The Somnath Temple located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India is the most sacred of the twelve Jyotirlings (lingas of light) symbols of the God Shiva. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Somnath means “The Protector of Moon God”. The Somnath Temple is known as ‘the Shrine Eternal’, as although the temple has been destroyed six times it has been rebuilt every single time.
Hindu mythology states that years ago, the Moon God Chandra, being arrogant about his beauty, was cursed by his father-in-law Daksha to wane. The Moon then prayed to Lord Shiva at the Prabhas tirth who then removed the curse partially, thus causing the periodic waning of moon.
It’s been said that Somnath Temple was first built with gold by Moon God, with silver by Ravana, with sandalwood by Lord Krishna, and with stone by Bhimdeva (Solanki Ruler of Gujarat)
The Someshwar Mahadev temple stands tall among the temples of India. The construction of the present temple in Junagadh district began in 1947. It is the seventh temple built to commemorate the glory of Lord Somnath who is said to have known as Bhairaveshwar in the Satya Yug, Shravanikeshwar in Treta Yug and Shrigaleshwar in Dwapar Yug.
According to the legends, Soma, the moon God built the temple in gold, Ravan in silver, Krishna in wood and king Bhimdev of Anhilwad in stone. Soma constructed the temple as a gesture after Lord Shiva cured him of his illness. This illness was caused by his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati’s curse. Daksha cursed him to wane as he was infatuated with Rohini and was neglecting the other 26 wives, all 26 of whom were the daughters of Prajapati. It is said that Brahma advised him to build the temple in honour of Shiva.
The present temple is the seventh temple reconstructed on the original site. The first temple of Somnath is said to have existed before the beginning of the common era. The second temple, built by the Yadava kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat, replaced the first one on the same site around 649.
In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his armies to destroy the second temple. The Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone.
In 1024, Mahmud Ghazni raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. Ghazni believed due to a dream that he had that the Pre Islamic Arabian goddess Manat was the focus of Somnath Temple. Turko-Persian chronicles indulge, a major poet of the eastern Islamic world, Farrukhi Sistani, who claims that he accompanied Mahmud to Somanatha, provides a fascinating explanation for the breaking of the idol. This explanation has been largely dismissed by modern historians as too fanciful. According to him, the idol was not of a Hindu deity but of a Pre-Islamic Arabian goddess. He tells us that the name Somnat (as it was often written in Persian) is actually Su-manat, the place of Manat. From the Qur’an that Lat, Uzza and Manat two were destroyed, but Manat was believed to have been secreted away to Gujarat and installed in a place of worship. According to some descriptions, Manat was an aniconic block of black stone, so the form could be similar to a lingam. This story hovers over many of the Turko-Persian accounts, some taking it seriously, others being less emphatic and insisting instead that the icon was of a Hindu deity.During his campaign, Mahmud was challenged by Ghogha Rana, who at the ripe age of 90, sacrificed his own clan fighting against this.
The fourth temple was built by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Gujarat (Anhilwara) or Patan between 1026 and 1042. The wooden structure was replaced by Kumarpal who built the temple of stone.
The temple was razed in 1297 when the Sultanate of Delhi conquered Gujarat, and again in 1394. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the temple again in 1706.
The Present temple, Kailash Mahameru Prasada, is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture and reflects the skill of the Sompuras, Gujarat’s master masons.
The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in between from Somnath seashore to Antarctica. Such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the ARROW-PILLAR erected on the sea-protection wall at the Somnath Temple. The Darshani Gates of the Golden Temple in Amritsar are the Somnath Temple Gates, which were brought back by the army of the mighty Sikh King Maharaja Ranjit Singh from Afghanistan.
In 1951 Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, who performed the Jyotirling-Pratishthapan ceremony of the new Temple said,
“The Somnath Temple signifies that the power of creation is always greater than the power of destruction.”