Somnath Temple is one of the twelve jyotirlinga in India. Hindu worship Lord Shiva in the form of linga and all the Shiva Linga of jyotirlinga are famous as swayambhu. Swayambhu means that manifest on its own i.e. not made by man. These lingas are self-existing and appear suddenly or mysteriously without any human efforts. When the saints or holy men see them they install them in a temple. Each of the twelve jyotirlinga, take the name of a different manifestation of Shiva. These twelve jyotirlinga are considered very holy for the Shiva devotees. All the Shiva devotees visit these jyotirlinga one by one as all are located in different locations and can’t be visited all at once. It is believed that just a visit to the temple is very auspicious and all bad deeds and sins are washed away in the feet of Lord Shiva.
Among all jyotirlinga, Somnath is considered as the first pilgrimage site. The Dwadash Jyotirlinga pilgrimage begins with the Somnath Temple. This temple is located in Prabhas Patan, in Saurashtra-Veraval in Gujarat. This temple is destroyed and rebuilt many times. This temple follows Triveni Sangam of three rivers- the Kapila, the Hiran and the auspicious river the Saraswati. It is believed that Somraj, the Moon God had built this temple out of Gold in Satyug, then it was re-built by Ravan in Silver in Tretayug, and again it was re-built by Lord Krishna in wood in Dwaparyug and finally in stone by Bhimdev Solanki in Kaliyug. Means this Somnath temple is from ancient times showering its eternal shrines and glory on the people. At last, it was rebuilt in 1951 in Chalukya style by the architecture of Hindu temple. The construction was proposed by Vallabhbhai Patel and was completed under the then head of the temple trust K.M. Munshi.
The story of Somnath Mahadev is a fragment of story of Moon God mentioned in the Shiv Purana. Moon God is married to 27 daughters (stars) of Daksha Prajapati. He was happy to marry all the beautiful daughters of Daksha Prajapati and all the Devi’s were too contented to find Moon as their husband. Moon was attracted to the most beautiful wife amongst all, Rohini. Time passed and other daughters of Daksha Prajapati felt unloved and neglected every time. Moon ignored all of them and only cared about Rohini. Rohini’s sisters went to Daksha Prajapati and asked justice for them. Daksha became unhappy and miserable to know about all this, and once talked to Moon. “These all are your wife and you have to give importance to all of them.” But there was no effect on Moon. One more time on hearing his daughter’s plead, Daksha Prajapati tried to explain the matter to Moon, but all was in vain. Daksha realized that all his daughters except one are living a hard life in the ocean of sorrows. He was filled in anger and gave a curse to the Moon. He said, “Moon you are too proud about your look but from now onwards you will be disappeared, no one will see you.” After the curse, Moon really vanished slowly. He asked for help from everyone. He went to Lord Brahma, but he denied saying “You have to go through the curse, as you are guilty and no one can help you out of this. The only way is to worship Lord Shiva.”
Moon then came to Prabhasa also known as Somnath. He went on a penance for six months where he worshipped Lord Shiva to get out of his curse. His Jaap and Tap pleased Lord Shiva and he came to bless him. Lord Shiva told Moon that he can’t be completely free from the curse but his gleams will appear different every day, 15 days it will grow and the next 15 days it will hide. To gain back his luster, he bathed in the River Sarasvati and the result is the waxing and waning of the moon, and is also referred to the waxing and waning of the tides at sea shore location. Lord Shiva himself came to be known as Someshwar which means famous moon (Soma).
Shravan Maas is considered very auspicious month to worship Lord Shiva and Somnath temple is famous not only as a jyotirlinga but also as a holy place where ones sins gets washed away. Visitors love the divine worship of Lord Shiva and its abhishek, aarti and the location of the temple.