Long before Amitabh Bachchan invited people to “Kuch din toh guzaro Gujarat mein” I have had a keen desire to visit Somnath. The 1st of the 12 great Jyotirlinga’s which is the symbol of eternal indestructible Shiva.
My perception was this remote corner of W India was a faraway land and getting there would be challenging. I was proved wrong. You can reach Somnath from Bangalore faster than driving to Wayanad / Kodaikanal from Bangalore.
This Blog will cover all the information you need to make this trip
- How to reach Somnath / Dwarka in the shortest possible manner
- Where to Stay & Local cab agency numbers
- Planning your day and visiting the key sights
How to reach Somnath / Dwarka in the shortest possible manner
- Rajkot is your entry point. 6E 6507 is a direct flight from Bangalore – Rajkot. Dep 11.35 AM, Arr 1.50 PM. (Jamnagar airport is closer but there are limited flights Via Mumbai and fares are expensive)
- Rajkot – Somnath – Dwarka is almost an equilateral triangle. Rajkot – Somnath is 197 Km takes 3 ½ – 4 Hrs and Rajkot to Dwarka is 250 Km ~ 41/2 – 5 Hrs (Road is under construction in some parts).
- If your flight lands on time you can be in Somnath before 6 PM.
- If you are coming Via Ahmedabad, you can take the night train 22957 Ahd – Veeraval Express that departs Ahd at 10.10PM and reaches Veraval at 6AM. Veraval is 5 Km from Somnath. There are many trains from Ahd – Somnath / Veraval both at day & night.
- Somnath to Dwarka is an excellent road of 250 Km that can be easily covered in 4 hrs including a breakfast stop enroute.
- Rajkot – Bangalore 6E 6508 leaves Rajkot at 14.20 and lands at Bangalore at 16.35.
Where to stay and how to travel locally
In Somnath stay at the Sarovar Portico. Lovely new hotel with spacious rooms, nice restaurant. Located close to the Somnath temple – 10 min drive. Sarovar Portico, Bypass Road, Prabhas Patan, Dist Gir, Somnath – 362268
Dwarka, you have many options –Hawthorne Suites & Lemon Tree are a little far from the main temple. Booking.com can help you with many options that are 1 Km from the main temple. Also check out a hotel that is centrally located and opening soon after renovation called Guruprerna. We had dinner at their restaurant Sharanam, and it was very good.
Hotel Guruprerna, Opp Bhadrakali Temple. Dwarka – 9427207612 / 8980724314
Cab pick-up at Rajkot airport or Somnath station
- Hiren Sindhav – 87809 64411 (Rajkot Based)
- Soyab – 8160554705 / 97148 71691 (Somnath Based)
Planning your day and visiting the key sights
- If you are driving from Rajkot to Somnath you may want to include Junagadh & Gir in your plan – it is on the way.
- Our train from Ahd reached Veraval at 6 AM and we were in our room by 6.30 AM. Veraval is India’s largest Seafood processing & export centre. So be ready for a strong smell of fish as you drive to your hotel.
- All the sights in Somnath can be easily covered in 1 day. We started our day at 8 AM and by 12.30 had covered all that was there to see
Main Somnath temple: 45 Min – 2 Hrs
- By the seashore this beautiful temple has a history of over 2000 years. Invaders and barbarian tyrants demolished and looted the temple again and again – but every time Somnath resurrected.
- The origin of this Jyotirlinga is associated with the Moon God hence the name Somnath. It’s considered the 1st amongst the 12 Jyotirlingas. Auspicious to visit on Monday and a Full Moon night.
- It’s not a large temple and is a new construction. Current temple is well maintained and can easily be covered in less than 30 minutes. There was no Q on the day we visited.
- The temple is open all day long from 6 AM – 9.30 PM. Aarti is at 7 AM, 12 Noon and 7 PM. The temple is lit up at 7 PM – that’s a beautiful sight. Evening 8 – 9 PM there is a paid light & sound show
- Only wallets are allowed inside – you need to deposit your Phone and Handbags in two different lockers
- There is no entry fee / no special ticket for tatkal Q etc.
- We visited the temple at 8.30 AM and then again at 6 PM
Triveni Sangam: 10 Min
- Walking distance from the Somnath temple
- The significance of the Triveni Sangam dates back to thousands of years ago when the rivers Hiran, Kapila and the Saraswati met here. Considered a place to do prayers for your ancestors. A dip here can get you Moksha.
- Quick glance – the place was not very clean
Geeta Mandir : 45 Min – 1 Hr
- Nice energised and tranquil complex on the banks of the Hiren river and houses a few temples. Located 2 Km from the Somnath temple.
- The Gita Temple is located near the Golokdham region of Lord Krishna of Prabhas Tirtha. The priest claims that Lord Krishna was brought here by the Pandavas after he was shot by an arrow at Bhalka Tirth
- The marble columns on the pillars of the Geeta temple are inscribed with 18 chapters of the Gita. The architecture is made in marble stone.
- The current structure of Gita Mandir was built in the year of 1970 by Birla Group
- This is a beautiful place so plan to spend some time here. It is normally crowded, we were lucky as it was almost empty.
Bhalka Tirth: 15 – 30 Min
- This is the place where Lord Krishna was shot by a hunter named Jara.
- Bhalka Teerth houses a beautiful Krishna temple in a pose with his feet outstretched.
Few other places one can visit include the Pathan Museum, Pandav Gufa, and an ancient dilapidated Sun Temple.
We were back in the hotel by 12.30 for Lunch and after a well needed nap, we set off again at 4.30 PM
Parasuram Mandir: 15 – 30 Min
- The temple looks like a new one but behind the main temple is a sunken old temple which is the original Parasuram temple.
- The ambience is very calm and meditative here.
Old Somnath Temple built by Rani Ahilyabhai: 15 – 30 Min
- Situated opposite to the famous Somnath Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Ahilyabai Temple was built by Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar in 17th century
- It is said that Ahilyabai Holkar was deeply moved by the ravaged state of the temple and took on herself the task of reconstructing it. It is also said that the location of the Swayambhu Linga came in Ahilyabai’s dreams, post which she started the construction immediately. Many Hindus believe that this temple contains the original Jyotirlinga which was buried assuming that the original temple would be raided.
Main Somnath Temple for eve 7 PM Arti: 2 Hrs
- We ended our trip at Somnath by spending two hrs at the main temple. The Arti at 7 PM is very energising and you can keep walking in and out – so I had multiple darshans of the Lord.
- The temple is lit at 7 PM and the grass gardens are lovely. The sea breeze is pleasant and it was almost a full moon night.
- There is a sound and light show from 8 – 9 for which you need to buy tickets. So the temple lights are switched off at 8 PM.
- There are Prasad counters in the garden area from where you can buy dry prasad packets
- We were back in our hotel by 8.30 for dinner.
We left Somnath at 5 AM. The road to Dwarka is an excellent highway and you can zip at 120+ kms. At around 7.30 we stopped for breakfast at a place called Hotel Krishna Park and were served fresh Poha / Puri Sabji.
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga: 30 Min
- We reached Nageshwar Jyotirlinga at 9.15 AM. There is some confusion between Jageshwar (Kumaon) and Nageshwar being a Jyotirlinga. Most online resources seem to consider Nageshwar to be in the list of 12 Jyotirlingas. But when I visited Jageshwar in 2016 the priests claimed that it was one of the 12 Jyotirlinga’s
- The temple structure looks modern. There is a massive Shiva Statue in front of the temple. It’s not crowded and by paying 200 Rs we were allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum and offer Arti to the Lord. This was indeed very satisfying.
- A minute’s drive from here is Gopi Talab. According to locals, after leaving Mathura, Lord Krishna never went back. The Gopi’s of Mathura came to Dwarka to meet Krishna. After several Ras Leela’s with Lord Krishna, they offered their lives to the land. Hence the name of the lake is “Gopi Talab”.
Beyt Dwarka: 2 Hrs
- A short drive from Nageshwar is Beyt Dwarka. It’s a 35 Sq Km Island. Most of Dwarka from Krishna’s era is submerged – this is said to be one of the few parts that survived.
- You need to take a 15 min ferry to reach the island. Boats are overloaded and there are no life jackets – tickets cost Rs 20/- . Private Boats are available for Rs 4000/-. A sea bridge connecting the island with the mainland is under construction.
- Take a Guide – it helps. Our guide was Harshad – 98986 66486. He did a good job showing us the place.
- The main temple was destroyed during the Kutch earthquake and most of what you see was rebuilt (It still looks ancient and dilapidated)
- The main Idol of the Lord – Dwarkadhish at Beyt Dwarka disappeared for thousands of years. This was hand made by Rukmani. Afterwards it was found by Mahaprabhu Shri Vallabhacharyaji and installed. The Idol has mesmerizing power and locks you. You will not find a photo of this idol anywhere. We were lucky to get it from the guide who knew the priest
- The guide made us happy by saying that we were special, this was lord Krishna’s house and Sudama had come here. Dwarka was his office. Most people come here after visiting Dwarka.
- 70% of the inhabitants of the island are Muslims. Its crowded and not well maintained
- Beyt Dwarka also has some nice beaches. The best is Dunny Point which is surrounded by sea in 3 sides.
- Some people claim that this is a site for scuba diving, but we could not find any diving clubs.
- On the way back the Private Boats take you back for Rs 100/-. That avoids the crowds.
- The last boat back to the mainland is at 5.30 PM. Temple is closed in the afternoon from 1 – 5. During the the day the is closed 11 times for short durations for Naivedyam. So, plan your trip accordingly
Rukmani Temple : 15 Min
- You will cross this temple on the way to Dwarka. While Mathura & Brindavan is all about Radha – Dwarka is all about Rukmani – the 1st queen of Krishna. Cursed by sage Durvasa Rukmani was separated from Lord Krishna for 12 years.
- Rukmani hence has a separate temple to herself on the outskirts of Dwarka. The temple has a tall shikara and intricate carvings which are eroded because of proximity to the sea. This temple probably belongs to the 12th century, contemporary of the main Dwarkadish temple in Dwarka.
- When you visit the temple, the priest will wait for a batch of people and then tell you the story. It is a small temple, but it has a personality of its own.
By now it was 1.30 and on the way to our room we stopped by at the New Srinath dining hall for lunch. It was crowded, the place was not clean, and the food was very oily. You can skip this place. Suggest you go to Sharanam restaurant which is diagonally opposite.
Bhadkeshwar Mahadev temple: 15 – 30 Min
Evening 4.30 we headed to this temple which is by the sea. This is a small ancient temple where the Lingam is almost 5000 years old. It is believed that this temple was constructed by Shankaracharya. The path leading to the main shrine gets submerged during high tide in the rainy season.
Main Dwarkadish Temple: 1 Hr.
- Dwarka is a small town, and you can reach the Dwarkadish temple easily from anywhere. A short Auto ride costing 30 – 40 Rs or walk for 10 – 15 min. The temple is located on the Sangam of the Gomti river with the Arabian sea. Temple timings are 6.30 AM – 1 PM and 5 to 9.30 PM
- At the main temple you need to deposit your Phone and bags – only wallets are allowed inside. No entry fee / no special ticket etc.
- Tushar Bhat a Priest of the temple was our guide, and he did a good job Most importantly he helped us to avoid the Q and find a nice peaceful corner from where we could view the main sanctum peacefully and uninterrupted. He can be contacted at +91 98257 14232.
- The original temple was built by Lord Krishna’s grandson Vajranambha and the architect was Vishwakarma. The main shrine of the five-storied building, supported by 72 pillars, is known as Jagat Mandir. Archaeological findings suggest it to be 2,000 – 2,200 years old.
- The Dwarka Mutt is one of the four mutts established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya within this temple.
- It is sacred to take a dip at the Gomati Ghat opposite to the Dwarkadhish Temple. The water is sparkling clean.
- The Dhwaja or the Mast Flag atop the main Temple is unique and sacred. The Flag is made of 52 yards of cloth. 52 small flags are woven individually in each yard of cloth. The flag is changed 5 times a day
- Aarti Timings
- Mangala Aarti – 6.30 – 7 am,
- Shringar aarti – 10.30 – 10.45 am & 11.30 am,
- Sandhya Aarti – 7.30 – 7.45 pm and
- Shayan Aarti at 8.30 – 8.35 pm
Sudama Bridge: 30 Min
A minutes’ walk from the main temple is the Sudama bridge on the Gomti river. It gives a nice view of the temple and the Ghats. It’s a nice photo op place in the evening. There are benches along the river where you can sit and soak in the beauty and energy of the place.
It was 7.30 PM by the time we finished our walk along Sudama bridge and headed back for a light meal at Sharanam and then back to our room. It was a long and satisfying day.
Heading back to Rajkot & Bangalore
- The drive from Dwarka to Rajkot is a bit patchy at places because of construction. We left at 6.30 AM and reached Rajkot by 11 AM. This route you cross the Reliance Jamnagar refinery complex. The earliest breakfast joints you get are near Jamnagar so it’s almost 9.30 before you can have breakfast. Jamnagar also has a nice Marine Life Park.
- Rajkot is a lovely city famous for its tea shops. Also visit the famous Peda shop Jay Siyaram. If you skip breakfast and want an early lunch the best Thali place in Rajkot is Grand Thakkar (Opens at 11.30 AM)
- Flight 6E 6508 departs Rajkot at 14.20 and lands in Bangalore by 16.15
By the grace of God and our Master the trip went off very well. Everything happened with meticulous perfection. The weather was perfect, the drivers were excellent and the perfect guides miraculously appeared in front of us. There was hardly any crowd and we had excellent Darshan at all the places.