With the ardent desire to accomplish the darshanam of Dwadash Jyotirlingas, detailed as appended :
1. Grishneshwar Temple Jyotirlinga located at a village called Verul, which lies 20 km from Daulatabad (near Aurangabad in Maharashtra) and approximately 100 kms from Manmad station.
2. Somnath Temple Jyotirlinga is situated at Somnath Patan (the south coast of Saurashtra), near Veraval in (Prabhas Kshetra) Kathaiwad district in Gujarat. Somnath is considered to be the first of the Dwaadash Jyotirlingas of Shiva.
3. Mallikarjun Temple Jyotirlingam is situated on Shri Shaila Mountain by the banks of the Patal Ganga, Krishna River in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
4. Mahakaleshwara Temple Jyotirlinga is located by the banks of river Kshipra, in the dense Mahakal forests in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
5. Omkareshwar Temple Jyotirlinga is situated on the mountain Mandhata by the banks of Narmada River in the Malva area in Madhya Pradesh.
6. Baidyanath Temple Jyotirlinga, also called Vaijnath Temple and Vaidyanth Temple is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Bihar in the south west of Keeul Station
7. Bhimashankar Temple Jyotirlinga is situated in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills in the village of Bhavagiri, 50-km north west of Khed, near Pune in Maharashtra
8. Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlingam is situated in the island of Rameswaram, off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu and is reached via the Pamban Bridge across the sea
9. Nageshwar Temple Jyotirlinga or Nagnath Temple is located on the route between Gomti Dwarka and the Bait Dwarka Island on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat.
10. Kaashi Vishwanath Temple Jyotirlinga is located amidst the crowded lanes in the holy city of Varanasi also known as Kashi and Benares.
11. Shri Trimbakeshwar Temple Jyotirlinga is located at a distance of about 30-km from Nasik in Maharashtra near the mountain named Brahmagiri from which the river Godavari flows.
12. Kedarnath Temple Jyotirlinga : One of the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus, Kedarnath Temple Jyotirlinga is located in the picturesque surroundings of Rudra Himalaya Range at a height of 12000 feet on a mountain named Kedar,
(There is an important shloka, reproduced as under, dedicated to the 12 Jyotrilingas in the Shiva Purana)
I, already having the darshanam of lord Kashi Vishwanath of Varanasi and Lord Rameshwaram, decided to start with Somnath, Nageshwar Mahadev and Mallikarjun Swami as enunciated at S.Nos. 2, 9 and 3, as above, respectively, and accordingly got booked the tickets. For Somnath and Nageshwar, I decided to visit from 09.10.2011 to 12.10.2011 and Mallikarjun Swami from 13.10.2011 to 15.102011 and accordingly got the tickets booked.
I, set out, from Chennai, the place where I am residing, for Ahmedabad on 09.10.2011 and boarded flight No. AI 981, scheduled at 1550 hrs, and reached Ahmedabad at 1930 hrs. For further journey I got booked a berth in sleeper coach (fare Rs. 194) of train No. 19221 (Ahmedabad – Veraval Somnath Express) scheduled to depart at 2200 hrs of 09.10.2011 from Ahmedabad junction. The Auto fare is around Rs. 150 from Airport to Rly. Stn. However as I was carrying a very light bag on my back and also having sufficient time and moreover above all to save the few pennies moved out of Airport on foot and walked a good 1 km to reach circle from there I took a auto which charged Rs. 20 for a place – Delhi Darwaza and from there a shared auto for Rly. Stn., popularly known there as Kalupur Rly Stn., (it would be better to call by this name only) charges Rs. 5 only. It took around half an hour to reach the Rly. Stn. Outside Rly Station I opted for having my dinner in a restaurant, just opposite the Rly Stn. Mine is a restricted diet to that of a Jaini Meal (Vegetarian and that too onion and garlic not mixed), which is really very very hard to find here in Chennai. Mind it if you are going to demand such food in any normal restaurant here in Chennai, you will surely be the target of some staring eyes as if you are an alien just landing from planet, Jupiter. Sometimes I am also bit worried as to why these Chennaites are not having their tea and coffee mixed with onion. Anyway in Gujarat I liked the outside food most, especially all the curries and dals there mixed with some sweet sakkar. There I took Jaini Paneer Tikka Masala with Chappatties costing some 60 Rs. only. The food was quite delicious.
The train reached at Veraval station in the morning of 10th at around 0600 hrs from there i took a shared auto for Somnath paying a fare of Rs. 10. It dropped me at a distance of just few steps from Somnath temple. There are a lot of dharmshalas, hotels starting from Rs. 200 for a day’s stay are available. As I do not wanted to stay there just searched some place for taking bath, for that also there places are available charging around fifty rupees. I opted for a place, just before the temple premises at the right hand side, from Nasha Foundation. It charges Rs. ten for the complete package of using basin, toilet and bathing. I paid Rs. 7 there and had brushed up my teeth and a bath and skipped using the toilet and hence the discount of Rs. 3, although those were clean enough. After that I went to the temple. Bags, camera, mobiles etc are not allowed in the temple. A cloak room for your luggage and well as shoes is available, free of charge, just inside the main gate of the temple.
There was not mush rush inside the temple, and had the darshanam of the deity with 15 minutes. Inside the sanctum sanctorum, the main deity viz. A big shiva lingam is there, flanked by idols of Brahma and Vishnu on its right and left, respectively.
The temple is overlooking at the Arabian Sea and it is quite picturesque, you can find it very soothing to observe the waves touching the foot stones of the temple. On the right side in the courtyard of the temple itself you can find details of all the dwadash jyotirlingas depicted in style. At the time some stone carving work was also being carried on and some 15-20 sculptors were carving intricate designs out on the wall of the temple.
Outside the temple just few steps away Somnath Bus stand is there and in a refreshment centre, adjacent to the bus stand, I had tea and a plate of dhokla. From Somnath I had already got the reservation done for a seat of an express bus scheduled to depart at 1415 hrs for Dwarka. It is always advisable to get the reservation done in advance if you are opting for a state transport bus journey otherwise on boarding the bus you will find that some of the cream seats, obviously window sides already blocked, and also may be that you may not find the seat to sit if this practice is more popular. And it is very easy, just go through this link – http://www.gsrtc.in/GSRTCOnline/ and is quite cheap also as apart from the Basic fare of Rs. 119 I had only to pay Rs 5 and Rs. 4 as Reservation Fee and Service Charge and got the window seat No. 20 booked in the Trip code 1415SMNTOKHAEX5.
As I do have sufficient time left to board the bus as it was around 10 in the morning, I caught an auto for Golok Dham which is around 2 kms away from Somnath temple, which fared me Rs. 20. From Golok Dham Lord Shri Krishna is believed to have departed for his divine journey along with his body, subsequent to being shot by Jara, a hunter at a place known as Bhalka, on the way to veraval from Somnath.
After having darshanam of Golok Dham I proceeded for Triveni ghat which is nearby, about 500 mts away and walking distance, where three river, Hiranya, Kapila and Saraswati meets.
From Triveni ghat I returned to Somnath, being the centre point, by auto paying Rs. 20 and took shared auto for Bhalka teerth, a place where Sri Krishna was shot into his left foot by a hunter, Jara mistaking the same as a deer. The auto fare was Rs.10. After visiting the place I returned again to Somnath paying Rs. 5 in the same kind of auto, realising that while going I was cheated but really I would not mind to be cheated to this extent.
On the top of the temple the peepal tree is visible under which Sri Krishna was believed to be seated in yoga Samadhi when he was shot.
After returning back to Somnath at the main crossing I found a temple with South Indian architecture, out of curiosity went inside to find the same to be the temple of Sri Laxmi Narayan.
At Somnath one can find lot of restaurants, out of which I selected one, Shiv Ganga Restaurant and had my lunch there. The food was good, I had a Gujarati thali consisting of four tawa roti, two curries, dhal, a katori of rice and buttermilk, I was charged Rs. 70 for the food and that too in an air conditioned restaurant.
After having food I went inside the bus stand and waited there for about 30 mins. My bus arrived at the scheduled time and I took my pre allotted seat. Distance from Somnath to Dwarka is about 250 kms. The road is good but for few kms patches. The journey from Somnath to Dwarka is quite scenic and it is advisable to take seat at the left window side of the bus to have a better view of the sea. Almost the entire route follows the sea shore to the left and most of the time you are in between bushy shrubs giving a feel of passing through jungle. The view of sea is breath taking and at times you are almost into the sea. Also are seen hundreds of giants, at a glance, standing to your left for initial few hundred kms and then to your right for the rest of journey. They have been installed by suzlon energy to generate electricity. The panorama of these windmills and view of sea and more over greenery (though bushy) all along the way enhances the exquisiteness of the journey. As compared to the East Coast Road of Tamil Nadu, from which the view of the sea is lot more obstructed because of lot of cement constructions in between, I find this road and journey quite soothing. I packed my camera into the bag and kept it on the rack, not having the remotest of hope of such a scenic encounter.
The bus reached Dwarka at around 8.15 PM, I got down and went straight to Lohana Atithi Griha for which I have learnt from someone, but there I came to know that they do not offer their rooms for someone single. On the way, I saw one Murlidhar Guest House and immediately recalled that once about some 27 yrs ago, in 1984, I, then quite small of 13 yrs only, along with my mother, who is now no more, and brother visited Dwarka and took shelter in the same lodge. The dilapidated condition of the Lodge had the capacity to throw anyone away from it, whatsoever budget one may be on. But the tinge of nostalgia compelled me not to give any second thought but to stay in that. I went straight but found all single or double bedded rooms occupied, I opted for a four bedded room with attached toilet at a discounted rate of Rs. 200. During my visit during 1984, we went for darshanam in the morning and huge rush was there and due to which we but for me had the darsharnam of the deity. I being small then and was somewhat scared with the pushes and pulls of the rush could not bear to stand there. The lesson then I got is still in my mind and I used to avoid the so called auspicious muhurt and timings for the darshanam.
I regard the temple as an auspicious place as it gathers mostly positive vibrations by the visit of the elevated ones and also a person, in general, when visits the temple shirks the negativity or negative thoughts knowingly or unknowingly. Thus all the places of worship are nothing but abundance of positive vibrations. And to fully avail the benefit of such places we should just spend some time as near as possible to the garbh griha (sanctum sanctorum), and have dhyanam. The utility of a place of worship as per my view is so proved. That is why I decided to have the darshanam of Dwarkadheesh jee in the night itself as it was around 9 pm and at 9:30 in night temple closes for darshanam. Hence I rushed up immediately towards the temple and hired an auto for that, charging Rs. 20, that took just 5-6 minutes time and I reached temple.
After depositing my slippers at the place so specified within the premise itself, I went straight to the sanctum sanctorum only to find it closed. I was just wondering, and then a person there informed me that the temple has been closed for the night and I could have the darshanam in the morning only, he said that so authoritatively and also indicating towards a board displaying the timing of the aarti as 08.30 and saying that at 08.30 the temple closes. I had a doubt on that person’s version, as I had have the information that the temple is open up to 09.30 pm, I enquired two three more persons there, who told that the temple will open within some 5-10 mins and I could have a good darshanam. At the time there was almost no rush. Two-three persons were standing just outside the sanctum sanctorum, nearest place for having the darshanam. I too followed them and sat down in the front just after them and performed dhyanam.
After about 5 minutes the curtain covering the deity was removed, till then Bhantabhog or Sayan bhog was going on ( from 09.00 to 09.20), by the time a rush of about 50 persons gathered and I had a best possible darshanam from just in front. Darshanam goes on for just 10 minutes from 0920 to 0930 only. Here I would like to suggest to get darshanam of the Lord at this time, if feasible, being easier as compared to the early morning one, when there is lot of rush, more so if family consisting of small children are there morning time can be struggling one. After having the darshanam I preceded, by foot for the distance I guess was not more than a km to my guest house.
On the way I had my food near bhadrakali crossing at a restaurant, where I took Gujarati thali, unlimited one for Rs. 50. There are also lot of travel agents, one of whom I went to enquire about the tours conducted and came to know that they use to conduct local site seeing tour known as Dwarka Darshan daily twice (i) starting at 08:00 in the morning and returning at 01:00 in the noon and (ii) another one from 02:00 to 05:00. As my train from Dwarka was at 03:00 PM next day and I found having time sufficient enough for the first round of trip, I got booked by ticket for Rs. 70. It was around 10:30 in the night I looked here and there for getting my photo id Xeroxed but in vain as the shops were closed by that time. It is advisable to keep a Xerox copy of the identity while looking for a stay. On reaching the guest house, I freshened up in the night itself and took sleep and woke up at quarter to five in the morning. Took bath and proceeded straight to temple to have the morning darshanam.
But that will be covered in the next part, which will come soon…