Sanskrit shloka that lists the twelve jyotirlinga temples.
“Saurashtre Somanathamcha Srisaile Mallikarjunam|
Ujjayinya Mahakalam Omkaramamaleswaram ||
Paralyam Vaidyanathancha Dakinyam Bheema Shankaram |
Setu Bandhethu Ramesam, Nagesam Darukavane||
Varanasyantu Vishwesam Tryambakam Gautameethate|
Himalayetu Kedaaram, Ghrishnesamcha shivaalaye||
Etani jyotirlingani, Saayam Praatah Patennarah|
Sapta Janma Kritam pApam, Smaranena Vinashyati||”
Somnath is considered to be the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. Somnath is situated on the south coast of . Saurashtra Somnath at Somnath Patan, near Veraval in Gujarat is a pilgrimage center held in great reverence throughout India.
The Skanda Purana, in a chapter on Prabhasa Khanda, describes Somnath. Legend has it that Shiva in the previous aeons was referred to as Mrityunjaya, Kaalagnirudra, Amritesa, Anamaya, Kritivasa and Bhairavanatha at Somnath.
Legend has it that the Kalabhairava Shivalinga (Bhairavanatha) at Prabhasa was worshipped by the moon, and hence Shiva here is referred to as Somnatha. The Skanda Purana describes the Sparsa Linga of Somnath as one bright as the sun.The Mahabharata also refers to the Prabhasa Kshetra and the legend of the moon worshipping Shiva.
In the year 1783, Queen Ahilyabhai Holkar built a new temple nearby, and in 1951, the President of India re-installed the Jyotirlingam of Shiva on the same Bhramasila on which earlier temples had been built.
Sri Mahakaleshwara Ujjain
The Skanda Purana describes the glory of Ujjain (Mahakaala Vana) in great detail. Ujjain was the capital of Avanti. Ujjain played an important role during the period of the Mauryas and the Guptas.
King Vikramaditya Chandragupta of the Gupta period ruled with Ujjain as his capital, and the nine gems (Dhanvantari, Kshapanaka, Amarasimha, Sanku, Vetala Bhatta, Ghatakharpara, Varahamihira, Vararuchi and Kalidasa) adorned his court.
Ujjain is home to the Kumbha Mela, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Scorpio, one of the 7 Mukti Sthalas of India other includeÂ Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram, Dwarka
Omkareshwar located in Madhya Pradesh, on the Mandhata hill on the banks of the Narmada is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. The river Narmada branches into two and forms an island Mandhata or Shivapuri in the center. The shape of the island resembles that of the visual representation of the Omkara sound, Om. There are two temples here, one to Omkareshwar and one to Amareshwar.
Legend has it that the Vindhya mountain prayed to Shiva – Omkareshwara and was blessed here. Legend also has it that upon the request of the Devas, the Shivalinga split into two, one half being Omkareshwara and the other Amaleshwara or Amareshwar. King Mandhatha of the Ishvaku clan is believed to have worshipped Shiva here.
Govinda Bhagavatpaada, the guru of Sankaracharya, is believed to have lived in a cave here.
This small shrine is accessible by foot, only 6 months a year. The temple at Kedarnath enshrining the Jyotirlingam of Shiva located in the Himalayas at a height of 12000 feet inÂ inspiring surroundings opens only 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.
Kedarnath is located on a ridge which juts out at right angles from below the 23000 feet high snowy peak of Mahapanth. Kedarnath is located on the Rudra Himalaya range.
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.
Tradition has it that 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.
Bhimashankar in Maharashtra is an ancient shrine, enshrining Bhimashankara one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows south east and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Tryambakeshwar and Grishneshwar.
The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. It is a modest temple yet graceful temple and it dates back to mid 18th century. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate the carrying out, of worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area.
Sri Kaasi Visweswara
Kaasi Visweswara (Viswanatha) temple, enshrining one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Shiva. This temple was desecrated and rebuilt several times. The latest structure dating back to the 18th century (thanks to the efforts of Rani Ahilyabhai Holkar) is the center of attention of the millions of Hindu pilgrims who converge here, to perform an abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam, with water from the river Ganga.
Benares is also considered to be one of the Shakti Peethas of India. It is believed that the left hand of Sati fell at Varanasi, and that Annapurna or Visalakshi represent the Shakti Peetham here.
Several other temples and shrines adorn the city of Benares. Virtually every block houses a shrine here.Maha Shivaratri in the month of Aquarius is a season of great festivity at Benares.
Tryambakeshwar a is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Tryambakeshwar is the source of the river Godavari. This is an ancient shrine, however the current structure is a result of the reconstruction efforts undertaken by the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao in mid 18th century.
Legend has it that Gowtama muni resided on the Bhramagiri hill here with his wife Ahalya, and by virtue of his devotion 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 Gowtama attempted to ward it off with a bunch of Darbha grass.
Gowtama therfore worshipped Shiva, to bring the Ganga down to his hermitage to purify the premises. The Ganga came down as Godavari, and Shiva took up an abode here in the form of Tryambaka. Interestingly, locals refer to the river here as Ganga and not as Godavari. (Shown above is an image of the Ganga at Haridwar). All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo.
Baidyanath shrine is revered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Shiva.
The temple is situated in a spacious courtyard bounded by stone walls. In the temple complex are twenty two other temples. The Baijnath or Vaidyanath temple faces east. The top of the Shiva Lingam is slightly broken, keeping with the legend that it chipped away when Ravana tried to uproot it. Near the temple is the Sivaganga lake. The Chandrakoopa well, near the main entrance is said to have been built and consecrated with water from several thirthams by Ravana
The architectural beauty of the Nagesh Temple is simply exquisite. This temple built with stones during the Pandava period is strong. The four walls of the temple are very strong and the corridors are large. The court hall is supported by eight pillars. It is oval shaped. Both this and the Nagesha Lingamurthy is located in the small internal Garbhagriha.
Here, there is no Nandi idol in front of Mahadeva. There is separate Nandikeshwara temple back of the main temple. On all the four sides of the main temple, smaller temples for the twelve JyotirLingas are constructed. Apart from these, VedavyasaLinga, bhandareshwar, Nilakanteshwar, Ganapati, Dattatreya, Muralimanohar, Dasavatar temple and idols etc., are there. In all, there are 108 Shiva temples and 68 shrines are located here.
After Sita’s abduction,Sri Prabhu Ram wandered in the jungles looking for her. While doing so, he met Sugriva and made friends with him. Later with the help of special messenger Sri Hanuman, he found out where Sita was taken. Then Sri Prabhu Rama prepared an army to invade Ravana’s empire and reached the southern seashore. He did not have any means of crossing the sea. Lakshman and Sugriva saw Rama, who is a Shiva devotee in great anguish and could do nothing. But Ravana received some special boons from Lord Shiva. Rama was aware of this and therefore, his fears could not be set at rest. In the mean time, Sri Prabhu RamaÂ to perform Shiva pooja. He immediately made a Prathiv Linga and worshipped it with sixteen methods,(Shodasopachar Vidhis).
Ramji prayed to Lord Shiva ardently and soulfully, this pleased Lord Shiva immediately and instantly appeared before Rama and told him that could ask for any boons and that he would grant them. Sri Prabhu Rama showed a lot of care, affection and love to Lord Shiva and prayed and paid obeisance. Sri Prabhu Rama Rama said “If You want to grant me my wishes, please stay on this earth for the sake of all make it holy” Shiva granted the same by saying “Tathastu” meaning “so be it”. He thus stayed there and came to be known as Rameshwara, in the form of a Shiva Linga and became popular.
The Grishneshvar the Temple is last one, with out which the pilgrimage will not be considered as complete, is the twelfth JyotirLinga, of Grishneshwar.The very devout Shiva devotee, Bhosale , once found a treasure hidden in the snake pit (ant hill) by the grace of Lord Grishneshwar. He spent that money to renovate the temple and built a lake in Shikharshinganapur. Later on, Goutamibal (Bayajabai) and Ahilyadevi Holkar renovated the Grishneshwar temple. This 240ft x 185 ft temple is still there strong and beautiful as ever. Halfway up the temple, Dashavataras are carved in red stone. These are beautiful to look at. There are also other beautiful statutes carved out. A court hall is built on 24 pillars. On these pillars there are wonderful carvings. The scenes and paintings are beautiful. The Garbhagriha measures 17ft x 17 ft. The Lingamurty faces eastward.