Lord Shiva is one of the most popular major gods worshipped in Hinduism. In this article, I will give details about all the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
The 12 Jyotirlingas are (Starting from northmost) Kedarnath, Kashi Vishwanath, Somnath, Nageshwara Mahakaleshwara, Trimbakeshwar, Omkareshwar, Bhimashankar, Grishneshwar, Baidnath, Mallikarjuna, Rameshwaram.
Amidst the beautiful valleys and mountains of Garhwal region in Uttarakhand, the magnificent Jyotirlinga of Lord Kedar is situated.
Kedarnath is a sacred pilgrimage for Hindus and along with being a Jyotirlinga, it also comes in the list of Char Dhams.
According to scriptures, if somebody visits this shrine with pure devotion to Lord and get’s his darshans, he/she will get Moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This temple is of a very high importance to Hinduism especially Shaivites.
According to the Puranas, when the Pandavas went to Lord Shiva for releasing them from their sins of killing blood relatives, Lord Shiva didn’t wanted to them to get rid of their sins. So to escape them, he disguised as a bull and started roaming over the Garhwal mountain region.
However the Pandavas, found him and tried to catch him, but Shiva dove under the ground. Bhima being most powerful in them, was only able to hold his hump.
The other body parts of Lord Shiva in his form of Bull appeared on different places. The Hump part was in Kedarnath. The face part in Rudranath. The two legs in Tungnath, stomach and waist in Madhya-Maheshwara, and the hairs in Kalpeshwar.
Together these five places are known as Panch-Kedar or five temples of Kedarnath. The pilgrims who visit Kedarnath, make a trip to all of the 5 temples.
Kashi Vishwanath (Uttar Pradesh)
Kashi Vishwanath temple also known as Baba Vishwanath is located in the sacred & holy city of Varanasi. Varanasi is one of the most ancient cities of India.
In previous times, this place was known by the name of Kashi (Shining) due to the illuminous Aarti held by priests daily which included lot of earthen lamps or Diyas.
The word Vishwanath means “the Lord of this Universe”. Shiva is considered as the Lord of this Universe by Shaivites hence the deity got it’s name.
The temple has been attacked by many Muslim invaders such as Aurangzeb who had demolished the temple in 17th century and established a mosque over it.
The present day temple was built by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar, The Queen of Maratha State. She had built the temple adjacent to the mosque.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the powerful ruler of Sikh Empire, had donated 1 tonne of gold to the temple to be plated on the dome and the Shikhara.
Shree Somnath Temple is present in the Gir Somnath District of Gujarat. It is located on a strategic point on the western coast of Gujarat.
The word Somnath or Someshwara Nath means “The God of Moon”. This title was referred to Lord Shiva as he keeps the moon on his head.
Somnath is one of the most popular temples of India. Along with it’s importance it has a very disputed history. The present chairman of Somnath Mandir Trust is Indian PM Narendra Modi.
This temple was destroyed 17 times by various Muslim invaders. One of these prominent invaders was Mahmud Ghazni.
Many other rulers such as Aurangzeb, the ruler of Mughal Empire and Zafar Khan, the governor of Gujarat under Gujarat Sultanate, had attacked the temple many times.
In Shiva Purana and many other scriptures, the temple has been referred as Prabhas Patana or Somnath Prabhas.
The city of Somnath was well known from ancient times. It was an important pilgrimage site as well as a trade center for Indians, Africans, Chinese, Arabians etc.
Mahakaleshwara (Madhya Pradesh)
Mahakaleshwar is considered to be the most powerful Jyotirlinga in all the 12 sacred Jyotirlingas. The presiding deity here is Mahakaal.
The temple is located in the divine city of Ujjain. Ujjain is one of the most ancient cities and it is regarded as highly spiritual by the scriptures.
The word Mahakaal means “God of Time and Death”. “Kaal” here refers to both death and time simultaneously.
According to legends, Lord Shiva had once defeated Lord Yama, the god of death, and given an extra life to his devotee Sage Markandeya.
From then, he is called as Mahakaal as he can even control death and time and he is beyond them. The Mahakal form of Shiva is said to be very fierce and powerful.
When there was the reign of Delhi Sultanate, between 1234-1235; the then Sultan Iltutmish attacked Ujjain. He raided the treasuries of the city.
It is said that, at that time, the Shivlingam was dismantled and thrown away in Kotiteerth Kund near the temple complex. After the raid, the Shivlingam was established once again.
Around 500 years later,in 1734, Maratha Dynasty took Ujjain in it’s control. Then the further developments and architecture was built by the members of Maratha dynasty. After Independence of India, the temple came under the Collectorate office of Ujjain.
Trimbakeshwara is located in the district of Nashik amid the hills of western range. The Trimbakeshwara Jyotirlinga is considered as highly sacred in the scriptures.
The temple along with Grishneshwara and Bhimashankar, are the three Jyotirlingas situated in the state of Maharashtra.
This temple is located in the Brahmagiri mountain. It houses the shrines of many other deities as well such as Vishnu, Ganesh etc. and Samadhis of various saints.
This temple is made up of whole black color. The temple has a golden mask of the Three gods i.e. Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma which the Vigraha wears.
This mask is believed to be of Pandavas age. It is made up of entire gold, and has many diamonds, emeralds and precious stones in it. Today, this mask is said to be with an American family that lives in Connecticut.
The Trimbakeshwar temple was invaded and destroyed by Aurangzeb. But later the glorius Maratha Ruler Shivaji Maharaj occupied the site and restored the temple.
Omkareshwara (Madhya Pradesh)
Located in the beautiful island of Mandhata in Narmada river, this elegant temple comes under the list of the 12 glorious Jyotirlingas.
The Jyotirlinga is situated in midst of lush green valleys of Narmada river, Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. The most special thing about this temple is the shape of the island on which the temple is located.
The island is of the shape of the sacred letter ‘OM’. Thus, the name of this temple is Omkareshwara i.e. the Lord of Omkara.
The other Jyotirlinga, Mahakaleshwara is located 140 kilometers north of this temple. Along with the Jyotirlinga, the Mamleshwara (The Immortal Lord) temple is also located here.
A cave named Adi Shankara’s cave is also located below the temple mountain. It is said that Guru Shri Adi Shankaracharya met his guru Shri Govind Bhagvatpada in this cave.
According to legends, King Mandhata (King of Ikshvaku Dynasty) had did penance here and Lord Shiva himself appeared here in the form of Omkareshwara.
The Bhimashankara Jyotirlinga is located in the Bhimashankara forest range of Pune district. The Bhima river originates from this site thus the temple name is Bhimashankara.
This Jyotirlinga is not only a religious site but an important biological reserve as well. The temple houses many rare flora and fauna species.
The temple has been an important historical site. Sant Jnaneshwara is said to have been visited the temple. This temple was also a center of attraction for many great Maratha rulers such as Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj, Chimaji Appa, Nana Phadnavis, etc.
Shivaji Maharaj used to donate lot of gifts and charities to this temple and hold his important religious ceremonies here.
Inside the temple complex, a shrine of Shani is also present where a huge antique Portuguese bell is housed. This bell was also donated by the Marathas.