As per my itinerary, I was headed to Somnath after spending two beautiful days in Diu. Since Diu is bounded by both Gir and Somnath, it is impossible to skip the gorgeous Somnath temple when you are in the vicinity. The history of Somnath temple had already impressed me so much that my enthusiasm was at its peak. I had heard that the temple had stood the test of time despite being destroyed a number of times. I was looking forward to exploring it. Here is all about my visit to Somnath temple and other places there.
How to visit Somnath Temple from Diu?
I took Bus from Jethibhai Bus Stand for Somnath, where I had already pre-booked my hotel. I reached there at 12PM. After taking shower and some rest, we walked to a nearby restaurant and ate food. After that, we set out for sightseeing. My daughter, who is a travel blogger (Pendown) had helped me make a list of things to do in Somnath and I was all set to execute the plan. Accordingly, my wife and I were made our way to the holy place where Lord Krishna was killed by arrows and it is popular has his final resting place. Bhalka Tirtha is a very divine and energetic place in Somnath and it took us only 15 minutes to reach there from restaurant.
Bhalka Tirtha is a historical site and Krishna devotees must visit it at all costs. The idol of Lord Krishna in the posture of rest is very beautiful. This is the place where Lord Krishna can be seen resting under a peepal tree, distressed by the loss of the Yadava dynasty. The Bhagavata Purana mentions that a hunter named Jara accidentally threw an arrow aimed at Krishna which hit his feet. Krishna took out the arrow and threw it. The point where the arrow hit the ground is said to be the mouth of Ganga. Ganges comes out from that place. Bhalka tirtha is one of the local attraction and a well-known historical place. Don’t miss the Bhalka shrine here. This place is called “Bana Teerth” in Sanskrit and colloquially as Bhalka Teerth. There is a modern temple with a marble statue of Krishna where he rested. The stump of the ancient tree is still preserved in the temple. A holy pond thrives next to the main Krishna temple. There is also a small Shiva temple nearby.
GEETA MANDIR – A CHERISHED SITE
From Bhalka Tirth we took auto rickshaw towards Geeta Mandir which was very near to Somnath temple. It is also called Birla Mandir. Geeta Mandir has its own place inside the city of Somnath and is one of the famous attractions of Somnath. It was built by the Birlas in the year 1970 and the temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, as is evident from the many paintings of Lord Krishna that adorn the walls.
The temple serves as a popular representation of the Shrimad Bhagwat Gita, which is confirmed by the images engraved here on 18 marble pillars. Idols of Lord Lakshmi-Narayan and Lord Sita Rama are installed on both sides of Lord Krishna. The beauty of the idol, along with the view of the Hiran River, looks serene and pleasing. In fact it is one of the most revered places of Somnath.
It also has a bunch of other temples. The walls have inscriptions of Slokas of Bhagavat Geetha. There is a small cave where Shri Balaram Ji left his earthly remains. There is also a small temple, where there are traces of Krishna’s footprints. It is situated on the banks of the Hiran River and is a perfect place for meditation. There is no doubt that our visit to Geeta Mandir turned out to be blissful.
PANCH PANDAVA GUFA – A CAVE TEMPLE
From Gita Mandir, we reached Panch Pandava Cave by walking on foot which is located a little away in Lal Ghati near the Temple City of Somnath. Late Baba Narayandas discovered this cave temple in 1949, which is famous and dedicated to five Pandavas Yudhishthira, Arjun, Mahabali Bhima , Nakula and Sahadeva, who, according to a popular legend, spent time in this temple during the period of their exile. It is said that Hinglaj Mata appeared in front of them and promised them protection. Hinglaj Mata Temple is one of the fifty-one Shakti Peethas of Sati Mata, the original temple is located in present-day Pakistan, but this temple can be considered as an alternative to the original.
There are various caves in the vicinity, however, this one is most famous. Panch Pandava cave is dedicated to the Pandavas. Along with it, there is the Vyas Gufa, Hanuman Temple and Narayan Temple nearby.
Tourists often climb up the hill on which the temple is located — to get a breathtaking view of the sunset and spend some time in the soothing precincts of this temple. The Panch Pandav Gufa stands as a testimony to several Muslim invasions which led to the destruction of the Temple of Somnath. The temple was looted of its rich treasures and wealth. Tourists and pilgrims visit Panch Pandav Gufa to offer their prayers to Lord Rama, Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. We offered our prayers too.
Triveni Sangam is situated at a distance of about 2 kms from Somnath Temple. This place near Somnath temple is extremely vibrant and full of life. It is called sangam as it marks the confluence of three rivers namely Kapila, Hiran and Sarswathi. Eventually, they join Arabian Sea on the west coast. This is also considered a pious place where Hindus attain moksha (a release from the cycle of life and death). A lot of other tourists like us were praying or simply soaking in the vibes of the spiritual atmosphere.
I learned that sunrises are pretty here. Considered to be extremely sacred, this place was called Prabhas since ancient times. It is said that this was the place where Krishna brought the Yadavas for pilgrimage.
It was mesmerizing to see the birds flying around while taking a boat ride there. The ride was for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Everyone should enjoy this. If one wishes, one can also take a dip in the confluence as well.
This magnificent beach is situated 5 km from the Somnath Temple. I fall short of words in explaining how amazing it looked when I saw the beach from the Somnath Temple. I found it very attractive and beautiful. The presence of Somnath temple makes it all the more special. The sunset of the beach is something to look out for. Also, the panoramic view of the sea is heartwarming. Watching the rise and fall of the thundering waves made me excited like a child. Also, the spectacular views of the Arabian Sea from the beach were worth all the effort of being there.
Visit to SOMNATH TEMPLE
It was half past five in the evening. We had to enter the Somnath temple. We were feeling tired and had a desire to eat something. Luckily, we stumbled on a pani puri stall and stopped by to eat some golgappas. After taking in some energy, we stood in queues to enter the temple. After standing for half an hour, we were able to enter the temple. We were elated after the darshan.
After a while, the Aarti-Puja started in which we also joined. We sat down for some time. After that, we also stopped for the program of light and sound and sat at the designated place. The light and sound program was beautiful, where the entire history of the temple was explained. Indeed, it was very informative.
Somnath is considered to be the first and most important of all Jyotirlingas. Our mythology says that it is 2000 years old. It is named after Moon, also known as Soma. Moon worshiped Shiva to get rid of the curse imposed by his father-in-law Daksha. By getting the blessings of Shiva, the moon regained its light and that is why this city is also called Prabhas. The original Somnath temple was built by Moon in pure gold. It was later made in silver by Ravana and in sandalwood by Krishna. In the end, it was built with stone by Bhimdev. Thereafter, this temple was attacked several times by invaders in the medieval centuries. Presently this temple is made of red yellow stones and it was inaugurated in 1951 by the first Indian President Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
One of the 12 jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva, Somnath Temple is also the specimen of fine architecture. Description about Somnath is also found in Rigveda. It is known as the eternal shrine for this is the place where Lord Krishna ended his leela and thereafter was headed for his heavenly abode.
It is said that the temple has been looted and destroyed many times. In 725, the old ruler of Sindh took his army and attacked the temple and destroyed the temple. Mahmud Ghazni was a Turkish invader who attacked the Somnath temple 17 times between 1000 and 1024 AD. It is said that during two days battle, 70,000 defenders were killed. Having stripped the temple of its fabulous wealth, Mahmud destroyed it. One of the most cruel and dishonest rulers, Alla-ud-din Khilji, attacked the temple in the 14th century. The next major invasion was in 1394 by Muzaffar Khan who once again destroyed the temple. Then again by the fanatic Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb, who destroyed it ‘beyond the possibility of repair’ in 1706, a year before his death.
Despite all this, the Somnath temple is still standing and illuminating India’s spiritual glory today. The temple is a witness that we have been able to stand firm against the attacks. This is our real strength. The role played by the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the construction of the present Somnath temple is unforgettable, reminding visitors of the grandeur and glorious history of the original Somnath temple.
By the time the light and sound program ended, it was already 10 o’clock. We were tired and excited to head to Porbandar the next day. We were hungry as well. Without wasting time, we were headed for dinner. Thereafter, we reached the hotel. But before dozing off, we packed our bag for the next day’s trip to Porbandar.
Author – Pramod Kumar Jaiswal