Somnath Travel Guide
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.
The following extract is from “Wonders of Things Created, and marvels of Things Existing” by Asaru-L- Bilad, a 13th century Arab geographer. It contains the following description of Somnath temple and its destruction: The following is a long quotation:
“Somnath: celebrated city of India, situated on the shore of the sea, and washed by its waves. Among the wonders of that place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnath. This idol was in the middle of the temple without anything to support it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was held in the highest honor among the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck with amazement, whether he was a Musulman or an infidel. The Hindus used to go on pilgrimage to it whenever there was an eclipse of the moon, and would then assemble there to the number of more than a hundred thousand. They believed that the souls of men used to meet there after separation from the body, and that the idol used to incorporate them at its pleasure in other bodies, in accordance with their doctrine of transmigration. “The ebb and flow of the tide was considered to be the worship paid to the idol by the sea. Everything of the most precious was brought there as offerings, and the temple was endowed with more than 10,000 villages. There is a river (the Ganges) which is held sacred, between which and Somnat the distance is 200 parasangs. They used to bring the water of this river to Somnath every day, and wash the temple with it. A thousand brahmins were employed in worshipping the idol and attending on the visitors, and 500 damsels sung and danced at the door–all these were maintained upon the endowments of the temple. The edifice was built upon fifty-six pillars of teak, covered with lead. The shrine of the idol was dark. hut was lighted by jeweled chandeliers of great value. Near it was a chain of gold weighing 200 mans. When a portion (watch) of the night closed, this chain used to be shaken like bells to rouse a fresh lot of Brahmins to perform worship. “When the Sultan Yaminu-d Daula Mahmud Bin Subuktigin went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnat, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Muhammadans. He arrived there in the middle of Zi-l k’ada, 416 A.H. (December, 1025 A.D.). “The king looked upon the idol with wonder, and gave orders for the seizing of the spoil, and the appropriation of the treasures. There were many idols of gold and silver and vessels set with jewels, all of which had been sent there by the greatest personages in India. The value of the things found in the temples of the idols exceeded twenty thousand dinars.
Tomb of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1839-40, showing the replicas of original Sandalwood Doors at Somnath, which he destroyed in ca 1024
(Elliot’s footnote: The enormous treasures found at Somnat have been a theme of wonder for all who have written on that conquest.) “When the king asked his companions what they had to say about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron, and that the ingenious builder had skillfully contrived that the magnet should not exercise a greater force on anyone side-hence the idol was suspended in the middle. Some coincided, others differed. Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were removed from the summit the idol swerved on one side, when more were taken away it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.”
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 Gurjara Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815, a large structure of red sandstone.
Somnath temple, 1869
In 1024 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni who raided the temple from across the Thar Desert. Ghazni was challenged by the king, Ghogha Rana, who at the ripe age of 90, sacrificed his own clan fighting against Ghazni. The temple was rebuilt 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 (r.1143-72), who built the temple of stone. .
In 1296 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Sultan Allauddin Khilji's army. According to Taj-ul-Ma'sir of Hasan Nizami, Raja Karan of Gujarat was defeated and forced to flee, "fifty thousand infidels were dispatched to hell by the sword" and "more than twenty thousand slaves, and cattle beyond all calculation fell into the hands of the victors". The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala Deva, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 A.D. and the Linga was installed by his son Khengar sometime between 1326 and 1351 A.D.
In 1375 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Muzaffar Shah I, the Sultan of Gujarat. About 1400 A.D. it was reconstructed by the local public.
In 1451 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Mahmud Begda, the Sultan of Gujarat. It was reconstructed again.
In 1701 A.D., the temple was once again destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb built a mosque on the site of the Somnath temple, using some columns from the temple, whose Hindu sculptural motifs remained visible.
Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore rebuilt the temple in 1783 A.D at a site adjacent to the ruined temple which was already converted to a mosque. 
In 2009, unashamed of past failures, it was discovered that Muslim terrorists, anticipating to emulate Muslim raiders of the past on the Hindu shrine, were attempting a terrorist attack to once again damage the temple. Their attack like previous ones were unsuccessful deeply hampering Muslim missionary ambition on the area.
The Somnath Temple
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) of the God Shiva. 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., on the last occasion, it was built after a plan was mooted by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in November 1947, when he visited the area for Indian Integration of Junagadh, and later after his death carried out by K.M. Munshi, also a Minister in Government of India.