12 Dwadasa Jyotirlinga To Visit In India

12 Dwadasa Jyotirlinga To Visit In India

Originally it was believed that there are 64 jyotirlinga and 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyotirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity – each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginning-less and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. These Twelve (12) Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Eshwara in the form of Shiva Lingas. These temples are situated across India and are considered very sacred by Hindus. There is a belief that, all these twelve Jyotirlingas are to be visited in the month of November-December (Kartika Masam).
jyotirlinga In India
jyotirlinga In India
It is believed that Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. There is nothing to distinguish the appearance, but it is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment.
The Puranas vociferously sing the praises of the greatness of the Jyotirlingas. By reciting the name of this, one can eliminate all the sins. The Sadhaka becomes calm, chaste and pure. He becomes illuminated and enlightened with supreme and divine knowledge.
Below are brief details of each Jyotirlinga according to the importance descibed in various scriptures:
 1. Somnath Temple in Gujarat: Somnath Temple Jyotirlinga is situated at Somnath Patan (the south coast of Saurashtra), near Veraval in (Prabhas Kshetra) Kathaiwad district in Gujarat. Somnath is considered to be the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva and is a revered pilgrimage center in India.
Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes the emergence of this Jyotirlinga. Legend goes that the moon was married to the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Amongst all his wives, he had special love towards Rohini and neglected the others. Seeing the negligence of Chandra towards his other wives Prajapati Daksha cursed Chandra that he would lose his beauty and radiance. But because of a moon devoid of radiance and beauty the entire world became lifeless. A disturbed Chandra, came down to Prabhasa with Rohini and worshipped the Sparsa Linga of Somnath after which he was blessed by Shiva to grow and shine in the bright half. As the moon regained his light here, this town came to be known as Prabhasa. Brahma, one of the trinity, installed the Brahmashila, and paved way for the construction of the temple. On the request of the Chandrama and other gods Bhagwan Shankar assumed the name Somchandra (Jyotirlinga) and resided there eternally. He became famous by the name Somnath in the three worlds. Since, it was the Prabhas Kshetra where Bhagwan Shri Krishna performed all his Lilas. In this temple there is a small cave in which a lamp burns continuously.
The Skanda Purana describes the Sparsa Linga of Somnath as one bright as the sun, the size of an egg, lodged underground. The Mahabharata also refers to the Prabhasa Kshetra and the legend of the moon worshipping Shiva.
2. Mallikarjun Temple in Andhra Pradesh: Srisailam new Kurnool enshrines Mallikarjuna in an ancient temple rich in architectural and sculptural wealth. Mallikarjun Temple is situated on Shri Shaila Mountain by the banks of the Patal Ganga, Krishna River in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Also known as Kailash of the South. Mallikarjuna constitutes one of the 12 Jyotirlingam shrines of Shiva and is one of the greatest Shaivaite shrines in India. The presiding deities of Mallikarjuna Temple are Mallikarjuna (Shiva) and Bhramaramba (Devi). Every year there is a fair organized on account of Mahashivratri.
According to Shiva Purana, when Lord Ganesh was married of before his Kartikeya, and because of this brother Kartikeya became angry. Despite being stopped and consoled by his parents Shiv-Parvati, Kartikeya went away to the Kraunch Mountain. Even the Gods went and tried consoling Kartikeya but all their efforts were in vain. Because of this incident Shiv-Parvati were very sad and both decided that they would themselves go to Kraunch Mountain. However, when Kartikeya came to know that his parents have arrived, he went away. Eventually Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirlinga and resided on that mountain by the name of Mallikarjuna. Mallika means Parvati, while Arjuna is another name of Shiva. In this way both Shiva and Parvati came to reside in this linga. It is said that by merely seeing the tip of mountain one is emancipated from all his sins and worries. The person becomes free from the vicious cycle of life and death.
3. Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain Madhya Pradesh: The Lingam at Mahakal is believed to be Swayambhu, the only one of the 12 Jyotirlingams to be so. It is also the only one facing South and also the temple to have a Shree Yantra perched upside down at the ceiling of the Garbha Graha (where the Shiv Lingam sits). Mahakaleshwara Temple is located near the banks of river Kshipra, in the dense Mahakal forests in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. It is an important Shaivaite pilgrimage centre in North India and is revered as one of the 12 Jyotilinga manifestations of Shiva.
According to an episode narrated in Puranas, a five-year-old boy named 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, devotion of Shrikar increased by every passing day. Pleased by the boy’s devotion Lord Shiva assumed Jyotirlinga form and resided in the Mahakal forest.
According to another popular legend related to Mahakal Temple, a demon by name, Dushana tormented the residents of Avanti. Shiva appeared from the ground and vanquished the demon. Then, upon the request of the inhabitants of Avanti, Shiva took up a permanent abode here as Mahakaleshwara Jyotirlinga.
Mahakaleshwara Temple in Ujjain is regarded amongst the seven holy places that can liberate a human. The other six Mukti-Sthal being Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram and Dwarka. All devotees that come to participate in the famous Kumbh Mela organized year on the banks of the Kshipra River consider it important to seek blessings of Lord Mahakaleshwar.
4. Omkareshwar and Mamleshwar Temple in Madhya Pradesh: Omkareshwar, an island in the course of the river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh situated around 77 KM from Indore city, is home to the Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga shrine and the Amareshwar temple. It is on an island called Mandhata or Shivapuri in the Narmada river; the shape of the island is said to be like the Hindu symbol “Om”. There are two temples here, one to Omkareshwar (whose name means “Lord of Omkaara or the Lord of the Om Sound”) and one to Amareshwar (whose name means “Immortal lord” or “lord of the Immortals or Devas”).
5. B(v)aidyanath Temple in Jharkhand: B(v)aidyanath Temple, also called Vaijnath Temple or Baidyanth-Dham Temple is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Jharkhand in the south west of Keeul Station. Baidyanath shrine is revered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Shiva. It may be noted that some schools of thought believe Vaidyanath near Parali in Andhra Pradesh to be the Vaidyanatha Jyotirlingam.
Devotees of Lord Shiva believe that by sincere worship of Vaijnath Jyotirlinga a person is relieved of all worries and miseries in life. It is also said that by worshipping in the shrine a person attains Moksha and all types of happiness. As a tradition, devotees carry ‘Kanwars’ on their shoulders and complete their travel here.
Legend has it that demon King of Lanka, Ravana meditated upon Lord Shiva, as he wanted to request him to come over to Sri Lanka and make his capital invincible. It is said that Ravana attempted to lift Mount Kailash and take it with him to his capital. However, Lord Shiva crushed it with his finger. Ravana prayed to him and sought his mercy, after which Bhagwan Shiva gave him one of the twelve Jyotirlingams on the condition that if it were placed on the ground it shall fix itself to the ground and shall remain there for eternity. Ravana thanked Lord Shiva and holding the Linga carefully started of to the Lanka. However, Varuna the God of Water, entered his belly and caused him to feel an urgent need to relieve himself. Vishnu then came down in the form of a lad and volunteered to hold the Jyotirlingam as he relieved himself. Before Ravana returned, Vishnu placed the Jyotirlingam on the ground and it became rooted to the spot. A disappointed Ravana offered severe penance to Shiva here, and cut off nine of his heads. Shiva revived him and joined the heads to the body, as if by the work of a Vaidya or a physician, hence this Jyotirlingam goes by the name Vaidyanath.
According to another legend, Vaidyanath is one of the 52 Shakti Pitha shrines of Sati. It is believed that the heart of Sati fell here, when her half burnt body being carried by Shiva at the end of Daksha’s Yagna was chopped to pieces by Vishnu’s discus.
Some people believe that this temple was re-discovered by a cowherd Baiju and hence named Baijnath.
Vaidyanath Temple at Deogarh houses a spacious courtyard bound by stone walls. In the temple complex are twenty-two other temples. The Baijnath or Vaidyanath temple faces east.
6. Bhimsankar Temple in Maharashtra: Bhimsankar is located in the Sahyadri hills of Maharashtra, accessed from Pune. In the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra, contains a Jyotirlinga shrine associated with Shiva destroying the demon Tripurasura. There is also a Bhimashankara temple at Kashipurnear Nainital, which was referred to as Daakini country in ancient days. It is believed that Bhima the Pandava prince was married to Hidamba, a Daakini here. Mahashivaratri is celebrated in great splendour here too. This temple also has shrines to Bhairavanath and Devi, and a temple tank by name Shivaganga. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Tryambakeshwar and Grishneshwar.
Long ago in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahaydris lived an evil Asura by the name Bhima with his mother Karkati. Compassion and kindness shivered in the presence of Bhima. The divine and the mortals were scared of him alike. But he was confronted by certain questions about his own existence which continuously tormented him.
When Bhima could no longer sustain his agony and curiosity, he asked his mother to unveil the mysteries of his life. He urged his mother to tell him who his father was and why he had abandoned them in the wilderness of the forest. After much hesitation and with a lingering fear, Karkati his mother, revealed to him that he was the son of the mighty Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the Lankadheeswara — the mighty all powerful King Ravana of Lanka.
Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna. Karkati told Bhima, that his father was killed by Ram in the great war. 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 prowess. This was a terrible mistake. 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 started torturing Rishis and Sadhus. All this angered the Gods. They all along with Lord Brahma beseeched Lord Shiva to come to their rescue. Lord Shiva consoled the Gods and agreed to rescue them from the tyrant. On the other hand Bhima insisted and ordered Kamarupeshwar to worship him instead of Lord Shiva.
When Kamarupeshwar denied, the tyrant Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga, to which Kamarupeshwar was doing abhishekam and pooja. As soon as Bhima managed to raise his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence.
Then the terrible war began. 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 Bhimashankar Jyotirlingam.
It is believed that the sweat that poured forth from Lord Shiva’s body after the battle formed the Bhimarathi River.
7. Rameshwaram Temple in Tamilnadu: Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu is home to the vast Ramalingeswaram Jyotirlinga temple and is revered as the southernmost of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of India. It enshrines the Ramesvara (“Lord of Rama”) pillar. Rameshwaram Temple is situated in the island of Rameswaram, off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu and is reached via the Pamban Bridge across the sea. The huge temple is known for its long ornate corridors, towers and 36 teerthams.
Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga represents the southernmost of the 12 Jyotirlingams of India and has been a time honored pilgrimage center held on par with Banaras. Rameshwaram Temple Jyotirlinga is associated closely with the Ramayana and Rama’s victorious return from Sri Lanka.
According to a popular legend, it was Lord Rama who installed this Linga here. Story goes that when Lord Ram was on his way to attack Ravana, he reached this place where he made a linga of sand and worshipped it. It is said that when Lord Rama was drinking water on the seashore there was a celestial proclamation – “You are drinking water without worshipping me”. Listening to this Lord Rama made a linga of sand and worshipped it and asked to be blessed so that he could vanquish Ravana. Lord Shiva blessed him accordingly. He also requested Lord Shiva to reside eternally here so that entire mankind should benefit from it. Shiva then manifested himself as the Linga and got installed there for eternity.
8. Nageshwar Temple in Dwarka, Gujrat: Nageshwar Temple or Nagnath Temple is located on the route between Gomati Dwarka and the Bait Dwarka Island on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat. The Jyotirlinga enshrined in the Temple of Nagnath is known as Nageshwar Mahadev and attracts thousands of pilgrims all round the year. This powerful Jyotirlinga symbolizes protection from all poisons. It is said that those who pray to the Nageshwar Linga become free of poison. The Rudra Samhita sloka refers to Nageshwar with the phrase ‘Daarukaavane Naagesham’.
According to Shiv Purana, a Shiva devotee by name Supriya was attacked by a demon Daaruka while in a boat. The demon imprisoned him along with several others at his capital Daarukaavana where he resided with his wife Daaruki. Supriya advised all prisoners to recite the mantra ‘Aum Namaha Shivaya’. When Daruk came to know about this he ran to kill Supriya. Instantly Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Jyotirlingam and vanquished the demon with the Paasupata Astram.
9. Vishwanath temple in Banaras, Uttar Pradesh: Vishwanath Temple is located amidst the crowded lanes in the holy city of Varanasi also known as Kashi and Benares. The Vishwanath Temple enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva and is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for Hindus. It is believed that Varanasi is the point at which the first Jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remain the devotional focus of Varanasi. Millions of pilgrims converge here to perform an abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam with sacred water of river Ganga.
Also famous by the name of Shiv Vishwanath Kashi, Shri Vishweshwar Temple is said to be dear to Lord Shiva. Hindus believe that those who come and die here attain liberation. It is said that Lord Shiva gives the Tarak Mantra to the ones who are going to die here. Some also believe that the Lord resides here and is the giver of liberation and happiness. The one who prays and worships Vishweshwar with devotion attains all his desires and one who incessantly recites his name attains all siddhis and finally gets liberated.
10. Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nasik, Maharashtra: The origin of the river Godavari is intimately linked with this Jyotirlinga shrine near Nasik in Maharashtra. Shri Trimbakeshwar Temple is located at a distance of about 30-km from Nasik in Maharashtra near the mountain named Brahmagiri from which the river Godavari flows. Trimbakeshwar Temple is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva and as the source of the river Godavari. Just as Ganga is known as Bhagirathi and is one of the most important river in North India, in the same way, Godavari is also known as Gautami Ganga and is the most sacred river in South India.
According to Shiv Purana, it is because of the earnest request of Godavari, Gautam Rishi and other gods that Lord Shiva agreed to reside here and assumed the famous name Trimbakeshwar. Interestingly, locals refer to the river here as Ganga and not as Godavari. All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo. On this a grand fair is organized at this place. Devotees take a holy bath in the Gautami Ganga and then seek the blessings of Trimbakeshwar.
Legend goes that a sage name Gautam Muni resided on the Brahmagiri hill with his wife Ahilya. By virtue of his devotion, the sage received from Varuna, a bottomless pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains and food. The other rishis, jealous of his fortune, arranged for a cow to enter his granary and caused it to die as Gowtam Rishi attempted to ward it off with a bunch of Darbha grass.
Gautam Rishi, therefore, worshipped Lord Shiva to bring the Ganga down to his hermitage to purify the premises. Pleased with devotion, Shiva requested Ganga to flow down and make Sage Gautam pure. After that Ganga flowed down. Lord Shiva told Ganga to stay there eternally for the good of everyone. All the Gods started singing the praises of Gautam Rishi, Ganga and Lord Shiva. On the request of all the Gods, Lord Shiva resided by the river Gautami by the name Trimbakeshwar (one of the Jyotirlingas). Hindus believe that Trimbak Jyotirlinga is one, which fulfills everyone’s desires. It emancipates all from their sins and miseries.
11. Kedarnath Temple in Himalaya, Uttrakhand: One of the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus, Kedarnath Temple Jyotirlinga is located in the picturesque surroundings of Rudra Himalaya Range at a height of 12000 feet on a mountain named Kedar. Near Kedarnath is the source of the river Mandakini that joins Alakananda at Rudraprayag. This place is approximately 150 miles away from Hardwar and 132 miles north of Hrishikesh and is accessible by foot.
The temple at Kedarnath enshrining the Jyotirlingam of Shiva opens only 6 months a year (April-November) when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries and it is closed when the sun enters Scorpio. The priests then go to Ukhimath, where the worship of Kedareshwara is continued during the winter season.
Tradition has it that when undertaking Kedarnath Yatra pilgrims first visit Yamunotri and Gangotri and bring with them the holy waters from the sources of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga and offer abhishekams to Kedareshwara. The traditional pilgrim route is Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devaprayag – Tehri – Dharasu – Yamunotri – Uttar Kashi – Gangotri – Triyugnarayan – Gowrikund and Kedarnath. The alternative route to Kedar from Rishikesh is via Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag and Ukhimath.
Legend goes that Nara and Narayana – two incarnations of Vishnu performed severe penance in Badrikashraya of Bharat Khand, in front of a Shivalingam fashioned out of earth. Pleased with their devotion, Lord Shiva appeared in front of them and said that they may ask for a boon. Nar and Narayan requested Shiva to take up a permanent abode as a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath so that all people who worship Shiva shall be freed from their miseries.
According to yet another popular legend related to Kedar Temple, Goddess Parvati worshipped Kedareshwar to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar. Besides, the Pandavas are believed to have visited this area several times. Arjuna is believed to have come here to pray to Shiva to obtain the coveted Pasupataastra. The other Pandavas are believed to have come here in search of him, where Draupadi came across the heavenly lotus Kalyana Saugandikam, and requested Bhima to bring here some more of the same. It was during his venturing out to seek these flowers that Bhima met Hanumaan.
Located in the lofty Himalayas, Kedarnath Temple is one of the best known Shivasthalams in India and is considered to be one of the most sacred pilgrimage centers of the country. It is believed that by praying to Kedareshwar, one can get all his desires fulfilled. Importance of the shrine can be further understood from the beliefs that Upamanyu prayed to Lord Shiva in this place in Satayuga while in Dwapar, the Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva here. Even the spiritual leader Adi Sankaracharya is closely associated with Kedarnath.
12. Ghrishneshwar Temple in Aurangabad, Maharashtra: Grishneshwar Temple is an ancient pilgrimage site revered as the abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlinga manifestation of Lord Shiva. The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga shrine is located at a village called Verul, which lies 20 km from Daulatabad (near Aurangabad in Maharashtra) and approximately 100 kms from Manmad station. Located close to Daulatabad (once known as Devagiri) is the popular tourist attractions Ajanta – Ellora.
The Grishneswar Temple was constructed by Ahilyabhai Holkar who also re-constructed the Kashi Viswanatha Temple at Varanasi and the Vishnu Paada Temple at Gaya. The Grishneshwar Temple is also known by several other names like Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara, Grushmeswara and Grishneswara.
One who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening he washes all the sins committed in the previous 7 births and attains all the powers and Siddhis.
Saurashtra Somnatham Cha Shrishaile Mallikarjunam ||
Ujjainyam Mahakalomkare Mammaleshwaram ||
Parlyam Vaijnatham Cha Dakinyam Bheem Shankaram ||
Setu Bandhe Tu Ramesham Nagesham Daruka Vane ||
Varanasya Tu Vishwesham Tribakam Gautamitate ||
Himalaye Tu Kedaram Ghurmesham Cha Shivalaye ||
Aetani Jyotirlingani Sayam Prataha Pathennaraha ||
Sapta Janma Kritam Papam Smaranen Vinashyati ||
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