The first amongst the twelve Jotirlinga – Shrines of Shiva is Somnath which is based in Patan, Veraval in the Western state of Gujrat. On the banks of Arabian Sea it is at a driving distance from Dwarka, Diu and Sasan Gir so all these destinations can be clubbed together.
The temple was destroyed seventeen times by Muslim invaders. Raja Hamirji was one of the rulers in the Patan area who fought and offered his head to Somnath in war against Mohammad Gazni. The Somnath temple is symbol of victory of construction over destruction. Whenever it it was destroyed it was built grander than the earlier one.
The ruins of temple was in process of being converted into an Islamic Mosque, but after India’s Independence , those ruins were demolished and the present Somnath Temple construction was started by first Home Minister and “Iron Man” of India Sardar Vallabbhai Patel but sadly the construction could be completed only after his death in 1951. There is a small Somnath Temple built by Queen of Indore Rani Ahilyabai Holkar in 17th Century.
Temple is open for Darshan between 6am till 10pm. Like Ganga Aarti at Varanasi you must participate in one of the aartis. Aarti Darshan timings are 7am, 12noon and 7pm. The highlight of the tour is the Light and Sound show between 8pm till 9pm which gives a brief history of the Somnath temple.
In between the Temple and the Sea, there is a long stretch of corridor constructed to have a view of the temple from all sides and enjoy the sea and sunset with a comfortable seating arrangement. If you don’t want to walk you can hire a bicycle for ₹10-20 for an hour.
A curse of Gandhari caused death of Lord Krishna and the arrow was shot by Jara from a place on beach so the place is called Ban Ganga and the place where Lord Krishna got hit is known as Balkha Teerth.
Other temples you can visit are Veneshwar Mahadev Temple , Geeta Mandir ( also known as Nija Dham ) where elder brother of Lord Krishna – Balarama got him after he was hit by the arrow of Jara and this is the place where Lord Krishna took his last breath along with Balarama. At a walking distance do visit the Panch Pandav Temple, Hinglani Mata Temple and Surya Mandir.
Confluence of Rivers Hiran, Kapila and Saraswati can be seen at Triveni Sangam Ghat which is just a kilometre from Somnath Temple.
Veraval is also known for its Handmade Ship making yard where you can visit the ship construction yards where wooden boats are built.
Shopping in Somnath is conches , shell handicraft and you can buy real pearls from the local vendors who will crack shells and will give you pearls from it.
So plan your Saurashtra – Rajkot – Dwarka – Somnath – Diu – Sasan Gir – Rajkot.
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