Somnath Temple - A Truly Surrealistic Experience!

by Tirthkumar Patel


Posted on 9th February, 2016


Somnath Temple
सौराष्ट्रदेशे वसुधावकाशे ज्योतिर्मयं चन्द्रकलावर्तसं...
भक्तिप्रदानाय कृतावतारं तं सोमनाथं शरणं प्रपध्ये.

I am an ardent follower of भगवान सोमनाथ-Bhagwan Somnath and a big fan of everything related to Somnath whether it is its location or history or anything. I visited Somnath recently and am glad to share my experience here. Somnath is one of the most surrealistic places to visit in India. Its magnificence and grandeur make you realize that you are just a speck of dust in this universe! It is hard to describe the beauty of this temple in plain words!

Location

It is first among the 12 आदिज्योतिर्लिङ्गाः - Aadi Jyotirlingas of India. The Somnath temple is located at unique location. There is one pole called बाणस्तंभ् (Arrow Pole) located in the campus of temple on which there is the globe of earth and the arrow piercing it.On the Pole is the following inscription:

आसमुद्रान्त दक्षिन्ध्रुवपर्यन्त अबाधित ज्योतिर्मार्ग

You know what it means ? If you start travelling from Somnath Temple towards South in sea,you will not meet any land until you reach the South Pole aka Antarctica. The nearest land towards South Pole is about 9936 KMs away.
Somnath Vanasthambh Pillar
See the path on a pretty detailed world map:
Somnath South Pole
Isn't this fascinating? This is a wonderful indicator of the ancient Indian wisdom of geography and strategic location of the Jyotirling. I mean at a time when world was merely learning how to survive, our ancestors had found a unique location for their beloved Lord Somnath.

History of the Temple

The Somnath temple has a long history attached to it. पौराणिक-Pauranic traditions maintain that Moon had built a golden temple, followed by a silver temple by Ravana, Bhagvan Shree Krishna is believed to have built Somnath temple with Sandalwood.

The first temple of Somnath is believed to have existed before the christian era. The second temple was built by the Maitraka Kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat. The Pratihara King - Nagabhata II constructed the third temple. The fourth temple was built by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki King. Kumarpal built the fifth temple and was again destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangazeb. The present temple is the seventh temple and has been rebuilt and taken care by Shree Somnath trust.

The Legend

Ancient Indian traditions maintain a close relationship of Somnath with release of Chandra (Moon God) from the curse of his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati. Moon was married to Twenty-Seven daughters of Daksha. However, he favoured Rohini and neglected other queens. The aggrieved Daksha cursed Moon and the Moon lost power of light. With the advice of Prajapita Brahma, Moon arrived at the Prabhas Teerth and worshipped Bhagvan Shiva. Pleased with the great penance and devotion of Moon, Bhagvan Shiva blessed him and relieved him from the curse of darkness.

Somnath in the classical texts

महाभारत-In Mahabharata it is mentioned that when Arjuna was on his solitary exile, he visited Somnath at the end of his exile and then went to Dwarika and married(actually kidnapped first and then married-after all that was the plan of the greatest ever strategist of the world-Lord Krishna ) Subhadra,sister of Krishna.

The research based on ancient Indian classical texts show that first Somnath Jyotirling Pran-Pratistha was done on the auspicious third day of brighter half of Shravan month during the tenth Treta yug of Vaivswat Manvantar. Swami Shri Gajananand Saraswatiji, Chairman of Shrimad Aadhya Jagadguru Shankaracharya Vedic Shodh Sansthan, Varanasi suggested that the said first temple was built 7,99,25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skand Puran.

शिवलिङ्गः -The Linga

It is believed that the ShivLinga placed in the sanctum sanctorum (GarbhaGriha) of the temple actually freely levitated in air without any support.
Shivlinga Somnath Temple
Following is the explanation given for this property:
Mythology - The Shiva linga in the temple was believed to safely hide within its hollowness the famous स्यमन्तक मणि- Syamantak Mani, the Philosopher's stone associated with Sun god and Lord Krishna. It was a magical stone, capable of producing about 80 gms. of gold daily. It had Alchemic and Radioactive properties. It could create a force field around itself that kept the linga floating above ground. The Linga was kept under cover of BelPatras -- Aegle marmelos -- to prevent the dangerous effects of its radio protective properties.
My explanation - I think that the Linga was a kind of miniature Nuclear Reactor which created some sort of Force field around it,enough to stably levitate it above ground. Here's a picture to illustrate the comparison:
Somnath Linga Nuclear Reactor
Believe it or not,but this is the account of Zakariya Al Quazwini giving description of Mahmud Ghazni's encounter with the Linga:
“When the king asked his companions what they had to say about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or support,several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron, and that the ingenious builder had skillfully contrived that the magnet should not exercise a greater force on anyone side-hence the idol was suspended in the middle. Some coincided, others differed. Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were removed from the summit the idol swerved on one side, when more were taken away it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground."

Grandeur and magnificence in the past

In the time of eclipses, from 200,000 to 300,000 worshipers used to frequent this temple, and that the different princes of Hindustan had bestowed in all 2000 villages, the revenues of which were applied to maintain its priests. This revenue was independent of other costly presents received from all parts of the empire. It was customary, also, for those idolaters to wash Somnath twice daily with fresh water from the Ganges, though that river is above 1000 miles distant.

Among the spoils of the temple was a chain of gold, weighing 200 “muns” (equals 105 lbs.), which hung from the top of the building by a ring; it supported a great bell, which called the people to worship.
Besides 2000 Brahmins, who officiated as priests, there belonged to the temple 500 dancing women (देवदासी), 300 musicians, and 300 barbers to shave the devotees before being admitted to the sanctum; and it was even usual for the princes of Hindustan sometimes to devote their daughters to the service of the temple.

The King of Ghazni found in this temple a greater quantity of jewels and gold than it is thought any royal treasury ever contained before. In the Zeinool-Maasir, it is related that there were no lights in the temple, except one pendent lamp, which, being reflected from the jewels, spread a bright gleam over the whole edifice. Besides the great idol above mentioned, there were in the temple some thousands of small images, wrought in gold and silver, of various shapes and dimensions.

Secondary Temple

Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore had constructed the secondary temple (called Ahalyabai temple) during 1782 which helped to maintain the legacy and continuity of various rituals (पूजा परंपरा-Pooja Parampara) when original temple was at risk or invaded during the hostile political conditions.
Somnath Secondary Temple

The tale of the Gates

Chapter 1 :
In 1782-83 AD, Maratha king Mahadaji Shinde, victoriously brought the Three Silver Gates from Lahore after defeating Muhammad Shah of Lahore. After refusal from Pundits of Guzrath and the then ruler Gaekwad to put them back on Somnath temple, these silver gates were placed in the temples of Ujjain. Today they can be seen in two temples of India, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga and Gopal Mandir of Ujjain.

Chapter 2 :
In 1842, Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough issued his famous Proclamation of the Gates, in which he ordered the British army in Afghanistan to return via Ghazni and bring back to India the sandalwood gates from the tomb of Mahmud of Ghazni in Ghazni, Afghanistan. These were believed to have been taken by Mahmud from Somnath. There was a debate in the House of Commons in London in 1843 on the question of the gates of the Somanatha temple. After much crossfire between the British Government and the opposition, the gates were uprooted and brought back in triumph. But on arrival, they were found to be replicas of the original.They were placed in a store-room in the Agra Fort where they still lie to the present day.

Somnath Temple Wooden Gate
In the 19th century novel The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, the diamond of the title is presumed to have been stolen from the temple at Somnath and, according to the historian Romila Thapar, reflects the interest aroused in Britain by the gates.

Legacy of Traditions

Only a Sompura Brahman can become a priest in Somnath temple.And NO one except the priests serving since ages from generations to generations are allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of temple.

During his recent visit, President of India - Pranab Mukherjee offered his prayers, of course from outside!
Somnath Temple Pranab Mukherjee
Also,according to latest rule - Non Hindus have to take permission from temple authorities before entering the temple.
Somnath Temple Non Hindus Entry

प्रभासक्षेत्र - Prabhas Kshetra -- Places of significance

Other than the Jyotirling itself,this place has many locations of equal significance, if not more.

i. त्रिवेणी संगम - Triveni Sangam

The holy confluence of three river Hiran, Kapila and Saraswati (हिरन -कपिला-सरस्वती)and their sangam with ocean is very sacred moksha tirtha for Hindus.

Somnath Triveni Sangam
Somnath Triveni Sangam
Somnath Triveni Sangam

ii. बाणगन्गातीर्थ् - Banganga Tirth

It is the location from where the hunter shot the arrow on Loard Krishna which ultimately caused his death. Here one of the most rare Shivlingas of India is located-The shivlinga on the coast of sea,being hailed by sea now and then through his waters.

Banganga Tirth Shiv Linga
Banganga Tirth Shiv Linga

iii. भालकातीर्थ् - Bhalkatirth

It is the place where Lord Krishna was hit by an arrow shot by a hunter named Jara, after which he is said to have left the earth for the heavenly abode.

Bhalkatirth Temple

iv. श्री गोलकधाम तीर्थ् - Shri Golakdham Tirth

Is located on the banks of Hiran at a distance of 1.5 km from Somnath temple. Bhagvan Shree Krishna took his divine journey to Neejdham from this sacred soil. Rich accounts of the divined श्रीकृष्ण निजधाम प्रस्थान लीला -Shree Krishna Neejdham Prasthan Leela are maintained by the authentic traditions of Mahabhart, Shrimad Bhagwat, and Vishnu Puran etc.

Shri Golakdham Tirth

v. Somnath Railway Station

Even the railway station of Somnath is unique in two ways.:

  • It has unique temple styled design
  • It is one of the few railway stations of India where the rail track ends others being Chennai Central,Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus etc.
Somnath Railway Station

Recent Past

Ruins of Somnath in 1907:
Somnath Temple Ruins
Post Independence,Sardar Patel visited Saurashtra on the occasion of taking over the Junagadh and ordered the renovation of the temple. When Patel, K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to Gandhiji with their proposal to reconstruct the Somnath temple, Gandhi blessed the move, but suggested that the funds for the construction should be collected from the public and the temple should not be funded by the state.

Thus,the current Somnath temple was wholly constructed by the funding from public,without taking even a rupee's grant from government! One more thing,there was a mosque present at the location of temple.The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away. Isn't this epic ?? I mean just compare this with the current Ayodhya Ram Mandir Issue and you will realize!

Btw,the new temple and its premises was developed under direct supervision of K M Munshi ,the same person who wrote Jai Somnath.

Architecture of the present temple

Somnath Temple Now
The seventh existing temple is built in the कैलास महामेरु प्रासाद - Kailas Mahameru Prasad style.(As a replica of Meru Parvat - the centre of Universe according to Hindu Mythology). The temple is consisting of Garbhgruh(sanctum sanctorum) , Sabhamandap and Nrityamandap with a 150 feet high Shikhar. The Kalash at the top of the Shikhar weighs 10 tons and the Dhwajdand is 27 feet tall and 1 foot in circumference.

The Somnath Temple Trust

I just want to mention the names of some of the Trustees of Somnath Temple trust,that will be more than enough !

  • Narendra Modi, Ex CM of Gujarat,Current PM of India
  • L K Adwani, Ex Home Minister of India,Senior politician and BJP leader
  • Keshubhai Patel, Ex CM of Gujarat,very senior and respected politician of Gujarat
  • P K Laheri,Once powerful IAS,Ex Chief Secretary of Gujarat State.
  • Latest addition : Amit Shah,National President of BJP

जय सोमनाथ!

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About the Author: Tirthkumar Patel

Tirthkumar Patel

I am Tirthkumar Patel, 20. Equally love travel and writing about it. I research about about the place I travel before and after the travel. Specific interests are the historical, mysterious and natural places. Can do anything to go where there is confluence of History and Nature.

Tags:

Somnath Temple, Jyotirlinga, ShivLinga, Krishna, Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar, Triveni Sangam, Banganga Tirth, Bhalkatirth

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