The spiritual travel in India is not complete without the mention of Somnath. It is one of the first Jyotirlingam in India. People from all over India and world come here to seek divine blessings. The temple is located beside the sea shore. The feeling of peace that you can get here cannot be compared to any other spiritual place in India. There is a strong belief that Lord Shiva himself resides in this temple.
Somnath is located in the vibrant state of Gujarat. It is one of the most important reasons for tourism in Gujarat that is increasing over the years. It is very close to the city of Dwarka. We have already discussed the capital city of Dwarka in our previous articles.
How To Reach Somnath
Somnath is about two hundred and fifty kilometres from Dwarka. The drive by road is about five hours. You can take a bus or a taxi from Dwarka. The road is well constructed so the journey is not hectic at all. You can also take trains if you want from Ahmedabad. It takes about ten hours from Ahmedabad. We would recommend a train journey as that is more comfortable. However, roads are preferred as they are well constructed and you can also do the nearby places like Dwarka and Nageshwar temples. There are very good bus services that are available too.
There are many good hotels that can be easily located in Somnath. You can find a stay as per your budget easily. The people are friendly and mostly understand Hindi and English. Food is cheap and mostly vegetarian. You can try the local thali and the local dishes. Try to travel in the month of October to February. In the summers Somnath is very hot. If you are travelling in winters do carry a little woollen clothing as at night these areas can be quite chilled.
Some interesting things that you must know are that you are not allowed to carry any cameras or mile phones into the temple. A very strict check is done and you will have to leave these in the lockers. However, we would suggest that keep them away when you enter the temple. If you keep these in the locker then maybe while returning you will have to wait in a long queue. You can click pictures of the temple from outside that is not a concern. The temple is safe and there are no cases of theft or other crimes reported here. Even women travelling alone can go to Somnath without any fear.
The temple authorities are very particular that you should wear only sober clothes inside the temple. The whole temple has CCTV cameras installed. Every evening a light and sound program is arranged in the temple premises. The cost of tickets is about twenty five rupees each. The show gives a great deal of information about the history of Somnath. We recommend that you must see this show. The timing is around seven in the evening.
Now that you have a good idea about the temple of Somnath and how to reach there we will tell you a little bit about its history and significance. Somnath is the first Jyotirlingam of Shiva on earth. It is an ancient city. It has a huge religious importance for the Hindus. It is located at the coast of the Arabian Sea. It is tirth dham that everyone must visit. The god moon was cursed that he will lose all his light and glory by his father in law Prajapati Daksh. The whole world became dark. The gods requested Daksh to remove the curse. Daksh said that he cannot do so but he told moon to worship lord Shiva. Moon came to Somnath and he built a temple of gold and started to worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva came to him and gave him his light and shine back. Moon was thankful. It is said that even today on no moon night moon comes to the shores of Somnath and dips in the holy waters of the Arabian Sea.
Later there was a temple built here of silver by Ravi. Lord Krishna made a temple of wood before he left for Dwarka. Somnath was one of the richest temples in India. This was exactly why it was attacked by many over the centuries. The Mughal invaders themselves attacked it about sixteen times. Many Hindu soldiers have died protecting this temple in the past. It was re constructed some seven times. The last was after independence. It was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who rebuilt this temple. The funds were mostly collected from the common people of India. They donated whatever they could and constructed the present temple. It is indeed a symbol of India’s unity and spirit.
After partition there was a discussion that Somnath might become a part of Pakistan as it is very close to the Pakistan border. However, the people of the area strongly said that they will never let this happen. This is why it is a part of India and will always be. This temple has an interesting feature. There is an arrow on a pillar here that shows the point from where there is no obstruction on the way till the South Pole. The complex of the temple is huge. There are many small temples in the campus that you must visit. There is also a section that gives a detailed account of all the Jyotirlingams in India. It will take you at least about two hours to see the complex completely. If you are travelling with senior citizens then you can hire a wheelchair that will take them around the temple.
The devotees can offer puja. All the things that you might need to do the puja are sold in the temple premises itself. They also sell milk and Ganga jal that is often offered to Lord Shiva. Every morning and evening there is aarti. You can enter the temple during these times. This will give you a better darshan as the doors of the main temple are closed during this time so those who are already in can sit comfortably and enjoy the divine aarti.
You can collect prasad and also buy them from the office of the temple committee. There are many shops near the temple of Somnath where you can buy souvenirs. You can buy idols of Shiva, the replicas of the temple, etc from here. We would advise that you do bargain a little. I hope this will give you a good guide on Somnath that is definitely one of the most popular spiritual travel destinations in India. It is a must see for all. The amount of peace that you can experience here cannot be compared to any other parts of the country.