india
My Gorgeous Nation India

Picture
The 12 Jyotirlingas
(Barah Jyotirlingas)

SAURASHTRE SOMANAATHAM CHA SHREESHAILE MALLIKARJUNAM
II UJJAYINYAM MAHAKALAM OMKARE AMARESHWARAM II
PARALYAAM VAIDYANAATHAM CHA DAAKINYAM BHIMASHANKARAM
II SETHU BANDHE TU RAAMESHAM NAAGESHAM DAARUKAVANE II
VAARAANASYAANTHU VISHVESHAM TRYAMBAKAM GAUTHAMEETHATE
II HIMALAYE TU KEDAARAM GHRUSHNESHAM CHA SHIVALAYE II
ETAANI JYOTIRLINGAANI SAAYAM PRAATAH PATHENNARAHA II
SAPTHA JANMA KRITAM PAAPAM SMARANENA VINASYATHI II

1          Somnath in Saurashtra (Kathiawad), Gujarat
2          Mallikarjun in Shrishailam  or Srisailam AP (also listed as a Shakti Pitha site).
3          Mahakal in Ujjain OR Mahakalaswar at Ujjain, MP state.
4          Omkar in Mammaleshwaram  (at Omkareshwar on the river Narmada, MP)
5          Vaijnath in Parli (Vaidyanath at Deogarh, Bihar)
6          Bhima Shankar in Dakini northwest of Poona, in Dhakini, Maharashtra
7          Rameshwaram in Setubandha, TamilNadu
8          Nagesh, Naganath/Nageshwar, in Darukavana, Maharaashtra
9          Vishweshwar/ Viswanath in Banaras/Varanasi , UP
10         Trimbakeshwar near Nasik on the banks of river Gautami/Godavari , Maharashtra
11         Kedarnath/Kedareshwar in Utterkhand Himalayas, UP
12         Ghurmeshwar in Shivalaya OR Grineshwar in Visalakam, near Ellora caves, Mah
One who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening washes all the sins committed
 in the previous 7 births and attains all the powers and Siddhis.

SOMNATH
Chandra Devan worshipped Siva at this spot to rid himself of the curse of Daksha.

The story :
Chandra Devan is considered to have built this temple & hence the name Somanathar to the Lord.  Chandran fell in love with Rohini, one of the daughters of Dakshan.  But Dakshan wanted to give all his daughters in marraige to one able & loving person, who would treat all his daughters equally.  Chandran got married to all, but his love for Rohini was too great & the other daughters complained to their father.  Dakshan cursed Chandran to dwindle in power & beauty.   When Chandran begged forgiveness, Dakshan said that only prayers to Lord Siva, could free him of the curse.  Chandran came to Somanath & prayed to Lord Siva, doing penance for about 4,000 years.  Lord Siva appeared & said that he could not fully absolve him of the curse.  Instead, he would wane in 15 days, but would grow again.  This is the story said for the waxing & waning of the moon, producing new moon & full moon.  

MALLIKARJUNA
Sthala Puranam:
When Siva and Parvathi decided to find suitable brides for their sons, Ganesha and Muruga argued as to who is to get wedded first.  Lord Siva bade that the one who goes round the world in Pradakshinam could get married first.  By the time Lord Muruga could go round the world on his vahana, Lord Ganesha went round his parents 7 times (for according to Sastras, going in pradakshinam round one's parents is equivalent to going once round the world (Boopradakshinam).  Lord Siva got Siddhi & Buddhi, the daughtersof Viswaroopan married to Lord Ganesha.  Muruga on his return was enraged and went away to stay alone on Mount Kravunja in the name of Kumarabrahmachari.  On seeing his father coming over to pacfy him, he tried to move to another place, but on the request of the Devas, stayed closeby.  The place where Lord Siva and Parvathi stayed came to be known as Sri Sailam.  Lord Siva visits Lord Muruga on Amavasai day & Parvathi Devi on Pournami.

The temple is situated facing East.  The centre mandapam has sveral pillars, with a huge idol of Nadikeswarar


MAHAKALESHWAR
The theertam opposite the Mahakaleshwarar temple is known as Koditheertham & it is said that the colour of the waters of this theertham keeps changing.  The Moola lingam is very small & is located underground.  The lingam in the top level is called Ongareshwarar.  The Kali Devi who gave darshan to Vikramaditya is known by the name Harasiddhi Matha.

There once lived a brahmin in Avanti, who had four sons, who were great devotees of Lord Siva.  Dushanan, a demon was giving trouble, disturbing all good & religious activities.  The brahmins from all over the land gathered with the four sons & performed pooja to Lord Siva.  The spot where they had taken mud to make the Lingam, had become a huge pond.  When Dushanan came to disturb their pooja, Lord Siva rose from this pond as Mahakaleshwarar & destoryed Dushanan.  On the request of the brahmins, Lord Siva gave darshan to devotees at this sthalam, one of the Jyotir Linga sthalams.

OMKARESHWAR / MAMLESHWAR 
 The Jyotir Lingam split into two, and there are two Siva lingams, Omkareswarar & Amaleshwarar (Amareshwarar).

Mandhata was a great Emperor of the Ishvaku clan who ruled this land.   He did great penance in this land & there is an ashram called Mandhata ashram here.

This spiritual and all powerful jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva is at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. There Lord Shiva came in the form of Mahakal out of the linga that split and killed the demon. Therefore all those who pray to this linga will never fear death and if their faith is true they will be out of the chakra of life and death.

The Omkareshawar temple  is built in the North Inidan style of architecture, with high spires.  Devotees consider worship to Panchamuga Ganesha, to be very auspicious.  There is a shrine for Annapoorani.  Siva Lingas of various sizes are sold in great numbers in this place. It is said that once, sage Naradar during his visit to the Vindyas, sang the praise of mount Meru to Mount Vindhya.  On hearing this, Mount Vindhya prayed to Lord Siva to gain in importance.  Lord Siva blessed him & appeared here as Omkareshwarar & Amaleshwarar and gave the boon of grwoing, but without hindering Siva devotees..  But the Vindhyas did not stop growing, and even obstructed the sun and the moon.  Sage Agasthyar subdued its growth by saying it should not grow till he gets back there.  He never went back & hence the growth was arrested. Omkareshwar is situated on the Mandhata hills in Madhya Pradesh, known in ancient times as Shivpuri.  The temple dates back to the Krita Yuga.  River Narmada flows here around the Mandhata hill in the form of an Om (Omkaram).

BAIDYANATH DHAM / VAIDYANATHAM
The legend
of Vaidyanathan goes something like this. The demon lord from the Ramayan, the devout  Ravana meditated hard in order to invoke Lord Shiva, and requested him to come over to Sri Lanka, in order that his capital may become invincible. It is said that he attempted to lift the holy mountain, Lord Shiva's abode, Mount Kailash and take it with him to his capital; however Shiva crushed him with his finger, and Ravana prayed to him and sought his mercy, after which Shiva gave him one of the twelve Jyotirlingams with the condition that if it was placed on the ground it would take root immediately and hence Ravana had to carry it back on his trek to his capital. Varuna the God of water, entered Ravana's belly, and caused him to feel the need to relieve himself.

Vishnu then came down in the form of a lad and volunteered to hold the Jyotirlingam as he relieved himself. But before Ravana could return, the young lad placed the jyotirlingam on the ground to which it became rooted. A disappointed Ravana offered severe penances to Shiva here, and cut off nine of his heads as a part of his repentance. Shiva revived him and joined the heads to the body, like a Vaidya or a physician, hence this Jyotirlingam goes by the name Vaidyanath. The same legend holds at Gokarnam in Karnataka.

BHIMASANKARA
Entrance into the inner chamber
where resides the holy Shiv Linga.

Bhimashankaram is located at Bhuvanagiri village in Puna district of Maharashtra.  River Bhima has its source here.

This temple in the Nagara style is an old and not a very large structure.  The jyotir Lingam is situated on top of the Sahyadri hill temple.  Lord Siva is considered to be taking rest here after the Trpurantaka samharam.  The sweat drops of Lord Siva were converted as steam &  is running as Bhimarati.  New structures have been added.  There are two idols of Nandideva.  One idol is old, while the other is of fairly recent addition.  There is a theertham & a well behind the temple structure.  The Bhimashankarar Lingam measures around one and a half feet & quite narrow.  The Goddess is worshipped as Kamalaja.

Shivaji, the Maratha ruler had made rich endowments for the maintenance of the temple.  The moola lingam is at a lower level. There is another temple at Guwahati in Assam known as the Bhimshankaram and there is a belief that this is the real Bhimashankaram.  Bhima was an asura, son of Kumbakarnan & Karkadi.  On hearing that his grandfather, uncles & father had been killed by a brahmin & kings, he set out to destroy them.  He undertook severe penance & got immense might and power from Lord Brahma.  King Priyadarman of Kamarupa was also put under prison.  Priyadarman & his wife Dakshinadevi prayed sincerely to Lord SIva everyday.  Fearing that they would overcome him, Bhima asked them to stop their prayers.  When they refused, he set out to kill them.  Lord Siva rose out of the Lingam that they had been worshipping & slayed Bhima.  On the request of the Devas, Lord Siva resides here under the namam Bhimashankarar.

RAMESHWARAM
The temple at Rameshvaram, besides being considered a Dhama, is also one of the twelve sacred Jyotir Linga sites. These sites, located throughout the sub-continent of India, are where the god Shiva is said to have manifested as a towering column of fire.  The jyotirlingam was worshipped by Lord Rama to atone the sin of killing Ravana.  Hanuman flew to bring the Linga from Kailasa, for Lord Rama to wroship.  As it was getting late, Rama worshipped the Lingam that was made of sand by Sita Devi. This Lingam worshipped by Lord Rama is known as Ramanathar.   When Hanuman returned he was disappointed that his Lord had not used the Lingam that he had brought.  Lord Rama pacified Hanuman & named this Lingam Kasi Viswanathar.  Devotees have to worship Kasi Viswanathar before worshipping Ramanathar.

This shrine is located at the extreme south eastern point of the Indian peninsula.  The sethu bridge was constructed to link this land to Lanka for the Varnarams to reach Lanka.  This island temple resembles the Panchajanya (Vishnu's conch) and like the Tamil letter 'OM'.

Rameswaram is famous for the many teerthams.  There are a total of 51 teerthams, 22 of them situated within the temple.  Pilgrimage is considered  complete with a bath in the Agni teertham. These waters are considered to have medicinal qualities.

It is the custom to worship at Dhanushkodi before going to Rameshwaram.  Several spots in this island are associated with Lord Rama.  The Kothandarama temple stands at the spot where Vibeeshanan sought refuge to Rama.

NAGANATH / NAGESHWAR
Nageshwar is located near Dwaraka, on the way to Beti Dwaraka.  There once lived a rakshasa called Daruka, who was extremely cruel and tortured the good ones.  But yet he was a great devotee of Lord Siva. A Siva devotee, Supriya who was a merchant reached the  Darukavanam, where Daruka lived with his wife Daruki, while sailing with his goods.

Daruka asked Supriya to teach him the path of devotion to Siva, the norms of performing pooja and penance.  Fearing that Daruka would use any additional powers gained by such penance, to bad use, Supriya refused to guide him.  The enraged Daruka began to torture Supriya.  Supriya however  was staunch is his faith in the Lord and was unmoved by any torture.  Lord Siva was pleased and appeared and killed the demon Daruka.  Daruki, Daruka's wife, now started giving even more trouble than her husband.  Siva vanquished her too and gives darshan to his devotees at this place as Nageshwar.

The Nageswara Jyotirlingam is claimed to exist in 3 places in Dwaraka, in Audhgram, near Almora in Uttar Pradesh.

The Sivalingam is facing South, with the Gomugam facing East.  There is a story for this position.  A devotee by name Naamdev was singing bhajans in front of the Lord.  Other devotees asked him to stand aside and not hide the Lord.  To this Naamdev asked them to suggest one direction in which the Lord does not exist, so that he can stand there. The enraged devotees carried him and left him on the southside.  To their astonishment, they found that the Linga was now facing South with the Gomugam facing East.

VISHWANATH
Kasi is amongst the holy spots for visit by the Hindus.  It is believed that a visit to Kasi ensures liberation & hence pious Hindus seek a visit during their lifetime.  The Lord himself has declared this spot as his Royal residence.  Goddess Parvathi's mother felt ashamed that her son-in-law had no decent dwelling.  To please Parvathi Devi,  Siva asked Nikumbha to provide him with a dwelling place at Kasi.

On the request of Nikumbha, Aunikumbha a brahmin made Divodas construct a temple for the Lord here.  The pleased Lord granted boons to all his devotees.  But Divodas was not blessed with a son.  The angered Divodas demolished the structure.  Nikubha cursed that the area would be devoid of people.  When the place was emptied Lord Siva once again took residence here permanently.  The Lord along with Parvathi Devi once again started blessing his devotees with wonderful boons. 

Parvathi Devi was so pleased that she offered food (annam) to one and all and hence is worshipped as Annapoorani.  The Lord himself is seen with a bowl in his hands asking for annam from the seated Devi at the Devi's shrine adajacent to Viswanathar's shrine.  This is considered to be one of the 52 Sakthipeedams (the place where Parvathi's left hand fell, when her corpse was cut by Mahavishnu's sudarsana chakram).

The Siva lingam is placed in a square shaped brass plated pit.  Devotees are permitted to offer  worship such as abhishekam with holy ganga water, garlanding the Lord, karpoora aarathi, etc. personally to the swaymbhu lingam.

There are several smaller shrines around the main shrine.  The head of each ghat has a Siva linga shrine.  The Lord can be seen placed on a pedestal at every location in the city, even if there is not shrine as such. Behind the temple is situated the temple of Dhundhiraja Ganapathi.

TRYAMBAKESHWAR
In the center of this picture, you can see the

forms of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

The Triyambakeshwarar temple is located in the Triyambak town near Nasik.  The temple is in the Indo Aryan style.  The temple structure with excellent adornments of idols and sculptures, is surrounded by a massive stone wall.  There is a huge bull in front of the temple & another marble Nandi is seen on the inside.  The sculptural adornments continues even to the garbagriha with human, animals and yakshas carved . From the Jyotir Lingam at the centre of the garbagriha, trickles the Ganges continuously throughout the year.  Sometimes, it is said flames issue forth as also a rumbling sound. 


KEDARNATH
Kedarnath, at  the  head  of  the Mandakini River, is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu.

The temple,  believed to be  very  ancient, has been continually  renovated  over the  centuries.  According  to  legend, Lord   Shiva   wished   to   elude   the Pandavas, and  took refuge in Kedar- nath in the form of a bull. On being followed, He dived into the ground, leaving behind His hump of the surface. The hump is worshipped in the temple of Kedarnath in the conical Shiva pinda form.

The remaining parts of  the  body  are worshipped at four other places --

the arms (Bahu) at Tungnath,

face (mukh) at  Rudranath, 

navel (nabhi)  at Madmaheshwar

and hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar. 

Together with Kedarnath, these places are known as the Panch Kedar.

The lingam  at Kedarnath, unlike  its usual form, is  pyramidal and is regarded as one  of  the 12 Jyotirlings.

*  Kedarnath is situated in the Himalayan slopes in the Gharwal district of Uttar Pradesh.  The uniqueness and greatness of this temple sees mention in the vedas, ithihaasaas, epics.
The term Kedara for the Lord denotes

vThe Lord who holds the holy Ganges in his matted locks & allows it to flow evenly to the world. 
 It could also mean the mark that is left on the Lord's head from the time when Arjuna got the Paasupathastram. 

This shrine is located at an elevation of 11,735 feet above sea level.  The region of the Himlayas, where the shrine is located is known by several names such as Gandhamadana parvatham, Sumera parvatham, Pancha parvatham, etc.  (Pancha parvatham, for this is the spot of five sacred peaks namely Rudra Himalayas, Vishnupuri, Brahmapuri, Udayagiri & Swargarohini.

The exterior of the temple is rather simple, but the interior is adorned with marvellous sculptures.  In the garba griha is an irregular shaped conical rock which is about five feet by four feet.  Lord Siva in the form of jyotirlingam is worshipped here as Lord Kedareshwar.  It is believed that the jotirlingam is actually the rump of the bull, which was the form that Lord Siva assumed, when the Pandavas tried to reach him to atone the sins of the Kurukshetra war.  Since it was not time designated for humans to worship the Lord here, Lord Siva tried to go away in the form of a bull.  It is believed that temple structure that exists till date was actually the one constructed by the Pandavas.

The sannadhi of the Lord is facing South.  There are the idols of Kedaragowri, Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi, Vinayagar, Veerabadrar, Kaarthikeyan, Nandi.. The shrine is covered by snow for 6 months in a year (closed from Oct-Nov upto Apr-May).  It is believed that this is the time when the Devas are worshipping the Lord.

There is mountain path called Sorga Vaasal, through which the Pandavas, Sankaracharyar are supposed to have gone through.  he river Mandakini flows down from near this area  

GRINESHWAR
12 Grineshwar in Visalakam, near the Ellora caves, Maharashtra state.
There has to be legend associated with every temple. This one too is no exception.  There was once a devout woman Kusuma who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and she regularly immersed a  Shivalingam in a tank, as a part of her daily ritual worship. Her husband's first wife, envious of her piety and standing in society murdered Kusuma's son in cold blood. An aggrieved Kusuma continued her ritual worship, and when she immersed the Shivalingam again in the tank, her son was miraculously restored to life. Shiva is said to have appeared in front of her and the villagers, and ever since then the shivalingam here has been worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlinga Ghusmeshwar.

Jyotir Lingam exists at Devagiri near Ellora.  The Lord is known by several names - Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara, Grushmeswara, Grishneswara There once lived a pious brahmin & his wife.  He was a great devotee of Siva.  He was not blessed with a son.  At the persuasion of his family, he got married to Kusuma, in order to give him a son.  Kusuma was an even greater devotee of Lord Siva.  Everyday she would make one Siva Linga, worship it and then immerse it in the temple tank.  Soon she was blessed with boy baby.  The first wife was seeting with jealousy & ill treated Kusuma.  Putting all her faith in the Lord, Kusuma bore all the sufferings humbly.  When the boy grew older, they planned his wedding.  The jealous first wife, killed the boy with an axe.  

Kusuma was deeply grieved, yet did not stop her daily worship of Lord Siva.  She continued to make the Lingam, worshipped & immersed it in the tank.  To the surprise of one and all, her son rose out of the water one day, coming back to life.

Lord Siva apperaed before them & blessed them.  He declared that he would give darshan to devotees in his Jyotir Linga swarupam at the same spot where Kusuma immersed the Lingams.

This Jyotir Lingam is considered to exist in two places, one at Devagiri near Ellora & the other at the Kailasa temple at Ellora.

Jyotirlingam near Ellora


india