Somnath

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Somnath Temple
सोमनाथ मंदिर
સોમનાથ મંદિર
Front view of the "present" Somnath Temple
Front view of the "present" Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple  सोमनाथ मंदिरસોમનાથ મંદિર is located in Gujarat
Somnath Temple  सोमनाथ मंदिरસોમનાથ મંદિર
Somnath Temple
सोमनाथ मंदिर
સોમનાથ મંદિર
Location within Gujarat
Name
Proper name Somnath Temple
Devanagari सोमनाथ मन्दिर
Sanskrit transliteration Sômnãth Mandir
Tamil சோம்நாத் கோயில்
Marathi सोमनाथ मंदिर
Bengali সোমনাথ মোন্দির
Geography
Coordinates 20°53′16.9″N 70°24′5.0″E / 20.888028°N 70.401389°E / 20.888028; 70.401389Coordinates: 20°53′16.9″N 70°24′5.0″E / 20.888028°N 70.401389°E / 20.888028; 70.401389
Country  India
State Gujarat
District Gir Somnath
Locale Veraval
Culture
Primary deity Somnath (Shiva)
Important festivals Maha Shivaratri
Architecture
Architectural styles Hindu temple architecture
History and governance
Date built 1951 (present structure)
Creator Vallabhbhai Patel (present structure)
Temple board Shree Somnath Trust of Gujarat
Website somnath.org
Sanctum sanctorum of the temple

The Somnath Temple (Gujarati: સોમનાથ મંદિર Hindi: सोमनाथ मन्दिर) located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.[1] It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot for pilgrims and tourists. The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means "Lord of the Soma", an epithet of Shiva.

Somnath Temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal". This legendary temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times by Islamic kings and Hindu kings respectively.[2] Most recently it was rebuilt in November 1947, when Vallabhbhai Patel visited the area for the integration of Junagadh and mooted a plan for restoration. After Patel's death, the rebuilding continued under Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, another minister of the Government of India.[3][4]

The temple is open daily from 6AM to 9PM. There are 3 aarti daily; in the morning at 0700, at 1200 and in the evening at 1900.

It is also believed that this is the place where Krishna ended his lila on earth and left for his heavenly abode.[1]

Jyotirlinga[edit]

According to the Shiva Purana, as a result of an argument between Brahma and Vishnu regarding the supremacy of creation,[5] Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga, to test them. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped until the end of eternity.

The jyotirlinga is the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyotirlinga shrines are the places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.[6][7] Originally there were believed to be 64 jyotirlingas and 12 of them were considered to be very auspicious and holy.[5]

Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites take the name of a different manifestation of Shiva.[8] At all these sites, the primary image is a lingam representing the beginningless and endless stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva] .[8][9][10] The twelve jyotirlinga are Somnath Temple in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna Swamy at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh; Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh; Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand; Bhimashankar Temple, Maharashtra; Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh; Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, Maharastra; Baidyanath Temple, Deoghar, Jharkhand; Nageshvara Jyotirlinga, Dwarka, Gujarat; Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu; and Grishneshwar, Aurangabad, Maharashtra.[5][11]

A Picture of the Somnath Temple from the Beach

Mythology[edit]

The Somnath Temple is considered the first of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shrines of lord Shiva and finds its reference in the ancient texts like Skandpuran, Shreemad Bhagavat, Shivpuran etc. This place is one of the oldest pilgrimages in Hinduism and is also mentioned in the Rig Veda. The Moon God(Bhagwan Shashibhushan(भगवान शषीभूषण) or Chandradev(श्री चन्द्रदेव)) is said to have been relieved from the curse of his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati by the blessings of Lord Somnath.[1] Hari Har Tirthdham is here in Somnath.

According to the Mahabharata this is said to be the holy place of Lord Krishna's Neejdham Prasthan Leela(Lord Krishna's ascending to his abode). It is believed that Krishna was shot by an arrow which was shot by a hunter named 'Jara' who, owing to beautiful reddish pink colour of his ankle, mistook it to be a fruit. The place where Lord Shri Krishna was hit by an arrow of a poacher is known as Bhalka Tirtha and is present at a distance of about 4 km from the Somnath Temple.

According to legends and scriptures, the shore temple of Somnath is believed to have been built in 4 phases:In gold by Lord Soma, in silver by Ravi, in wood by lord Krishna and in stone by King Bhimadeva.[1] This ancient site finds reference in many scriptures and has many stories associated to it.

Apart from being revered to as a Jyotirlinga and Shree Krishna Neej Dham Prasthan Tirtha(Sanskrit: श्री कृषण नीजधाम प्रस्थान तीर्थ i.e. the holy shrine from where Lord Krishna ascended to his abode), many other mythological events are believed to have occurred here.

This is considered to be the place where Parshuram(an Avatar of Lord Vishnu) is said to have carried out penance after killing Kshatriyas and he was relieved from his sins by the blessings of Lord Somnath. The Pandavas have alos said to have visited this place during the Treta yuga and taken holy bath in the Triveni Sangam(holy confluence of three rivers) and built five Shiv temples.

History[edit]

Timeline of destruction and reconstruction of the ancient Temple[edit]

The second temple, built by the Seuna kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat, replaced the first one on the same site around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Junayd ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Murri, the Arab Muslim governor of Sind, sent his army and destroyed the second temple.[12] The Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone.

Somnath temple, 1869

In 1024, the temple was destroyed by the Muslim prominent ruler, Mahmud of Ghazni,[13][14] who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. The temple was rebuilt by the Paramara king Bhoja of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhimdev I of Anhilwara (now Patan) between 1026 and 1042. The wooden structure was replaced by Kumarpal (r.1143-72), who built the temple of stone.[15][16]

In 1296, the temple was once again destroyed by Alauddin Khilji's army,[13][16] and Raja Karan of Gujarat was defeated and forced to flee. According to Taj-ul-Ma'sir of Hasan Nizami, the Sultan boasted that "fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword" and "more than twenty thousand slaves, and cattle beyond all calculation fell into the hands of the victors".

The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the Linga was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351.[16] In 1375, the temple was once again destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I of the Gujarat Sultanate.[16] In 1451, the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat.[13][16]

By 1665, the temple, one of many, was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.[17] Later the temple was rebuilt to its same glory adjacent to the ruined one. Later on a joint effort of Peshwa of Pune, Raja Bhonsle of Nagpur, Chhatrapati Bhonsle of Kolhapur, Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore & Shrimant Patilbuwa Shinde of Gwalior rebuilt the temple in 1783 at a site adjacent to the ruined temple.

'Proclamation of the Gates' Incident during the British raj[edit]

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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[18] They were placed in a store-room in the Agra Fort where they still lie to the present day.

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.[20]

Reconstruction of the Somnath Temple[edit]

Early picture of the present temple

Before independence, Prabhas Patan was part of the princely state of Junagadh, whose ruler had acceded to Pakistan in 1947. After India refused to accept his decision, the state was made a part of India and Deputy Prime Minister Patel came to Junagadh on 12 November 1947 to direct the stabilization of the state by the Indian Army and at the same time ordered the reconstruction of the Somanath temple.[21]

When Patel, K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to Mahatma Gandhi 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. He expressed that he was proud to associate himself to the project of renovation of the temple[22] However, soon both Gandhi and Sardar Patel died and the task of reconstruction of the temple continued under Munshi, who was the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies in the Nehru Government.[22]

The ruins were pulled down in October 1950 and the mosque present at that site was shifted few kilometres away.[23] of In May 1951, Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, invited by K M Munshi, performed the installation ceremony for the temple.[24] Rajendra Prasad said in his address "It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India's prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient temple of Somnath was a symbol.".[25] He added "The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction"[25]

The present temple, which was built by Patel and Munshi, is managed by Shree Somnath Trust.

Architecture of the present temple[edit]

Arrow Pillar or Baan-Stambh

The present temple is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture or Kailash Mahameru Prasad Style[26] and reflects the skill of the Sompura Salats, one of Gujarat's master masons. The temple's shikhara, or main spire, is 15 metres in height, and it has an 8.2-metre tall flag pole at the top.[26]

The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in straight-line between Somnath seashore till Antarctica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh erected on the sea-protection wall at the Somnath Temple. This Baan-Stambh mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.[27]

Gallery[edit]

Other Temples[edit]

The place being an ancient site, having reference in a number of Hindu scriptures, revered by many people has several other temples and sacred sites in and around the temple premises.

Shree Parshuram Temple[edit]

Shree Parshuram Temple(Hindi: श्री परशुराम मन्दिर) is present on the sacred spot at the holy banks of Triveni(confluence of 3 rivers) where according to the Skand Puran, Lord Parshuram conducted his long penance and he was relieved from the curse of Kshatriya killings by Lord Somnath. Divine leela Parshuram is perpetnated here by the Parshuram Temple there are two ancient kunds in the premises.

Triveni Sangam[edit]

A picture of the Triveni Sangam Bathing ghat and the Gita Mandir on its banks

Literally, "The holy confluence of three rivers" (Hindi: त्रिवेणी संगम) namely: Hiran, Kapila and Saraswati along with their confluence with the ocean is a very sacred "Moksha Tirtha" for Hindus. According to the Mahabharata, the Pandavas are said to have visited Somnath and taken a holy bath here. They are also said to have built 5 Shiva Temples here. This ghat finds mentions at many places in the Puranas and great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The famous temples Gita Mandir and Lakshminarayan temple are located on the banks of Triveni Ghat.

Bhalka Teerth[edit]

Main article: Bhalka

Bhalka Teerth (Hindi: भालका तीर्थ) is situated almost 4 kilometers away from the Somnath temple. It is believed the place where he 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, an act referred to in the puranas as Shri Krishn Neejdham Prasthan Leela(Sanskrit: श्री कृष्ण नीजधाम प्रस्थान लीला). This is a highly revered place in Somnath. Presently the government has planned to develop this temple also into a major tourist attraction[1]

.

Geeta Mandir[edit]

The Geeta Mandir (Hindi: गीता मन्दिर) is located on the banks of the Triveni Sangam Ghat. This famous temple has eighteen marble pillars where the divine shlokas of Shrimad Bhagavat Geeta (The Gita) are carved in Sanskrit. Shri Lakshminarayan Temple is close by.

Shree Shashibhushan Mahadev and Bhidbhanjan Ganapatiji Temple[edit]

The holy temple of Shashibhushan (Hindi: श्री शशिभूषण महादेव एवं भीड़भंजन गणपतिजी मन्दिर)is located at a distance of 4 km on the Somnath-Veraval highway along the sea coast. Jara, the hunter is said to have taken aim from this spot while hitting an arrow towards Bhagwan Shree Krishna. The ancient Somnath Chief Temple Priest(Poojacharya; Hindi:पूजाचार्य) Shri Bhav Brihaspati is said to have built this temple. Bhagwan Shashibhushan(The Moon god) with Bhidbhanjan (Saviour form of) Ganesh is worshipped here with traditional spiritual traditions. The Moon God is said to have been relieved from the curse of his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati(Hindi: दक्ष प्रजापति) by the blessings of Bhagwan Somnath(i.e. Shiva) at this place.

How to Reach[edit]

Somnath is very well connected via road and rail network. Nearest railway station is Veraval[28] and the nearest airports are Diu & Rajkot. . Bus services are available from Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Dwarka etc.

The temple is open from 6 am to 9 pm.[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Jay Somnath". Official website of Somnath Temple http://www.somnath.org. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Thapar 2004
  3. ^ Gopal, Ram (1994). Hindu culture during and after Muslim rule: survival and subsequent challenges. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 148. ISBN 81-85880-26-3. 
  4. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (1996). The Hindu nationalist movement and Indian politics: 1925 to the 1990s. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 84. ISBN 1-85065-170-1. 
  5. ^ a b c Venugopalam 2003, pp. 92–95
  6. ^ Eck 1999, p. 107
  7. ^ See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
  8. ^ a b Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325
  9. ^ Harding 1998, pp. 158-158
  10. ^ Vivekananda Vol. 4
  11. ^ Chaturvedi 2006, pp. 58-72
  12. ^ J. Gordon Melton, Faiths Across Time: 5,000 Years of Religious History, (ABC-CLIO, 2014), 547.
  13. ^ a b c "Somnath Temple". Gujarat State Portal. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Elliot, Sir Henry Miers (1952). The history of India, as told by his own historian Beirouni. 11. Elibron.com. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-543-94726-0. 
  15. ^ "Somnath Temple". British Library. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Temples of India. Prabhat Prakashan. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  17. ^ Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals, (Har-Anand, 2009), 278.
  18. ^ a b "Mosque and Tomb of the Emperor Sultan Mahmood of Ghuznee". British Library. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  19. ^ The United Kingdom House of Commons Debate, 9 March 1943, on The Somnath (Prabhas Patan) Proclamation, Junagadh 1948. 584-602, 620, 630-32, 656, 674.
  20. ^ Thapar 2004, p. 170
  21. ^ Hindustan Times, 15 Nov, 1947
  22. ^ a b Marie Cruz Gabriel, Rediscovery of India, A silence in the city and other stories, Published by Orient Blackswan, 1996, ISBN 81-250-0828-4, ISBN 978-81-250-0828-6
  23. ^ Mir Jaffar Barkriwala, The Glorious Destruction of Hindoo Temples in Kathiawar and their replacement, Ul Akbari Publications, Bharuch, 1902
  24. ^ Peter Van der Veer, Ayodhya and Somnath, eternel shrines, contested histories, 1992
  25. ^ a b Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, Indian constitutional documents,Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1967
  26. ^ a b "Shree Somnath Trust :: Jay Somnath". Somnath.org. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  27. ^ "Somnath Temple - ~ Fun With Best Friends ~". Indianfriendhood.in. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  28. ^ "Addl trains chief demand at rly meet". Times of India. Jan 29, 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]