In Hindu religion 12 Jyotirlingas of the Lord Shiva have importance. The Hindus worship the Lord Shiva in the form of the Shivlinga. The 12 Jyotirlingas also called the ‘Dwadash Jyotirlingas’ are considered to be the holiest of all shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and according to the beliefs of Hindu mythology, whosoever does the divine darshans of these 12 holy Jyotirlingas, will be released from the cycle of life and death. The Hindu believe that the Lord Shiva blesses all his true devotees with salvation. There is a story behind 12 jyotirlingas of the Lord Shiva. It is believed that the Lord Shiva fulfills our wishes by simple worship. Let’s explore these jyotirlingas and the story behind them.
1 . SOMNATH TEMPLE, GUJARAT
Somnath Temple, one of 12 jyotirlingas, is located in Somnath, Gujarat. The story behind this temple is that the Moon God, Somdev, neglected his wives in awe of a celestial maiden. Seeing this Daksha Prajapati cursed the Moon God. The Moon God prayed the Lord Shiva for 4000 years at this place. Lord Shiva blessed the Moon God to lose his brightness only for 15 days in a month. The temple is believed to be made of gold and silver and is witnessed Arab and Afghani invaders and by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb during different time periods. Even after so many years the glory of this religious place has remained untouched.
2 . MALLIKARJUNA TEMPLE, ANDHRA PRADESH
Lord Siva’s one more jyotirlinga ‘Mallikarjuna Temple’ in India is situated on a hill in Shrisailam, Andhra Pradesh. Its architecture is of Dravidian style and the wall sculptures depict the scenes of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is said that when the Kartikeya was angry because of marriage of his young brother Lord Ganesh before him then Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess Parvati visited here to console him. This is the only temple where people can touch the idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
3 . MAHAKALESHWAR TEMPLE, MADHYA PRADESH
Mahakaleshwar Temple is located in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh on the banks of the River Kshipra. It is also known as one of the ‘Tantra Temples’ of India. The most important thing about this Lord Shiva’s temple is ‘Bhasm-Aarti’ occurring in the morning. The Shivalinga is bathed with ash from a fresh funeral pyre during the ‘Bhasm-Aarti’. The story behind this temple is that when the demon called Dushana crossed limits of his tortures to the people, the Lord Shiva appeared to vanish him. After killing the demon, the Lord Shiva resided in the city in the form of a Jyotirlinga.
4 . OMKARESHWAR AND MAMMALESHWAR TEMPLES, MADHYA PRADESH
In Mandhata of Madhya Pradesh, the Omkareshwar and Mammaleshwar temples are situated. It is the Lord Shiva’s fourth jyotirlinga located at the banks of the River Narmada. The shape of the island is of the ‘Om’ as the people believe about this place according to the Hindu Mythology. To please the Lord Shiva, the Vindhya Parbat performed a penance and as a reward the Lord Shiva appeared and blessed the Vindhya Parbat of being greater than Meru Parbat. The Vindhya Parbat worshipped the linga which split into two part that are ‘Omkareshwar’ and ‘Mammaleshwar’.
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5 . BAIDYANATH DHAM, JHARKHAND
Baidyanath temple, also known as Baba Baidyanath dham and Baidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. It is located in Deoghar in Jharkhand. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, and 21 other temples. According to Hindu beliefs, the demon king Ravana worshipped Shiva at the current site of the temple to get the boons that he later used to wreak havoc in the world. Ravana offered his ten heads one after another to Shiva as a sacrifice. Pleased with this, Shiva descended to cure Ravana who was injured. As he acted as a doctor, he is referred to as Vaidhya. From this aspect of Shiva, the temple derives its name. There is a popular belief claiming that offering prayers in this temple render devotees a healthy and prosperous life. An annual fair during the monsoon months (July and August), bring a lot of devotees to this temple.
6 . BHIMASHANKAR TEMPLE, MAHARASHTRA
Bhimashankar Temple is located in a small village called Bhorgiri near Sahayadri Hills in Pune, Maharashtra. The thousands of devotees come here to worship Lord Shiva during Shivratri and on Mondays. Story behind this temple is that Lord Shiva took a Rudra avatar to kill a demon. After killing the demon, the Lord Shiva sat on Sahayadri Mountain to take rest. During that time sweat from his body started flowing and turned into the Bhima River.
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7 . RAMANATHASWAMY TEMPLE, RAMESHWARAM
The Ramanathaswamy Temple is situated in Tamil Nadu and is considered to be one of the Char Dham. According to a mythological story, after killing the Ravana, the Lord Rama wanted to wash off his sins by praying the Lord Shiva in the form of a Shivalinga. So he sent the Lord Hanuman to get the biggest Shivlinga. Lord Hanuman took very long to bring a Shivalinga. So Goddess Sita created a Shivlinga from sand.
8 . NAGESHWAR TEMPLE, GUJARAT
Nageshwar temple is one among 12 jyotirlinga. Full name of the temple is Nageshwar Mahadev Temple. The Lord Shiva is worshipped here in the form of Nagdev. In this temple people can see the 25 meter tall statue of Lord Shiva in sitting position. The story behind this temple is, that a demon named Daruka was blessed by Goddess Parvati. Daruka misused her blessings and imprisoned a Shiva devotee Supriya along with other people. Supriya and other people started chanting the Shiv Mantra to save themselves from the demon but Daruka raged in anger and run to kill Supriya. Suddenly Lord Shiva appeared as a Jyotirlinga to protect her and others. Since then the jyotirlinga is revered here in the Nageshwar Temple.
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9 . KASHI VISHWANATH TEMPLE, UTTAR PRADESH
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in Varanasi or Banaras, Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the River Ganga. There are almost 2000 temples in the city, of which the Kashi Vishwanath is believed to be the most sacred. The present temple has renovated by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar in the year 1780. According to mythological legends, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of an endless pillar of fire to stop Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma from their ongoing battle for supremacy. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma set off in different directions to find out the end of the pillar. The Lord Brahma lied to have found the end. Lord Shiva got angry and cursed Brahma that nobody will worship him and the Lord Vishnua gots the title of being supreme. A small part of that pillar remained at Kashi in the form of a jyotirlinga. Hordes of pilgrims from all over the world gather at Kashi during the festivals of ‘Makar Sakranti’, ‘Kartik Poornima’, ‘Shivratri’, ‘Maha Shivratri’, ‘Dev Deepawali’ and ‘Annakoot’
10 . TRIAMBAKESHWAR TEMPLE, MAHARASHTRA
Triambakeshwar Temple is situated in a small town of Trimbak near Nasik. The temple’s architecture is of Nagara style and black stone is used to built the inner sanctum houses the Triambakeshwar Shivlinga. The story behind this temple is that once the sage Gautam unintentionally caused a cow to die in his hermitage. To purify his sins, he worshipped Lord Shiva and asked him to send the River Ganga to purify him. The River Ganga flowed here as Godavari. Then all the gods requested Lord Shiva to reside here in the Triambakeshwar Jyotirlinga. Lord Shiva resides here in the form of three lingas of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
11 . KEDARNATH TEMPLE, UTTARAKHAND
Kedarnath is one among 12 jyotirlingas and is situated in the Himalayan Range in Uttarakhand. In the winters due to extreme cold weather on the hills, the temple is closed and the Lord Shiva is brought at Ukhimath where the deity is worshipped during the winter months. The idol is re-instated in the Kedarnath Temple during the month of Vaisakh. According to mythology, the Pandavas performed penance here to please the Lord Shiva to pardon their sins after the battle of the Mahabharata. Lord Shiva pleased by the worship of Pandavas appeared here in the form of a triangular jyotirlinga.
12 GHRISHNESHWAR TEMPLE, MAHARASHTRA
Ghrishneshwar temple is located near Aurangabad, Maharashtra. The architecture, paintings, and sculptures on temple walls are excellent. According to mythology, Lord Shiva, pleased with the devotion of a lady named Ghushma, appeared to bless her with a son who was killed by her own sister. Ghushma, requested Lord Shiva to reside here so the Lord shiva reside here in the form of Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga.
( Kanchan Rastogi )