Somnath Temple or we all know it as just Sorti Somnath is the very first of much reverred 12 jyotirlingas. Somnath temple is also known as Prabhas Patan and the Shrine Eternal.
Somnath Temple might be the only temple in India which has been broken / destroyed several times over and rebuilt again. First temple of Somnath was built before the commencement of the Christian era. Second temple was built by Vallabhi King in 480 – 768 A.D. More than 2000 brahmins were busy in temple activity and revenue collected by them was used for maintenance of villages and looking after villagers needs.
The last renovation of Somnath Temple was done by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel – The Iron man of India. Somnath temple is also famous for its architecture. In present Somnath Temple is built in Chalukya style which is also known as Kailash mahameru Prasad Style. This Style of Architecture reflects the Sompura salats skill which is one of the Gujarat’s master masons.
The site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times on account of being a Triveni sangam (the confluence of three rivers — Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati). Soma, the Moon god, is believed to have lost his lustre due to a curse, and he bathed in the Sarasvati River at this site to regain it. The result is the waxing and waning of the moon, no doubt an allusion to the waxing and waning of the tides at this sea shore location. The name of the town Prabhas, meaning lustre, as well as the alternative names Someshvar and Somnath (“The lord of the moon” or “the moon god”) arise from this tradition.
Before independence, Prabhas Patan was part of the princely state of Junagadh, whose ruler had acceded to Pakistan in 1947. After India refused to accept his decision, the state was made a part of India and Deputy Prime Minister Patel came to Junagadh on 12 November 1947 to direct the stabilization of the state by the Indian Army and at the same time ordered the reconstruction of the Somanath temple.
When Patel, K. M. Munshi and other leaders of the Congress went to Mahatma Gandhi with their proposal to reconstruct the Somnath temple, Gandhi blessed the move, but suggested that the funds for the construction should be collected from the public and the temple should not be funded by the state. He expressed that he was proud to associate himself to the project of renovation of the temple. However, soon both Gandhi and Sardar Patel died and the task of reconstruction of the temple continued under Munshi, who was the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Government of India headed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.