Soma is another name for Lord Shiva, and the temple dedicated to the Lord was built and destroyed many a times. There is fable in existence that Mahmud Ghazni invaded Somnath 5 times for its wealth and prosperity. But historical records have been manipulated to show Ghazni successfully plundered and destroyed the temple which was already in ruins in 1024. However powerful legend was created for the muslim world to urge them to invade Hindukush area for bring back prosperity from looted wealth.
A small jyotilinga temple existed around 5th century AD. It crumbled to nature’s fury and coastal weather. The second temple is alleged to have been built by Yadava Kings in 649 AD. In 725 AD the temple was destroyed by the invaders Al Junaiyad. The third temple was constructed in 815 with red granite stones by King Nagarbhata II. Even though Ghazni invaded Somnath and plundered it s wealth he did not destroy the temple in 1024. In 1143 Somnath temple was renovated and decorated with precious stones and gold jewellry. 1299 Alauddin’s army under Ulug Khan defeated Karndev II and ransacked the temple.
Again the temple was re-built in 1308 by Mahipala Deva and the Lingam was installed. In 1395 once again the temple was plundered and destroyed by Zafar Khan. In 1451 the temple once again suffered at the hands of Mahmud Begada.
In 1546 the Portuguese army destroyed many a temples in the area and in 1665 Aurangzeb order the final destruction. He built a mosque in the vicinity. In 1782 the Marathas Mahadaji Shinde bought three silver gates from Lahore which priests refused to install in Somnath and therefore it had to be relocated to Mahakaleswar and Gopal Mandir in Ujjain.
In 1947 when the princely state of Junagadh aceeded to Pakistan and it was refused by Indians. Sardar Vallabhai Patel convinced the ruler to ensure that Junagadh become a part of Indian dominion rather than Pakistan. He also mooted the idea of rebuilding the collapsed structure of Somnath temple.
The construction of a new temple in Chalukyan architecture was begun in May 1951, after pulling down the old temple in Oct 1950, which was inaugrated by Dr Rajendra Prasad. Some of the ruins of the old temple is still retained in the premises of the old temple. Thus the reconstruction finally put an end to constant destruction of temples at the hands of the invaders. It proved a point that construction is better than destruction.
The best part of the temple facilities provided to piligrims in the form of locker facility, bathing facility and lodging rooms too available. Food is also provided at subsidised prices at the ashram premises. The bus stand is located bang opposite to the temple. There is temple bus which takes visitors on tour to nearby spots with a nominal fee being charged. This tour takes approx 3 hours and tour starts at 8 am upto 3 pm.
Somnath temple visit is a smooth affair considering the temple is open almost 24 hours. But there are rumour mongers who misguide stating that temple closes by 2 pm and opens at 6pm so on don t just believe it. The crowd movement is so smooth without much push and pull. Despite that we found that a couple got into a scuffle with security over in appropriate comment or touch. Mobile phones and cameras are not allowed so it is better to deposit it in the locker.
For those who are looking to cover nearby destinations one can cover Junagarh fort, Gir forest and Diu. Kokilabahen guest house is present ont he seashore one can book accomodation online and also the ashram guest house.