Worship of shivalinga is considered the prime worship for the devotees of Lord shiva. Worship of all other forms is considered secondary. The significance of the shivalinga is that It is the resplendent light (flame) form of the Supreme - solidified to make the worship of It easier. It represents the real nature of God - formless essentially and taking various forms as It wills.
It is believed that Lord Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, thus the special reverence for the Jyotirlinga. There is nothing to distinguish the appearance, but it is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment.
1 Somnath in Saurashtra
2 Mallikarjun in Shrishailam
3 Mahakal in Ujjain
4 Omkar in Mammaleshwaram
5 VAIDYANATHAM in Parli
6 Bhima Shankar
8 Nagesh, Naganath
9 Vishweshwar/ Viswanath
10 Trimbakeshwar near Nasik
11 Kedarnath/Kedareshw ar
12 Ghurmeshwar in Shivalaya
“Saurashtre Somanathamcha Srisaile Mallikarjunam|
Ujjayinya Mahakalam Omkaramamaleswaram ||
Paralyam Vaidyanathancha Dakinyam Bheema Shankaram |
Setu Bandhethu Ramesam, Nagesam Darukavane||
Varanasyantu Vishwesam Tryambakam Gautameethate|
Himalayetu Kedaaram, Ghrishnesamcha shivaalaye||
Etani jyotirlingani, Saayam Praatah Patennarah|
Sapta Janma Kritam pApam, Smaranena Vinashyati||”
Those who chant the Dwadasa JyotirLinga Stotram or prayer will attain salvation and enlightenment and be released from this cycle of human existence with all its travails. By worshipping the Lingas, people of all castes, creeds and colour would be freed from all difficulties. By eating the holy offering made to these Lingas (Naivedyam) one would be rid of all the sins instantly.
As a matter of fact, we do the Darshan of the JyoritLingas as a part of our daily life. Sun, Fire and Light etc., are indeed a part of that great Light. “ Om tatsavituvarenye” these magical words of the Gayatri mantra or chant invoke this Supreme light only. By chanting this powerful Mantra, humans can obtain divine power to their life-light or Atmajyothi.
The aura of the Sun rays and the various benefits that can be derived there from is indeed a difficult task to describe. This gorgeous life-light is the only thing that is responsible for the activity in the universe. We salute this life force.
“Agni” or fire is a great light. For all the activities on the earth, “Fire” is the pivot.Deepajyoti or light and its greatness, is known to all of us, and we offer our prayers. Let us celebrate the glory of light. Light is offered a place of pride at welcome celebrations and on all auspicious occasions.
Shubham karoti kalyanam Arogyam Dhanasampada
Shatru buddhi vinashaya Deepa Jyoti namostute
This light removes the darkness from the lives of one and all. Darkness means ignorance and it is destroyed by this light. The natured light of God makes all our wishes come true, when we take a Darshan of it.
Thus, by taking a Darshan of these twelve JyotirLingas, the auspicious air surrounding them and the holy pilgrimage, will bring happiness, peace and satisfaction to all.
Somnath, the first in the twelve jyothirlingas, is located at the Viraval port - Prabhas Pattan in Saurashtra - Gujarat .
This religious place of worship was earning the produce of ten thousand villages. Among the twelve JyotirLingas (Lingas of light) Somanath is considered as the primary one. Because this deity is supposed to be Swayanbhu (self-born) and is always awake, lakhs of devotees visited this temple and considered themselves blessed and to have achieved piety. Offerings made by crores of devotees amounted to crores of rupees which kept the Temple always rich and abundant. Along with this, the Sun worshipping foreigners (probably Parsis) also contributed a pat of their profits to the temple treasury which kept its coffers full, all the time.
Chandra, (moon) was the first one to receive the benefic boon of Shri Somanath of Saurashtra, the Shiva pilgrimage, Agni Teerth and Surya Teerth. Then Chandra built a beautiful golden temple and put a glorious JyotirLinga in it, the first of its kind in India .
According to Prabhaskhand of Skanda Purana, the legend goes like this:
Chandra married the twenty seven daughters (stars) of Daksha, but was very partial and showed lot more love and affection to rohini. The remaining twenty six wives not only felt neglected but also insulted. They were disappointed with their husband and went and complained to their father. Daksha was upset to see his daughters suffer thus, and tried twice to convince his son-in-law to change himself, but in vain. He put a curse on him that Chandra would be “decreasing” in size.
The Devas (Celestial gods) were very sad at Chandra’s plight and went to Brahma. The Creator, in order to find out a remedy for this condition of Chandra and get a solution for redressing the curse. Brahma told them that the only way out was to worship Vrishabhdhwaj Shankar at Prabhas Kshetra Mahamrityunjay. Chandra went on a penance for six months and prayed to Lord Shiva, at the end of which Shankara appeared before him. He gave Chandra the boon that in a month, he would grow for fifteen days in one half and in the other half he would keep loosing one Kala (shade) per day and decrease in size. He was pleased with the Devas and in order to increase the prestige of the place, Lord Shiva Himself came to be known as Someshwar, meaning famous moon (Soma). The Devas established a Someshwar Kund there. By taking a holy dip in this pond or Kund, it is believed that one would obtain release from all the sins.
Chandra or moon is also called Som. That is why this JyotirLinga has become famous as Somanath. Chandra or moon looks very bright here. Therefore, this place is also known as “Prabhasapattana”.
Srisailam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. This whole area is full of forests of Kadali, Bilva trees, mountain ranges and Patalaganga ( Krishnaveni River ).
Puranic History of Srisailam
When Kumar Kartikeya returned to Kailash after completing his trip around the earth, he heard about Ganesha’s marriage from Narada. This angered him. In spite of being restrained by his parents, he touched their feet in obeisance and left for Krounch Mountain . Parvati was very distraught at having to be away from her son, implored Lord Shiva to look for their son. Together, they went to Kumara. But, Kumara went away a further three Yojanas, after learning about his parents coming after him to Krouncha Mountain . Before embarking on a further search for their son on each mountain, they decided to leave a light on every mountain they visited. From that day, that place came to be known as JyotirLinga Mallikarjuna. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati visit this palce on Amavasya (No moon day) and (full Moon day) Pournami, respectively. Visiting this JyotirLinag not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires.
Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw. There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.
On the banks of river Kshipra, the city of Ujjain exists in Madhya Pradesh. It is also known as Indrapuri Amaravati, and Avantika. Because of the number of golden towers of several temples, this town is also known as “Swarna Sringa.”
One of the seven cities of deliverance or salvation, Avantika Nagar has 7 Sagar Teerthas, 28 teerthas, 84 SiddhaLingas, 25-30 SivaLingas, Ashtabhairav, Ekadasa Rudrasthana, temples for hundreds of deities, Jalakund and monuments are there.
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.
According to the legend :
Once there lived a Brahman who had four sons, who were all devotees of Siva. The wicked demon king Dushan came to Avantika after attaining a boon from Lord Branhma and started torturing the erudite Brahmanas of Avantika. But the Brahmanas who were very engrossed in their worship of Shiva did not even flinch.
The demon king sent all four of his henchmen with the orders that they have to ensure that no Vedic Dharmanushtan activities are to take place. The harassed people came running to the Brahmans seeking help. The Brahmanas assured the people and pacified them. They immediately started praying to Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, just as the Demon king tried to attack the Brahmanas, the earth would split open near the Parthiv Murty with a loud noise and huge crater would form there. In this manner, Siva assumed the colossal form of Mahakal and appeared. He ordered the wicked Demon from going anywhere near the Brahmanas. But the wicked Demon king did not pay heed. As a result, Siva burnt him to ashes with just one grunt. Seeing Lord Siva in this Avatar, Brahma, Vishnu and Indra and other Devas came down and prayed to the Lord and pleased Him.
The grandeur of Mahakaleswar is indescribable. Chandrasena, the king of Ujjain was not only a scholar, but also a staunch devotee of Lord Siva. Once his friend Maheswari’s follower Manibahdra gave him a beautiful gemstone called Sundara Chintamani. It shone so bright and beautiful when Chandrasen wore it on his neck, that he looked even more glorious than the celestial gods. It would make even them feel jealous. Once, some kings went and asked Chandrasen to part with the jewel and Chandrasen promptly refused to do so. This angered the kings, who in turn attacked Chandrasena’s kingdom. When Chandrasena realized that he was surrounded by the enemy he sought the help of Mahakal. Bhagawan Shiva was pleased with his prayers and showed him a solution for his problem. Just then, by chance, a Brahman woman wandered near Mahakal, carrying her child with her, and suddenly became a widow. An illiterate boy once saw the king performing Puja in the stone and installed it in his empty house. He imagined it to be an incarnation of Shiva and started worshipping it. The boy became so engrossed in prayer and chanting, that he even forgot all about food. When his mother went to call him, any number of calls had no affect on him. He was silently praying. Angered by this, the mother who was still bound by worldly love, threw away the SivaLinga. She destroyed all the thing of worship. The boy was very sad at what his mother had done. He started to pray to Shiva with his entire concentration. Siva was not long in coming to the rescue of his devotee. This stone SivaLinga which was brought by the son of a cowherd soon became adorned with gemstones and turned into a JyotirLinga. After singing in praise of Lord Siva, when the boy returned to his house, he was amazed to find a beautiful palatial home instead. Thus, with the Grace and Blessings of Lord Siva, the boy became rich and led a very happy life.
In the mean time, the enemy kings who attached ceased Chandrasena’s empire, began to fight among themselves. They began to say king Chandrasena is a Siva devotee and ujjain itself is the city of Mahakal . It is therefore, impossible to anyone to win it. They then decided to extend a hand of friendship to king Chandrasena and together they all worshipped Mahakal.
At that time, the Vanara King Hanuman appeared there. He told the kings that only Siva could grant salvation to mankind and nobody else. Siva can be pleased with worship done even without chanting any mantras. The example of the son of cowherd is for us. Then Hanuman looked at Chandrasena with eyes filled with affection and benevolence and disappeared.
OmkAreshwar is a beautiful self manifest (swayambhu) linga. From the Vindhyanchal mountain range in Madhya Pradesh, river Narmada , turns westward and meanders in that direction. The deep wide river looks like it has assimilated into itself all the sins and sorrows of the humans and releasing them from these. This river Narmada , which flows rippling from the mountains, is also known as “Reva”. The smooth, round pebbles found in this river are called “BanaLingas”.
“ Narmada ke Kankar, UtteShankar” is the belief of the devotees. That is how, Narmada is also known as “Shankari” river.
On the banks of river Narmada , there is a huge island on which the fourth of the JyotirLinga “Omkaram Amaleshwar” is situated. This island and the river are shaped like “ OM ” and that is how it derives its name. It is a natural phenomenon. The devotees who go round the temple consider themselves blessed because they are doing a Parikrama or Circumambulation of Omkara itself and Darshan of the holy JyotirLinga. The Narmada banks and the island are extremely beautiful. The beauty of Nature here is seen to be believed.. The houses perched on the terraced green, strong mountains, the temple, KotiTeerth located in the waterfalls and valleys like Chakrateerts are some of the places to be seen. One can see very big fish and also crocodiles in these waers. There are many trees with beautiful creepers all over them. Groups of monkeys live on these trees. There are a variety of birds. The temple towers look bright and shiny in between. The whole atmosphere echoes with the the sound of “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is here that Lord Sankara has taken the forms of “Omkareshwara” and “Amaleshwara”, as JyotirLinga.
According to the legend :
In the ancient times the Demons defeated the gods or divines. Indra was worried. The Danavas or Demons have wrecked havoc in all the three worlds, i.e., Trilokas. In order to empower the Devas once again, Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirmaya Omkararoop. He came out of the nether world or Patala. Lord Shankar came out in the form of Linga on the banks of river Narmada . The gods or Devas have worshipped the Linga which made them powerful once again. This time they were able to destroy the demons and re-acquiesced their empire in Heavens.
Brahma and Vishnu also lived in the same place as Omkar Amaleshwar. That is why on the banks of Narmada Brahmapuri, Vishnupuri and Rudrapuri are built which are known as Tripuri Kshetra. The Amareshwar JyotiraLinga is situated in Rudrapuri.
Later on, in the mythological era or Purana Kala, Yavanaswa Putra Mandhata came into power here with the blessings of Indra. He served Lord Shankara with great devotion. Lord Shankara was pleased with him. The waters of Narmada emanated from the Arghya (holy water) or Jalahari of the Omkar JyotirLinga and flown through the mountains, downward and later on flow unseen. Narmada joins the deep-water spring located near the Linga idol of Omkareshwar. It flows there eternally. When some bubbles appear at the bottom of this spring, it is said, that Lord Shankar is pleased.
Parali is an ancient village located near three rivers, Brahma, Venu and Saraswati, because of the presence of one of the twelve JyotirLingas of Shankara, it has become famous. This village is also known as Kantipur, Madhyarekha Vaijayanti or Jayanti.
Yogeshwari of Ambejogai was married to Lord Vaidyanatha of Parali. But by the time the marriage party reached, the auspicious time of the wedding had passed. As a result the people of the marriage party turned into stone statues. Yogeshwari was waiting away from Parali. This is one story that is frequently heard there.
When the Gods and Demons made their combined effort in Amrit Manthan (Churning for Nectar), fourteen gems emerged. There were Dhanwantari and Amrit Ratnas in it. When the Demons rushed to grab Amrit, Lord Vishnu hid the Amrit and Dhanwantari in the Shiva Linga of Lord Shankara. Just as the Demons tried to touch the Linga, flames started emanating from the Linga. The scared Demons ran aay. But when devotees of Lord Shankara touched the Linga, there was a free flow of Amrit from the same. Even today, devotees touch the Shiva Linga as a part of taking Darshan. Here, there is no discrimination between caste, creed or color. Anyone can come and visit this place. As the Lingamurthy is supposed to have Amrit and Dhanvantari, it is also known as Amriteshwar and Dhanvantari.
The mountains and jungles and the rivers, are full of useful medicinal herbs. That is why Parali JyotirLinga is also known as Vaidyanatha. It is here that Lord Vishnu successfully helped the Devas to obtain Amrit. Therefore, this place is also known as ‘Vaijayanti”.
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.
Bhimashankaram is located at Bhuvanagiri village in Puna district of Maharashtra.
Purana of Bhimshankar Temple
In the ancient times demons by the name Tripurasura become drunk with power. They harassed every resident of Swarg (Heavens), Narak (Hell) and Patal (Nether world). The divines were very scared. Then Lord Mahadev Himself came to destroy Tripurasur. Lord Shankar assumed colossal proportions. Tripurasur feared when they saw this Rudravatar. The fight went on. In the end, Lord Shiva killed the wicked demon and set the there worlds, Tribhuvan, free. Lord Shankar in the form of a huge hunk (Virat) was very tired. In order to get some rest, He settled here on the high area of the Sahyadri mountains sweat started pouring down from His huge body in thousands of streams. It all joined together and collected in a pond or Kund. The river that started from there is known as Bhima, which can be seen even today. Devotees then prayed to Bhimakaya Rudra thus: “In order to save the good people, reside here forever”. Bholenath listened to the devotees and stayed there as a JyotirLinga forever.
There was once a demon called Bhima, whose parents were Kumbhakarna and Karkati. Demon Bhima was harassing and torturing one and all. He was hell bent in the path of destruction of Dharma. Once he asked his mother about the details of his father. His mother told him that his father Kumbhakaran is the younger brother of Ravana, the king of Lanka, who was slain by Sri Ramchandra.
“I am yet to see Lanka; I met your father on some mountains near by, and after you were born, I continued to stay here itself. After my husband was killed, only my parental place became a refuge of sorts for me. My parents are Pushkasi and Karkat.. When they went to eat up Agastya the saint, he burned them to ashes with the power of his meditation and Tapas”.
When he heard the story, he was at once eager to take revenge against all the divines along with Hari. He began a severe penance or Tapas, and a pleased Brahma granted him the bon of becoming a very strong man. With this new strength, he captured all the divines including Vishnu and Indra. They were in his control. After this he won a victory over the great Shiva devotee Kamarupeshwar. Kamarupeshwar did not stop his worship of Shiva even when in prison. He performed the Puja with the same devotion, observing all the procedures his wife also joined him in this.
On the other hand, Brahma and Vishnu along with all the other divines started praying Shankara and of asking for deliverance from the wicked Demon King. Shiva assured the divines and sent them home after pacifying them.
Bheema learnt from someone that Kamarupeshwar was making preparations to kill him. On hearing about this, he went straight to the prison and started inquiring into the process and aim of his worship. When he learnt the truth from the king, the wicked Demon called Lord Shiva names and insulted Him and ordered the king to worship Bheema himself instead. When Kamarupeshwar resisted, Bhemma attached the Linga with his sword. Before he could strike, Shiva appeared there. A severe fight ensued in which bows, arrows, swords, axe, the disc and trident etc. were used. In the end, at the request of Narada , Lord Shankar blew a fire and burned the wicked Demon Bheema to ashes. Thus the Devas were released from their sorrows. After this, the divines who were present there, and the saints together pleaded with Lord Shankara to remain there. In view of the welfare of the world, Shiva decided to stay there in the incarnation of Bheema Shankar JyotirLinga.
Self-emanating Mahadev, in the shape of a chariot, the mountains have become the abode of BheemaShankara. . It is also known as Rathachala. One Bhatirao Lakadhara (wood-cutter) used to live here. Once he was cutting some wood. Just as he struck the tree with his axe, blood started to flow from the earth. Bhatirao got scared and ran away. Soon, a crowd had gathered there. Someone brought a milk cow and made it stand there. The milk that came from the cow’s udders stopped the bleeding of the earth. Surprising everyone, a glowing JyotirLinga of Shankara, emanated from the earth. People built a temple there and installed the JyotirLinga in the temple. This temple eventually came to be known as Bhima Shankara temple.
Rameswaram is a town in Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on an island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is less than 40 kilometers from the Jaffna Peninsula ,
According to a legend, Rama worshiped Shiva in the form of a Shiva Lingam, while returning to Ayodhya. This lingam was made of earth by Rama's consort, Sita. It is also said that Hanuman was sent to bring an image of Viswanathar from Banares.. Rama thought that Hanuman will be late in returning. Therefore, Rama is said to have offered worship at a pre-chosen auspicious moment to the Shivalingam. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam.
To comfort the disappointed Anjaneya, Rama had Anjaneya’s lingam (Visvalingam) also installed by the side of Ramalinga, and ordained that rituals be performed first to the Visvalingam.
The blessings of Lord Shiva, Rama killed all the demons including Ravana and became victorious. Any one who takes a Darshan of the JyotirLinga at Rameshwar and sprinkles the holy water of Ganga , attains salvation, Kaivalya Moksha or Nirvana.
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. The waters at all these places is sweet and has a taste of its own.
SRI NAGANATH in Darukavanam
Nageshwar is located near Dwaraka, on the way to Beti Dwaraka.
Purana of Aunda Nagnath temple
Pandavas came here during their Vanvas (life in forests) build a hermitage for themselves. Their cows used to go to the same river bank to drink water. After drinking wate, milk used to automatically flow into the river as if the cows were offering to the river. One day Bhima saw this miraculous event. He promptly told Dharmaraja about the same. Then Dharmaraja said, “Surely, some great God must be living in this river”. Then the Pandavas started removing the water from te river. The middle part of the river was so hot that the water there was boiling.
Bheema lifted his mace attacked the river thrice. The water gave way instantly. At the very moment , instead, blood started oozing like a spring. Lord Shankara’s Linga could be seen as the JyotirLinga.
On the west coast in an area of 16 Yojanas Daruka and Daruk need to live. The hermits were tired of being harassed by Daruk, and others.. So they went and sought refuge with Orvamuni, who in turn cursed the Demons that they would be destroyed. The Devas launched an attack on the Demons.. Now, the Demons began to worry. Daruka, who received some special boons from Parvati, lifted the entire forest, took it away on the path of the sky and put it in the middle of the sea. Only then, did the Demons relax and continue to live there. They used to go by boats and capture the hermits and imprison them the island. Once, there was a Shiva devotee by the name Supriya who was among the prisoners. He never ate food or drank water without worshipping Shiva. He continued to do Puja even while in prison.
When the guards informed their chief about his, he ordered that Supriya be put to death. Then Supriya prayed to Lord Shankara for his life. The Lord appeared before him immediately and destroyed the entire group of demons including their families. The Lord laid open the entire island for all the four classes of people for living. On the other land, Parvati here granted a boon to Daruka. As a result, at the end of that era, only Demons would be created and she would rule Daruka. Lord Shiva accepted this. Then Shiva and Parvati stayed there. Shiva once again assumed the form of JyotirLinga, with the name Nageshwar and Parvati was known as Nageshwari.
SHRI VISHWESHWAR in Varanasi
The holy city of Varanasi stands on the banks of river Ganga . It is popularly believed that Varanasi is the oldest city of the India . Benares is also known as Kaasi because it is beleived that Supreme brilliance shines there, and lights the way to salvation (Kas - to shine). In the heart of the city is the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, which enshrines the Jyotirling of Lord Shiva in its full majesty.. Shiva is also called as Vishweshwara or Vishwanath. Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara meaning the Lord or Ruler of the World. Millions of Hindus flood this place to get the blessings of Lord Shiva and gain spiritual solace.The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is also called as the Golden Temple due to 15.5 meters high golden spire.
The Vishweshwara Jyotirling has a unique significance in the spiritual history of India . It is said that the merits earned by a single visit to Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir is equivalent to glimpses of other Jyotirlingas, spread in various parts of India .
According to legend, the Lord himself declared this spot as his Royal residence. It is said in the scriptures than this place was forever destroyed when the earth was submerged under water (Pralaya). It is so because Lord Shiva holds this place by his Trishul. Those who come and die here attain liberation. It is said that Lord Shiva gives the Tarak Mantra to the one’s who is going to die, here.. He resides here and is the giver of liberation and happiness. The one who prays and worships Vishweshwar with devotion attains all his desires and one who incessantly recites his name attains all siddhis and finally gets liberated..
The original Jyotirlinga of Kashi Vishwanath is a not available. The old temple was destroyed as a result of the mughal invasion and Aurangazeb built a mosque in place of it. The ancient idol of Vishweshwar is situated in Jnana-Vapi. The new temple was built at a distance from the original one by the Queen of Indore Queen Ahilyabai. Other than this Shri Karpati constructed a new temple near the Ganges . One can stand a bit far from the place and worship Lord Vishweshwar.
Benares is also considered to be one of the Shakti Peethas of India. It is believed that the left hand of Sati fell at Varanasi , and that Annapurna or Visalakshi represent the Shakti Peetham here.
Shri Trimbakeshwar Temple is located at a distance of about 30-km from Nasik in Maharashtra near the mountain named Brahmagiri from which the river Godavari flows. Trimbakeshwar Temple is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva and as the source of the river Godavari . Just as Ganga is known as Bhagirathi and is one of the most important river in North India, in the same way, Godavari is also known as Gautami Ganga and is the most sacred river in South India.
Ahalya’s husband, Gautama was doing Tapas or penance on the Dakshina Mountain . It did not rain there for a hundred years and the land was drying up and life forms disappearing. Seeing these conditions of drought, the residents, the saints, and all the birds and animals fled from there. Saint Gautam did great Mangalik tapas through Pranayama for six long months. Varuna, the deva of rains, was pleased and appeared before Gautama, who inturn asked for water. At the behest of Varuna, Gautam dug a hole on his hand. With the help of Varuna’s miraculous power, it filled with water.. Varuna said, “Due to the power of your penance, this hole would be an unending source of water “Akshya”. It will become famous by your name. It will augment all holy rituals like Yagna, Dana, Tapa, Homa Shraadha, and worship of Gods. After this water was thus acquired, the saints started making preparations for the Yagna and the production of “Breehika”.
Once when the disciples of Gautama went to fetch some water, from that waterhole, just then some of the saints wives were also there for the same purpose. They insisted on taking water first. The disciples of Gautama called Gautama’s wife. She intervened and allowed her husband’s disciples to fetch water. The wives of the Rishis felt insulted at this and complained to their husbands and while doing so added a few lies here and there. The great saints at once started the worship of Ganesha as an intial Puja in sheer scheme of vendetta. When Ganesha appeared before them and granted some boons, they asked for the power of being able to insult and chase away Gautama, as an indesirable person from there. Ganesha understood that Gautama was very helpful by nature, tried to persuade the saints from getting their way. He knew that, but for Gautama’s efforts, the saints would be craving for even a drop of water. But the saints would have none of it. Reluctantly, Ganesha had to accode to the request of the adamant Rishis, but warned them to be ready to face the consequences of angering a great saint like Gautama.
One day, when Gautama went to get some “Breehi”, he saw a thin, starving cow there. Just when he lifted a little twig to show away the cow, the cow fell dead. The other Rishis caught the opportunity and accused Gautama of slaying a cow “Gohatya”. They insulted him and said that he must leave that palce immediately in order to save it from the aftermath of Gohaty. Gautama became very sad and left feeling greatly depressed.
Gautama wanted to absolve himself of the sin of Gohatya “Cow slaughter”. He thus resorted to the method of Tapas recommended by great saints. He began the difficult task of bringing Ganga water with the power of his Tapas, take bath with that water and chant Shiva mantras a crore times and worship the Parthiva Linga. Shiva was pleased and told him that he is indeed a pure soul and a great Mahatma. A great injustice was done to him, Shiva told him that he could ask for some boons. Gautama asked for Ganga , which would be of great help to the humanity. Shiva gave Ganga to Gautama, in the form of Tatwarupa Avishishta Jal. After taking the water, Gautama requested Shiva to absolve him of the sin of cow slaughter. Shiva purified Gautama and wanted to go back to His abode after that. But he told the Lord to remain on the earth till the end of Kaliyuga. Ganga prayed to him and requested him to stay on the earth, along with his consort Parvati. For the welfare of the world, Lord Shiva granted Ganga her wish.
Ganga wanted to know from Lord Shiva, how people will know about her greatness. The Rishis said that until Brihaspati stays on the Simha Rashi (Leo), we will stay here on your banks and will take a holy dip in your waters thrice a day before taking the Darshan of Shiva. Only by doing so, would we able to war our sins. On hearing this Lord Shiva and Ganga stayed there. Ganga has also come to be known as Gautami and the Linga came to be known as Tryambaka.
The river which gave away cows as Go-Daan became Godavari . Ganga who came on the request of Gautama became Gautam Ganga. That was the auspicious time of Brahmagiri, the time in between, when the Kurmavatar was over and before the assumption of Varahavatar, the Sanghiparva. The planet Guru (Jupiter) was in the sign of Simha (Leo), Magha Shuddha Dashami, Thursday after noon, when Gautami Ganga was born.. The area of Brahmagiri too looks like the Lingamurthyy. From the tip, the water of Gautami Ganga flows.
Among the twelve JyotirLingas of Bhagwan Shankara, the one at Kedarnath is located in the snow-covered area of the Himalayas . This JyotirLinga can be visited only during six months in a year. From the month of Vaisakha to Ashwin (Ashwiyaja) is the time when pilgrims can make the journey to this. The rest of the year it is too cold and the Himalayas are covered in snow. Therefore, the Kedarnath temple remains closed for pilgrims.
During the month of Karthik, due to snowfall, Sri Kedareshwar idol is brought out of the temple after lighting a ghee lamp, “Nanda Deepa”. Then the temple is closed for the winter. From the month of Karthik to Chaitra Sri Kedareshwar’s abode is shifted to the Urvi Math, which is in the valley. In the month of Vaishakh, when the temple doors are opened the lamp “Nanda Deepa” still keeps burning. People come to see this glorious lamp and the Shiva devotees consider themselves blessed.
Purana of Kedhar
During the war between the Kauravas and Pandavas, their own kith and kin gor killed. In order to absolve themselves of this sin, the Pandavas went for a pilgrimage. But Lord Vishweshwara was away in Kailasa in the Himalayas . On learning this, the Pandavas, left Kashi. They reached the Himalayas via Hardwar . They saw Lord Shankar from a distance. But Lord Shankara hid from them. Then Dharmaraj said: “Oh, Lord, You have hidden yourself from our sight because we have sinned. But, we will seek You out somehow. Only after we take your Darshan would our sins be washed away. This place, where You have hidden Yourself will be known as Guptkashi and become a famous shrine.”
From Guptakashi (Rudraprayag) , the Pandavas went ahead they reached Gaurikund in the Himalayas valleys. They wandered there in search of Lord Shankara. While doing so Nakul and Sahadev found a he-buffalo. It was unique to look at.
Then! Bhemma went after the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was clever and Bheema could not catch it. But Bheema managed to hit the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo had its face hidden in a crevice-in the earth. Bheema started to pull it by its tail.. In this tug-of war, the face of the buffalo went straight to Nepal , leaving its hind part in Kedar. The face of the buffalo is known as Pashupatinath in Nepal .
On this hind part of Mahesha, a glorious JyotirLinga appeared. Lord Shankara appeared from this great light. He appeared before the pandavas. By getting a Darshan of Lord Shankar, the pandavas were absolved of their sins. The Lord told the Pandavas, “From now on, I will remain here as a triangular shaped JyotirLinga. By taking a Darshan of Kedarnath, devotees would attain piety”. Near Kedarnath, there are many symbols of the Pandavas Raja Pandu died here, when he tried to make love to Madri. This place is famous as Pandukeshwar. The tribals here perform a dance called “Pandav Nritya”. The mountain top where the Pandavas went to Swarga, is known as “Swargarohini”. When Darmaraja was leaving for Swarga, one of his fingers fell on the earth. At that palce, Dharmaraj installed a Shiva Linga, which is the size of the thumb.
To gain Mashisharupa, Shankara and Bheema fought with maces. Bheema was struck with remorse. He started to massage Lord Shankara’s body with ghee. In memory of this event, even today, this triangular Shiva JyotirLinga is massaged with ghee. Shankara is worshipped here in this manner. Water and Bel leaves are used for worship.
When Nar-nrayan went to Badrika village and started the worship of Parthiva, Shiva appeared before them. A few days later, a pleased Shiva granted them some boons. Nar-narayan wished that for the welfare of the humanity, Shiva should remain there in his original form. Granting their wish, in the snow-clad Himalayas , in a place called Kedar, Mahesha himself stayed there as a Jyoti. Here, He is known as Kedareshwara.
Grineshwar in Visalakam, near the Ellora caves, Maharashtra state.
On this holy pilgrimage of the JyotirLingas of Lord Shankara, the last one, with out which the pilgrimage will not be considered as complete, is the twelfth JyotirLinga, of Grishneshwar.
Purana of Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga
Once the king went hunting. While hunting, the king killed the animals living with the Rishis and munis too. Seeing this, the irate Saints cursed the king, as a result of which, his entire body was infested with insects.
Now, smitten by this curse, the king began to wander in the forest. His throat was parched because he was very thirsty. There was, alas, no water to be found anywhere. At last he found a water hole made by the hooves of a horse. Just as the king started to drink water a miracle occurred. The king’s body was rid of all the insects. The king did severe penance (Tapa) there. Lord Brahma was pleased and appeared before him and installed Parashta Teerth there. He also created a huge and holy lake near by.
This Brahma sarovar later came to be known as Shivalay.
There is a story about Shivalay also:
Once Shiva and Parvati were playing chess on Mount Kailasa . Paravti checkmated Shiva. Shankara played to be angry at this and went away southward. He went and stayed at a place on the Sahyadri range, where there is cool breeze. This place was given the name of Maheshamauli Bhainsmal. Parvati came there looking for Shankar. She won the heart of Shiva in the form of a hill mountain tribal girl. They both spent some time there happily.
This forest came to be known as Kamyakavana. Lord Mahesha forbade crows from entering the area of Maheshamouli or Bhainsmal. One day, Paravti was very thirsty. Shankara pierced earth with his trident and got the water of Bhogavati from the Patal (Nether world). This is the Shivalay.
The Shivalay expands a little ahead where Shivanadi (Shivanand) meets it and a little more further, Yelaganga also flows just near it. When Shiva and Parvati were staying here pleasently, a hunter by the name Sudhanwa came there looking for a prey. A miracle happened and Sudhanwa turned into a woman. At this he did a severe Tapa there. Shankara was pleased and appeared. Actually, Sudhanwa was a woman by birth in his previous life. Thus, Shankara from that very curse of becoming a woman turned Sudhanwa into Yelaganga river. Thus, Punya Sarita Yelaganga was born in the Kamyawana. Later, it was to become the bathing place called Dhara Teerth or ‘Sita’s Snangriha’ and flow from a higher place and goes through Verul village.
Once Parvati, was about to fill her hair parting with vermillion and saffron, in Kamyavana. She kept them in her left palm and mixed the water of Shivalay in it. With the right thumb she started mixing them both. Then a miracle occurred, vermillion turned into a ShivaLinga and a great light appeared in it. Parvati was awe struck at this. Then Lord Shankara said: “This Linga was hidden in the Patala.” And removed it with his trident.
Then a bubble emerged from the earth with water (Kashikhand) .
Parvati kept that glorious light in stone Linga and installed it there. This Purna (complete) JyotirLinga is called Kunkumeshwar. But since Dakshayani created this Linga with the function of her thumb. She gave it the name of Grishneshwara (Grishna means friction).
On the southern mountain called Deva Parvata, a great scholar Brahmin Sudhama of Bharadwaja gotra, used to live with his beautiful, devout wife called Sudeha. They had no children.. They were very unhappy because of this. They were harassed and tortured by the sly remarks of their neighbours. But Sudhama, an intelligent person, did not care about these. One day, Sudeha threatened to commit suicide and sister Dushma, married her husband. Both of them promised that there would be no jealousy between them.
After sometime, Dushma gave birth to a son. And eventually even that son married. Both Sudhama and Dushma, were nice to Sudeha. But jealousy did get the better of Sudeha. Once she picked up Dushma’s son who was sleeping by her side and killed him.. She threw the body into the lake near by.
In the morning there was a big hue and cry. Dushma’s grief knew no bounds. Even then, she went to the river to do her routine worship. She made her usual hundred Lingas and began worship she saw her son standing near the lake. Shiva was pleased with her worship and revealed the truth about Sudhas forgiveness of Sudha’s sin. She indeed requested Shiva to remain there itself for the welfare of the humanity. Shiva acceded to her request and remained there with the name of Dhushamesha.
India is a country with thousand race, the land of thousands beliefs and the abode of a million Gods. The most important pilgrim centres particularly for the Shaivities are 12 Jyotirlingas which are situated in different parts of India . Reference of these Jyotirlingas is also found in the Shiv Purana. They are called jyotirlingas because Lord Shiva is said to have revealed himself to his devotees in the form of Jyoti (light). Even today devotees are said to have got his darshan in the form of jyoti at these places. The 12 jyotirlinga shrines, popularly known as the Dwadasa Jyotirlinga shrines are considered to be very holy by the Hindus. The Jyotirlingas have held an important position in the Indian belief system. The Jyotirlinga temples have a rich tradition and each temple has a legend attached to it. They are situated in different parts of India .