Veraval and Somnath

Veraval
This is the city next to Somnath and Prabhas Patan. You would normally use this town as a base to visit the pilgrimage town of Somnath, as Somnath is very small town.

Mahmud of Ghazni broke the ancient Junagadh Gate when he entered the town to loot the Somnath temple. About a km from the gate is the ancient Mai Puri, previously a sun temple and now a mosque.

Travel
Bus There are buses to all over Gujarat, including Dwarka (7 hr), Junagadh (2 hr), Rajkot (5 hr), Diu (2½ hr), Sasan Gir, Bhavnagar, and Porbandar (3 hr). Mayur Travels and Neelam Travels (21602) are agents for the private bus companies.

Veraval to Somnath
Between Veraval and Somnath there are buses departing from the bus stands every fifteen minutes for a few rupees. To go between Veraval and Somnath by auto-rickshaw is around Rs 50. You can hire a rickshaw to take you to the Somnath Temple, stopping on the way at Bhalka Tirtha and Triveni Tirtha. You can hire a bike opposite the bus or railway stations, which is a good way to get around.

The road from Veraval to Somnath is in bad condition.

Somnath
One of the twelve Siva Jyotirlingas has been established in the Somnath Siva Temple. Somnath is on the extreme southwest coast of Gujarat, on the Arabian Sea, about 300km southwest of Ahmedabad. The town of Somnath consists of a few streets near the temple and bus stand. There is a nice beach by the temple. Somnath is said to be located where the River Saraswati flows into the sea.

Somnath is famous as the place where a hunter shot Lord Krishna in the foot. It is also known as Prabhas Patan and is the location where the Yadavas, Lord Krishna’s relatives, fought a fratricidal battle by the Lord’s will. The explanation is that after Krishna completed his mission on earth, he wanted to recall his eternal associates, the Yadavas. They were, however, too powerful to be vanquished by anyone else, so by the Lord’s will, they were cursed to fight among themselves and destroy one another.

Somnath Temple
The temple is on the shore of the Arabian Sea, 6km south of Veraval. In this temple is established one of the twelve Siva Jyotirlingas. A temple dedicated to Siva has been located here since ancient times. The temple was destroyed and raided by the Muslims several times, first by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026.

It is said that this temple was originally built by Soma, the moon-god, to atone for the curse Daksha put on him. Daksha cursed Soma because he was partial toward Rohini over his other wives, who were all Daksha’s daughters. Because of the curse, the moon began to wane. Daksha advised Soma to go to Prabhas to free himself of the curse. The moon bathes here on amavasya, the new moon day, before he regains his light. Because the moon regained light here, this place is known as Prabhas. Somnath means the “Lord of the Moon.”

This temple is said to have been built by the moon-god out of gold, then rebuilt by Ravana out of silver, then by Lord Krishna out of wood, and later by Bhima (one of the Pandava brothers) out of stone. Two thousand Brahmins are said to have served in this temple. The temple was also said to have once had 300 barbers, 500 dancing girls, and 300 musicians.

The temple was raided and destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026. He removed a solid silver gate at that time and brought it back to his homeland. The temple was later destroyed in 1297, 1394, and for the last time in 1706 by Aurangzeb, just before he died.

The present temple was rebuilt in 1950. It is large, but not artistic. The present temple has a tower over 50m (165 ft) high over the main sanctum (altar). It was constructed on the exact spot where the original temple was situated. You can see remains of an ancient temple right next to the present temple.

The main aratis are at 7 am, noon, and 7 pm. It is a popular temple. Non-Hindus are permitted to enter.

Prabhas Patan Museum
This interesting museum has remains of the magnificent old temples. It is located about a five-minute walk down a small road to the right of the temple entrance. The entrance to the museum is on the left and is a little difficult to find. Open daily except Wed and holidays 9 am to noon and 3 to 6 pm.

Prabhas Patan (Bhalka Tirtha)
“Bhalka” is the name of the village, and “Tirtha” indicates that it is a holy place. After the destruction of the Yadu and Bhoja dynasties in Dwarka, Lord Krishna left his palaces and came to this area called Prabhasaksetra. Uddhava accompanied him. When he was absorbed in deep thought, a hunter named Jara shot an arrow that accidentally hit Krishna’s foot, apparently wounding him.

There is a temple built by the tree that is said to be the same tree under which Krishna was sitting. On the altar there is a white Deity of Krishna in a sitting posture. One can see the bottom of Krishna’s foot, pink colored with different auspicious symbols. Nearby is the hunter, Jara, with folded hands and one knee on the floor. This place is a few km east of Veraval on the road to Somnath.

Other Places
Near Prabhas, the Yadavas became intoxicated and fought with one another. Arjuna also came to Prabhas.

The Gita Mandir is located at the confluence of three rivers, or Triveni Tirtha, about 1km south of the Somnath Temple by the sea. It is said that Lord Krishna walked about 4km from Bhalka Tirtha to this place after he was shot in the foot by the hunter, and left the planet at this point. There are a few other temples here and the place where Lord Balarama is said to have left the planet.

The ancient Suraja Mandir, a temple dedicated to the sun god, was half broken by Mahmud of Ghazni. It has some carving on it.

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