There are many temples of historical and religious importance around Somnath temple the seat of one of the twelve most revered Jyotirlingas.
There are many temples of historical and religious importance around Somnath temple the seat of one of the tweleve most revered Jyotirlingas. If one wants to visit all the tweleve Jyotirlingas the way the scriptures have described, Somnath is the first to visit. The entire story of the importance of Somnath is in the first article –The wonder that was Somnath. This is the third and the last part about Somnath. The entire area of Prabhas Khestra is managed by Shri Somnath Trust.
Ahilyabai’s Somnath Temple or Old Somnath Temple:
This temple is adjacent to present temple. As the main Somnath temple witnessed series of attacks and destruction in the medieval period, Maharani Holkar who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva built this temple in 1783. She felt that the older place was inauspicious as there were series of attacks. She built the temple in basement as a security measure. Above it on the ground a small temple of Lord Shiva is built. Unlike the new, there is no restriction on puja by devotee in this temple. So, many can be seen performing puja here. It is known as old Somnath temple and it is also managed by Shri Somnath Trust.
Triveni Sangam Ghat:
Triveni Ghat in Somanth is the confluence of three holy rivers Kapil, Hiran and a mystical River Saraswaty(also known as Gupt Saraswati). It is believed that the rivers flow to the ultimate destination of Sea from here. This symbolises the human birth, life and death. This is a sacred place. It is believed that the bath in the waters at this Ghat offers relief from all curses and ills happened
It is an important place to pay homage to ancestors, Pitrutarpan. as it holds high religious importance for tarpan for the ancestors. In Chaitra and Bhadrapada months of Hindu calendar huge crowds are seen here.
The ghat has been named after Morarji Desai former Prime minister of India and chairman of Shri Somnath Trust for many years. It has good arrangement for bathing and changing clothes. In Hindu mythology feeding fish is regarded as a talisman for getting wealth and prosperity. People can be seen feeding fish here.
Kamnath Mahadev Temple and Shardapith:
The Kamnath Mahadev temple, built about 200 years ago by a Mayurdhwaj King, is a renowned temple located in Somnath. This is a large temple complex with a holy pond known as Dudhiyu Talav, a water well known as Gangvo Kuvo and a bathing pool named as “Mahadev no Kund”.
The pond water has majestic healing powers and it is said that Mayurdhwaj King recovered from leprosy after taking bath in this place. There is a saying in Gujarat, which means, “He who does not bath at the Kund is as good as dead or is a living dead.” There are idols of Adi Shankaracharya and Lord Nrusimha. There is a replica of Dwadash Jyotirlinga.
Here Lord Parshuram conducted his long penance to be releaved of the curse of Lord Somnath for killing Khstriya. There is Parshuram temple and two kunds and also temples of Jaleshwar-Tapeshwar Mahadev and Jamdagneshwar Mahadev.
Shri Veneshwar Mahadev Temple:
The temple reminds of the story of princess Veni and the attack of Gazani. It has also been beautifully narrated by K M Munshi in his novel. It is said when soldiers of Gazani tried to kidnap Veni, the Shivalinga split apart and Veni disappeared into the Shivalinga.And so the temple is called Veneshwar temple.
Shri Shashibhushan Mahadev and Bhidbhanjan Ganpatiji:
This marks the spot from where Jara poacher took aim of arrow to hit Lord Krishna.Temple of Shashibhushan is jusst 4 km on the Somnath-Veraval road with a beautiful sea-shore. Bhav Brihaspati is said to have built this temple. Lord Shashibhushan with Bhidbhanjan (Saviour form of) Ganesh is worshipped here.
There is a beautiful idol of Lord Shri Krishna in meditating form. The pippal tree is also seen outside the main temple. Near the main temple is Mahadev temple. This is the place where the arrow of Jara poacher hit Lord Krishna while he was meditating under a peepal tree. He had taken the shining mark of the foot of Lord Krishna and shot arrow.
Lord Krishna pardoned Jara and walked away to the bank of Hiren river and left the mundane world.This sacred tirtha is located 5 km on Prabhaspatan- Veraval road.
Gita Mandir and Dehotsarga Tirtha Campus
Gita temple, also known as Birla temple, is marvelous architectural beauty in Marbles. The images of Gita Hymns are depicted in the inscriptions of marble walls. The temple is constructed in such a way that one can hear the echo of his voice inside the temple, so that the Krishna bhajans by the devotees can be echoed in the environments
The footprint of Lord Shri Krishna is carved here to mark the divine memory of Shri Krishna Neejdham Prasthan Leela. Balaramji, the elder brother of Shri Krishna also took his last journey from here in his original serpent form. This is marked by an ancient holy cave called “Dauji-ni Gufa”.
Gita Mandir campus comprises of Gitamandir,Balaramji ni gufa, Laxminarayan Temple, Dehotsarga place,Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Mahaprabhuji Baithak and Bhimnath Mahadev Temple.
The campus is huge and the view of river Hiran is very beautiful. Next to Laxminarayan Temple is a small temple of Kashivishvanath Mahadev followed by Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhuji Bethak.Bhimnath Mahadev Temple is about 50 meter away in the campus
This place is located on the banks of Hiran at a distance of 1.5km from Somnath temple. Lord Shri Krishna took his divine journey from here. Rich accounts of the divined Shri Krishna Neejdham Prasthan Leela are found in Mahabharat, Shrimad Bhagwat, and Vishnu Puran etc. Swami Shri Gjananand Saraswatiji has critically examined them and suggested the time of Neejdham Prasthan. He suggested that Shri Krishna departed on the first day of bright fortnight of Chaitra month (which correspondes with 18th February of English calendar) in the year 3102 B.C. at 2:27:30 hours
Panch Pandav ni Gufa:
Panch Pandava Gufa is a temple situated near Lalghati in Somnath. late Baba Narayandas founded it in the year 1949. This temple is dedicated to five Pandava brothers. This temple at an elevated place, offers a beautiful view of surrounding holy city.
How to visit places around Somnath?
Auto rickshaws and house carts are available to move around. The rickshaws charge Rs.150 for 6 place journeys and take 2 hours to complete.
Why Somnath is so significant?
Somnath stands for Lord Shiva. The Lord of Som is believed to be Agni (fire) and yagna. Hence Somnath has its significance since Vedic era and regarded as First Jyotirlinga. Prabhas Kshetra witnessed yagnas for several times. The symbol of Yagna is jyoti (flame) and so Jyotirlinga.
Somnath is not merely a Shiva Tirtha or Jyotirlinga temple. It is the institute which fought against attacks and was born again. It represents Hindu resilience, the faith of Hindu devotees, dedication and their immortal love.
Somnath teaches many lessons. For example why Mohammad (Sultan of Ghazni) in Afghanistan) was so successful to attack and destroy the temple? How he completed his 1200 mile long journey from Afghanistan to Somnath successfully? The answer is simple. India was not united at that time.
The present temple owes its existence to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who demonstrated his will and desire to construct the new temple.
Where to stay in Somnath:
There is a sprawling Somnath Trust Guest House premise. It maintains a VIP Guesthouse, Eighteen other guest houses and an economical dormitory. The total number of rooms in the trust guest houses is over two hundred. The rooms are clean and have basic amenities.
There are also few hotels and resorts near Somnath. Their tariff ranges from Rs.500 to Rs.1000 depending upon the season.
How many days are required at Somnath?
For Somnath darshan, two days would be ideal. One must ensure a night stay at Somnath to get the feel of the place.
Development Projects at Somnath:
Shri Somnath Trust has prepared a detailed development plan for an all-round development of the Somnath or Prabhaskhestra, which envisages a Shree Krishna Neejdham Prasthan Mandir, Shri Sheshavtar Temple renovation, Mukti snanghat renovation (a safe bathing spot), Shri Krishnavtar Darshan Gallary, Shrimad Bhagvat auditorium, Hari Har centre for devotional music, a madya Nishedh Kendra (Liquor addict peoples’ welfare centre), Heritage guesthouse, a dormitory, Vanmali centre for environmental preservation, plantations of holy plants of pippal, Parijat, Kadamb and Tulsi and the Gosakha Gaushala (a well maintained cow herd). At present the activities are going on at fast pace.
How to reach Somnath:
Somnath is well connected by road and railway line with other parts. Somnath has also a newly developed railway station. However at present only one train 1464/1465 Somnath Jabalpur Express reaches upto Somnath station. All other trains stop at Veraval. The distance between Ahmedabad and Veraval by road is 458 km and it takes 8 to 9 hours to reach.
Different trains like 9221/9222 Somnath Express also run on a daily basis between Ahmedabad and Veraval route. To reach Somnath from Veraval, autorickshaws and shuttle rickshaws are available. The shuttle rickshaws charge Rs.8 to Rs.10 per person and the rickshaw charge Rs.50 for 3 passengers depending upon the season. There is a heavy rush in holy month of Shravan, Diwali festival and Mahashivaratri.
Daily state transport buses to different parts of Gujarat also depart from Somnath and Veraval. Somnath has a state transport bus station near the temple. Private buses are also available from Veraval and Somnath. The private bus charges Rs.180 for sitting and Rs.220 for sleeper coach between Ahmedabad and Somnath route.
Distances from Somnath:
The distance of various places from Somnath is:Chorvad-30 km,Keshod-40 km, Sasan Gir-45 km,Junagadh-90 km,Rajkot-195 km,Diu-95 km,Pornbandar-130 km,Dwarka-225 km,Mumbai-995 km,Delhi-1365 km,Chandigadh-1603km,Bangalore-1945 km,Chennai-2276 km and Kolkata-2374 km.
The devotees can also go for Somnath-Porbandar-Dwarka circuit. Porbandar is 130 km from Somnath. The devotees can first visit Porbandar followed by Harsiddhi Mataji Temple. The place is also known as Harshad Mataji Temple and finally Dwarka. Porbandar is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. The entire journey by road is memorable as the most of the ride covers coastal belt.
Local private buses depart daily from Somnath at 8 in the morning and reach Dwarka at 2 in the afternoon covering en route Porbandar, Harsiddhi Mataji and Mool Dwarka. The bus fare is Rs.120 per person. There might be a little variation in the charges depending on the seasonal rush. Dwarka is also well connected by road and railways with other parts of the country.
—————————————————————–Vipul K Shukla
(The writer, a Ahmedabad based Public Relations consultant is a regular visitor to the holy shrine of Somnath. He last visited the shrine in May, 2009.)