A Jyotirlinga is a shrine where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a fiery column of light. The 12 Jyotirlingas manifests Lord Shiva’s divine presence and purity.
From the peak Kedarnath Jyotirlinga to bottom south coast Rameswaram Jyotirlinga, the journey is an eternal bliss. It awakes our deepest sense of spirituality.
Millions of Hindus breathe in and breathe out Lord Shiva’s chant every day. They believe that he is the destroyer of pain; he’s the protector of their sins; he’s the supreme being; and, he’s the ultimate reality.
Every Lord Shiva devotee dreams of embarking on such a spiritual journey because It’s a lifetime experience.
Join us on this journey to discover the 12 sacred shrines of Lord Shiva and experience the profound beauty and power of these magnificent temples.
What Is Jyotirlinga?
‘Jyoti’ means ‘radiance.’
Lingam means ‘the mark or sign of the Almighty.’
Jyotirlinga is a devotional representation of Lord Shiva. It’s a shrine where Lord Shiva is worshipped.
According to the Shiva Puranam, there are 64 original jyotirlinga shrines in India, 12 of which are the most sacred and called the Maha Jyotirlingam.
The Birth of Jyotirlingas
Brahma and Vishnu are in a serious battle of words. They argue over their superiority. Then enters Lord Shiva. To settle the issue, he throws a challenge.
Shiva transforms into an infinite pillar of light and instructs them to find the end of light on both sides. Some stories say, Lord Vishnu slipped into his Varaha Avatar, and Lord Brahma hopped on Hamsa to chase the task. But both fail. Vishnu accepts his failure, whereas Brahma lies about it. Angered Shiva curses Brahma for his dishonesty. And hails the honest Vishnu.
It is believed that Shiva appeared as shimmering Jyotirlingas in different places when he turned into a huge, infinite pillar of light. This is how Jyotirlingas are believed to be formed.
The 12 Jyotirlingas In India and their Location
They spread across different directions in India. In West India, we have 5 Jyotirlingas, In East and Central India, we have 3 lingas, In North and South India, each region has 2 lingas.
Below is a list of 12 Jyotirlinga with name and place:
- Somnath – Gir Somnath In Gujarat
- Nageshwar – Daarukavanam In Gujarat
- Bhimashankar – Pune In Maharashtra
- Trimbakeshwar – Nashik In Maharashtra
- Grishneshwar – Aurangabad In Maharashtra
- Vaidyanath – Deoghar In Jharkhand
- Mahakaleshwar – Ujjain In Madhya Pradesh
- Omkareshwar – Khandwa In Madhya Pradesh
- Kashi Vishwanath – Varanasi In Uttar Pradesh
- Kedarnath – Kedarnath In Uttarakhand
- Rameshwaram – Rameswaram Island In Tamil Nadu
- Mallikarjuna – Srisailam In Andhra Pradesh
The 5 Jyotirlingas In West India
1. Somnath Jyotirlinga – Gir Somnath In Gujarat
Somnath temple is considered to be the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas – the Aadi Linga.
Located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Gujarat, it is one of the most worshipped pilgrimage sites in the country. The temple architecture resembles the Chalukya style.
According to a Shiva Purana Legend, the moon was married to all 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Among the 27 wives, Moon has special devotion towards Rohini. Prajapati can’t stand Moon’s negligence towards other wives. He curses the moon to lose all its radiance. Then Moon worships Lord Shiva to regain his charm and beauty. On his request, Lord Shiva assumed the name Somnath and resided here eternally.
2. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga – Daarukavanam In Gujarat
Nageshwara is also known as Nagnath Temple. It is located on the route between Gomati Dwarka and Bait Dwarka Island on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat.
There is a special scenic attraction at this temple. Featuring a 25mt tall statue of Lord Shiva, a large garden, and unobstructed views of the azure Arabian Sea, it fascinates visitors. Also, this Jyotirlinga holds a special power. It is believed that those who worship at this temple become free of all poisons.
According to a Shiva Purana narrative, a demon Daaruka attacks Shiva devotee Supriya. Along with other residents of Darukavana city, Daaruka captures Supriya. Then Supriya chants the holy Shiva Mantra – Om Namah Shivaya. The other captives follow her too. Agreed, Daruka charges to kill Supriya but Lord Shiva appears and kills Daaruka. Thus the Nageshwar shrine came into being.
3. Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga – Pune In Maharashtra
Bhimashankar temple shrines on the banks of the Bhima river. The temple has a beautiful black rock structure. The Sanctum made up of both old and new Nagara-style buildings. It demonstrates the exceptional craftsmanship of ancient Vishwakarma sculptors.
According to a tale in the Shiva Purana, one day Bhima comes to the realization that he is the son of Kumbhakarana, who Lord Vishnu killed in his Lord Rama Avatar. In anger, Bhima takes an oath that he will take revenge for his father’s death.
Bheema, after gaining immense power from Lord Brahma, creates havoc, which worries the Lords, who then turn to Shiva. Shiva descends into the earth and turns the demons into ashes. Thereafter, the place is hailed as Bimashan into ashes.
4. Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga – Nashik In Maharashtra
Trimbakeshwar is located at the birth place of the Godavari River, in Brahmagiri mountain. It is 30km away from Nasik. The temple has a unique shape. In place of a shrine, there is a void between three pillars. The three pillars represent three Gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwari.
Gautam Rishi and Godavari plead with Shiva to reside at Godavari’s birthplace according to the Shiva Purana. In response to their request, Shiva is hailed there as Trimbakeshwar.
5. Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga – Aurangabad In Maharashtra
Grishneshwar is near the famous caves of Ajanta and Ellora. It is located in a village called Verul, which lies 20 km from Daulatabad, near Aurangabad. It has several other names like Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara, Grushmeswara and Grishneswara. This temple was built by Ahilyabai Holkar, the Queen of the Malwa kingdom. She also rebuilt the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
A couple lives on Devagiri Mountain in the Puranas named Sudharm and Sudeha. They’re childless. The wife Sudeha marries her sister Ghushma to Sudharm. Newlyweds are blessed with a son. Sudeha grows jealous of them slowly. The woman throws the child into the lake one day. After that, Ghushma starts praying to Lord Shiva, who ultimately saves the child. Since then Lord Shiva has taken the name Ghushmeshwar.
Jyotirlingas In East And Central India
6. Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga – Deoghar In Jharkhand
Vaidyanath temple is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Jharkhand. It is also known as Vaijnath or Baidyanath. Vaidyaani is a highly powerful place. It is believed that if people visit this place they will be relieved of their worries and miseries and will receive moksha or salvation.
According to one Shiva Purana legend, Ravana, who is a dedicated devotee of Lord Shiva, meditates for years for Shiva’s darshan. One day Shiva turns himself in as a shivalinga and orders Ravana to go to Sri Lanka, but he cannot put down the shivalinga until he reaches Sri Lanka. Then Vishnu interupts Raavana, and pursuades him to keep the shivalinga at rest. That’s how Vaidyanath shrine came into existence.
7. Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga – Ujjain In Madhya Pradesh
It is one of the popular Lord Shiva temple in central India. Rounded by the dense Mahakal forest, the Mahakaleshwar Temple is located on the banks of the Kshipra River.
According to the Puranas, a five-year-old boy Shrikar takes inspiration from King Chandrasena of Ujjain, and starts worshipping a stone. Even though many people tried to distract him, his devotion kept growing day by day. Finally, Lord Shiva himself appears and assumes here.
Jyotirlingas In North India
8. Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga – Khandwa In Madhya Pradesh
Omkareshwar means ‘Lord of the Om Sound.’ It is located on an island called Shivapuri in the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the most sacred places in India.
According to the Puranas, the Devas and Danavas (Gods and Demons) engaged in a fierce war, resulting in victory for the Danavas. Then the Devas prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva came in the form of Omakareshwar and defeated the Danavas. Since then, people have worshipped it as the Omkareshwar shrine.
9. Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga – Varanasi In Uttar Pradesh
Kashi Vishwanath is the most popular among the list. It is situated in Kashi and is alternatively referred to as the Golden Temple of Varanasi. The temple was built by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar.
It is believed that it was the first Jyotirlinga that showcased its supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s orbit and flared towards heaven. People believe that Lord Shiva lives here and gives them liberation and happiness. Though this temple has been rebuilt several times, it has never lost its charm and significance.
10. Kedarnath Jyotirlinga – Kedarnath In Uttarakhand
Kedarinath temple is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in India. It is located in the Rudra Himalayan Range, at an altitude of 1200 feet. The temple remains closed for 6 months of the year due to extreme cold weather and snowfall. Pilgrims before reaching Kedarnath, first visit Gangotri and Yamunotri to take holy water, which they offer to the Kedarnath Shivalinga. By bathing in the Kedarinath jyotirlinga, believers believe that one can eliminate all misfortunes, bad luck, and unhappiness.
According to the puranas, after the severe penance of Nara and Narayana – the two avatars of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva took up his permanent abode at Kedarnath.
Jyotirlingas In South India
11. Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga – Rameswaram Island In Tamil Nadu
Rameshwaram temple is located on the island of Rameshwaram, off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu. It is called the varanasi of the south. This is the southernmost jyotirlinga in the country. People who visit Rameshwaram also visit Dhanushkodi beach, from where Lord Rama built Ram Setu.
According to a Ramayan tale, Ram on his way to Sri Lanka stopped at Rameshwaram. Ram was drinking water on the seashore when Shiva appeared and said, “You are drinking water without worshipping me.” Ram then made a linga out of sand and worshipped it and asked for its blessings to defeat Ravana. Lord Shiva blesses Ram and then turns into a linga and resides there.
12. Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga – Srisailam In Andhra Pradesh
The Mallikarjuna Temple is located on the Shri Shaila Mountain, on the banks of the Krishna River. It is also known as the South’s Kailash. In this temple, both Mallikarjuna (Shiva) and Bhramaramba (Devi) presided.
According to the Shiva Purana, Lord Ganesha marries before Kartikeya. Kartikeya flees to Kraunch Mountain in anger. All the gods try to convince him, but to no avail. Despite Shiva and Parvati traveling to the mountain, Kartikeya is stubborn. Then Shiva permanently resides there in the form of Mallikarjuna.
These 12 Jyotirlingas in India are not just ancient temples, but a source of faith, devotion, and spiritual awakening for millions of Hindus across the world. The journey to these sacred shrines is an experience like no other. It takes us on a pilgrimage of the soul to explore the magnificence of Lord Shiva’s divine presence.