There are many temples dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva in India The most prominent are the Jyotirlinga temples.
Originally there were believed to be 64 jyotirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyotirlinga takes the name of the presiding deity – each considered a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is the lingam.
Shiva first took the Linga form on the fourteenth day in the month of Phalguna / Magha in the Hindu calendar. Hence, this day is known as Maha Shivratri.
JYOTIRLINGA 1- Somnath , Gujarat
Shri Somnath temple enshrines the first of the 12 Aadi jyoritlings of Lord Shiva – Shri Somnath Mahadev, located on the western Saurashtra coast of the Arabian Sea, in the Verval Dist of Gujarat.
Lord Somnath stands resplendently huge dressed in bright silk vastras, with gold kavacham, a gold serpent hood around -covered in huge yellow garlands against a backdrop of gold walls embellished with gems and crevices for Lord Vishnu, Parvati Devi and Brahmaji.
The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in a straight line between Somnath seashore until Antartica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the Bāṇastambha or “Arrow Pillar” erected on the sea-protection wall.
JYOTIRLINGA 2 – Mallikarjun , Andrapradesh
Srisailam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.
As per legend, Once when princess Chandravati was doing meditation at the Kadali Vana in the hills, a Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders and was sinking into the ground. This was cow’s routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and found a Swayambhu SivaLinga, it was bright and shining like the sun rays. She prayed at this Jyotirlinga and built a huge temple there.
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has worshiped the Lord here and built a tower on the right side of the temple and also opened a free-meal center.
The presiding deities, Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi is one of the 18 Mahasakthis. Both are selfmanifested (Swayambhu) and are in one place which is very rare and only one of its kind. River Krishna is in the form of Patalaganga (underground spring), devotees take holy dip and go for the Darshan of this Jyotirlinga.
JYOTIRLINGA 3 – Mahakaleshwar, Ujjain
Mahakaaleshwar Temple is located in the banks of river Kshirpa in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Lord Mahakal is the guardian, patron deity and ruler of this holy city.
The temple is a three tiered one, with Lord Mahakal at the lowest level-below the ground. At the middle (ground) level is a temple of Omkareshwar, and over it is a shrine of Nagachandreshwara. This shrine is opened only on Nagapanchami day every year for a day. At the naval point of the earth south facing is Lord Mahakal considered Dakshinamurthi, is the only Jyotirlinga of its kind. Bhasma Aarati is a grand elevating experience, which is done only in this temple everyday between 4-6am by Naga Sadhus with sacred ash – Bhasma.
JYOTIRLINGA 4 – Omkareshwara , Madhyapradesh
The fourth of the Jyotirlinga “Omkareshwar” is situated on the mountain Mandhata and on the banks of river Narmada, in Malva, Madhya Pradesh.
On a request of all the gods and the sages Lord Shiva made two parts of the lingas. One half is called Omkareshwara and the other Mamaleshwar. This sacred island and the river are shaped like “OM” and that is how it derives its name. It is a natural phenomenon. And is about 2km long and 1km wide. The devotees who go round the temple are blessed because they are doing a Parikrama of Omkara itself.
JYOTIRLINGA 5 – Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Jharkhand
Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga is also known as Vaijnath or Baidyanath. It is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Jharkhand. There is also the legend from the Ramayana about Ravana halting here while on his way to Lanka with the Shivlinga. It is said that to be able to relieve himself, Ravana asked a herdsman boy to hold the Shivlinga for a while. However, the boy was unable to do so for long and placed it on earth, which is how the jyotirlinga happens to be here.
The presiding deity Lord Vaidyanath is east facing with temple doors in the south and north directions.
JYOTIRLINGA 6- Bhimashankar , Pune
Bhimashankar Temple is on the Sahyadri hills near Pune, Maharashtra. In recent times, it has gained a lot of significance as it was also declared as the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is known as Moteshwar Mahadev. This Jyotirlinga believes that Bhima, the son of Kumbhkaran, was over-strong with the blessing of Lord Brahma. Blinded by blessing, he tortured the devotees of Shiva. He also defeated Indra Dev in the war.When Kamarupeshwar refused to do pooja to him, tyrant Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga. As soon as Bhima managed to raise his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence. Then the terrible war began. It was then that Lord Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes and thus concluded the saga of tyranny. All the Gods and the holy sages present there requested Lord Shiva to make this place his abode. Lord Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankara Jyotirlingam.
JYOTIRLINGA 7- Rameshwaram, Tamilnadu
Rameshwaram is in Pamban Island of Ramanathapuram district in Tamilnadu.
According to the Ramayana, Sri Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu has prayed to Lord Shiva here to expiate the sin of Brahmahatya (killing of a Brahmin) committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Sri Ram wanted to have the largest lingam to worship Lord Shiva. He directed Hanumanji to bring the lingam from Kailash. Since it took longer to bring the lingam, Ma Sita built a small lingam out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is the lingam in the sanctum. The primary deity of the temple is Ramanathaswamy (Lord Shiva) in the form of lingam. There are two lingams inside the sanctum, Ramalingam – one built by Goddess Sita, from sand, residing as the main deity and Vishwalingam – the one brought by Hanumanji from Kailash.
There are sixty-four Tīrthas (holy water bodies) in and around the island of Rameshwaram. According to Skanda Purana, twenty-four of them are important. Bathing in these Tīrthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameshwaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the Tīrthas are within the Ramanathaswamy temple. The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in Lord Rama’s quiver. The other two tirthas are Agni tirtha – the beach east of Ramanathaswamy Temple and Setu tirtha which is located at Dhanushkodi.
JYOTIRLINGA 8- Nageshwar , Dwarka Gujarat
Around 18 km from Dwarka in Gujarat, is the Nageshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple also finds its mention in Shiva Purana and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is mentioned in the text that Shiva in Nageshwar form (meaning body full of serpants) once defeated a demon called Daruka and his army to rescue one of his ardent devotees named Supriya. Since then, it is called the Nageshwar Temple. The temple itself is worth seeing for its unbelievably beautiful carvings.Snakes with their hoods open are very often seen standing guard on the Nagnath Linga.
JYOTIRLINGA 9-Vishvanath Temple, Varanasi
Vishvanath Temple is in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India on the western bank of the holy river Ganga. The main deity is known by the name Vishvanatha or Vishveshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. The Varanasi city is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple.
JYOTIRLINGA 10- Trimbakeshwar , Nashik
Trimbakeshwar Temple is in the foothills of mountain Bramhagiri which is the origin of river Godavari, near Nashik, Maharashtra.
The most important feature of this temple is presence of 3 linga’s each representing Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. All three resides in a hallow space within the Shiva lingam.
JYOTIRLINGA 11- Kedarnath , Uttarakhand
Shri Kedarnath Temple, highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas, at 11,745 ft. An 8th century magnificient temple built by the Pandavas and revived by Adi Shankaracharyaji is located in the Rudra Himalaya range amidst the stunning mountain scape of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River in Uttarakhand. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi stands as guard. The inner walls of the temple sanctum are adorned with figures of various deities and scenes from Mahabharata.
A rock, believed to have saved the temple from the floods and natural catastrophe by preventing the flood waters from destroying the temple, was also being worshipped, it’s called Divya Bheem Shila.
The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 20 km uphill trek from Gaurikund or a 5 min helicopter ride across the breathtaking Garhwal Himalayan range.
The shrine closes on the first day of Kartik (Oct-Nov) and reopens in Vaishakh (Apr-May) every year. During its closure the shrine is submerged in snow hence the deities are brought before to Ukhimath and worshipped here for next six months.
JYOTIRLINGA 12- Grishneshwar , Aurangabad
Grishneshwar temple is in Verul village which is about 30 km towards the west side of Aurangabad, Maharashtra and is in very close proximity to the Ellora caves. The Grishneshwar Temple is also known by several other names like Kusumeswar, Ghushmeswara and Grushmeswara. One of the oldest legends speaks of Parvati born as a tribal woman worshipping the Lord and being united with Him here. It is said that one day, as she ground vermillion and saffron with water to apply on the parting in her hair ( a symbol of the married woman), Shiva, in the form of light, appearing in her palm. This light turned into a lingam, which she called “Grishneshwar’, as it was formed by the friction (Grishna) between her finger and palm.