The Somnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is said to be the first of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. The first temple at Somnath is believed to have been built between 320 and 500 AD. The temple was considered to be very auspicious and as it grew in importance, pilgrims converged at the temple to make offerings, kings bestowed riches upon it, and the town and temple flourished with great wealth. Tales of its riches attracted a series of invasions, but each time the temple was invaded, it was restored to its original glory by devout Hindu worshipers. The Somnath Temple is at a distance of 94kms from Junagadh.
In the 11th century AD, Mahmud of Ghazni (998-1030), sacked the temple and returned to Afghanistan with the temple treasures, including the famed silver gate. Then, after a rebuilding, in 1297 AD Allaudin Khilji's commander-in-chief Afzal Khan destroyed the structure. Over the next 500 years, the temple was successively reconstructed and ransacked, by Muzzafar Shah I in 1390, by Muhammad Begda in 1490, Muzzafar II in 1530 and Aurangzeb in 1706. In 1783 Maharani Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore built another Somnath temple next to the original site, which was in serious disrepair. After Independence, Sardar Patel visited Somnath, was deeply moved by the poor condition of the original temple site, and resolved to renovate it as soon as possible. In 1951, the new temple was constructed on the original grounds, next to the 18th-century construction of the Holkars. The remains of the old temple are now preserved in a museum for public view.
The temple has been constructed in the Chalukyan style with a shikhara nearly 50 m tall. The temple's imposing architecture includes intricate carvings, silver doors, an impressive Nandi idol and the central shivalinga. In the vast courtyard stand the massive mandapa (hall), as well as the main shrine.
The Kartik Purnima Fair is held here for four days in the month of November and attracts crowds in large numbers.
How to Reach :
The closest airport for visiting Somnath is Diu (about 83 km.) and the closest railway station is at Verawal (6 km.)
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