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12 Jyotirlingas of India
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12 Jyotirlingas of India

The 12 Jyotirlingas are sacred shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, believed to be the holiest abodes of the deity. These shrines are spread across India and hold immense significance for devotees. Each Jyotirlinga has its own unique legend and history, making them a fascinating aspect of Hindu mythology and pilgrimage. Let's explore the enchanting tales behind each of these divine manifestations.

Somnath - Gir Somnath, Gujarat

Somnath - Gir Somnath, Gujarat

Somnath temple is the first of the famous Jyotirlingas in India, built in the Chalukya architectural style. You’d probably be surprised to know that the temple was attacked 17 times by Mahmud of Ghazni ( a Turkish invader) to put an end to the worship of idols and spread Islam. But the good part is that it was always reconstructed to restore the faith and belief amongst the Hindus.

According to the Shiv Purana, Soma, the Moon god married 27 daughters of Dakshin Prajapati. However, he always remained indifferent and neglected all his wives except one: Rohini. Prajapati, upon seeing Soma’s behavior towards his daughters, cursed him that he’d lose all his luster and his powers would decline day by day (wherein came the concept of waxing and waning of the Moon).

Hence in order to get rid of this curse and gain back his powers and luster, he worshipped lord Shiva. Pleased by his dedication and devotion, Lord Shiva freed him from the curse and resided here as Somnath forever.

Opening hours: 6 AM to 9 PM

Nageshwar - Daarukavanam, Gujarat

Nageshwar - Daarukavanam, Gujarat

Lying on the coast of Saurashtra, Gujarat, Nageshwar temple is known for the 25-meter-tall statue of Lord Shiva and the exotic views of the Azure Arabian sea that attract devotees from all over India.

According to Shiv Purana, there was once an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, named Supriya who traversed the ocean, ruled by a demon named Daruka. It is said that the demon used to imprison and kill anyone who traversed the ocean. And the same happened with Supriya. Daruka imprisoned Supriya. But Supriya being a devoted follower of Lord Shiva, set up a lingam in the prison and started chanting Om Namah Shivaya and praying Shiva to free him from the evil hands of Daruka. Answering his prayers, Lord Shiva handed him a divine weapon - Pashupata to kill the demon. And this is how the Nageshwar shivling was set up.

Opening hours: 5 AM to 9 PM

Bhimashankar - Pune, Maharashtra

Bhimashankar - Pune, Maharashtra

Situated on the banks of the Bhima River, Bhimashankar temple is a marvel black rock structure designed in the Nagara style of architecture. It is believed to have been built by Bheema, the son of Kumbhkaran.
Every year, thousands of devotees visit here to pay homage to Lord Shiva but the most footfalls are observed during Maha Shivratri when the vibe and air of the entire place is all packed with spiritual bliss. While you plan to visit Bhimashankar, make sure to go to the Kamalaja temple situated nearby. It is dedicated to Kamalaja Devi who is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Parvati.

Opening hours: 4:30 AM to 12 noon, 4 PM to 9:30 PM

Trimbakeshwar - Nashik, Maharashtra

Trimbakeshwar - Nashik, Maharashtra

Located amidst the three hills namely Brahmagiri, Nilagiri, and Kalagiri, Trimbakeshwar temple is one of the most uniquely designed Jyotirlingas in India. It features three pillars representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh who are revered as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the Universe. According to the Shiv Purana, Gautam Rishi and Godavari River requested Lord Shiva to reside here which is when the God emerged here in the form of Trimbakeshwar and remained here eternally.

Opening hours: 5:30 AM to 9 PM

Grishneshwar - Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Grishneshwar - Aurangabad, Maharashtra

The Grushneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, also known as Grushneshwar Temple, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Verul village, Maharashtra. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples and holds significant religious importance.

Legend has it that in the southern region, there lived a Brahmin named Sudharma and his wife Sudeha, who were childless. Upon astrological advice indicating no childbirth from Sudeha, she urged Sudharma to marry her younger sister, Ghushma. Reluctant at first, Sudharma eventually married Ghushma, who was a devoted worshipper of Lord Shiva. Ghushma's sincere devotion led to the birth of a healthy child.

However, Sudeha's jealousy grew over time, leading her to kill Ghushma's son. Despite this tragedy, Ghushma remained devoted to Lord Shiva. One day, while immersing in the Shivalingas she had made, Ghushma's son miraculously emerged from the pond, alive. Witnessing this, Lord Shiva appeared and was ready to punish Sudeha for her sins.

However, Ghushma pleaded for Sudeha's forgiveness and also requested Lord Shiva to reside at that place forever for the welfare of the people. Pleased with her devotion and forgiveness, Lord Shiva granted her wishes and manifested them as the Jyotirlinga, known thereafter as Ghushmeshwar Mahadev.

Opening hours: 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM

Baidyanath - Deoghar, Jharkhand

Baidyanath - Deoghar, Jharkhand

Baidyanath Temple, also known as Baba Baidyanath Dham, is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated in Deoghar, Jharkhand, the temple complex not only houses the central shrine of Baba Baidyanath but also includes 21 additional temples.

Legend has it that Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, performed intense penance in the Himalayas to seek the favor of Lord Shiva. Impressed by his devotion, Shiva appeared before him. Ravana, in his eagerness to please Shiva, offered his heads one by one as a sacrifice. When he was about to sacrifice his tenth head, Shiva intervened and granted him a boon. Ravana requested the Shiva Lingam, known as the "Kamna Linga," to take it to Lanka. Shiva agreed but set a condition that the lingam, once placed en route, would remain there permanently.

As Ravana was carrying the lingam towards Lanka, the celestial gods became anxious about the lingam leaving Mount Kailash. Seeking a solution, Vishnu instructed Varuna, the god of water, to enter Ravana's stomach through a ritualistic sip of water, causing Ravana to feel the urge to relieve himself near Deoghar.

At this point, Vishnu took the form of a cowherd named Baiju and handed the lingam to Ravana, who went off to urinate, unaware of the deity's intervention. When Ravana took longer than expected, Baiju became impatient and placed the lingam on the ground before leaving. Upon his return, Ravana tried to lift the lingam but failed, realizing it was Vishnu's trickery. In frustration, Ravana pressed his thumb onto the lingam before departing, causing partial damage.

The damaged lingam was worshipped by Brahma, Vishnu, and other deities, leading to the construction of the Baidyanath Temple. Since then, Lord Shiva has resided in Deoghar as the embodiment of the Kamna Linga, making the Baidyanath Temple a sacred place of worship for countless devotees seeking blessings and fulfillment of their desires.

Opening hours: 4 Am to 3:30 PM & 6 PM to 9 PM

Mahakaleshwar - Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

Mahakaleshwar - Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, located in the ancient city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India, is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered the most sacred abodes of Shiva. The temple sits beside the holy Shipra River. The main deity is a self-manifested lingam of Lord Shiva, known as Swayambhu, believed to emanate divine energy from within itself.

According to the Shiva Purana, there was once a debate between Brahma and Vishnu about their supremacy in creation. To resolve this, Shiva appeared as an endless pillar of light, the Jyotirlinga, piercing through the three worlds. Brahma and Vishnu decided to find the end of this pillar, with Brahma falsely claiming he had found it. Shiva then appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma, while Vishnu accepted defeat. The Jyotirlingas represent the formless and eternal nature of Shiva, with each shrine being where Shiva appeared as a column of light.

Opening hours: 4 AM to 11 PM

Omkareshwar - Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh

Omkareshwar - Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh

Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple devoted to Shiva, located in Mandhata near Khandwa city, in Madhya Pradesh, India. This temple is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Situated on an island in the Narmada River, the shape of the island resembles the Devanagari symbol for "Om."

The temple complex consists of two main temples dedicated to Shiva: one for Omkareshwar, meaning "Lord of Omkara or the Lord of the Om sound," located on the island, and the other for Mamleshwar (Amaleshwar), meaning "Immortal Lord" or "lord of the Immortals or Devas," situated on the southern bank of the Narmada River on the mainland.

According to Hindu legend, Vindhya, the deity controlling the Vindhyachal mountain range, worshipped Shiva to absolve himself of sins. He created a sacred diagram and a Lingam made of sand and clay. Pleased with the worship, Shiva appeared in two forms, Omkareshwar and Amaleswara. The island was named Omkareswar due to the mud mound appearing in the form of Om. The temple also houses shrines for Parvati and Ganapati.

Another legend involves King Mandhata of the Ikshvaku clan, an ancestor of Lord Rama, who worshipped Shiva here until the Lord manifested as a Jyotirlinga. Some stories also mention Mandhata's sons, Ambarish and Muchukunda, who pleased Shiva with their penance, leading to the mountain being named Mandhata.

Opening hours: 5 AM to 10 PM

Kaashi Vishwanath - Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Kaashi Vishwanath - Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, is a significant Hindu pilgrimage site dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines, with the presiding deity known as Vishwanath or Vishweshwara, meaning Lord of the Universe.

Historically, the temple faced demolition by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1669, leading to the construction of the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site in 1678. However, Hindu pilgrims continued to visit the remnants of the original temple. The current structure was later constructed on an adjacent site by Maratha ruler Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1780.

Legend has it that Varanasi is where the first Jyotirlinga manifested. The legend tells of a dispute between Brahma and Vishnu about their supremacy, leading to Shiva appearing as an infinite column of light (Jyotirlinga).

Opening hours: 2:30 AM to 11 PM

Kedarnath - Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

Kedarnath - Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

Kedarnath Temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, is situated in the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Uttarakhand, India.

The name "Kedarnath" means "the lord of the field," derived from the Sanskrit words "kedara" meaning "field" and "natha" meaning "lord." According to the Kashi Kedara Mahatmya, the temple is named so because "the crop of liberation" flourishes here.

A popular folk legend about Kedarnath tells about the Pandavas from the Mahabharata. After the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas decided to compensate for their sins. They set out in search of Lord Shiva to seek his blessings. Shiva, however, wanted to avoid them and transformed into a bull (Nandi). Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, recognized the bull as Shiva and tried to catch him. Shiva disappeared into the ground but later reappeared in five different forms. The hump surfaced in Kedarnath, the arms in Tungnath, the face in Rudranath, the navel and stomach in Madhyamaheshwar, and the hair in Kalpeshwar. The Pandavas, pleased with this manifestation, built temples at these five places, collectively known as Panch Kedar, to venerate Lord Shiva.

Opening hours: 4 AM to 12 noon

Rameshwaram - Rameshwaram Island, Tamil Nadu

Rameshwaram - Rameshwaram Island, Tamil Nadu

The Ramanathaswamy Templel is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated on Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu, India, it is not only a significant pilgrimage site but also one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples. The temple holds a special place in Hindu mythology, as it is believed that Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, worshipped the lingam of Ramanathaswamy before embarking on his journey to Sri Lanka.

This temple is revered by Shaivites, Vaishnavites, and Smarthas alike, and it is renowned for its historical and architectural significance. The temple was initially established as a simple shrine by Lord Rama himself. Later, during the 12th century, the Pandya Dynasty expanded the temple complex.

One of the most remarkable features of the Ramanathaswamy Temple is its corridor, which is the longest among all Hindu temples in India. This corridor, along with the temple's intricate carvings and architectural details, reflects the rich cultural heritage of India.

According to legend, Rama prayed to Shiva at this temple to absolve any sins he might have incurred during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka. To worship Shiva, Rama directed Hanuman to bring a lingam from the Himalayas. However, as it took longer than expected, Sita built a lingam made of sand from the nearby seashore. This lingam is believed to be the one worshipped in the sanctum of the temple.

Opening hours: 5 AM to 1 PM

Mallikarjuna - Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh

Mallikarjuna - Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh

Located in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, is one of the most revered Shivite shrines in South India. It is no less than a masterpiece built in Dravidian architecture featuring intricate carvings and sculptures. The temple complex is quite large and includes several mandapas (halls), gopurams (gateway towers), and prakaras. The main shrine is adorned with a golden vimana (tower) and features a Shiva lingam, which devotees can worship from a distance.

The temple has a rich history dating back to ancient times. According to legend, when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati decided to marry, all the gods and goddesses were invited to attend the wedding. However, Lord Kartikeya (the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati) felt neglected as he was not invited. In a fit of anger, he left for the Krauncha mountain.

To pacify him, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a Jyotirlinga and settled on the mountain, becoming known as Mallikarjuna. The temple is said to have been built around this sacred Jyotirlinga. It is also believed that Adi Shankaracharya visited this temple and installed a Sri Chakra here.

Opening hours: 4:30 AM to 10 PM


The tales of the 12 Jyotirlingas are not just stories but symbols of faith, devotion, and the eternal power of Lord Shiva. Pilgrimage to these sacred sites is believed to cleanse the soul and bestow blessings upon the devotees, making them an integral part of Hindu spiritual practices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q. Which Jyotirling is most powerful?
A. The Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh is one of the most powerful jyotirling housing the Vishwanath Jyotirlinga shrine.
Q. What happens if we visit all 12 jyotirlinga?
A. It is believed that visiting all the 12 jyotirlinga helps achieve moksha or liberation from the cosmic cycle of birth and death.
Q. Which jyotirlinga is the oldest?
A. The Somnath temple in Prabhas Patan, Veraval, Gujarat is the oldest jyotirlinga in India.
Q. Which jyotirlinga was broken?
A. The Somnath temple was raided and broken almost 17 times by Mahmud of Ghazni.
Q. Which is the smallest Jyotirlinga in India?
A. Grishneshwar temple is the smallest Jyotirlinga in India.

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