First amongst the Jyotirlinga temples.
One of the famous Hindu temples of India. It is believed to be consecrated by Lord Chandra (the moon).
The temple has a unique place in the history of India and in Hinduism. Due to the enormous wealth and also its religious importance, the temple had seen much destruction from the Muslim rulers between 1024 AD and 1701 AD; it also had that much reconstructions from the Hindus.
It all started in 1024 AD when Sultan Muhamud of Ghazni vandalized the temple; the Mughal ruler Aurangazib culminated it in 1701 AD when he attacked the temple. He went a step further – constructed a mosque at the site using the materials from the destructed temple!
In 1781 AD Smt. Ahalya Bhai Holkar of Indore tried to re-build the temple, which was not succeeded, due to historical reasons.
After independence, under the leadership of Sri. Sardar Vallabhai Patel, independent India re-constructed the temple to its past glory.
On eleventh May, 1951 the Somanth Jyotirlinga was re-installed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad – the then President of India. The present temple is the seventh one re-constructed on the original site.
The legend related to the temple is that Lord Chandra married twenty seven daughters of Daksha Prajapathi; but loved only one- Rohini. This naturally pained Daksha; he tried to correct Lord Chandra, but in vain. So Daksha cursed Chandra that he would be decreasing in size and would wane into nothingness.
Disturbed, Chandra prayed to Lord Shiva. The Lord appeared before Chandra and modified the curse of Daksha. Lord Shiva blessed Chandra that he would grow in size during the first half in a month and would decrease in size (by losing one kala or shade per day) in the other half.
The moon felt relieved. As he got the darshan of Lord Shiva at Somnath, he requested the Lord to take abode here. This is the beginning of Somnath Jyotirlinga.
According to the Hindu mythology the original temple was built by Lord Chandra (Moon) with gold followed by Ravana (the demon king of Lanka) with silver. Later on Lord Krishna re-built the temple using sandalwood and Sree Bhimdev Solanki- the ruler of Solanki dynasty of Gujarat completed the series by renovating the temple in stone.
The temple is 350 kilometers from Ahmedabad-the state capital.
Rajkot is the nearest major city, which is 190 kilometers away.
Nearest rail head is Veravel- seven kilometers away.