The shrines of the twelve Jyotirlingas

The shrines of the twelve Jyotirlingas


According to the Shiva Puran, once Brahma and Vishnu disputed in terms of supremacy of creation. To examine them, Shiva pierced the three worlds with an enormous, endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma broke their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either direction. Brahma lied that he discovered the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as the second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be receiving praise and worship until the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the highest partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears.

The jyotirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Originally there were believed to be 64 jyotirlingas while 12 of them are very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites takes the name of the presiding deity – each considered a different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Lord Shiva.

List of the shrines of the twelve jyotirlingas :

  1. Somnath: Gir Somnath, Gujarat
  2. Mallikarjuna: Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
  3. Mahabaleshwar: Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
  4. Omkareshwar: Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
  5. Kedarnath: Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand
  6. Bhimashankar: Maharashtra
  7. Vishwanath: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  8. Trimbakeshwar: Nashik, Maharashtra
  9. Baidyanath: Deoghar, Jharkhand
  10. Nageshwara: Dwarka, Gujarat
  11. Ramanathaswamy: Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
  12. Grishneshwar: Aurangabad, Maharashtra

JYOTIRLINGA 1- Saurashtra Somnath

Shri Somnath temple enshrines the first of the 12 Aadi-jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva -Shri Somnath Mahadev, located on the western Saurashtra coast of the Arabian Sea, in the Verval District of Gujarat. The tale goes that, Moon God is relieved from the curse of Daksha Prajapati through the blessings of the Lord. This legendary temple known as “the Shrine Eternal” has withstood six-repeated desecrations by the Muslim invaders and rebuilt several times by Hindu kings.

This 7th existing temple is built in Chalukya style of temple architecture reflecting the skills of Gujarat’s master masons. The temple’s Shikara is 150 m in height and has an 8.2-m tall gold flag pole with a Trishul and Damru at the top. The gold Kalash at the top of the Shikara weighs 10 tons. LordSomnath 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 resides at such a place that there is no land in a continuous line between Somnath seashore until Antarctica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is present on the Bāṇastambha or “Arrow Pillar” erected on the sea-protection wall. The Bāṇastambha mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the north to the South Pole at that particular longitude. The 7 pm Aarti for half an hour and the Sound & Light Show “Jai Somnath” between 8 to 9 pm is a vibrantly divine spectacle for every devotee who experiences it. Sardar Shri Vallabhbhai Patel is the pioneer of the existing temple hence has a statue dedicated to him opposite the main entrance of the temple.
JYOTIRLINGA 2 – Srisailam Mallikarjuna

Srisailam resides in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. When princess Chandravati was meditating at KadaliVana hills, a Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree, and milk was flowing from its four udders and sinking into the ground. This was cow’s routine chore every day. Chandravati dug up that area and found a SwayambhuSivaLinga; it was bright and shining like the sun rays. She prayed at this jyotirlinga and built a huge temple there. The Lord was very pleased with her; she went to Kailash wind borne and attained Mukti. Hiranyakashipa, Narada, Pandavas, Sri Ram, have prayed the Lord in this holy shrine. Adi Shankara, AkkaMahadevi, HemareddyMallamma are some of the great devotees who worshipped Lord Mallikarjuna here.

Sambandhar, Appar and Sundharar have sung one padhikam each on this Lord. Chhatrapati Shivaji has worshipped the Lord here and built a tower on the right side of the temple and also opened a free-meal centre. The presiding deities, Lord MallikarjunaSwamy is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi is one of the 18 Mahasakthis. Both are self-manifested (Swayambhu) and are in one place which is very rare and only one of its kind.
JYOTIRLINGA 3 – UjjayinyamMahaakalam

Mahakaaleshwar Temple resides in the banks of river Kshirpa in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Lord Mahakal is the guardian, patron deity and ruler of this holy city.

Legend says a five-year-old boy Shrikar was enthralled seeing the devotion of King Chandrasena of Ujjain towards Lord Shiva. Shrikar took a stone, and by considering it, a Linga started worshipping it regularly. Others thought that his worship as merely a game and tried to dissuade him in all ways. But all the efforts went in vain. On the contrary, the devotion of Shrikar increased by every passing day. Pleased by the boy’s love, Lord Shiva assumed Jyotirlinga form and resided in the Mahakal forest.

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. This fact has a special significance in the Tantric tradition.

BhasmaAarati is a great elevating experience, one of its kind which is done only in this temple every day between 4-6 am by Naga Sadhus with sacred ash –Bhasma. Since ancient times, this bhasma used to be the fresh and burning hot ash from a funeral pyre, since as belief goes that Lord Shiva lives in and enjoys the atmosphere of the cremation ground. However, the temple in keeping with modern times, since the last 15 yrs, the Aarti is now performed with bhasma made of cow dung (Vibhooti).MahaKumbhMela at Ujjain is conducted once in 12 years, Simhastha 2016 is from 22nd April till 21st May 2016.
JYOTIRLINGA 4 – Omkareshwara

The fourth of the Jyotirlinga “Omkareshwar” resides on the mountain Mandhata and the banks of river Narmada, in Malva, Madhya Pradesh. In the past, Narada known for his non-stop cosmic travel visited Vindhya parvat. In his spicy way, Narada told Vindhya Parvat about the greatness of Mount Meru. This made Vindhya jealous of Meru, and he decided to be bigger than Meru.

Vindhya worshipped Lord Shiva to become more significant than Meru by practising severe penance and worshipping parthivlinga (A linga made from physical material) along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months. As a result, Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with his desired boon of growing, but took a promise that Vindhya will never be a problem to anyone. 

Vindhya began to grow but did not keep up his promise. It even obstructed the sun and the moon. All deities approached Sage Agastya, who is Vindhya’s Guru, for help. Agastya, along with his wife, came to Vindhya and convinced him to go back to his standard size and that he would not grow until the sage and his wife returned. They never returned, and Vindhya is there as it was when they left. 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 or Amareshwar. 

This sacred island and the river form their shape like “OM”, and that is how it derives its name. It is a natural phenomenon. And it 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.

The walls of the Mamaleswar temple contains the inscription of the Shiva MahimaStotra dated 1063 AD. It is a divine blessing to have a darshan of the Lord here in Nidra between 9-9:30 pm.
JYOTIRLINGA 5 – ParalyamVaidyanatham

Parali is in Beed district, Maharashtra. The presiding deity Lord Vaidyanath is east facing with temple doors in the south and north directions. There are several stories connected to this temple, such as the story of Satyavan and Savitri, which takes place at Parali. Another story is that of Lord Vishnu helping the gods to obtain nectar from this region. A legend from the Ramayana mentions Ravana halting here while on his way to Lanka with the Shivlinga. 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 belief is that Shiva decided to reside here in the form of Vaidyanatheshwar. Even the story of Markandeyanugraha is said to have taken place at Parali.

The temple belongs to the Yadava period that goes back to the 12th or 13th century CE. The records state that the temple underwent renovation in the year 1706. The ponds around the temple enhance the aesthetical and architectural beauty of the temple, which too have religious significance. One of them is HariharaTeerth, the water of which is poured over the Shivlinga every Monday. This place defines the assimilation of the Shaiva and Vaishnava sects.
JYOTIRLINGA 6-Dakinyam Bhimasankaram

Bhimashankar Temple is on the Sahyadri hills near Pune, Maharashtra. Aeons ago in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahaydris lived the evil Asura by the name Bhima with his mother, Karkati. The divine and the mortals were scared of him alike. But he was confronted by specific questions about his existence which continuously tormented him.

Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna in the great war. This infuriated Bhima, and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu. 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 prowess. The evil tyrant caused havoc in the three worlds. He defeated King Indra and conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva – Kamarupeshwar and put him in the dungeons. 

He compelled and ordered Kamarupeshwar to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamarupeshwar refused to do pooja to him, tyrant Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga, while amid pooja and abhishek. As soon as Bhima managed to raise his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence. Then the terrible war began. But then the holy sage Narada appeared and requested Lord Shiva to put an end to this war. 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 BhimashankaraJyotirlingam. The sweat that poured forth from Lord Shiva’s body after the battle formed the Bhimarathi River.
JYOTIRLINGA 7- Sethubandu to Rameshwaram

 It is situated in Pamban Island of Ramanathapuram district, Tamilnadu. According to the Ramayana, Sri Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu has prayed to Lord Shiva here to compensate the sin of Brahmahatya (killing of a Brahmin) perpetrated during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Sri Ram wanted to have the most extensive lingam to worship Lord Shiva. He instructed Hanumanji to bring the lingam from Kailash. Since it took longer to get the lingam, Sita built a small lingam out of the sand available in the seashore, 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. Sri Ram told that Vishwalingam should be worshipped first since Hanumanji got it – the tradition continues even today.

There are sixty-four Tīrthas (holy water bodies) in and around the island of Rameshwaram. According to Skanda Purana, twenty-four of them are essential. Bathing in these Tīrthas is a significant aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameshwaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the Tīrthas is 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-Nagesham Darukavane

Aundha Nagnath temple is in Hingoli District in Maharashtra. The present temple is said to have been built by the Yadava dynasty and dates to 13th century. The first temple dates back to the time of Mahabharata. Folklore says Yudhisthira constructed the temple. Records state that this temple building was a seven-storied one before Aurangazeb destroyed it.

Once when Saint Namdev was rendering Bhajans in front of the temple with his senior gurus like Jñāneśvar, Visoba Khechara and few more Devotees, the temple pujari told them their singing in front of the temple is disturbing their routine pooja and prayers and asked them to go away from the temple. Then all went to the backside of the temple and started singing bhajans there. But Lord Shiva, to be in the sight of the singing devotees and listen to bhajans, revolved the temple.

It is a testimonial to that miracle why Nandi situates on the backside of the temple. The temple itself is worth seeing for its unbelievably beautiful carvings. The present temple was built in the Hemadpanti architectural style.

The main deity is below sea level – Steps from the Lord Vishnu shrine lead below to a barely 30 square feet space and ceiling height of 3 feet to the main altar. Devotees have to crouch and sit to have darshan of the Lord, and devotees can touch the Linga for doing Pooja and Abhishek. Snakes with their hoods open are very often sighted standing guard on the Nagnath Linga. Cups of milk are left for them every day, and when they drink, it is yet to be known.
JYOTIRLINGA 9-Varanasi to visvesham

Vishvanath Temple is in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India on the western bank of the holy river Ganga. The main deity is 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. The temple, according to Hindu Scriptures for a very long time has been a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy. It has been devastated and restored several times in history.

 Aurangzeb constructed a Mosque by demolishing the last structure on this site. The current system was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780.

Varanasi is the oldest surviving city of the world and the cultural capital of India. It is in the heart of this city that there stands in its fullest majesty the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Here gravitate the teeming millions of our planet to seek benediction and spiritual peace by the darshan of this jyotirlinga. It confers liberation from the bondage of Maya and the inexorable entanglements of the world.

A simple glimpse of the jyotirlinga is a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and bhakti.

Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga has exceptional and unique importance in the spiritual history of India. Tradition has it that the benefits merited by the darshan of other jyotirlinga scattered in various parts of India accrue to devotee by a single visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Intensely and intimately implanted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living personification of our timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values. Many great saints such as- Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekanand, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Gurunanak and several other spiritual personalities visited the temple.
JYOTIRLINGA 10-Tryambakam Gautameetate

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 the presence of 3 linga’s each representing Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. All three resides in a consecrated space within the Shiva lingam.

The temple built by Shri Nana Saheb Peshawa in 1755-1786 AD is of black stone, and the Shivlingam is said to have emerged naturally-Swayambhu. The reasons for its being so sacred are – Godavari river originates in this place, its a place of Tri-Sandhya Gayatri, the birthplace of Lord Ganesha, a place of the first Nath of Nath Sampradaya consisting of Gorakhnath and others. It is a site where Nivrittinath was made to imbibe the divine knowledge by his Guru Gahininath, a place where Nivrittinath made his brothers and sister attain the self by his preaching. This is one of the holiest sites to perform Shraadh ceremony -last rites to the departed souls like Narayan nagbali as per Nirnaya Sindhu – a religious book of our Hindu religion.
JYOTIRLINGA 11- Himalaya to Kedarnath

Shri Kedarnath Temple, is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas, at 11,745 ft. An 8th-century magnificent temple built by the Pandavas and revived by Adi Shankaracharyaji resides in the Rudra Himalaya range amidst the stunning mountainscape of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River in Uttarakhand.

Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sin after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed, he dived into ground leaving behind his back on the surface which is the triangular-shaped jyotirlinga. Outside the temple door, a large statue of the Nandi stands as guard. Figures of various deities and scenes from Mahabharata adorn the inner walls of the temple sanctum.

A rock, deemed to have saved the temple from the floods and natural calamity by preventing the floodwaters from damaging the temple, was also being worshipped, it’s called Divya Bheem Shila. The temple is not immediately accessible by road. It has to be reached by a 20 km uphill trek from Gaurikund or a 5 min helicopter ride across the stunning 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- Grishnesham cha Shivalaye

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. Another story says that once a king went hunting and killed the animals living with the Rishis and munis too. Seeing this, the angry Saints cursed the king, resulting in infesting, his entire body with insects. Now, smitten by this curse, the king began to wander in the forest. His throat was dehydrated because he was very thirsty. There was, alas, no water to be found anywhere. At last, he found a water hole made by the hooves of a horse. Just as the king started to drink water, a miracle happened, the king’s body regained its original form.

The king did severe penance (Tapa) there. Lord Brahma was pleased and appeared before him and installed Parashta Teerth there. He also created a vast and holy lake nearby. This Brahma Sarovar later came to be known as Shivalay. Holy water always springs from inside the Garba griha, which is on a lower level.

Restored in the 18th century by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar, the temple is 240 x 185 ft tall. It has exquisitely sculpted carvings of Gods on its intricately inscribed interior and exterior walls.
Significance of the Jyotirlinga India is the land of Gods where Lord Shiva is the most idolized God worshipped by the Hindus all over the world. Lord Shiva receives devotions in the form of a Shivlinga, and he blesses his veracious fanatics with salvation. The twelve Jyotirlingas, known as the ‘DwadashJyotirlingas’ are the holiest of all altars dedicated to Lord Shiva. As per the beliefs of the Hindu Jyotirlingas, will be declared from the cycle of life and death. The jyotirlinga appears the same as a Shivlinga. Still, it exhibits a divine light or ‘Jyoti’ which can only be seen by a person after he climbs a higher level of the spiritual coup.

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    © 2023 All Rights Reserved by Winspire Magazine