27 December 2011
The night journey on Ahmedabad – Veraval Somnath express was uneventful. The sun was about to rise when train stopped at Veraval station. Being coastal area, we were expecting hot and humid weather. But to our surprise the weather was cold and dry!! The jackets and shawls were pulled out of our bags.
The outside of Veraval station was filled with Autos and taxis. Since the weather was cold we decided to hire a taxi and reach Somnath that was 8 km away.
Most hotels in India have 12PM as check-in time. The timing is suited if you reach early in the morning. But usually there will be few rooms free. Some people also check out early. Hotels tend to give rooms in such cases. We hoped for such a situation in Hotel Sukhsagar where we had booked rooms. But the person at the reception informed us that there were no rooms free and hence we had to wait till noon. With no other option we sat on the sofas put in the reception.
But reception guy had other plans! A family comes in, talks something and gets the key from reception guy!! When I go and ask how others can get rooms while we are waiting, he answers that they had booked from previous day so that they would not wait till 12PM. It was hard to believe as I had heard some words like “We need only for fresh up” and “will leave by 11AM” from the tourist guy. Now, I and my wife decide to be more attentive and make sure it does not repeat again! After some time a family checks out. But the hotel person says that they were staying in “Suite”. Ah!! We thought. This guy has do not want to give us rooms!! Few more tourists come and ask room for “fresh up”. But now under our constant observation he had to tell them that there were no free rooms. This he says with a pain (on having missed some quick money!)
And then 4-5 families check out. As soon as I get up from my seat, hotel guy says that our room is ready!! He could not find any more excuses or he was fed up with us. Whatever it was we got a room!
The hotel itself was quite good and decent. The restaurant also served some good south Indian breakfast.
We decided to take rest for the first half of the day. It was required as the last 3 days were very hectic for us. After lunch we took an auto to reach the Temple (2 km from hotel). I am not much inclined to visit religious places but Somnath was an exception. It is one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of Shiva but more importantly it is a symbol of National pride where the wrong has been made right and shown that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction (the last one is from the words of then President Rajendra Prasad). The Temple was destroyed several times only to be rebuilt again.
- The first Temple of Somnath existed from very old age. The Yadava kings of Vallabi replaced the Temple on the same site during 649 CE.
- 725 CE: Junyad, Arab governor of Sind sent his armies to destroy the Temple. In 815 CE, the Temple was reconstructed by Gurjara Pratihara King Nagabhata II.
- 1024 CE: The infamous Mahmud Ghazi raided and destroyed the Temple. 50,000 people died while fighting to save Temple. Mahmud Ghazni personally destroyed the decorated Linga and made sure that the pieces were put on the steps of a Mosque in his homeland.
- 1296 CE: Allauidin Khilji’s army destroyed the Temple again.
- 1375 CE: Muzaffar Shah I, sultan of Gujarat destroys the Temple again.
- 1451 CE: Mahmud Bedga, Sultan of Gujarat destroys the Temple again.
- 1701 CE: Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb destroys the Temple and builds a small Mosque to make sure that it is not reconstructed.
After Junagad was integrated into India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel visits Somnath and takes an oath to rebuild the Temple. This was supported by several people including Mahatma Gandhiji. The objection came from Nehru but with Iron Man like Patel at the helms of the affair, the reconstruction was taken forward. The Mosque built by Aurangazeb was moved several miles away and the Temple was reconstructed. Unfortunately Patel could not live long to see the installation ceremony of the Temple.
Today, Patel’s statue rightfully stands tall in front of the Temple.
The present structure is built with Chalukya style of architecture. Nothing much remains from old structures due to the repeated destructions of the Temple. Sadly, cameras are not allowed inside the Temple and hence could not take any close-up shots.
The unique feature of this Temple is that it stands at the point which is the first land mass from South Pole in that longitude!!
My experience with Jyothirlingas was not always great. I was bothered by crowds and people trying to loot in the name of religion. That seemed to be absent in Somnath or least I did not experience it. There were hardly any people when we entered the Temple which gave us ample time and opportunity to view the Temple. Being just next to sea makes the Temple picturesque.
My daughter was continuously asking us to take her to the beach. She spent a long time in enjoying the waters!! Kids always love water!!!!
The biggest worry while travelling with kids is about health. Always carry medicines. Here my daughter started showing some signs of illness. From experience we knew what it was but unfortunately we had not carried the particular medicine needed to cure it. We had simply not anticipated it. And we could not find any medical shop in Somnath!! When informed the same to Hotel, they promised to arrange the medicine and promptly delivered to us after sometime! That made us forget the bad things we had with receptionist.
Somnath is also the place where Lord Krishna met his end by an arrow hitting his foot. The place is called Bhalka theerth.
Labels: beach, Gujarat, Temples, travel