12 Jyotirlingam In India

A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirlingam, is a devotional representation of the Supreme God Shiva.

Updated: June 21, 2020

A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirlingam, is a devotional representation of the Supreme God Shiva. Jyoti means 'radiance' and lingam the 'Image or Sign' of Shiva. Thus, Jyotirlingam means the Radiant Sign of The Almighty Shiva. 

The jyothirlinga shrines are Temples where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. There are twelve Jyotirlinga shrines in India each of which are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of these are considered a different manifestation of Shiva. The primary image as all these lingas is the lingam representing the beginning and end stambh pillar or the infinite nature of Lord Shiva.

The twelve jyothirlinga are:

  • Somnath in Gir Somnath, Gujarat
  • Mallikarjuna in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
  • Mahakaleswar in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
  • Omkareshwar in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
  • Kedarnath in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand
  • Bhimashankar in MaharashtraVishwanath in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Trimbakeshwar in Nashik, Maharashtra
  • Vaidyanath in Deogarh, Jharkhand or Baijnath in Himachal Pradesh or Parli Vaijnath in Maharashtra
  • Kashi Vishwanath, VaranasiNageshvara in Dwarka, Gujarat
  • Ramanathaswamy in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
  • Grishneshwar in Ellora, Maharashtra

Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat:

Somnath is traditionally considered the first pilgrimage site that is situated near Veraval in (Prabhas Kshetra) Kathiawad district. This is a highly revered pilgrimage site in the country. It was reconstructed several times in the past after repeated destruction by several Muslim invaders and rulers and Portuguese. The present temple was reconstructed in Chaulukya style of Hindu temple architecture under the orders of first Home Minister of India Vallabhbhai Patel and completed in May 1951.

The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means 'Lord of the Soma', an epithet of Shiva. The Somnath temple is known as 'the Shrine Eternal'. Being a Triveni sangam ie the confluence of three rivers: Kapila, Hiran and Sarasvati, Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times.

According to the Shiva Purana, the moon was married to 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati, out of which he loved Rohini the most. Prajapati cursed moon after seeing his negligence towards the other wives, that he would lose all its radiance. 

The moon was blessed by Shiva to regain his lost beauty and shine after worshiping the Sparsa Lingam in Somnath. On his request, Lord Shiva assumed the name Somchandra and resided there eternally and became famous by the name Somnath.

Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga, Andhra Pradesh:

Sri Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deities Shiva and Parvati, located at Srisailam in Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is also known as 'Kailash of the South' that is situated on the banks of the Krishna River in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh. As this temple is referred to as one of the twelve Jyothirlingas of Lord Shiva and as one of the eighteen Shakti Peethas of goddess Parvati, it is significant to the Hindu sects of both Shaivam and Shaktam.

Shiva is worshiped as Mallikarjuna, and is represented by the lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Brahmaramba. It is the only temple in India which is revered as both Jyotirlinga and Shaktipeeth. 

According to the Shiva Purana, Lord Ganesha was married off before Kartikeya. because of this Kartikeya got angry and he went away to the Kraunch Mountain. All the Gods tried to console him including Shiva-Parvati, but in vain. Seeing their son in such a state they were very hurt and Shiva assumed the form of a Jyotirlinga and resided on the mountain by the name of Mallikarujna. 

As per Hindu legend, the presiding deity in the form of Linga was worshiped with jasmine that is locally called Mallika, leading to the name of presiding deity as Mallikarjuna

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh:

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and one of the twelve Jyotirlingams, that is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake. The presiding deity, Lord Shiva in the lingam form is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams that are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti. The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas.

It is a place where Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam are together. The shrine is revered as one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peetham. Shakti Peethas are shrines that are believed to have enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it. Each of the 51 Shakti peethas have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The Upper Lip of Sati Devi is said to have fallen here and the Shakti is called as Mahakali. 

According to the Puranas, there was a five-year-old boy Shrikar who was  fascinated by the devotion of King Chandrasena of Ujjain towards Lord Shiva. Shrikar took a stone and started worshipping as Shiva. Lord Shiva assumed the form of a Jyotirlinga and resided in the Mahakal forest, pleased by his devotion.

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh:

Omkareshwar Temple is one of the highly revered Jyotirlinga and is located on an island called Shivapuri in the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh. The shape of the island is said to be like the Hindu om symbol. 

The word Omkareshwar means 'Lord of Omkaara' or the Lord of the Om Sound. Amareshwar or Mamleshwar, whose name means 'Immortal lord' or 'lord of the Immortals or Devas', located on the south bank of Narmada River on the mainland is equally sacred and representative of jyotirling at this sacred place. 
According to the Hindu scriptures, once upon a time, there ensued a great war between the Gods and Demons, in which the Demons won. This was a major setback for the Gods who then prayed to Lord Shiva. Pleased with their prayer, Lord Shiva emerged in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and defeated the Demons. This place is thus considered to be highly sacred by the Hindus.

Omkareshwar is said to be the place where Sri Adi Sankara met his Guru Govindapada in a cave called as Adi Shankara's Cave. This cave can be found even today just below the Shiva temple where an image of Adi Shankara has been installed.

Kedarnath Jyotirlinga, Uttarakhand:

Kedarnath Temple is located on the Rudra Himalaya Range at the height of 12000 feet on a mountain named Kedar. The temple is open to the general public only between the months of April (Akshaya Tritriya) and November (Kartik Purnima) due to extreme weather conditions. The vigrahas or deities from Kedarnath temple are carried down to Ukhimath during the winters, where the deity is worshiped for the next six months. The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) uphill trek from Gaurikund. While embarking on a pilgrimage to Kedarnath people first visit Yamunotri and Gangotri and brings the holy water to offer at Kedarnath.

According to the legends, pleased by the severe penance of the Nara and Narayana, two incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva took up permanent abode in Kedarnath in the form of this Jyotirlinga. The name 'Kedarnath' means 'the lord of the field'. It is derived from the Sanskrit words kedara means field and natha means lord. Kedarnath forms a part of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage circuit of Hinduism. It is believed that praying at this site, one gets all his desire fulfilled.

Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga, Maharashtra:

The Bhimashankar Temple is located in the Sahyadri region of Pune, Maharashtra. It lies on the banks of Bhima River and is considered to be a source of this river.

There are Buddha style carvings of Amba-Ambika, Bhootling and Bhimashankar in the hills of Manmaad near Bhimashankar at a height of 1034 metres. One of the feature of Bhimashankar is a big bell in Hemadpanthi structure built by Nana Phadanavis. Hanuman Lake, Gupt Bhimashankar, Origin of River Bhima, Nag Phani, Bombay Point, and Sakshi Vinayak are some of the places that can be visited in the vicinity. Bhimashankar is a reserved forest area of 130.78 km2 and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1985. This sanctuary is a part of the Western Ghats and is rich in floral and faunal diversity.

According to the Puranas, all the Gods requested Shiva to make this place his abode after he put the demon Bhima to ashes. Bhima was the son of Kumbhakarana. Shiva then manifested himself in the form of Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga. It is believed that the sweat which poured from the body of lord Shiva after the battle is what formed the Bhima River.

According to Linga Purana, Bhimasankar temple in Bhimpur near Gunupur of Rayagada district in South Orissa is also believed as Bhimasankar Jyotirlinga, which is situated at the western part of the holy Mahendragiri mountains and at the river bank of Mahendratanaya.

Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi:

Kashi Vishvanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva that is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. This temple is said to be the dearest to Lord Shiva and is the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishvanatha or Vishveshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. The city of Varanasi is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple. Its name originally was Vishveshvara which means Lord of the Universe. The word Vishveshvara can be broken to Vishwa: Universe, Ish: Lord, Vara: Excellent to show the meaning. More than the Ghats and Ganga of Varanasi, the Shivalinga remains the devotional focus of the pilgrims. It is believed that Banaras is the site at which the first Jyotirlinga manifested its supremacy over other Gods, broke through the earth's crust and flared towards heaven. 

The Manikarnika Ghat on the banks of Ganges near to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha, a revered place of worship for the Shaktism sect.

The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The linga of the main deity at the shrine is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar. The main temple is quadrangle and is surrounded by shrines of other gods. There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi also spelled as Gyaan vapi (the wisdom well). It is said that the main priest of the temple jumped in the well with the Shiv Ling in order to protect the Jyotirlinga from invaders. A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (liberation). Thus, Hindus from all over the world try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. 

Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga, Nasik:

The Trimbakeshwar Temple is located about 30kms from Nasik in Maharashtra near the mountain named Brahmagiri from the river Godavari flows. This temple is considered to be a source of the river Godavari which is known as 'Gautami Ganga'. The temple is located between three hills namely Brahmagiri, Nilagiri and Kalagiri. The temple has three lingams representing Shiv, Vishnu and Brahma. The Lingas are covered by a jeweled crown which is placed over the Gold Mask of Tridev (Brahma Vishnu Mahesh). The crown is said to be from the age of Pandavs and consists of diamonds, emeralds, and many precious stones. The temple tank is called Amritavarshini. There are three other bodies of water, namely, Bilvatheertha, Viswananthirtha and Mukundathirtha. Gangadevi, Jaleswara, Rameswara, Gautameswara, Kedarnatha, Rama, Krishna, Parasurama and Lakshmi Narayana are other images of various deities. The temple has also several monasteries and samadhis of saints.

According to the Shiva Purana, it is on the earnest request of River Godavari, Gautam Rishi and all the other Gods that Shiva decided to reside here and assumed the name Trimbakeshwar. 

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga in Dwarka, Gujarat :

The Nageshwar Temple also known as Nagnath Temple is located on the route between Gomati Dwarka and the Bait Dwarka Island on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat. This Jyotirlinga holds special significance as it symbolises protection from all types of poison. It is believed that those who worship at this temple become free of all poisons.

The Shiva Purana says Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is in 'the Darukavana', which is an ancient name of a forest in India. The name Darukavana, is derived from 'daruvana' means forest of deodar trees, is thought to exist in Almora.

According to Shiva Purana, a demon named Daaruka attacked a Shiva devotee named Supriya and imprisoned him along with many others in his city of Darukavana. Darukavana was a city under the sea inhabited by seasnakes and demons. On the advise of Supriya, the prisoners started to chant the holy mantra of Shiva and immediately thereafter the Lord Shiva appeared and the demon was vanquished. Later lord Shiva resides there in the form of a Jyotirlinga.

Baidyanath Jyotirlinga, Jharkhand:

Baidyanath Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba Baidyanath dham and Baidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which is located in Deoghar in the Santhal Parganas division of the state of Jharkhand, India. It is a temple complex consisting of the main temple of Baba Baidyanath, where the Jyotirlinga is installed, along with 21 other temples. It is believed that the sincere worship of this shrine relieves a person from all his worries and miseries. Also one attains moksha or salvation by worshipping this Jyotirlinga.

According to Shiva Purana, the demon king Ravana worshipped Shiva at the site of this 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 ('doctor'). The temple derives its name from this aspect of Shiva.

The temple of Shiva, Baidyanath faces the east, and is 72 feet tall, and it is lotus shaped. There are three parts of this temple; i.e., the main temple, the middle part of the main temple, and the entrance part of the main temple. The courtyard has eleven other temples, mainly of Maa Parvathi, Maa Kali, Maa Jagat Janani, Kal Bhairav and Lakshminarayan. Maa parvathi temple is tied up with the main temple, with huge red sacred threads which is unique and worthy of reverence, showing the unity of Shiva and Shakti. According to Shiva Purana, the holy Baidyanath temple resembles the unity of souls and thus fits marriage for Hindus.  

Rameshwar Jyotirlinga, Tamil Nadu:

Rameshwar temple or Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva located on Rameswaram island in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.

There are two lingams inside the sanctum. One built by Sita, from sand, residing as the main deity, Ramalingam and the other brought by Hanuman from Kailash called Vishwalingam. Rama instructed that the Vishwalingam should be worshipped first since it was brought by Hanuman and the tradition continues even today.

There are sixty-four Tirthas or holy water bodies in and around the island of Rameswaram. According to Skanda Pura?a, twenty-four of them are important. Bathing in these Tirthas is a major aspect of the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and is considered equivalent to penance. Twenty-two of the Tirthas are within this Temple. The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in the quiver of Rama. The first and major one is called Agni Theertham, the sea.

The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. This Jyotirlinga is closely associated with Ramayana and the victorious return of Ram from Sri Lanka. According to the Ramayana, Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to the god Shiva to absolve him of the sin committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. Rama wanted to have a large lingam to worship Shiva. He directed Hanuman to bring a lingam from the Himalayas. When Hanuman was delayed in bringing the lingam, Sita, the wife of Rama, built a small lingam out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is believed to be the lingam in the sanctum.

It is also believed that Ram on his way to Lanka stopped at Rameshwaram and worshipped the lingam made with sand by himself and sita and asked for its blessings to defeat Ravana. He got the blessings from Lord Shiva who then turned into a Jyotirlinga and resided at the place for eternity.

Ghrishneshwar Jyotirlinga, Aurangabad:

Grishneshwar temple, sometimes referred to as the Ghrneshwar or Dhushmeshwar temple is located in a village called Verul, which lies 20 km from Daulatabad, near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. This temple was built by Ahilyabai Holkar who also rebuilt the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.

The word Ghrneshwar means 'lord of compassion'. It is considered as the last or twelfth Jyotirlinga (linga of light). This pilgrimage site is located in Ellora (also called Verul), less than a kilometer from Ellora Caves which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Grishneswar temple is an illustration of south Indian temple architectural style and structure. The temple, built of red rocks, is composed of a five tier shikara.

According to the Shiva Purana, a couple named Sudharm and Sudeha was staying on the Devagiri Mountain. They were childless, and thus Sudeha got her sister Ghushma married to Sudharm. They born a son who rendered Ghushma proud and Sudeha jealous of her sister. In her jealousy, Sudeha threw the son in the lake where Ghushma used to discharge 101 lingams. Ghushma got her the son back by praying to Lord Shiva. He also told her of her about the deeds of her sister. Sudharm asked Shiva to emancipate Sudeha which left Shiva pleased with his generosity. Shiva manifested himself in the form of the Jyotirlinga on Sudharm's request and assumed the name Ghushmeshwar.

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