Somnath or Pattan Somnath is located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of the State of Gujarat. The temple of Somnath is one of the holiest pilgrimage spots for Hindus and is visited by pilgrims all round the year.
Somnath is situated at a distance of 79 km from Junagadh, 25 km from Chorwad and 5 km from Veraval Beach, on the confluence of the mythological Saraswati, Hiranya and Kapila rivers. The temple of Somnath has one of the twelve Jyotirlings or religious Shiva shrines of India.
Somnath had been destroyed quite a few times by its invaders who were attracted by its treasures and wealth. As per the ancient inscriptions and carvings found in Somnath, it is clear that the place was originally inhabited by Aryans.
Somnath was a princely state of Junagadh before Indian Independence. The place received its name from the Somnath temple. Somnath is also known by names like Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan or Pattan Somnath.
It is believed that the first temple of Somnath was erected much before the beginning of the Common Era. The references to the Temple of Somnath can be found in ancient texts like Rig Veda, Skandpuran, Shreemad Bhagavat Geeta, Shivpuran, etc.
According to legend, it was Somraj or the Moon God, who built the Temple of Somnath or Someshwar, Lord (Protector) of the Moon, out of gold. Ravana later built it in silver, Krishna built it in wood and Raja Bhimdev built it of stone. The Yadava kings of Vallabhi of Gujarat erected the second temple by around 649 AD on the same site.
Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind, sent his troops to destroy the temple in 725 AD. Nagabhata II of the Pratihara dynasty resurrected the temple in 815 in red sandstone. Mahmud Ghazni raided and destroyed the temple in 1024 AD. King Bhoj of Malwa of the Paramara or Panwar dynasty and the Chalukya King Bhima of Anhilwara rebuilt the temple in the period 1026 1042. Kumarpal replaced the wooden structures in the Temple with stone in between 1143-72.
Going down the centuries, Sultan Allauddin Khilji, Muzaffar Shah I and Mahmud Begda looted and destroyed the Somnath Temple and the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb even built a mosque on the site of the temple. Post Independence, the Somnath Temple was reconstructed in the Chalukya style of temple architecture.
It is the Somnath Temple that attracts tourists to Somnath of Gujarat. Tourists also pay a visit to the Museum that depicts the historical and cultural ethnicity of the temple town of Somnath.