Somnath (Gujarat), July 8 : The historic temple of Somnath in Gujarat is all set to regain its old glory as a 'golden temple' by 2010.
The famous temple' Trust is carving and gold-plating the Sabha Mantap, the place where devotees gather and will also embed porous Bella stones on the outer structure that will be coated with fungus resistant paint.
The Somnath Temple that is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (prime shrines devoted to Lord Shiva) and located at Prabash Patan in Gujarat's Junagadh district.
Sri Somnath Temple Trust has commenced carving and gold plating work on the Sabha Mantap, the place where pilgrims and other devotees stand for holy Darshan (audience) of Lord Shiva, the chief deity.
The temple's outer structure is also being painted with fungus resistant paint to allow the porous Bella stones, which make up the structure, to breathe. The outer coating would protect the temple for 10 years from fungus attack.
The temple has been destroyed and looted many times, the most notable being the ones by the invading Turks led by Mahmud Ghazni and centuries later by Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb.
It was reconstructed in 1947 for the seventh time and the proper shape lasted till 1995. In the last decade, little renovation work has been undertaken.
The new work has already impressed the visitors too and many feel like returning visiting it again and again for the kind of soulful experience it offers.
"The gold plating of the temple is unique which will enhance the identity of the temple. Before Mahmood Ghazni attacked it, the temple was golden but they escaped looting all the gold from the temple. If it is again being gold plated, a lot of tourists can come to view it," said Ravi, a devotee.
Located on the shore, the Somnath Temple continuously has to bear saline and humid wind. It's a special kind of a coat that is fungus resistant and at the same time would not block the breathing of the Bellas-based structure.
"We are showing our old culture and traditional temple. The interior of the temple where people worship Somnath and Parvati is being gold-plated. Pilgrims and tourists have appreciated the work and they say if the entire temple is plated with yellow metal, it will be like a golden temple," said Ashok Sharma, Secretary of the Sri Somnath Temple Trust.
The Somnath Temple is known as 'the shrine eternal' since it has been attacked on several occasions and yet exists.
Skanda Purana that is one of the eighteen Purana or, religious text of Hindus, in a chapter describes the emergence of this Jyotirlinga.
Legend has it that the moon was married to the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Amongst all his wives, he had special love towards Rohini and neglected the others.
Noticing the negligence of Chandra or, the moon towards his other wives Daksha Prajapati cursed Chandra that he would lose his beauty and radiance.
But because of a moon devoid of radiance and beauty the entire world became lifeless, a disturbed Chandra, came down to Prabhasa with Rohini and worshipped the Sparsa Linga of Somnath after which he was blessed by Shiva to grow and shine in the bright half.
As the moon regained his light here, this town came to be known as Prabhasa. Brahma, one of the trinity, installed the Brahmashila, and paved way for the construction of the temple. On the request of the Chandrama and other gods, Lord Shiva assumed the name Somchandra (Jyotirlinga) and resided there eternally. He became famous by the name Somnath in the three worlds.
The temple is also unique in the sense that it has been constructed at a location with unhindered marine clearance till the Antarctica! By Suresh Soni