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The Mystery of twelve Jyotirlinga, Name, Place and their spiritual recognition

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Introduction to the Twelve Jyotirlinga Pilgrimages:

The people of religious bent of mind, particularly in India long to visit pilgrimage places to seek blessings of all the 12 Jyotirlingas that are spread over various regions in India covering almost all the directions- East, West, North and South, thus showering blessings on the natives from all the directions.

What does Jyotirlinga mean?

12 Jyotirlingas denote the infinite form of Lord Shiva spreadover across India. Jyoti in Sanskrit means “Light” and Linga, a sign radiating light. 12 Jyotirlingas, spread over in all the directions, are the pious representation of Lord Shiva, the omnipresent Lord. 

The lingam or the Stambh(the pillar) denotes the beginningless and endless infinite nature of the Supreme power, the Shiva.

As per Shiv Mahapuran, there is mention of 64 original jyotirlinga temples in India. The 12 Jyotirlingas are esteemed and hold a special religious importance.

The mesmerizing charm and devotional fervor for the 12 Jyotirlingas, is a testament of the mesmerizing mystery of 12 Jyotirlingas, where people, in large numbers, pour to connect themselves spiritually.

Shiva legend about the emergence of 12 Jyotirlingas:

According to the Shiva legend, to settle a dispute between Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the sustainer and; Shiva, the destructor is powerful, Lord Shiva pierced through the three worlds with his huge and infinite Stambha(the pillar, Jyotirlinga). 

As per the story, Brahma and Vishnu ascended/descended on the pillar in order to find out its beginning and the end.

For this purpose, Vishnu incarnated into the Varaha avatar and Brahma of Hansa(Swan). Brahma lied and produced Ketaki flower as proof while Vishnu admitted that he could neither find the beginning nor the end of the light emanating from the Stambha, the pillar.

Angered by Brahma’s dishonesty, Shiva cursed that Brahma would not be worshipped. Shiva also declared that Vishnu would be worshipped eternally for his honest approach.

Description of the 12 Jyotirlingas:

1. Mahakaleshwar Temple or Mahakaleshwar Mandir or Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga

Mahakaleshwar jyotirlingas

Mahakaleshwar Mandir or Mahakaleshwar temple or Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas is situated in Ujjain in the State of Madhya Pradesh in India. The  holy river Khisipra flows through the holy town of Ujjain.

Mahakaleshwar Temple or Mahakaleshwar Mandir is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva here is Swayambhu, deriving power from within itself

The lingam symbolizes the infinite nature of Shiva. The well renowned ‘Bhasma Aarti’ is organized by temple priests. Mahakal Jyotirlinga is one of the popular shrines in India.

The journey from Indore Airport to Ujjain Mahakaleshwar Mandir takes approx. 1 hour and 10 minutes covering a distance of roughly 58 kilometers by road. Mahakaleshwar temple is merely 2 kms by road from Ujjain Railway Station.

2. Shri Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga or Shree Omkareshwar Temple or Shree Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga

Omkareshwar jyotirlinga

Shri Omkareshwar jyotirlinga, Shree Omkareshwar temple, Shree Omkareshwar jyotirlinga, by whatever name you call is a unique temple to visit in the sense that the temple is situated on an island called Mandhata which is shaped like the ॐ (Om) symbol in Devanagari script. It is located on the southern bank of the Narmada River on the mainland. 

People find boat journeys from the mainland to Omkareshwara temple or Omkareshwara in a serene and picturesque environment like a dream come true. 

Omkareshwar temple is situated 140 Kms south of Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. 

The Omkareshwar temple is said to have been built by Jayasimhadeva and Jayavarman, the Paramara Kings of Malwa in the 11th Century. Subsequently, it was administered by Chauhan rulers.

In the 13th Century the temple was plundered by Mahmud Gazni, an Afghan ruler. During the Muslim rule, the temple remained under the administration of the Chauhan Kings.

In the 19th Century, the temple was rebuilt by the Holkar rulers, mainly by Rani Ahalya Bai Holkar of Indore.

During colonial rule, the temple came under British rule. Presently the Omkareshwar Temple Trust is administered by the administration of the State Government of Madhya Pradesh.

For those who look for places to visit Omkareshwar can plan to go to Kajal Rani Cave, Siddhanath temple, Saptamatrika Temples and Ahilya Ghat.

3. Somnath Temple, Jyotirlinga at Veraval in Gujarat:

somnath jyotirlinga

Shree Somnath temple or Deo Patan is located in Prabhas Patan, Veraval in Gujarat, India. It is located on the sacred soil where Lord Shree Krishna took His last journey to Neejdham. The Shree Somnath Temple is built at the coast of the Arabian sea in the west of India. Shree Somnath Temple is stated to be the first Aadi Jyotirlingas of India. Lord Shiva appeared here as a fiery column of light. 

Somnath Jyotirlinga, an ancient pilgrimage site:

The  site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times as it is situated at the Triveni sangam i.e. confluence of three rivers viz. Kapila, Hiran and Sarasvati. It is also said that Somraj, the moon god, is believed to have lost its lustre owing to a curse. He bathed in the river Sarasvati and regained his lustre.

The antiquity of Somnath-Patan is established by the discovery of artifacts and ruins with Brahmi and proto-Nagari and Nagari scripts.

Somnath Mandir was plundered by Mughal rulers:

Shree Somnath Temple had faced innumerable onslaughts by different Mughal rulers. Al-Baruni, an Arab traveler, gave a vivid description of the grandiosity of the Somnath temple that prompted Afghan Ruler, Mahmud Ghazni to visit Somnath.

Shree Somnath Mandir was demolished several times by the Mughal rulers viz. (1026 by Mahmud Ghazni; 1299 by Ulugh Khan ; 1395 by Muzaffar Shah I; 1706 by Aurangzeb.

Architectural Style of Shree Somnath Temple:

The present architectural style of the temple is Maru-Gurjara style. 

Pran Pratishtha of the existing Shree Somnath Temple was done on 11th May 1951 by the then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad. 

Visiting places near Shree Somnath Temple:

Visiting places near Shree Somnath temple are Bhalka Tirth, Dehotsarg Tirth and Prachi Tirth. 

4.  Mallikarjuna Temple at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh:

Mallikarjuna jyotirlinga

Sri Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple is dedicated to the deities Shiva and Parvati. Mallikarjuna Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas where lakhs of devotees worship every year. It is located at Srisailam in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh is also a Shakti Peeth.

At the Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga Temple, Shiva is worshiped as Mallikarjuna and is represented by the lingam. Goddess Parvati is depicted as Bhramaramba.

At Mallikarjuna Temple, Lord Shiva worshiped with Jasmine:

As per the legend, the Linga is worshiped with jasmine which is called as Mallika in Telugu language and, therefore, the name of the Lord Shiva is Mallikarjuna.

Mallikarjuna Temple -its great past:

Inscriptional evidence dating back to Satavahana dynasty from the 2nd century have been found. Modern additions are of the times of King Harihara 1 of Vijayanagara Empire.

The temple is now being maintained and administered by the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

The most convenient way to visit the temple is by hiring a taxi from Hyderabad.

5.   Kedarnath Temple or Kedarnath Dham in Himalayas in Uttarakhand

Kedarnath jyotirlinga

Kedarnath temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, is nestled in the mighty Himalayas in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand near river Mandakini. Kedarnath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva while Badrinath temple also situated in Uttarakhand is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. 

Kedarnath dham which is the part of Char Dham pilgrimage yatra is at the height of 3584 meters (11,755 ft.) Kedarnath Temple’s distance from Rishikesh is 223 km(139 miles). The  distance from Rudryaprag to Kedarnath in Uttarakhand is about 76 kms by road. As the terrain is hilly, the travel time is approximately 2 hours. Enroute Rudraprayag to Kedarnath, you will pass through Sonprayag and Gaurikund. 

From Haridwar to Kedarnath you will come across Rishikesh, Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Gaurikund (via Agastyamuni, Guptakashi, Sonprayag and Kedarnath. 

At Rudraprayag, river Mandakini which emanates from Kedarnath peaks joins Alaknanda river at Rudraprayag. The trekking route to Kedarnath is about 16 km from Gaurikund to Kedarnath. At Kedarnath, the devotees can perform Abhishek with Ghee.

Legend of Kedarnath Temple:

Legend has it that the Pandavas after defeating Kauravas had felt guilt of killing so many Kauravas in the battlefield and, therefore, they sought blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. The temple was initially built by the Pandavas.

Lord Shiva eluded Pandavas and took refuge at the Kedarnath in the form of a Bull. Shiva dived into the ground, leaving his hump at the surface. His arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his locks at Kalpeshwar. 

Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit:

Kedarnath and the four pilgrim sites viz. Tungnath, Rudranath, Madmaheshwar and Kalpeshwar together make the Panch Kedar pilgrimage circuit. 

Both the Kedarnath Temple and Badrinath temple in the Himalayas in Uttarakhand State are believed to be established by Aadi Guru Shankaracharya.

Kedarnath Temple is opened for devotees only in the month of April(Akshaya Tritiya) & November (Kartik Purnima)

During the winters, Ukhimath Temple becomes the abode for Lord Kedarnath which provides opportunity to devotees to connect spiritually by meditating in the serene and peaceful environment without any tension or hindrance. 

In 2013, Kedarnath temple was worst affected in flash floods.

6.  Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Kashi Vishwanath jyotirlinga

Kashi Vishwanathar temple Varanasi, out of devotion is called by different names such as- Baba Kashi Vishwanath, Baba Vishwanath Varanasi, Banaras Kashi Vishwanath or India Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It was built by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in the year 1780. 

The original Baba Kashi Vishwanath Varanasi temple  was initially known as Adi Vishveshwar Temple which was destroyed by Mughal emperors several times. 

Baba Vishwanath Temple Varanasi is the most famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga. India Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi has the main deity i,e, Vishwanath which means the Ruler of the world. 

Inside Kashi Vishwanath temple there are five mandapas. At Baba Kashi Vishwanath varanasi the lingam is situated in Garbhagriha.

Presently, the Kashi Vishwanath temple is being managed by the board of trustees set up by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi Trust provides free food/prasad to the devotees of Banaras Kashi Vishwanath Temple every day in the temple courtyard. 

Kashi Vishwanath Corridor Project was launched in 2019 to prevent crowding at the temple and the bank of Ganges.

7. Trimbakeshwar or Trayambkeshwar Temple  in Maharashtra

Trimbakeshwar jyotirlinga

Trimbakeshwar or Trayambkeshwar temple is in Nashik district of Maharashtra. The Trimbakeshwar temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas temples in India. Trimbakeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The origin of the sacred Godavri river is near Trimbakeshwar. 

The present Trimbakeshwar or Trayambakeshwar temple was built by Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao after it was destroyed by Aurangzeb.

The Trimbakeshwar temple is located at the picturesque place between three hills viz. Brahmagiri, Nilagiri and Kalagiri.

At the Trimbakeshwar or Trayambkeshwar temple, the Lingas are bedecked with a jeweled crown over Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.

8. Bhimashankar in Maharashtra

Bhimashankar jyotirlinga

Bhimashankar Temple, an ancient shrine is situated in the Sahyadri Hills in the State of Maharashtra, India. It is a well-known Jyotirlinga temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. 

Bhimashankar temple is located in the village of Bhorgiri about 50 kms north west of Khed, near Pune in the Bhimashankar forest range, a wildlife sanctuary. The Wildlife sanctuary is a part of the Western Ghats. Bhimashankar is the source of river Bhima.

The Bhimashankar temple is situated on a mountain, 110 kms away from Pune.

The Bhimashankar temple was built in the Nagara style of architecture during the 18th century by Nana Phadanvis of Peshwa.

9. Vaidyanath jyotirlinga,Baidyanath Temple in Deoghar, Jharkhand

Vaidyanath jyotirlinga

Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga or Baidyanath Temple is situated in Deoghar, Santhal Pargana, Jharkhand. The unique feature of Vaijnath or Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga is that it is worshiped also as a Shaktipeeth, shrine of Shiva’s wife, Goddess Shakti as well. According to Shiva Purana, Vaidyanath  is considered as a shrine combining Shiva and Shakti. 

The legend has it that Ravana was performing penance in the Himalayas so as to propitiate Lord Shiva and offered nine of his heads as an offering to Shiva. 

Shiva, pleased by his act, gave darshan and cured the injured Ravana and hence the name Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga or Baidyanath Temple. 

The Vaidyanath temple is at a distance of 7 kms from Jasidih Railway Station.

At Baidyanath Temple Shrawan mela is organized in the months of July and August.

10. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple in Dwarka, Gujarat

Nageshwar jyotirlinga

Nageshvara jyotirlinga or Nageshwar jyotirlinga temple finds mention in the Shiva Purana. Nageshwar jyotirlinga location- It is in Dwarka, State of Gujarat, India. 

At Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, the legend goes that here demon Daaruka imprisoned a devotee of Shiva called Supriya. Lord Shiva appeared for the rescue of His devotee Supriya and defeated the demon. A self-manifested Shiva Linga appeared here and is worshiped by the devotees. 

The Nageshwar jyotirlinga temple timings for darshan are 6.00 am in the morning. It remains open for darshan till 12.30 pm. The Nageshwar jyotirlinga temple timings for evening darshan are- 5.00 pm till 9.30 pm in the night. 

To visit Nageshwar temple, the nearest Airport is Jamnagar and the nearest Railway stations are Okha and Dwarka.

11. Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga in Tamil Nadu

Rameshwaram jyotirlinga

Ramanathaswamy temple or Rameshwar or Rameshwaram has its grandeur in sculptures and corridors that make it a cynosure of all eyes. 

The deity is in the form of a Jyotirlinga. Idol of Nandi bull, statue is 17.5 feet tall.

Goddess Vishalakshi, Parvathavardhini, Lord Vinayak & Lord Subrahmanya are the other deities worshiped here.

The legend goes that Lord Rama after defeating Ravana wanted to worship Lord Shiva and asked Hanuman to bring him a Linga. As it was delayed, Goddess Sita made a Shivalinga from the sand and the same is worshiped as Ramalingam at Rameshwaram and the Lingam brought by Hanuman is worshiped as Vishwalingam.

At Rameshwaram, there are 22 Theerthams or holy water bodies inside the temple where devotees bathe for atonement.

Devotees can visit the Holy shrine of Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga by train. Railway station is about 1 km away and the bus stand is about 2 kms away. Madurai International Airport is about 179 kms away.

12. Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple, in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra near Ellora

Grishneshwar jyotirlinga

The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple is a national protected site, around 2 kms away from the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Grishneshwar means the Lord of compassion. The architecture of the temple is South Indian style and the structures are made in red coloured stones.

The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple was destroyed by the Delhi Sultanate in the 13th and 14th century. It was constructed in the current form by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in the 18th century.

The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple is constructed with black stones. People visit the temple to worship the Lord Shiva.

Conclusion:

Men, women and children, across the country nurture an intense desire to visit atleast once in their lifetime, all the 12 Jyotirlingas and seek blessings of Lord Shiva.

Since time immemorial, the temples have been deeply associated with Hindu culture and traditions. Apart from the places of worship of deities, these temples & the rituals have been deeply embedded in the people’s way of life. 

Spiritual recognition of the 12 Jyotirlingas:

The concept of maintaining a harmonious and conducive atmosphere for progress, growth and development is deeply ingrained in the Hindu culture. 

The path of spirituality, devotion and meditation, as per Hindu culture does bind all to righteousness. In Hinduism, the 12 Jyotirlingas act as a giant anchor, paving the way for the devotees to remain stuck to the noble path eternally.

12 Jyotirlingas’ worship is not only for the benefit of an individual’s wellbeing but also for the society at large.

The large congregations of the masses at the twelve Jyotirlingas, deeply resonate the religious and spiritual fervor round the year.

FAQs:

Q.1. How many Jyotirlingas are there in India?

Ans.1 There are 12 Jyotirlingas in India.

Q.2. What is the significance of 12 Jyotirlingas in Hindu religion?

Ans.2.  Worshiping 12 Jyotirlingas acts as a beacon of light and hope for the devotees. Their staunch faith, dedication and devotion, constantly guide and control their mind to tread on the path of righteousness to ensure public good.

Q.3. Where is Kedarnath Temple?

Ans.3. It is in the State of Uttarakhand.

Q.4 Where is Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga?

Ans.4 It is in Nasik district of the State of Maharashtra.

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