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.
According to tradition, the Shivalinga in Somnath is one of the twelve jyotirlingas in India, where Shiva is believed to have appeared as a fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears.
It is located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot of Gujarat. Destroyed and reconstructed several times in the past, the present temple was reconstructed in Chalukya style of Hindu temple architecture and completed in May 1951. The reconstruction was envisioned by Vallabhbhai Patel and was completed under K. M. Munshi, the then head of the temple trust.
The present temple is built in the Chalukya style of temple architecture or “Kailash Mahameru Prasad” style and reflects the skill of the Sompura Salats, one of Gujarat’s master masons. The temple’s śikhara, or main spire, is 15 metres in height, and it has an 8.2-metre tall flag pole at the top.
The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in a straight line between Somnath seashore until Antarctica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the Bāṇastambha (Sanskrit: बाणस्तम्भ, lit. arrow pillar) erected on the sea-protection wall. The Bāṇastambha mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the north to the South Pole at that particular longitude.