The city of Somnath is situated in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. The city lies about 80 kilometres from the city of Junagadh.
Somnath is revered as the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas, and is the site of the famed Somnath Mahadev temple.
The temple is named after the moon god Soma (Chandra) and Nath (Shiva). According to a legend, the moon god worshipped the Shiva linga at this temple and was freed of a curse. The Mahabharata makes a reference to this legend.
Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni sacked Somnath in 1024, and the temple was looted and destroyed. The temple was reconstructed under the patronage of the Solanki King Bhima of Gujarat and Malwa's King Bhoja, a philosopher and polymath.
Around 1300, Alauddin Khilji's forces looted the temple and it was once again destroyed. Jalore's ruler Kanhad Dev Sonigara defeated Khilji's forces and managed to retrieve the broken pieces of the temple's Shiva linga, which was being taken to Delhi. The pieces were eventually housed in Shiva temples in and around Jalore.
The Somnath temple would be destroyed and rebuilt again in the late 14th and 15th centuries, in the third decade of the 16th century, and by Aurangzeb's forces around 1700.
The restoration of the Somnath temple began in 1947 with a reconstruction plan proposed by Sardar Vallabhai Patel (1875-1950). Based on Chalukyan architecture, the structure that we see today was completed in 1951 and is the seventh version in Somnath's history. The then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad attended the temple's Jyothirlinga consecration ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Rajendra Prasad compared the temple to the power of reconstruction, which he said was greater than the power of destruction.
Kartik Poornima is one of the biggest occasions at the temple and attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the region and beyond.