Somnath temple, Veraval - now the Shikara is clad with gold

somnath temple, Gujarat.

 Somnath temple,Veravel, GJ

The Somnath temple built on the shores of the Arabian sea in Veraval, a town in the Saurashtra region of the Western coastal state of Gujarat is a popular destination for the Shaivites. A symbol of unshakable faith  the Dwadasha Jyotirlinga yatra or the pilgrimage to the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva, begins from Somnath temple.  No other temple in Indian History  had faced so much plundering and looting as Somnath temple edured centuries ago.  This  ancient temple stoically withstood  horrible agony of invasion, looting and destruction.  Every time it was felled down like a big banyan tree, it was rebuilt and came out of  the worst ordeal like a phoenix bird. It stands today with more splendor than ever before because of  unshakable faith Gujaratis have in this temple. Plundered seventeen times  by Mahmud Ghazni and later by others,  indigenous rulers and locals with firm faith rebuilt it. The present-day monument was built in 1951 on the orders of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, then Union minister. Subsequently, it was inaugurated by the first president of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, but Patel was not alive to see it.

Somnath temple, Gujarat.

The Rig Veda, the Shiv Purana, the Skanda Purana and the Shreemad Bhagavat made mention of the Somnath Temple. Legend has it  the original structure was built in four phases:  The golden part was constructed by Chandra Dev (the Moon God), while Surya Dev (the Sun God) built a section in gold. The Sandalwood part was contributed by Shri Krishna, while the structure in stone was completed by a king named Bhimadeva. Somnath Temple, an awe-inspiring  creation in stone  showcases the Chalukyan style of architecture- (the Kailash Mahameru Prasad), a dazzling display ofthe craftsmanship of the Sompura sculptors.

The Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum) that houses the Jyotirlinga, the Sabha Mandapam and the Nritya Mandapam are the key parts of this temple..   The 150 ft tall main multi-tiered Shikhara or tower has exquisite stone carvings . The Kalash, atop the pinnacle which weighs whooping 10 tonnes.  The Dhwajadand or Deajasthabham (flag pole) facing the shrine  is 27 feet  tall and  1 foot in circumference.

The Somnath Temple trust in Gujarat  undertook gold plating of over 1,400 kalash (urn) on the tower  with a view to bring back the old glory of this temple. Being close to the shore corrosion of metal is a risk factor. So the trustees chose gold plating for th shikara as the risk of corrosion is very low in the case of gold. The trust wanted to embellish with gold the inter parts like sanctum doors, pillars etc. About 145 kilograms of gold was needed and 135 kg  of gold had been  spent  for the interiors. Now the Shikara had to be covered with gold-copper clad.  

The  tedious task of  covering the tower with gold was done with care  and work was completed in 2021. Initially  about 500 people  made donations for the project. The cost was met by donations and more money came in later. The entire gold-plating will impart  golden look for the shikhara and make it resplendent. Proper lighting is to be set in place in the future so that the gold plated kalasha will be  visible at night as well.