Did you know that there are 12 Jyotirlingas in India? The Jyotirlinga, as per Hinduism, is a representation of the Supreme Being, the Destroyer of Evil, Lord Mahadeva, or Shiva. Worshipping of deities is popular as per Hindu customs, and the Jyotirlingas are considered one of Lord Shiva's holiest manifestations. A sacred tour of India is incomplete without visiting all the twelve Jyotirlingas scattered across the country's length and breadth. These twelve sites are of heightened interest amongst Hindus and Indians and attract people from the entire world. People who seek to transcend man-made religious sanctities and complete their spiritual journeys visit these pilgrimage places to seek blessings from the divine Trilokinatha.
One aspect of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India that is beyond any science or logic is that all the twelve jyotirlingas are strategically distributed in the country. Read on to know more details about these must-visit temples of Lord Shiva for spiritual awakening and igniting the divine Jyoti or the light around you.
The Somnath temple of Lord Shiva is located in the Kathiawad district near Veraval in Gujarat. As per Hindu mythology, this is the first Jyotirlinga and holds a place of highest reverence amongst believers. Historians believe that the temple has been ravaged and built many times under different rulers. As per folklore, the temple came into being when the Moon and his favourite wife Rohini (amongst 27 daughters of Raja Daksha Prajapati) offered their holy prayers to the Sparsa Lingam. Lord Shiva was satisfied with the prayers and blessed Moon and his wife, and chose to stay back at the place for eternity. On Moon's insistence, Shiva assumed the name Somchandra and the place came to be known as Somnath.
When visiting the temple, plan to attend the light and sound show, ‘Joy Somnath’, which takes place from 8 pm to 9 pm every evening.
Also famously known as the Kailash of the South, Shri Shaila Mountain in Andhra Pradesh is home to the second Jyotirlinga in India. The temple is located in the mountains on the banks of River Krishna and is dedicated to Lord Shiva or Mallikarjuna and Devi Bhramaramba. As per local beliefs, a simple glimpse of the mountain top of the temple is enough to free the person from the cruel cycle of life and death.
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This place is one of the pinnacles of pious significance in Hindu customs. Known as one of the seven Mukti Sthalas or Sapta Puri, the place signifies the liberation of the human soul from the body or the achievement of Moksha. The local tale about the setting up of the Jyotirlinga is about Lord Shiva being overwhelmed by the prayers of a five-year-old native boy called Shrikar. The Lord was so happy that he chose to reside in the dense Mahakal forest on the banks of River Kshipra.
Omkarehwar means Omkara’s Lord or the Lord of Om. A long tussle between the devas and the danvas resulted in the victory of the latter. The devas then prayed to Lord Shiva for help. The Lord took the shape of the Jyotirlinga to defeat the Danavas. The Omkareshwar Temple was built here, on the banks of River Narmada, and is one of the most pious places for Hindus in India.
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The next Jyotirlinga in India is at Deogarh in the newly formed state of Jharkhand. The mythological narrative behind the formation of the Jyotirlinga here is based on Ravana's meditation to appease Lord Shiva. When Ravana tried to dislocate Mount Kailash to Lanka, Shiva was angered. In penance, Ravana begged for forgiveness and was entrusted with one of the jyotirlingas on the condition that wherever he placed the linga, it could be rooted there forever. On the way to Lanka, Ravana stopped at the place that is currently known as Deogarh to relieve himself. As a result, the Jyotirlinga was affixed for eternity here. Ravana, full of reparation, cut his nine heads which Lord Shiva revived, acting as a physician or a vaidya. Hence, the place got the name Baidyanath.
In the Sahyadri region of Maharashtra, on the banks of River Bhima exists the Bhimashankar Temple. As per the scriptures, the Jyotirlinga was formed after Lord Shiva defeated Kumbharkarna's son Bhima in a long-standing battle. It is also believed that the sweat drops of the Lord gave birth to the river.
The Rameshwar Temple in Tamil Nadu is home to the next Jyotirlinga in India. Rameshwaram is a popular island along the Sethu coast in this southern state of India and has a close connection to Ram's victory over Ravana. Before Ram proceeded to Lanka to fight Ravana, he stopped at Rameshwaram to drink water. Based on a celestial proclamation, Ram created a sand linga and sought its blessings for his victory. The sand linga transformed into a jyotirlinga. Lord Shiva made Rameshwaram his eternal abode. The Rameshwar Temple is an architectural beauty with thirty-six theerthams, ornated towers, and corridors.
Between Gomati Dwarka and Bait Dwarka in Gujarat lies the Nageshwar or the Nagnath Temple, a revered place due to the presence of one of the jyotirlingas in India. Symbolically, the temple signifies a poison-free existence. The Jyotirlinga came into existence after Lord Shiva defeated the demon Daaruka who had imprisoned his ardent devotee, Supriaya.