PRESIDENT PRANAB Mukherjee offered prayers at Somnath Temple and paid floral tribute to Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel on the temple premises on Tuesday even as veteran BJP leader L K Advani could not make it to Somnath due to the ill health of his wife. Winding up his engagements in Ahmedabad, the President flew to Rajkot through a special plane in the afternoon. After a brief stopover at the Rajkot airport, Mukherjee boarded an IAF helicopter to fly to Somnath near Veraval town in Gir Somnath district.
After having his lunch at Sagar Darshan Atithigruh of Shree Somnath Trust (SST), the charitable organisation that manages the temple, Mukherjee took part in the mahapooja in Somnath temple at 4 pm. The half-an-hour-long mahapooja was organised to mark the sankalp siddhi day or the day marking the completion of the temple and realisation of the resolve to rebuild the temple.
It was on December 1, 1995 that the construction of the temple was completed and it was inaugurated by the then President Shankar Dayal Sharma. “It’s indeed a great place of solace and prayer. Seeing and experiencing Somnath Temple is invigorating and exhilarating. I was most delight to have such great Darshan,” Mukherjee wrote in the visitor’s diary.
The President also offered floral tribute to the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the temple premises before taking off for Diu. “We had planned the mahapooja to mark the sankalp siddhi day. The temple was inaugurated by the then President in 1995 after offering mahapooja. It is a coincidence that Mukherjee also happened to visit Somnath today,” SST secretary Pravin Laheri said.
The President was accompanied by Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabh Patel. However, veteran BJP leader L K Advani, who is also one of the trustees of SST, could not make it to Somnath. “He was to arrive at Somnath by around 11 am. But his wife is critically ill and therefore he could not come to receive the President,” Laheri further said.
From Somnath, the President took off for Diu where he is scheduled to inaugurate Diu beach festival. He will also stay for the night in the Union Territory and fly to Dwarka on Wednesday. Mukherjee will leave for Delhi from Jamangar on Wednesday afternoon, concluding his three-day visit to the state.