There are many holy places across India where you can feel that your spiritual distance with the Bhagwan has been reduced drastically. Somnath is one of those places where you can feel that your soul has met with Bhagwan Shiv, especially when you become part of the mandir’s daily ‘Sandhya Aarti’. Although there are three aartis being performed at this grand mandir every day, because I have witnessed the sandhya aarti, I could narrate my experience about it more comfortably here than for any other aartis.
Somnath, as we know is the first Jyotirling out of 12 of them. When ‘Som’ means Chandra was suddenly started to get vanished slowly but surely, he performed puja at Prabhas and Bhagwan Shiv blessed him and made certain adjustments about his getting vanished and reappearing (we know that as Shukla Paksh and Krishna Paksh). While doing that Shiv declared that he will remain here permanently as Jyotirling here in Prabhas and that is how it all started.
Prabhas is also known for one more reason and that reason is also special, in fact very special. Bhagwan Krishna left his body at this very place, hence both Shiv and Vishnu have their own stories to tell at Prabhas. Although the main temple of Somnath is not part of Prabhas anymore, it is just about 4 KMs away from the place where Bhagwan Krishna left for swarg. So whenever you go to Somnath, you should also visit Prabhas, which is now known as Prabhas Patan as well.
On the 12th of March 2020, I had the luck to visit Somnath and I reached my hotel just outside Somnath city around 5 in the evening. I was aware that the sandhya aarti in Somnath is a must experience. So, after getting fresh at the hotel I and my family first went to Prabhas and saw Sangam from the distance. Here Hiran, Kapila, and Saraswati rivers meet the Arabian Sea and one must say that it is ‘some sight’ that you will never forget. Over here you can find a herd of Seagulls and believe me they make too much sound, but still, it was an enjoyable experience.
Then our small trip to the Somnath Mandir started and we reached the Mandir Parisar by 6 pm. The time for sandhya aarti was 7 pm so we had one full hour to wait. But when I saw that the sun is making the sight of Somnath mandir awesome from the distance, I couldn’t stop myself from clicking that awesome scene. After entering the mandir there was Bhagwan Somnath right in front of my eyes. I bowed to my Bhagwan whom I feel has always been with me in my ups and downs.
We still had 40 minutes to wait for the sandhya aarti to start, so we decided to stand on the sides of the mandir inside. On mandir’s sound system bhajans of Jagjit Singh were giving a soothing feeling. Just 10 minutes before the sandhya aarti had begun Hanuman Chalisa started on the sound system and the atmosphere within the temple was slowly but surely became spiritual. Exactly at 7 pm, there was a ‘shankhnaad’ and the sandhya aarti finally started.
There are two kinds of aarti the pujari offers to Bhagwan Somnath. The first is dhoop aarti and the second one is the jyot aarti. Both the aarti lasts for 15 minutes each. After offering both the aartis to Bhagwan Somnath the pujari offers the same to Devi Parvati within the sanctum sanctorum and then he comes out and offers the dhoop and jyot to Nandi, and Bhagwan Ganesh who are situated just outside the sanctum sanctorum. Then he also does Samudra Puja because the sea is touching the Mandir premises all the time.
During the dhoop aarti and jyot aarti the entry remains closed but in between and after the entire sandhya aarti gets over the entry gates get open for the Shiv Bhakts. But, what I want to share here is that the experience one can get during the aarti. Once the tune of aarti starts within the mandir, you start to get involved in it, and at one point in time, you lose yourself and feel that you and Shiv are single identities. My eyes were full of tears when sandhya aarti was at its peak and my 15 years old son who was standing next to me was dancing and clapping. This was the effect sandhya aarti can give you if you get yourself involved in it.
So, personally, I would definitely recommend that you must visit Somnath at least once in your life if not regularly. The place, the atmosphere, and that divine feeling is something I can guarantee you would have never felt, or experienced before. After my visit, I decided that I will visit Somnath once every year but then came COVID and that disturbed my plans. But, now that things are getting normal, again I am trying to reach that decision that I should visit Somnath once every year.
Staying at Sagar Darshan Guest House in Somnath
On 26th February 2022, I visited Somnath again and stayed at Somnath Mandir Trust’s guest house, which is called Sagar Darshan. Although there are two more options provided by the trust for your stay and those are Lilavati Atithi Bhavan and Maheshwari Atithi Bhavan. But, because Sagar Darshan Guest House is having a sea-facing view, it stands apart from the rest of the two guest houses in Somnath.
The best part of Sagar Darshan is that all the rooms (with different tariffs) are sea-facing and thus you won’t feel deprived of that scenic view of the Arabian sea if you don’t have much money to spend. The room that I stayed in was of the tariff of Rs.2500 per night and it was quite a large room with a king-sized bed. All you need to do is to go to the Shree Somnath Trust Guest House Booking System online and select Sagar Darshan from the given three options. (Click Here to land on the booking website)
As mentioned above the lowest tariff at Sagar Darshan Guest House is Rs.2250 + GST for an AC room and the total amount of it is Rs. 2500. The other room which is called Suite is having a tariff of Rs. 3000 + GST and the total is Rs. 3500.
This guesthouse also has its own restaurant which provides good food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can select your breakfast from the fixed menu set by the restaurant. You can choose a la-carte lunch from the menu. For the dinner, there are two choices. If you wish to go for a Gujarati+Punjabi mixed buffet then you need to pay Rs. 175 per dish (as on 26th February 2022) else go for the a-la-carte dinner. I tried all three during my stay and I found the food tasty if not delicious. If you are a first-timer at Sagar Darshan then try the buffet for your dinner, it serves good value for your money.
Travel Related Details for Somnath
- Somnath from major cities of Gujarat: Ahmedabad – 424 KMs, Surat – 619 KMs, Vadodara – 459 KMs, Rajkot – 199 KMs.
- Nearest Airports to Somnath: Keshod – 70 KMs, Diu – 85 KMs, Rajkot – 215 KMs
- Somnath is well-connected with all the major cities of Gujarat via rail. If you don’t find any direct train to Somnath then try and find trains to Veraval which is just 8 KMs from Somnath and it has good commute facilities.
- The Somnath Mandir stays open from 6 am to 10 pm.
- Three aartis getting performed during the day, 7 am 12 pm, and 7 pm.
- After sandhya aarti, you can learn the history of Somnath Mandir through sight and sound show that is conducted just behind the mandir, and the voice of this show has been landed by non-other than Amitabh Bachchan.
- There are four checkpoints from the main entrance to the doors of Somnath Mandir, so kindly cooperate with the security persons.
- For the senior citizens’ facilities of golf car or a wheelchair can be availed. You can use the wheelchair in the entire mandir complex including during the sight and sound show.
- You can get the Prasad during the mandir timings from three different places situated within the mandir complex, so don’t buy it from outside as they are not authorized.
- Bhalka Tirth, Triveni Sangam, Veneshwar Mahadev, Lakshmi-Narayan Mandir, Gita Mandir, and newly built Ram Mandir are other places that can enrich your pilgrimage when you are in Somnath.
11th October 2021, Monday
Updated on 2nd March 2022, Wednesday