A Visit to the Revered Shrines of Lord Shiva
India is a land of God and Goddesses and among many crores deities, Lord Shiva is one of the most revered and worshipped Gods by Hindus all over the world. Lord Shiva, who is considered the most benevolent and at the same time fierce God, is known to reveal himself to his devotees in the form of Jyoti i.e. light in the ‘Dwadash Jyotirlingas’ (twelve Jyotirlingas). Considered the holiest among all the shrines, the divine Darshan (sight) of Jyotirlingas are believed to release the devotee from the cycle of life and death.
Let’s know something more about the twelve Jyotirlingas and their importance according to Hindu mythology.
Somnath – Gujarat
Considered the first pilgrimage site of all the Dwadash Jyotirlingas, Somnath Temple is located in the Saurashtra, on the western shores of Arabian Sea. It is one of the most noteworthy pilgrimage sites and visited by thousands of devotees every year, especially on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
Mythological story associated with the place – As per the legends, the Moon God ‘Somdev’ ignored his wives (daughters of Daksha Prajapati) due to the allurement of a celestial maiden. Knowing this, Daksha Prajapati cursed the Moon God to vanish into darkness of night. Deeply grieved, Moon God worshipped Sparsa Linga of Somnath and was blessed by Lord Shiva to grow and shine. After regaining his light, the Moon God installed the Brahmshila.
Timings – 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Mallikarjuna Temple – Andhra Pradesh
Situated on the banks of River Patalganga Krishna, Mallikarjuna temple is another sacred Jyotirlinga of the country. Placed on Srisailam Mountain, the temple is built in Dravidian style and has a wall sculpture and cravings from the scenes of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Mythological story associated with the place –Kartikeya became very angry when his younger brother, Lord Ganesha was married before him. When Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati went to console Kartikeya, on Kraunch Mountain, they came to know that he has left the place. Then, Lord Shiva took form of the Jyotirlinga at that place and resided on the mountain by the mane of Mallikarjuna (Mallika means Parvati and Arjuna means Shiva).
Timings – 4:30 AM to 10:00 PM
Mahakaleshwar Temple – Madhya Pradesh
Set on the banks of River Kshipra, Mahakaleshwar Temple is situated in the ancient city of Ujjain. Apart from being a home to one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the place is also one of the top Tantra Temples in India. One of the famous attractions of the temple is ‘Bhasm-Aarti’ in which the Shivlinga is bathed with ash from a fresh cremation.
Mythological story associated with the place – From the many mythological tales behind the Mahakaleshwar Temple, one of the most heard is that Lord Shiva appeared in the very place to kill the demon Dushanan – who tortured the people of the Ujjain city.
Omkareshwara and Mammaleshwar Temples – Madhaya Pradesh
Located at the banks of Narmada River, Omkareshwar and Mammaleshwar temples are placed on the holy island of Shivpuri in Maheshwar. The island is believed to be in the shape of ‘Om’ – spiritual symbol in Hindu Mythology.
Mythological story associated with the place – According to one myth of the three legends behind the place, Lord Shiva took the form of Omkareshwara and defeated Asuras in a violent war between Devas and Asuras.
Timings – 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Kedarnath Temple – Uttarakhand
One of the ‘Char Dham’ – (four major Hindu pilgrimage centres), Kedarnath Jyotirlinga Temple, is situated on the banks of Mandakini, west side of Kedar, mountain in Himalayas. The place is one of the most revered temples devoted to Lord Shiva. Due to the extreme cold during winters, the idol of Lord Shiva is brought down to ‘Ukhimath’ from Kedarnath.
Mythological story associated with the place – After the violent battle of Mahabharata, Pandavas performed penance here in order to liberate their sins. Pleased with this, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a triangular Jyotirlinga. It is said that the original temple was built by the Pandavas and later rebuilt by the famous Hindu Guru, Adi Shankaracharya.
Timings – 4:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Bhimshankar Temple – Maharashtra
Nestled in a small village of Bhorgiri, amidst the Sahayadri Hills, the sacred Jyotirlingas is one of the oldest Shiva temples. Located near Pune, the temple is surrounded by thick forests of hilly area. The holy place is remarkable for both religious significance and scenic surroundings.
Mythological story associated with the place – As per the Hindu Purana, Lord Shiva took Rudra Avatar to kill Tripurasura. This wicked demon, proud with power tried to destroy Swarg (heaven), Narak(hell) and Patal(Nether world). Lord Shiva killed the demon and in order to take some rest after this, he sat down on the Sahayadri Mountain. At that very time the sweat from his body flowed and turned into the Bhima River and on the request of Devas, he stayed on the mountains in the form of Jyotirlinga.
Timings – 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Kashi Vishwanath Temple – Uttar Pradesh
Situated in one of the oldest and holiest city i.e. Banaras, Kashi Vishwanath Temple is visited by the devout devotees from all across the world. The original temple, ransacked many times by Arab invaders, was renovated by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar in 1780. Housing twelfth Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, the temple is mounted by gold plated towers and a golden chhatra.
Mythological story associated with the place – According to one of the many legends, Lord Shiva emerged in the form of Jyotirlinga rising from earth to heaven in order to declare the final call of supremacy among the Hindu Gods.
Timings – 3:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Trayambakeshwar Temple – Maharashtra
The ancient temple of Trayambakeshwar temple is situated in Trimbak – source place of the holy Godavari River in Nasik. The temple was reconstructed with the black stones in the Nagara style of architecture, by the order of Peshwa Balaji Bajirao. Residing place of Trayambakeshwar Jyotirlinga, it is the only Jyotirlinga with three faces representing Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara (Shiva).
Mythological story associated with the place – The legend of the place is related to the origin of the River Godavari. According to it, Gautama Rishi unintentionally killed a cow in his hermitage. To liberate his sin, he prayed Lord Shiva and asked him to send River Ganga to purify him. River Ganga flowed down in the form of River Godavari. Seeing all these all Devas sang in praise of Lord Shiva and requested him to reside in the form of three lingas of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
Timings – 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM
Ramehswaram – Tamil Nadu
Being one of the holy Char Dham, Rameshwaram is a religious town situated in Tamil Nadu. The Ramanathaswamy Temple here is home to one of the consecrated holy Jyotirlingas.
Mythological story associated with the place – After returning from Lanka and killing demon Ravana, Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva here.
Timings – 4:30 AM to 8:30 PM
Nageshwar Temple – Gujarat
Nageshwar Mahadev Temple located near Dwarka, Gujarat. The place is plunged by thousands of followers of Lord Shiva, who is worshipped here in the form of ‘Nagdev’. The temple has a 25 m tall stature of Lord Shiva which is a great piece of attraction here.
Mythological story associated with the place – According to Shiv Purana, a demon start misusing his power and blessing gifted by Goddess Parvati. During this act of tyrannizing local people, he imprisoned a Shiva Devotee. And when in rage he tried to kill that devotee, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Jyotirlinga in order to protect her and other devotees. From that time the Jyotirlinga is worshipped here in the Nageshwar Temple.
Timings – 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Grishneshwar Temple – Maharashtra
Situated close to famous Ellora Cave, Grishneshwar Temple falls at a village Verul, near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. This eighteenth century temple is filled by the devout followers of Lord Shiva during the holy month of Sawan.
Mythological story associated with the place – Pleased with the devoutness of a lady named Ghushma, Lord Shiva appeared and blessed her with a son who unfortunately got killed by her own sister. One the appeal of Ghushma, Shiva resided here in the form of Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga.
Timings – 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Baidyanath Dham – Jharkhand
Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple is located in Deogar, Jharkhand. The temple complex is abode of one of the twelve sacred Jyotirlingas in the temple of Baba Baidyanath. During the month of Shravan the place is swarmed by the Kanwariya who offers holy water of river Ganges to the main shrine.
Mythological story associated with the place – As per the legend, demon Ravana who was a staunch follower of Lord Shiva, offered his ten heads one after another as sacrifice to the deity. Extremely pleased with this Shiva descended to cure Ravana. As Lord Shiva acted as a doctor, he is referred to Baidya (doctor).
Timings – 4:00 AM to 9:00 PM