Header Ad
HomeRELIGIONThe 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva

The 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva

- Advertisement -

Jyotirlingas are considered the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva and hold immense significance in Hinduism. The Jyotirlingas are powerful source of divine energy. It is believed that worshipping at these shrines can help the devotees attain moksha or liberation. The word Jyotirlinga is formed by the combination of two words: “jyoti” meaning “light” and “linga” meaning “sign”.  The word Jyotirlinga translates to “radiant sign”.  There are 12 Jyotirlingas or sacred shrines symbolizing the divine nature of Lord Shiva. Each Jyotirlinga has its own unique mythological story and significance. It is believed that worshipping the highly auspicious Jyotirlingas helps in the spiritual evolution of an individual and brings them closer to Shiva. The mythology and significance of each of the 12 Jyotirlingas is as follows:

Somnath temple Gujarat

The Somnath Temple in Gujarat located on the western coast of Gujarat, close to the Arabian Sea is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus and is considered the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. The temple’s location at Prabhas Patan the sacred confluence (Triveni Sangam) where the Kapila, Hiran, and Saraswati rivers converge, holds special significance.

The name “Somnath” means “Lord of the Soma,” which refers to the Moon God. It is believed that the original temple was built by the Moon God himself in gold (Satya Yuga), later rebuilt by Ravana in silver (Treta Yuga), and then by Lord Krishna in sandalwood (Dwapara Yuga), and finally by King Bhimdeva of Gujarat in stone. The temple has a rich history and is associated with many legends and stories.

The temple has been a target of numerous attacks and invasions over the centuries. Historical records suggest a temple existed at the site as early as 2000 years ago.  The temple is said to have been looted and destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni, a Turkish ruler, in the 11th century who  invaded India multiple times to plunder its wealth. However, the temple was rebuilt each time by devotees.

- Advertisement -

Somnath’s enduring legacy lies in its ability to rise again after destruction.  It embodies the spirit of India’s rich cultural heritage and the unwavering faith of its people. Several rulers throughout history, including King Maitreya of Vallabhi in the 7th century AD, are credited with renovating or rebuilding the temple. The current structure of the temple is a modern reconstruction built in the Chalukya style of architecture in the 20th century.

After India’s independence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel spearheaded the effort to rebuild the Somnath temple in 1947.  The current structure, built in the Māru-Gurjara architectural style, stands as a testament to India’s commitment to its cultural heritage. The Jyotirlinga housed within the temple is believed to be the original one, even after the various destructions.

Mallikarjuna temple, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh

The Mallikarjuna Temple, Andhra Pradesh, This Jyotirlinga is located on the banks of the Krishna River in the Nallamala Hills near Srisailam is the second Jyotirlinga.  The name “Mallikarjuna” is derived from two words: “mallika,” meaning jasmine, and “arjuna,” which is another name for Shiva. The temple is known for its beautiful architecture and intricate carvings. The Mallikarjuna Temple is said to have been associated with the goddess Parvati, who is worshipped here as Bhramaramba. It is believed that Goddess Parvati performed penance here to marry Lord Shiva, and hence the temple is considered a sacred place for couples seeking marital harmony. The temple complex also includes several other shrines and structures, making it a significant pilgrimage and cultural center in Andhra Pradesh. The annual Maha Shivaratri festival is celebrated here with great fervor, attracting devotees from far and wide.

Mahakaleshwar temple, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

The Mahakaleshwar Temple situated on the banks of the Kshipra River in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, is another prominent Jyotirlinga and is one of the most illustrious Shiva temples. The presiding deity of the temple is swayambhu (self-manifested) Shiva lingam. The temple is known for its dakshinamurthi (facing south) idol of Mahakaleshwar. This is a unique feature among all the 12 Jyotirlingas and is found only in Mahakaleshwar.

- Advertisement -

The temple is believed to be one of the oldest Shiva temples in India. The exact date of its construction is not known, but it is believed to be at least 2,000 years old. The Mahakaleshwar temple is also one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas. The Upper Lip of Sati Devi is said to have fallen here.

The Mahakaleshwar temple is the only Shiva temple where the “Bhasma Aarti” (ashes aarti) is performed. This aarti is performed every morning using the ashes of the cremation ground. It is believed that the ashes have the power to cleanse the soul. In addition to this, a special ritual called Rudrabhishek is performed to appease Lord Shiva. It involves the chanting of the Rudram mantra, which is a powerful Vedic hymn.

The Mahakaleshwar Temple is also known for its distinctive architecture, which is a blend of Rajput and Maratha styles. The main temple building is a towering structure with a shikhara (spire) that rises high into the sky. The temple complex is quite large and includes several other shrines and structures dedicated to various deities. Devotees from all over the world visit the temple to seek blessings and spiritual solace.

One of the most important festivals celebrated at the Mahakaleshwar Temple is the Maha Shivaratri, which attracts a large number of devotees. Millions of pilgrims visit the temple every year, especially during the Kumbh Mela, which is a Hindu pilgrimage and festival that is held every 12 years in Ujjain.

- Advertisement -

Omkareshwar temple, Madhya Pradesh

The Omkareshwar Temple is another significant shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva situated on an island called Mandhata or Shivapuri on the banks of Narmada – one of the most sacred rivers in India in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the most revered temples in India. One of the two Jyotirlingas in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga is situated about 140 km away from the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga. The island is 4 KM long and 2.6 km2 in area and can be approached by boats and bridge.

Known for its unique location, the temple is situated on an island shaped like the sacred symbol “Om,” which is considered highly auspicious in Hinduism. One of the 12 Jyotirlingas the Omkareshwar Temple was built in the 10th century by the Parmara king, Mandhata.

The name “Omkareshwar” literally means “the Lord of Omkareshwar.” The jyortlinga in the Omkareshwar Temple, is in the shape of a “roundish black stone” representing Lord Shiva. Near it is a white stone representing Goddess Parvati. The temple complex includes a number of shrines and halls, including the Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga temple, the Gauri Somnath Temple, the Siddhanath Temple, and the Gupt Ganga Temple.

One of the most unique features of the Omkareshwar Temple is the presence of two shrines, one dedicated to Omkareshwar (Lord Shiva) and the other to Amareshwar (Lord Vishnu). This is a rare instance of both Shaivism and Vaishnavism being worshipped in the same complex.

The Omkareshwar Temple is a popular pilgrimage site and attracts devotees from all over the country particularly during Maha Shivaratri, when special prayers and rituals are performed to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The temple complex is quite large and includes several other shrines dedicated to various deities. The architecture of the temple is also remarkable, with intricate carvings and sculptures that reflect the rich artistic heritage of India.

Kedarnath temple, Uttarakhand

The Kedarnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva in the Garhwal Himalayas near the Mandakini River in Uttarakhand. It is one of the important pilgrimage sites for Hindus and the highest of all the 12 Jyotirlingas.

Kedarnath is seen as a form of Shiva, the ‘Lord of Kedarkhand’, the historical name of the region. Kedarnath forms part of the Char Dham Yatra, a holy pilgrimage circuit in the Himalayas comprising Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath.

The temple situated at an altitude of 11,755 feet above sea level is believed to have been built by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century CE, although its exact origins are uncertain. It is not certain who built the original Kedarnath temple and when. The name “Kedarnath” means “the lord of the field”: it derives from the Sanskrit words kedara (“field”) and natha (“lord”). One of the earliest references to Kedarnath occurs in the Skanda Purana, which contains a story describing the origin of the Ganges River. The text names Kedara (Kedarnath) as the place where Shiva released the holy water from his matted hair.

The temple is made of large, heavy stones and is known for its strong construction, which has withstood the test of time and natural calamities. The most striking features of the Kedarnath Temple is its ancient North Indian style architecture. The inner sanctum houses the revered Kedarnath lingam, a naturally formed rock formation worshipped as Lord Shiva.

According to legend the temple’s origins dates back to Mahabharata. It is believed the Pandavas performed penance here to please Lord Shiva and sought his forgiveness after the Kurukshetra war. Another legend says that Lord Shiva, in the form of a bull, eluded them here, leaving his hump behind, which is worshipped as the Kedarnath lingam.

It is believed that anyone who offers prayers to Lord Shiva at the Kedarnath Temple attains salvation or moksha. The temple is open to devotees only from April (Akshaya Tritiya) to November (Kartik Purnima, the autumn full moon) every year, due to the extreme weather conditions in the region. During winters, the idol of Lord Shiva is carried down to Ukhimath for worship.

The temple holds a special place in the hearts of millions of devotees and is a symbol of faith, devotion, and spirituality. Kedarnath is not directly accessible by road. The nearest motorable point is Gaurikund, 19 kilometers away, from where pilgrims have to undertake a trek or hire ponies or manchandas.The trek to the Kedarnath Temple is considered challenging but rewarding, with stunning views of the Himalayan peaks along the way.

Bhimashankar temple Maharashtra

The Bhimashankar Temple – an important Jyotirlinga shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the top places of pilgrimage in Maharashtra. It is located in the village of Bhorgiri in the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats, about 125 kilometers from Pune in Maharashtra.

The Bhimashankar Temple is known for its association with Lord Shiva’s battle with the demon king, Tripurasura. According to legend, Lord Shiva took the form of Bhimashankar and defeated the demon king, thus earning the name Bhimashankar.

One of the unique features of the Bhimashankar Temple is its location at the source of the Bhima River which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna River near Raichur. The temple is situated on the banks of the river and is surrounded by dense forests, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and pilgrims alike.

According to the legend, a demon named Bhima lived with his mother Karkati in the forests of Dakini. Once he asked his mother about his father. His mother replied that his father was Kumbhakarna the younger brother of King Ravana of Lanka who was killed by Lord Rama. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge his father. To achieve this he embarked on a severe penance to please Lord Brahma. The compassionate creator was pleased by the dedicated devotee and granted him immense powers.

Bhima created havoc everywhere disturbing all rishis and sadhus in their meditation. He defeated King Indra and dethroned him. This angered the Gods and who prayed for Lord Shiva’s help. Lord Shiva agreed to help them. Meanwhile Bhima defeated King Kamarupeshwar – a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and ordered Kamarupeshwar to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamarupeshwar refuses, the cruel Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shivlinga, to which Kamarupeshwar was doing abhishek and pooja. As soon as Bhima raised his sword, Lord Shiva appeared in person and a terrible war began.

Lord Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes in the war. All the Gods present there requested Lord Shiva to make this place his abode. Lord Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlingam. It is believed that the sweat from the body of Lord Shiva formed the Bhima River.

The temple is believed to have been built in the 18th century during the reign of Shivaji Maharaj the Maratha king. The shikhara, or tower, was built by Nana Phadnavis, a Maratha ruler, in the 18th century. The temple is surrounded by lush forests, which are home to a variety of rare plants and animals.

The temple is visited by thousands of devotees every year, especially during the festival of Maha Shivaratri, when special prayers and rituals are performed. The temple is also known for its wildlife sanctuary, which is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including the rare Malabar giant squirrel.

Kashi Vishwanath temple Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, is one of the most famous and revered temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, it is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. According to a popular belief Lord Shiva himself wispers the mantra of salvation into the ears of people who die naturally at the Vishwanath temple.

The presiding deity is known by the name Vishwanath and Vishweshwara, literally meaning “Lord of the Universe”. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history. The temple is believed to have been originally built by the King of Kashi in the 11th century. The temple was demolished by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. However, the current structure of the temple was constructed in the 18th century by the Maratha queen, Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1780.

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is popularly known as the ′Golden Temple′ because of the gold plated done on its 15.5-meter high spire. One tonne of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been used in the gold plating of the spire. There are three domes each made up of pure gold, donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1835.  

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is known for its stunning architecture, with a gold-plated dome and spire that dominate the skyline of Varanasi. The temple complex is quite large and includes several smaller shrines dedicated to various deities.

The temple is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus and is believed to be one of the holiest places in India. A visit to the temple and a bath in the Ganges River is believed to be a way to achieve moksha, or liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Devotees from all over the country visit the temple to offer prayers and seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The temple is particularly crowded during the festival of Maha Shivaratri, when thousands of devotees gather to participate in the celebrations. The Temple has been visited by all-time great saints like Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekanand, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, and Guru Nanak.

Trimbakeshwar temple Maharashtra

The Trimbakeshwar Temple in the town of Trimbak in the Nashik district of Maharashtra is a renowned Jyotirlinga shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated at the source of River Godavari – the longest river in peninsular India, also known as the Gautami Ganga.

A unique features of the Trimbakeshwar Temple is the presence of three lingams (representations of Lord Shiva) representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh (Shiva). It is one of the few temples in India where Lord Brahma is worshipped. It is believed that a dip in the Kushavarta Kund, a sacred pond, located near the temple can wash away one’s sins.

The temple’s architecture is in the Hemadpanti style, typical of medieval Maharashtra. It is believed that the original temple was destroyed by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb but was rebuilt by the Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao (Nanasaheb) in the 18th century.

The Trimbakeshwar Temple is not only a place of worship but also a site of historical and cultural significance. It is believed that a visit to the temple can help one attain moksha (liberation) from the cycle of birth and death.

The temple is particularly crowded during the festival of Mahashivaratri, when thousands of devotees gather to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. The temple also attracts pilgrims and tourists throughout the year due to its religious significance and architectural beauty.

Also Read: Tallest Shiva statues in the world

Vaidyanath temple Jharkhand

The Vaidyanath Temple in Deoghar in the Santhal Parganas division of Jharkhand, is one of the most revered temples in India and an important Jyotirlinga shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple complex comprises the central shrine of Baba Baidyanath along with 21 additional temples.

The name “Vaidyanath” literally translates to “Lord of Physicians” as it is believed that Lord Shiva cured Ravana of his ailments here. The Vaidyanath Temple is considered one of the most sacred temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, and it is believed that a visit to the temple can cure diseases and ailments. The temple complex is believed to be built over a Shiva linga that emerged from the sweat of Lord Shiva’s forehead. The temple is also one of the 51 Shakti Peethas, where the heart of Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva is said to have fallen.

According to the legends, Ravana performing penance in the Himalayas and offered nine of his heads to appease Shiva. Just as he was to sacrifice his tenth head, Shiva appeared and asked him to seek a boon. Ravana expressed his desire to take Shiva from Kailash to Lanka. Shiva agreed to Ravana’s request but with a condition that the lingam should not be placed on the ground en route or else it could never be moved and the place would become the permanent abode of the deity.

Worried about the prospect of Lord Shiva indefinitely leaving his abode on Mount Kailash, the Celestial gods approached Lord Vishnu and sought his help. Lord Vishnu asked Varuna Dev to enter Ravana’s stomach and make him feel the need to urinate urgently. Lord Vishnu himself took the form of a cowherd called Baiju and appeared before Ravana who asked him to hold the shivlinga. While Ravana relieved himself, Baiju placed the lingam on the ground and left the place. Upon returning, Ravana tried his best but could not lift the Shivlinga. Since then, shivlinga has stayed in Deoghar as the embodiment of the Kamna Linga.

The Shravani Mela is a major festival at the Vaidyanath Temple in the month of Shravan, during which thousands of devotees undertake a pilgrimage on foot to offer holy Ganges water to Baba Baidyanath.

Nageshwar temple near Dwarka in Gujarat

The Nageshwar Temple also known as Nagnath Temple, located near Dwarka in Gujarat, is an important pilgrimage site. The main deity here is Lord Shiva, known as Nageshwar Mahadev. According to the Shiva Purana, anyone who prays at the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga becomes free from all poisons, snake bites and worldly attractions.

Unlike other Nageshwar Temples, the statue or the Linga here faces south. A major highlight of Nageshwar Temple is the massive 80 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva. The Nageshwar Shiva Linga is made up of stone, known as Dwarka Shila, having small chakras on it. It is in the shape of 3 mukhi Rudraksha. The temple is designed on the principles of Vaastu Shastra.

Different sections of the temple, like the entrance, prayer halls, and inner sanctum (Garbha Griha), mirror the lying down or sleeping posture of the human body. The temple faces west (Paschim-mukhi) which aligns with the direction the head in the sleeping posture. The temple has three distinct levels, further echoing the body. The Garbha Griha (inner sanctum) is slightly below ground level, representing the torso. The Rangamandapa (performance hall) is slightly elevated, similar to the chest.

The temple is known for its ancient origins and is believed to have been built by the Pandavas during their exile. The temple complex is quite large and includes the main shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, as well as several smaller shrines dedicated to other deities.

One of the unique features of the Nageshwar Temple is the presence of a large over 2,000 year old statue of Lord Vishnu in reclining pose carved out of a single stone. The Nageshwar Temple is also known for its association with the legend of the demoness Daruka, who was defeated by Lord Shiva at this site. It is believed that Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Jyotirlinga to vanquish the demoness, hence the name Nageshwar (lord of serpents).

Rameshwar temple Tamil Nadu

The Ramanathaswamy Temple, also known as the Rameshwaram temple, is located on the island of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. The Temple famous for its architectural style as well as historical and religious significance is connected to mainland India by a bridge. This temple is the southernmost of all the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. It is also one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites, a set of four pilgrimage sites in India that are considered highly sacred by Hindus.

The temple is associated with the Hindu epic Ramayana. Legend has it that Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, built a bridge to Lanka from Rameshwaram to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana.

The temple’s main sanctum houses a Shiva lingam, which is believed to have been consecrated by Lord Rama himself before his journey to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from Ravana.

It is said that Rama prayed to Lord Shiva here to absolve any sins committed during his war against Ravana. According to the Puranas Rama along with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana, as per the advice of sages, installed and worshipped the lingam here to expiate the sin of Brahma-hatya incurred while killing Ravana who was a Brahmin.

The temple complex is massive and covers an area of about 64,000 square meters (158 acres). It is known for its long corridors, especially the Hall of 1000 Pillars, which is believed to be the longest corridor in Asia with a length of 1,212 feet (369 meters). The corridor is lined with beautifully carved pillars and leads to the main sanctum.

There are sixty-four Tīrthas (holy water bodies) in and around the island of Rameswaram. According to Skanda Puraṇa, bathing in these Tīrthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the Tīrthas are within the Rameshwaram Temple representing the 22 arrows in Rama’s quiver. The first and major one is called Agni Theertham, the sea (Bay of Bengal).

The temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year, especially during the festival of Maha Shivaratri, when special prayers and rituals are performed.

Grishneshwar temple Maharashtra

The Grishneshwar Temple located near the Ellora caves, about 30 km from Aurangabad is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines, the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. Grushneshwar is mentioned in Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Grishneshwar is derived from two Sanskrit words: “Grishna” which means “intense heat” and “Ishwar” which means “God.” Put together, it translates to “The Lord of Intense Heat.” However, this meaning is metaphorical and refers to Lord Shiva’s compassion. Devotees believe that Lord Shiva, as Grishneshwar -the “lord of compassion”, removes the sufferings and “burns away” the problems of his devotees.

The temple is built with black stone on a 44,000 square foot area and has many sculptures and intricate designs on both the interior and exterior walls. A large statue of Nandi, the sacred bull and Lord Shiva’s consort, is present in front of the main door. The Jyotirlinga murti (idol) is situated in the Garbhgruh (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple. Interestingly, unlike other Jyotirlinga temples, devotees here can touch the Shiva Linga with bare hands but as per tradition men entering the Garbhagriha are required to be bare-chested. The exact reason why men are required to be bare-chested while entering the Garbhagriha in Grishneshwar Temple is not entirely clear. This practice is unique to Grishneshwar Temple. Other Shiva temples don’t have any such requirement. On the contrary women can enter the Garbhagriha wearing normal clothing as long as they are modest.

Also Read: Viswas Swaroopam- the tallest Shiva statue in the world

One of the unique features of the Grishneshwar Temple is its association with the legend of a devout woman named Kusuma, who is said to have been cured of a deadly disease by worshipping Lord Shiva at this temple.

Overall, the Grishneshwar Temple is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of the rich cultural and religious heritage of Maharashtra. It is a site of immense spiritual significance for devotees of Lord Shiva and is considered a must-visit destination for anyone seeking blessings and spiritual solace.

- Advertisement -
Neeraj Mahajan
Neeraj Mahajanhttps://n2erajmahajan.wordpress.com/
Neeraj Mahajan is a hard-core, creative and dynamic media professional with over 35 years of proven competence and 360 degree experience in print, electronic, web and mobile journalism. He is an eminent investigative journalist, out of the box thinker, and a hard-core reporter who is always hungry for facts. Neeraj has worked in all kinds of daily/weekly/broadsheet/tabloid newspapers, magazines and television channels like Star TV, BBC, Patriot, Sunday Observer, Sunday Mail, Network Magazine, Verdict, and Gfiles Magazine.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular