Somnath, meaning 'lord of the moon' is one of the religious place in Gujarat and is a home to one of the 12 Jyotirling. It is a town which derives much of its identity from the mythology, religion, and legends that surround it.
It is a place where a strong scent of religion and legends lingers around tourism and even daily life.
It has a good connectivity from various places, via train or bus.
My journey to Somnath started from Dwarka via Okha express which departs around 08:00 PM IST from Okha station and arrives around 05:30 AM in the morning in Somnath.
OYO 48307 Hotel Majestic Somnath, 600-700m from the railway station. It has spacious rooms and is located very near to the temple . If you are a solo traveler like me, you can definitely opt this one.
All the temples in Somnath are within 5-6 km from the city. You can hire an auto or a taxi, or you can walk as well(if you are fond of fitness).
Places to Visit:
The Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple is first of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva. It is located on the western coast of Gujarat and is one of the oldest temples of the country
The temple is located on the ancient Triveni Sangam or the confluence of three rivers - Kapila, Hiran, and Sarasvati.
Note: You need to submit your bags and mobile phones outside.
Timing for Darshan at Somnath Temple : 6.00am to 9.00pm
Timing for Aarti : 7.00 am, 12.00 Noon and 7.00 pm
"Jay Somnath" Sound and Light Show : 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm
Somnath beach is next to Jyotirling. It has a serene view and has a chow patty which is worth visiting. There are so many chat panipuri stalls and stalls selling shell artifacts.
Note- Area is slippery, avoid loose shoes, prefer wearing rubber slippers.
Laxmi Narayan Temple:
Lord Laxmi Narayan is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Reflects modern architectural design, this temple is famous for the carvings on its 18 pillars which have the sacred message of Krishna in the form of Bhagwadgita.
Triveni Sangam Temple:
The confluence of the three rivers Hiran, Kapila and Sarasvati this is the point where the rivers meet the mighty Arabian Sea. Triveni Sangam is believed to be a very sacred Moksha Tirtha for Hindus.
People believe that a dip in the river at this holy ghat cleanses the body and spirit of all sins committed in his life. The Laxmi Narayan and Gita Temple are located on the shores of the ghats.
They have a facility of a nice boat ride in the river for 20rs for around 15-20 minutes which is really a good experience with the good view.
Panch Pandav Ghufa:
The temple is dedicated to the five Pandava Brothers. The location of the temple is such that one can view the entire city and get mesmerized just by looking at it. The temple is quiet and serene. The picturesque locale and ambience in turn, offers an absolutely cool and spiritual atmosphere.
Bhalka Tirth is a renowned Hindu pilgrim center which is believed to be the location where Lord Krishna was shot by a hunter's arrow. According to the sacred scripts, Lord Krishna's death marks the end of the Dvapara Yug and the beginning of the Kali Yug. The Tirth has a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and is called Mahaprabhuji's Bethak.
Gita Mandir has a nice old look. There is an air of calmness about it. It is adjacent to a river and well shaded. The idols of Krishna, and Lakshmi Narayana sculpted out of pure white marble are beautiful to look at.
All the above or you can say the main points of Somnath can be covered in the first half of the day.
After lunch I went for the adventurous ride to Gir National Park. There is no direct bus to Gir from Somnath, hence would recommend you to hire a private vehicle.
Taxi will cost you 1500-2000rs and the private auto around 800-1000rs.
Gir National Park
It is around 50-60km from Somnath. It will take around 1.5 to 2 hours to reach from Somnath to Gir. Gir is the only natural habitat of world popular Asiatic Lions.
There are many packages for available on the official site for Gir safari http://www.girnationalpark.in/index.html. This will give you the details of the packages they have and you can choose it accordingly.
It is better to buy the permit online for the Jeep safari as they have limited slots on per day basis. This permit will be per jeep, if you are going for the Jeep Safari.
This permit will be just the entry charges , you need to pay separately for the jeep and guide at the counter
Overall the jeep costs around 5000 for Indians and this jeep can accommodate up to 6 people.
I purchased for the Sasan Jeep safari for 03:00 pm to 04:00 pm timeslot and to experience the bus safari as well which is for 30 minutes, I purchased the 04:30 pm to 05:00 pm IST slot.
For more details on this you can refer the below link and book yours
The best time to spot the lion is early morning slot or 03:00 pm slot, as per my experience. Rest all depends on luck :)
As soon as the gates opened, the engines roared and the Jeeps started entering the core forest region of Gir national park. I was curious and excited to catch a glimpse of a lion.
I spotted many types of birds, peacock, deer, and yes I spotted lion, lioness and the tiger as well for which each one of is most excited for.
The lioness was so close to my jeep and it was altogether the best experience of Safari so far. With this adventurous memory, the jeep safari followed by the bus safari ended and I went back to my hotel in Somnath.