Somnath - this temple town has a long and chequered History. Even though it is referred to by several other names, names it acquired in the various phases of History, the name Somnath is unrivalled as far as popularity is concerned. And understandably so because this small town would have faded to oblivion but for the presence of the magnificent Somnath Temple from which it receives its best known name.
Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan, Pattan Somnath (some of the other names of this sea side town in Gujarat, India) would have all been erased from public memory. But instead of that this place has made a distinctive place for itself primarily because of this brilliant structure. The History of Somnath (as in referring to the city) is so completely dominated by the History of Somnath Temple that it would not be exaggeration in the least to say that they are synonymous.
Not much is known about the early History of Somnath temple. However it is popularly believed that the first temple existed even before the commencement of the Christian era. The second was built in the period 480-767 A.D. by the Vallabhi kings. This was again replaced by the Pratihara king Nagabhattta II in 815 A.D.
The Somnath temple which enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingas was so highly revered that people from various nook and corners of the country came to offer their prayers here.
As many as 2000 Brahmin priests were engaged in temple activities and the revenue collected from ten thousand villages were used for its maintenance. Prayers were announced by ringing the bell which was attached to a golden chain. Its walls were nothing less than pages of History. The exquisite sculptures were a reflection of the times and the pillars even had the names of the sculptors carved on them.
Unfortunately what happened in the year 1025 was a very unfortunate event in the Somnath temple history. Muhammad of Ghazni invaded the city and in spite of the valiant resistance put up by fifty thousand Shaivites, the temple was looted and razed to the ground. What was regarded as an architectural masterpiece was demolished brutally.
King Bhima of Gujarat and King Bhoja of Malwa then took upon themselves the noble task of renovating this fine edifice in red sandstone. However it was fated to be destroyed once again by Alaf Khan in 1300 A.D. This time King Mahipala belonging to the Chudasama dynasty renovated it.
Thereafter also the History of Somnath is punctuated with episodes of destruction and reconstruction at various points of time in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Finally the temple was once again ruined in 1706 by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. After that more than two hundred years passed before Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel finally took upon himself the responsibility of constructing it once again in the year 1947. Much to the glory and pride of not just Somnath but of the whole of India this stunning temple was once again reincarnated. Presently this "Shrine Eternal" is visited by a large number of pilgrims as well as by common tourists. So without further delay you too can plan your Tour to Somnath to witness this majestic temple.