THE 12 JYOTIRLINGAMS
Jyotirlingams or Jyotirlingas are a set of 12 Shiva Temples and considered as the holiest for the Shiva devotees. Based on geographical latitudes and longitudes, there are 12 jyotilingams in India.
1. SOMNATH TEMPLE JYOTIRLINGA
The temple located in Prabhas Kshetra situated near Veraval in Surashtra is the first among the jyotirlinga. Being one of the most important tourist spots, the architecture of the temple was completed in May 1951. The festival Mahashivratri is celebrated extravagantly. The sight takes the name of a different manifestation of Shiva. The temples main Sikhara is 15 meters in height and are are 8.2 meter flag pole. It is considered to be the 1st point on land in the north to south pole at that particular longitude. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.
2. MALLIKARJUNA JYOTIRLINGA
Situated in the Shrishaila Mountain on the banks of Krishna river in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh is significant to the Hindu sect of both Saivism and Shaktism. It is one to the 18 Shakti peethas of Goddess Parvati ( known as Maliika). Arjuna is another name for Shiva. The legend is when lord Shiva and Parvati tried to find brides for their son and argued that whoever goes round the world 1st could get married 1st. The temple contains cover about 2 hectares and 4 gateways known as Gopurams. The temple is situated facing the east. It also marks the mythology that resulted in the emergence of Shri Parvati in place of Sati Devi and making Shiva , the householder.
3. MAHAKALESHWAR JYOTIRLINGA
It is one of the most famous temples dedicated to lord Shiva. It is located in the city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh on the side of Rudrasagar lake. The lingam form is believed to be the one deriving currents of power(shakti). The idol is known to be Dakshina Murti facing the south. The temple is beautifully surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The highest peak is a amazing picture of sculptural finery. On the day of Mahashivratri, a huge fair is organized and the worship goes on all night.
4. OMKARESHWAR JYOTIRLINGA
It is one of the 12 jyotirlingams that abodes the shrine of lord Shiva. Situated in the Narmada River, the island is said to have a typical shape of Hindu OM symbol. The word Omkara is derived from the OM sound and is one of the most sacred places. Here the Shiva appeared as a fairy column of light. The stambha pillar symbolizes the infinite nature of the lord. The temple also shrines Devi Parvati and 5 faced Ganpati in the Temple. The story also takes backs to the mythological belief when the devas prayed lord Shiva to defeat the Danavas. The island is 2.6 kms in areas and can be approached by boats.
5. VAIDYANATH JYOTIRLINGAM
It is located in the Santal Paraganas region of Jharkhand and often referred to as the “Baba Dham”. It not only has a jyoirlinga but also 21 other temples. The story goes back to the legend when Shiva descended to cure Ravana and acted as a vaidya or doctor. And this is how the linga derives its name. The place is in the center if the tantric cult like Bhairava where lord Shiva is worshiped as residing in crematorium. It is an auspicious place for the devotees. Vaidyanath faces the east and is 72 feet tall. It is lotus shaped. The temple is believed to be built by lord Vishvakarma, the god of architecture. However, it is difficult to point out how much of the lingam is buried with an uneven broken top surface. The rituals continue till 3:30 pm. During the Shravan Mela, devotees from all parts of India offer the holy water of Ganges to the deity.
6. BHIMASHANKAR TEMPLE
The jyotirlinga shrine is located near Pune in India. The temple is a composite of both old and new structure in the nagara style of architecture. The building of the temple was completed in the 18th century. The Sikhara was built by the Nana Phadnavis. It is said that Maratha ruler Shivaji had made donations to this temple to carry out services. The bell of the temple has an idol of mother Mary with Jesus. The temple is very famous in Pune and has tourists from all round the world. The Bhogiri fort is close to Bhimashankar. It has a prominent trek site. The best time to visit the temple is between august and February. The dense forest surrounding the temple is an abode for rare species of flora and fauna. It is said that the Bhima River is the source of the temple.
7. RAMESHWAR JYOTIRLINGA
This temple is the southern most of the 12 jyotirlinga located off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu. The temple is known for its long ornate corridors, towers and 36 theerthams. The site is visited mostly by pilgrims and is also known as the “Banaras of the South”. It is approached from Madurai which offers well connected means of transportation. The temple has a huge Nandi measuring 12 feet in length and 9 feet in height. The temple is enclosed within high walls with a huge pyramidal gopura entrances on each side. The temple gives an remarkable impressions of receeding perspectives. It is said that lord Rama installed this lingam here on his way back to attack Ravana.
8. NAGESHWAR JYOTIRLINGAM
It is believed to be the first such shrine mentioned in the Shiva Purana. The jyotirlinga is the supreme indivisible reality from which Shiva appears. It was believed that there were 64 jyotirlingas out of which the 12 of them are considered to be the most auspicious and holy. The Shiva Purana says that the temple is in a forest on India with an ancient name “Darukavana”. Daruka was a demon who attacked a Shiva devotee- Supriya and imprisoned him. The location of the temple is a controversial debate.
9. KASHI VISHWANATH TEMPLE
It is one of the most famous Hindu temple located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and stands on the western bank of holy river Ganges. It is one of the holiest lord Shiva temple. The deity is referred to as the ruler of the universe. Since, Varanasi is also known as Kashi, the temple is named so. The structure was last destroyed by Aurangzeb and since 1983, it is managed under the state government. The temple was earlier managed by the Pandas. The legend goes back when Shiva pierced the 3 worlds as a huge endless pillars of light, the jyotirlinga. It is considered to be a shakti peetha. A revered place of worship for the Shaktism sect. The shaivite literature is considered as an important literature which narrates the story about the origin of Shakti peethas. The temple consists of a series of small shrine with the linga being 60 cm tall and 90 cm circumference housed in a silver alter.
10. TRIMBAKESHWAR JYOTIRLINGA
The temple is considered to be a source of River Godavari which is the most sacred river in south india. The temple is located in Maharashtra (30kms from Nasik). According to the Shiva Purana, it is on the request on Goutam Rishi and other Gods that Shiva decided to reside here and assume the name “Trimbakeshawar”. The origin of the sacred Godavari river is near the temple. The temple is located between three hills namely Bramhahagiri, Neelagiri, and Kalagiri. The temple has 3 lingams representing Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The temple includes monasteries and samadhies of saints. It is said that anyone who visits the temple gets to fulfill his desires.
11. KEDARNATH JYOTIRLINGAM
This Hindu temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and is located in the Himalayan range near Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand. Here the lord is worshiped as Kedarnath, the lord of Kedarkhand. The temple is not directly accessible by road and needs an uphill trek from Gaurikund. It is said that the 2013 flash flood in north India demolished the areas around the temple but the temple structure did not suffer from any major damage apart from a few cracks. The temple is an impressive stone edifice. There are many symbols of Pandavas surrounding the temple. Even the pillared halls have the image of Parvati.
12. GHRISHNESHWAR JYOTIRLINGA
The above temple is located near the most famous tourist place – Ajanta and Ellora caves. It lies 20 kms from Daulatabad near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. It is also known as Kusumace Warar, or Ghrineshwara etc. The temple went through several rounds of reconstruction and redestruction during the Mughal Maratha conflict. It is one of the most active pilgrimage site of the Hindus. 240 feet X 185 feet is the smallest jyotirlinga temple in India. There is a Nandi bull at the court hall. Images of no. of Hindu gods and goddesses are carved in the temple houses.