyed several times, only to be rebuilt again, is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in Prabhas Kshetra, on the western coast of Gujrat, the temple is flooded by countless devotees every year to seek the blessings of their supreme deity.   The temple is also known by several other names, which include Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan and Pattan Somnath. 

The Legend
The original temple of Somnath is believed to have been built by Somraj or Moon God of Hindu mythology, long before the start of the Common Era.  As per the Pauranic legends, Somraj was married to the twenty seven daughters of Daksh Prajpati. However, Soma, favored only one of his wives, Rukmani, while completely ignoring her other sisters. Daksh Prajapati was distressed about this and in his anger cursed Somraj, because of which the Moon God lost his brilliance.  Somraj was struck with much grief and pain and in an attempt to rid of him from the curse; he started visiting the various holy places. However, it was only on the advice of Parampita Brahma, that he came to Prabhas Teerth, where he set up a Shivling to worship Lord Shiva. He prayed relentlessly for 4000 years, after which Lord Shiva heard his prayers and granted him the boon of being partly relieved from the curse, which is believed to be the reason for the waxing and wanning of the Moon. Pauranic traditions also mention about the decision of Lord Shiva to remain within the Shivlingam built by Soma till eternity, which prompted the Moon God to construct a golden temple at the place. It is also said that later, Ravana, built Silver temple at the same place which was replaced by the sandalwood temple constructed by Lord Krishna, years later.    

Destruction and Restoration
As mentioned earlier, the temple of Somnath was destroyed and restored several times, and the current temple was built only after India attained independence in 1948. The various invades, who were generally foreign Muslim rulers, were attracted by the immense wealth of the temple as also the fact it held great reverence among the Hindu community. Many of these invaders believed that by destroying the temple they would destroy the faith of Hindus and then easily make them accept Islam. Even though this tactic worked most of the time, the complete destruction of Somnath temple was never achieved, which according to most devout Hindus was an indication of the fact that their religion was and faith was equally indestructible.  
Every time there was an attempt to destroy the Somnath temple, its reconstruction took its grandeur to even greater heights. During the various phases of reconstruction, the temple was made from various materials including, wood, red sandstone and stone. The most recent reconstruction was carried out under the aegis of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was disturbed on sighting the ruins of the temple during his visit to Gujrat in 1947. Later when India became independent in 1948, Sardar Patel along with K.M Munshi started the reconstruction of the temple. Later, when Sardar Patel died, the work was completed under the supervision of K. M. Munshi.

The Current Temple
The present day Somnath temple is built in the Chalukyan style architecture and is a great example of the skills of the master masons of Gujrat, Sompura Salats.  The 150 feet tall main spire is topped by a flag pole having a height of 27 feet, which enables pilgrims to get a view of the dome of this holiest of holy place form a great distance.

Some other places of visit in Somnath:
Archaeological Museum:  Taking a trip through the lanes in the north side of the Somnath Temple located the archaeological Museum where you will get to see the remains of the old version of Somnath temple. Hope you will definitely love to know the history of the Somnath temple after visiting the museum.

Somnath Beach: This beach is not recommended for the purpose of swimming. But on a definite note you love the silence of this place. Various recreational facilities are available in the beach for the tourists.

Sun temple: This temple was constructed during the period of 14th century located near to the Sitala Mata Temple. Idol of Sun god is present inside the temple.
Sana Caves: 62 rock shelters are present in a scattered manner in this hill. You will definitely love to see the variations in the designs of the caves. As per historic data these caves are built during the period of second century BC.
Bhalka Tirtha & Dehotsarg:  In the northern side of Somnath located the famous temple of Lord Krishna, Bhalka Tirtha. It is said that over this place Lord Krishna was shot mistakenly. The temple at Bhalka Tirtha is known as Mahaprabhuji's Bethak. Near to this place is Dehotsarg where lord Krishna succumbed to the wound of the mistaken shoot.


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