Visiting the phoenix-like Somnath Temple in Gujarat

Much has been said and written about Gujarat and Gujaratis, especially since the ascension of Modi as our Prime Minister. Yet, for most outsiders, Gujarat is still a monolithic state with 60 million Gujarati speaking people. However, for a lot many of us Gujaratis, especially those still living in Gujarat, we have divided the state further as per its regions: there is dry, dusty and not very rich North Gujarat, there is rich, fertile and tobacco farming Central Gujarat or Charotar, there is the tribal yet rich areas of South Gujarat, there is the white Rann in Kutch and finally there is Saurashtra: the land of a hundred kingdoms and of the Somnath temple.

The Somnath Temple in Gujarat is in Saurashtra: the land of a hundred kingdoms. One of the oldest Shiva temples in India, the jyotirlinga in the western most part of India, the temple raided time and again for its wealth – but one which rose like a phoenix every time it was destroyed. There are many other things that the temple is known for – from its architecture to it mythical idol of Lord Shiva which stood suspended in the air flummoxing the invader. Read some of them here.

Due to security reason I was not allowed to take my camera or phone inside the temple. So I decided to take these shots of the temple from the outside.

Somnath Temple, Gujarat
Early winter morning at the Somnath temple

The early morning light gives the temple a beautiful glow. The Somnath temple is built in such a location that it is the first landmass from the South pole towards the North Pole. This latest temple structure was built thanks to the efforts of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi and KM Munshi. The surprising fact that I came to know when I went to the temple was that next to the ruins of the Somnath temple, there used to be a mosque. This mosque was shifted to another location before the temple was built. So, for those of us who grew up with Ayodhya and Babri masjid demolition stories, here was a story of complete peace and co-existence in India. Something most of us, surprisingly don’t know about.

Somnath Temple, Gujarat
Early morning sun glows over the Somnath Temple at Gujarat

After visiting the temple and avoiding the dirty ghats near the temple, I decided to move to the beach. I seem to remember that this was pre Swachha Bharat Abhiyaan, though I doubt things would have changed drastically since.

Beach near Somnath Temple Gujarat
Beach with Somnath temple in the distance

And there we met a few friends playing in the cold waters of the Arabian ocean.

Somnath Temple Gujarat
Kids playing near the Somnath Temple beach in Gujarat

And these kids, looking at my DSLR came to me and the one in the middle asked me where I came from. I replied ‘I am from Ahmedabad‘. Listening to my reply in Gujarati he was emboldened, and so asked me to take a photograph of theirs. I adjusted their position to ensure they face the sun and then took a snap. The moment I signalled that I have taken the photograph they took off back to having fun in the water.

Somnath Temple in Gujarat
Damsels on the beach at Somnath Temple in Gujarat

And then we met these ladies:

They also wanted a photograph. I took a snap and the first thing that they wanted was to see the photograph. Women: they never change 🙂 🙂

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