This Monsoon…Seek Lord Shiva in 12 Jyotirlingas
The Hindu holy month of Shravan (monsoons) is an occasion dedicated to Lord Shiva. Roads of India are full of saffron attire clad kanwars who walk barefoot with pitchers full of Ganga Jal. These pitchers are then poured on the Shivlinga with chants and slokas to receive the blessings of the lord.
During this holy period, many people embark on a spiritual journey and visit the 12 jyotirlingas all over India. The word jyotirlinga comes from jyoti or radiance and linga is the phallus. Our country has 12 such holy sanctums of Lord Shiva that are believed to be the Lord’s manifestation. Just as they shower immense blessings, these lingams are located in places that are admired for their natural beauty. Let us take a journey of the jyotirlingas and know the legends behind them that are as old as the Indian mythology.
Somnath Temple (Kathiawad region, Gir Somnath district in Gujarat)
First among the 12 jyotirlingas, Somnath temple is a brilliant piece of Chalukyan architecture. It is believed that Lord Shiva appeared here in form of a column of light.
Legend: Moon God who married 27 daughters of Prajapati Daksha was cursed by his father-in-law. Moon God was very close to his queen Rohini and did not care about his other queens. With Daksha’s curse, Moon lost his shine and merged into darkness. Totally helpless, he did great penance and managed to please Lord Shiva who gave Moon back his shine and redeemed him from darkness.
Moon is called Som and Lord is called Nath, hence Somnath had a Golden temple built by Moon God. Later this temple was rebuilt by Ravana in silver and Lord Krishna in Dwapar Yug built it with sandalwood.
Temple Timings: 6 am to 9 pm. Aarti at 7 am, 12 noon and 7 pm.
Light and Sound show: Jai Somnath, every day between 8 to 9 pm.
How to Reach: Diu Airport (65 km) and Veraval Railway Station (5km)
Nageshwar Temple (Darukavanam, Gujarat)
Nageshwar means Lord of Snakes; this pilgrimage in Saurashtra protects a devotee from all kind of poisons. Nageshwar is one of the most revered jyotirlingas in the country and is visited by thousands of devotees from all over the country.
Legend: Once a demon called Daruka, lived here with his wife Daruki; both were extremely cruel. They were staunch devotees of Lord Shiva and used their powers to torture people. Lord Shiva appeared at this place and vanquished them to save His devotees.
The jyotirlinga manifestation of Lord Shiva is worshipped in this temple as Nageshwara. All round the year, devotees pour in to worship the Lord and seek His blessings. The sanctum sanctorum here is under the ground and the temple can be easily identified from the 25 m tall white statue of Lord Shiva.
Temple Timings: 5 am to 9 pm. Darshan (visit) between 6 am to 12:30 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm.
How to Reach: Jamnagar Airport (45km), Dwarka Railway Station (33 km)
Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga (Pune, Maharashtra)
Located in Bhorgiri village near Pune, the 18th century temple of Bhimashankar is built in typical Nagara style architecture. It is one of the most revered jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva that has been blessing His devotees, since times immemorial. The temple is also known for the surrounding Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Legend: Demon Tripurasura appeased Lord Shiva with his penance in Bhimashankar jungle and asked for the boon of immortality. Lord Shiva gave him what he wanted with a condition that he will not misuse it. Tripurasura did not keep his words and started creating havoc among people. Lord Shiva alongwith Goddess Parvati took the form of Ardh Narya Nateshwara and killed the demon on the eve of Kartik Poornima. After the death of Tripurasura, His wives Dakini and Shakini were given the boon of immortality by Lord Shiva and became Shiva Ganas.
Quite near to the Bhimashankar temple is the shrine of Goddess Kamalaja. This is the form Goddess Parvati took as Ardh Narya Nateshwara with Lord Shiva and killed Tripurasura. Shakini and Dakini are also worshipped here.
Temple Timings: 4.30 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 9.30 pm. Darshan (visit) between 5 am to 9:30 pm.
How to Reach: Pune Airport (125 km), Pune Railway Station (125 km)
Trimbakeshwar (Nashik, Maharashtra)
Located in the foothills of Brahmagiri Mountain, Trimbakeshwar jyotirlinga is one of the most revered pilgrimages of Hinduism. The temple was built by Shri Nana Saheb Peshawa in 1755-1786 AD and the Lingam inside is believed to have emerged by itself. Unlike any other Jyotirlinga, this has a hole in the middle and inside the hole are three pindies of Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar.
Legend: As mentioned in the Shiv Maha Purana, Rishi Gautam and many other heavenly gods requested Lord Shiva to reside here. They named this place as Trimbakeshwar. Biggest miracle here is water from an unknown source is being poured here and till date no one knows its source. It is believed that Lord Varun pours water on Lord Shiva’s pindi.
While on a visit to Trimbakeshwara, devotees also go to the temple of Kedareshwar. Kancha and Kankhala are such pilgrimages, where bones of a dead person disappear, as per belief. Gorakhnath Gufa is another place where Sage Gautama performed penance to please Lord Shiva for Ganga to appear on earth.
Temple Timings: 5.30 am – 9.00 pm
How to Reach: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport Mumbai (200 Km), Nashik Railway Station (28 Km).
Vaidyanath (Deoghar, Jharkhand)
Vaidyanath Temple, also known as Baidyanth Temple is visited by devotees from all over the country in search of Moksha. Every year, during shravan (monsoon month) kanwars in hundreds visit here to pour water on shivalingam. The shivalingam here is chipped off a little from the top; as per legend it was Demon King Ravana who broke it while trying to uproot it.
Legend: As per Hindu mythology, Ravana, the King of Lanka worshipped Lord Shiva on this site to receive boon. He offered all his ten heads in the sacrificial fire (yajna kund). At last Lord Shiva appeared in front of Ravana and cured him as a Vaidya (doctor). Since then, this place worships Lord Shiva as Vaidyanath or the Lord of Medicines.
As per religious beliefs, this temple was constructed by Lord Vishwakarma who is the architect of Gods. The temple is 72 feet tall and has the shape of a lotus. It is divided in three parts: The Main Temple, Middle part and Entrance area of the main temple. At the top, one will find three gold vessels that were donated by the Maharaja of Giddhaur. The temple premises has 22 temples and shrines of various gods and goddesses like Ganesh, Parvati , Jagatjanani, Brahma, Sandhya, Kalabhairav, Hanuman, Saraswati, Sun God and many more.
Temple Timings: 4 am – 3:30 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm
How to Reach: Gaya Airport (178km), Deoghar Station (3.2 km)
Mahakaleshwar Temple (Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh)
A self manifested Lord Shiva lingam (swayambhu) presides in this holy place as Lord Mahakal (Lord of Time). It is believed to have been built in the pre-historic period by Lord Brahma. The idol of Lord Mahakaleshwar here is also known as dakshinamurti, or the one who faces the South.
Legend: A demon Dushana, tortured the people of Avanti. People here worshiped Lord Shiva and requested him to save them. Lord Shiva emerged from the ground and killed the demon, thus saving his devotees. People of Avanti prayed to the Lord to live there permanently and since then the Lord lives here as Mahakaleshwar.
Inside the temple, alongwith Lord Shiva images of Lord Ganesha, Parvati and Kartikeya are installed in the sanctum sanctorum. The temple is built in 5 levels and in the 3rd level is the idol of Nagchandrakeshwar which is opened only during Nag Panchami. The unique factor of this temple is that the same Prasad can be re-offered to the Lord unlike any other Hindu temple.
Temple Timings: 4 am – 11 pm
How to Reach: Indore Airport (51 km), Ujjain Junction (1.5 km)
Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga (Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh)
Om – the ultimate sound of this universe belongs to Lord Shiva. The 5-storeyed temple in Khandwa has Lord Shiva presiding as Omkareshwar or the Lord of Om. One of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, it is nestled in the lofty hills with River Narmada flowing in between forming the shape of OM.
Legend: Vidhya Parvat performed penance and also worshipped Parthivarchana along with Lord Shiva as Omkareshwar for six months. With the request of all gods and saints; Lord Shiva made two parts of the lings. One presides in Omkareshwara and the other one is in Amaleshwara also known as Amareshwar.
The temple of Omkareshwar has been constructed with Nagara style architecture. It has a lofty Shikhara and the lingam here is not situated below the cupola. The shivlinga is always surrounded by water. On the top of the temple is the idol of Lord Shiva. During Kathik Poornima, a huge fair is being organized here which is attended by thousands.
Temple Timings: 5:30 am to 12:20 pm and 4 pm to 8:30 pm.
How to Reach: Ahilyabai Holkar Airport, Indore (84 km), Omkareshwar Railway Station (12km)
Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh)
If Kashi is the heart of Hinduism, then Kashi Vishwanath is the heartbeat!! A visit to Kashi Vishwanath is considered equivalent to visiting all the 12 jyotirlingas. This temple is what makes Varanasi a pilgrimage. Lord Shiva presides here Vishwanath or the Lord of the Universe.
Legend: Kashi Vishwanath has found a mention in the famous Skanda Purana, the ancient Hindu scripture. It is believed that, once Lord Bramha and Lord Vishnu had a tussle of supremacy. Seeing this, Lord Shiva pierced the three worlds with His trishul throwing endless light. The force and power broke the false ego of both the lords and they knew their position. Thereafter Lord Shiva appeared as a pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he will never be worshipped on the earth.
Temple complex of Kashi Vishwanath has numerous shrines and the Shiva Lingam here is 60 cm tall presiding over alter made up of silver. Also known as Golden Temple, it was built by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of the Indore in 1780. The temple has stood the test of time as it has gone through various atrocities of the Muslim rulers. Before entering Kashi, one has to take permission from Lord Kal Bhairav (the fierce form of Lord Shiva); without whose permission, one cannot visit the Lord.
Temple Timings: 2:30 am to 11 pm
How to Reach: Babatpur airport Varanasi (22km), Varanasi Junction (5km)
Kedarnath Temple (Kedarnath, Uttarakhand)
One of the chota 4 dham in Hindu Pilgrimage, the temple of Kedarnath sits amid the mighty snow-clad peaks. The temple is believed to have been constructed in 8th century AD by Adi Shankaracharya. Every year devotees undertake the difficult trek to visit Kedarnath (Lord of Kedar Khand) and take back immense blessings.
Legend: History of Kedarnath temple goes back to the period of Mahabharata. After the epic blood bath the Pandava brothers came here to seek forgiveness for killing Kauravas; as advised by Lord Krishna. But Lord Shiva seeing them vanished and took the form of a bull. Bheema went after the buffalo and hit it with his mace. As the buffalo hid his face in the earth, Bheema started pulling his tail. This resulted in a tug of war and the bull left its tail in Kedar and its face went to Nepal as Doleshwar Mahadev.
The geographical location of Kedarnath has it mostly covered with snow. This is the reason; the temple is opened only for six months. From April to June and October to mid-November; the temple opens, but these months are also subject to weather conditions.
Temple Timings: 4 am to 12 noon and 3 pm to 9 pm
How to Reach: Jolly Grant Airport Dehradun (238 km), Rishikesh Railway station (216 km). Take a taxi from station till Gaurikund and begin the trek (14km). Ponies, Palkis and helicopter is available.
Rameshwaram Temple (Rameswaram Island, Tamil Nadu)
Ram Eshwaram or the Lord of Rama, Rameshwaram is the place where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva after killing Ravana. One among the Char Dham, this small town is full of temples that make it a pilgrimage destination. This is also believed to be the place where Lord Rama built a setu (bridge) to reach Lanka and save Sita from the demon king Ravana. The 12th century Ramanathaswamy Temple here has a row of 1212 pillars and built out of a single stone in a span of 30 years.
Legend: Ravana, king of Lanka abducted Sita and kept her in Ashok Vatika. Lord Rama waged a war against Ravana, killed him and brought Sita back. Since Ravana was the son of a Brahmin, Lord Rama had to worship Lord Shiva to redeem himself from the sin of killing a Brahmin. He installed the lingam of Lord Shiva in a place where Ramanathaswamy Temple stands today. The shiva lingam here counted among the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
Temple Timings: 5 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 9 pm. Visitors are allowed only till 8 pm.
How to Reach: Madurai airport (149 km), Rameshwaram (22 km)
Mallikarjuna Temple (Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh)
Nestled atop the Srisailam hill, the Swayambu Linga (self-manifested) is one among the most revered jyotirlingas in the country. It is also counted among the 275 Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalangal. As per historical records, Srisailam found a mention in the Nasik inscription in 1st century AD. The temple here was built 6 centuries back by King Harihara Raya of Vijayanagar in Vijayanagar style architecture. Later on the Reddy kings of Kondaveedu dynasty made further additions and renovations. Gopuram of the temple was built by the great Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Inside the temple, one would be amazed to find episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata crafted on the walls. Small temples of Nandi (divine bull), Sahasralinga and Nataraja also exist in the premises. Unlike most of the shrines, people from all walks of life, caste and creed can go to the sanctum and worship the Lord.
Legend: Lord Shiva came to Srisailam forest for hunting; there he met a beautiful girl who belonged to the Chenchu tribe. The girl was Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva fell in love with her started living with her in the jungle. This story is as per the bass relief inside the temple.
The temple has beautiful architecture and sculptures alongwith decorated pillars. There are gopurams and mukha mandapa hall which is worth a marvel. Inside are deities of Lord Shiva and Bhramaramba or Parvati. Apart from being a jyotirlinga, it is also counted as one of the 52 shakti peethas of Goddess Sati.
Temple Timings: 6:30 am to 1 pm and 6:30 pm to 9 pm
How to Reach: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (230 km), Markapur Railway station (90km)
Grishneshwar Temple (Aurangabad in Maharashtra)
The last and 12th Jyotirlinga, the temple here is also known as Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara and Ghrishneswara. It is located in a village named Verul, 30 km from Aurangabad; quite near to the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves. This beautiful temple was built by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar.
Legend: Once a king while hunting killed many animals that used to live in the hermitage of the sages in the jungle. One of the Saints cursed the king, and his entire body got infested with deadly insects. The king was wandering helplessly and was thirsty. He found a water hole and as soon as he drank that water, his body got cured. The king thought of redemption and performed penance there. Lord Bramha appeared there and installed Parashta Teertha by creating a holy lake at that place. With passage of time, this lake came to be known as Shivalay.
The 240 ft x 185 ft temple has a court hall and 24 pillars. Though years have passed, this temple continues to be as strong as it used to be in the earlier days. Just as one reaches halfway, one would find various statues that are beautifully caved out. Garbhagriha is 17 X 17 feet and the lingam faces east. The Lingamurty faces eastward and in the court hall, one would find a gorgeous Nandikeshwara.
Temple Timings: 5.30 am -11.00 pm and 3 am – 11 pm (during Shravan)
How to Reach: Aurangabad Airport (29 Km), Manmad Railway Station (140 Km).http://blog.capertravelindia.com/this-monsoonseek-lord-shiva-in-12-jyotirlingas.htmlGujaratIndian CulturePilgrim Tours to IndiaSpiritual India ToursTemples of IndiaVaranasi Travel