The magnificent Somnath Temple, which helped a god cure his TB, is back in news again.
Thanks to Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice-President, many Indians and foreigners now know about this ancient Shiva Temple of Gujarat.
This post will recap whatever has been written about this famous Shiva temple and add something more interesting for my readers who are spread all over the world. I hope that after reading it, some of you may like to visit this hauntingly beautiful place in Gujarat.
Magnificent Somnath Temple- what is the history?
Many Hindus believe that this temple is 8 million years old! That is crazy, isn’t it?
It was built by Moon or Chandra to cure himself of the dreaded disease of Tuberculosis!
But let us deep dive into the history of this fascinating temple.
The word Somnath means Lord of Moon and it refers to Lord Shiva.
Husband of 27 wives
Many millions of years ago, Chandra or Moon married the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Daksha is considered to be the originator of the human race. Would you like to know the names of the wives of Daksha?
These are: (1) Kṛttikā (the Pleiades), (2) Rohinī, (3) Mrigashīrsha, (4) Ārdrā, (5) Punarvasu, (6) Purbabhadrapada, (7) Pushya, (8) Asleshā, (9) Maghā, (10) Svāti (Arcturus), (11) Chitrā (Spica), (12) Purbaphalguni, (13) Hasta, (14) Rādhas, (15) Vishākhā, (16) Anurādhā, (17) Jyeshthā, (18) Mūla, (19) Purbashādha, (20)Uttarashara, (21) Sravana, (22) Uttarphalguni, (23) Satabhisha, (24) Uttarbhadrapada, (25) Revati, (26) Ashwini, (27) Bharani.
Actually, these are the names of 27 constellations or Nakshatras that are located in the moon’s orbit. Daksha is one of the three sons of Bramha, the Lord of Creation and a member of the Holy Trinity.
You know what? Us Indians like to hear tales. Well, everybody does and if a particular philosophical thought is couched in a tale, then what is the problem?
It so happened that Chandra or Moon used to love Rohini much more than his other 26 wives. It is natural among human beings that we like one person more than the others in our family. Isn’t it?
Rohini, of course, used to relish this attention, but the other 26 ladies felt jealous. One day, they complained to their father, Daksha.
Don’t do this, please
Daksha understood the situation perfectly and one day met his son-in-law.
Don’t do this, dear son-in-law, the Lord of Mankind pleaded. Please treat all your wives- who are my daughters- equally.
Chandra said okay but did not change his behavior. This unfair treatment of the 26 ladies happened continued.
They complained again, and another meeting happened gain between Daksha and Chandra.
The latter promised to his father-in-law that he would change his behavior but went back on his promise.
The 26 ladies again approached Daksha to complain about their husband’s behavior
This time, Daksha felt insulted.
Angry at his son-in-law, he rushed to Chandra’s house and cursed him.
‘O Chandra, may you be afflicted with a terrible disease!’
Sure enough, the effect of Daksha’s curse had the desired effect on Chandra. The latter began to wither and die.
Seeing all this, the gods became very worried. They decided to visit Daksha’s father, Lord Bramha and request him to intervene.
After listening to the gods about Chandra’s misery, Bramha expressed his helplessness. But he suggested a way out.
‘Go to Lord Shiva, he will help you, O Chandra!’
Please help me
Now Chandra approached Lord Shiva who also happened to be his brother-in-law. Do you know who Lord Shiva is?
He is the God of Death and another member of the Holy Trinity.
It is very difficult to please Him, so Chandra worked very hard to please Lord Shiva.
He prayed and prayed to get Shiva’s blessings.He recited the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra ( a hymn that protects one from death) more than 10 million times.
Chandra also decided to do something exceptional.
Magnificent Somnath Temple
To make Shiva happy, Chandra then decided to make a beautiful temple devoted to Lord Shiva. He also installed a Shivalinga ( an egg-shaped idol that represents the infinite nature of Shiva) there.
This marvelous building was made of pure silver and was the first edition of the present day Somnath Temple.
Lord Shiva became happy with Chandra’s devotion and granted him a boon.
Live another day, Chandra!
‘Ok, you will not die a horrible death, but I have to respect the curse of Daksha too,’ Shiva explained to Chandra.
For the first fifteen days in every month, there will be no moon in the nights, and in the next installment, you will start regaining your brilliance. Is that ok?’ Shiva asked his brother-in-law.
Yes, I am fine, Lord, Chandra replied in relief.
So that is the reason why every fortnight in a month you can see the moon but can’t see him in the balance part.
Gold, sandalwood, stones
The Somnath temple in the Saurashtra area of Gujarat has been rebuilt several times.
Some say that many thousands of years back, this place of worship was made of gold, and later of sandalwood.
The sandalwood temple was made by Lord Krishna to pay His respects to Lord Shiva.
In the more recent times, this glorious building was rebuilt by the Chalukya rulers of Gujarat which was later on demolished by successive Muslim kings who ruled Delhi and Ahmedabad. The first demolition of the magnificent Somnath temple was done By Mahmud Ghazni in 1024 A.D.
Ghazni carried away several gems and jewelry pieces from this temple on his way back to Afghanistan. He also captured several thousand Hindus from this temple town and wanted them to sell them as slaves.
The last demolition of this temple was carried out by Aurangzeb in 1702 A.D after which it lay in ruins for the next 200 years.
It was only in the 1950s when Sardar Patel, the first Home Minister of independent India helped in the reconstruction of this great temple. Today, it is made of stone and stands proudly on the Arabian Sea coast of the Gujarat.
It has a fantastic history, isn’t it?
Somnath temple and Lata Mangeshkar
Do you know that this magnificent Somnath temple and the legendary Lata Mangeshkar are connected with each other?
The story goes like this. When Ghazni attacked this magnificent temple, most of the singers and dancers of Somnath left Gujarat and headed to the Goa region. These people were ardent devotees of Lord Shiva and sand and danced only for Him.
When the resettled in the Goa region, the locals started calling these resettlers as Mangeshkars- meaning devotees of Lord Shiva.
Now you see the connection between Lataji and Somnath temple?
Ok, now let us see the various options available to reach this fantastic place.
Option 1 – Take a flight to either Diu or Porbandar. Somnath is just 63 kilometers from Diu and 115 kms from Porbandar. Once you reach either of these two cities, take a cab.
Option 2. The Indian Railways portal can help you plan and book trains.
Option 3- Take a bus from Ahmedabad or Porbandar.
For hotel bookings, click on the website of MakeMyTrip.
Best time to visit this temple town- October to March.
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Thanks for reading it.