It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva and is easily one of the most famous ones. A huge tourist spot and a pilgrimage destination, this is the Somnath temple or the Deo Patan. The temple is located in Prabhas Patan near the western coast of Gujarat. Skirted by the Arabian Sea, the temple commands a spectacular view of the Saurashtra peninsula.
The exact date of construction is unknown and the 1st temple of Somnath was made in the past but the date is not known. The second temple however was built by Yadava Kings of Vallabhi in 649 CE. The temple is called Somnath due to the “Soma” being another epithet of Lord Shiva. This is a Jyiotirlinga site which means Lord Shiva appeared there in his fierce form and took a different manifestation of his own power.
What is interesting is that Somnath temple is also known to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his “Lila” and thereafter left for his heavenly abode. According to many scholars, the site of Somnath has been a sacred place for many many years and is the confluence point of three rivers called Kapoila, Hiran and the mystical Saraswati. This is called the “Triveni Sangam” and is the place where Lord Soma, the Moon God bathed and regained his shine and luster after losing it in a curse.
The architecture of the temple is mostly Chaluykyan and reflects the skills of the Sompura Salats who used to be Gujarat’s prime master masons. The temple’s Shikhara, or main spire, is 50 meters in height, and it has an 8.2 meter tall flag pole at the top. Silver doors, intricate carvings, a shivling and a Nandi idol (bull god) add to the splendour of the building. The huge courtyard of the temple has an equally large mandapa (hall) and the main shrine, whose arches tower over the whole temple complex. After paying obeisance, devotees can slip through a side door to find an ethereal view of sunlight tripping over the sea waves.
According to the Skanda Purana, the name of Somnath Temple will change every time the world is reconstructed. It is believed when Lord Bramha creates a new world after ending the recent one, Somnath will acquire the name of Pran Nath Temple.
The temple is also know to be the centre of many raids and attacks by invaders most popularly by Mohmud Ghazni in 1026 and stole precious jewels and stones from the temple and slaughtered many pilgrims of the temple and priests who were in it. After Ghazni, came Afzal Khan, the commander of Ala-Ud-Din Khiljoi and then Aurangzeb who destroyed the temple. This temple, as per the history, was destroyed as many as 17 times. But through many rough patches, this divine site has stood through all tests and has emerged mighty and powerful. That is the power of the divine,that is the power of Lord Shiva.
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