The 12 Jyotirlingas of India: The Temples of Lord Shiva For Spiritual Journey


Lord Shiva- the destroyer of the universe is known by many names and worshipped in many forms by Hindus. Being one of the most revered deities of the Hindus, Shiva’s Jyotirlinga is highly revered as well.

A Jyotirlinga is a shrine where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of ‘Jyotirlingam’. Jyotirlingam is a radiant symbol of the Supreme being. The word Jyotirlingam is comprised of two words, Jyoti means ‘light’ and lingam means ‘ an aniconic representation of a phallus symbol of the Almighty.’

It is believed that Lord Shiva first illustrated himself on the Earth as Jyotirlinga, thus marking its significance. It is believed that lingam represents the infinite nature of Lord Shiva. Here is a list of highly auspicious and holy Jyotirlinga located in many cities of India-

Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat


This temple is known as one of the most significant Jyotirlingas across India. This is also known as the Shrine Eternal located near Veraval in Kathiawad District.

Apart from its reverence, there is a story behind how this Jyotirlinga came into existence here. According to Shiv Purana, the moon was married to 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Out of the 27, the moon loved his wife, Rohini the most. Observing his ignorance towards other wives, he was cursed by his father-in-law to lose all his radiance.

The worried moon along with his wife, Rohini came to Somnath and prayed ‘Sparsa Lingam.’ This made Lord Shiva happy and he blessed the moon to regain his shine and radiance. On his the request, Lord Shiva resided there eternally and became famous by the name Somnath.

Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga, Andhra Pradesh


This temple, also known as Kailash of the South is situated near the banks of Krishna river in the hilly town of Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh.

According to Shiv Purana, as Lord Ganesha was married before Kartikeya. This made Kartikeya angry and he went away to Kraunch mountain. Despite all efforts of consolation by Gods, Kartikeya was still angry.

To this ultimately, Lord Shiva and Parvati themselves traveled to the mountain but Kartikeya turned them away. So, Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirlinga and resided on the mountain by the name of Mallikarjuna. Mallika means Parvati and Arjuna means Shiva himself.

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh


Situated on the banks of Kshipra river in the dense Mahakal forest in the holy city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. The deity here is also known as dakshinamurti as it is facing southwards.

According to the Puranas, a five-year-old boy Shrikar was fascinated by King Chandrasena’s devotion to Lord Shiva. He took a stone and started worshipping it as Shiva. Contended by his devotion, Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirlinga and resided in the forest of Mahakal.

Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga, Madhya Pradesh

Situated in the holy island of Shivpuri in Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh is famous for the shape of the island. The shape of the island looks like the sacred sign

According to Hindu’s holy book, once there occurred a war between Gods and Devils in which devils had won. This gave gods a major shock and they started praying to Lord Shiva. Pleased with their prayers, Lord in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga appeared and defeated the devils.

This temple is of great significance.

Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Jharkhand


It is located at Deogarh the Santal Parganas of Jharkhand. It is said that worshipping this temple, people may attain salvation.

According to the legends, the ten-headed Ravana meditated and asked Lord Shiva to come over Sri Lanka. He even tried to take Mount Kailash with him but Lord Shiva crushed it. In turn, Lord Shiva gave him one of the jyotirlingas on the condition that it will get rooted to the ground once kept on the ground.

Midway, Ravana felt an urge to relieve himself. Then, Lord Vishnu came in form of a lad to help him and placed the jyotirlinga on the ground. As self-punishment Ravana cut his nine heads and offered to Shiva. Lord Shiva fortified him and also joined his heads to the body. Since then it was named Vaidyanath(healer).

Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga, Maharashtra


Located in the Sahyadri ranges near the city of Pune, it lies on the banks of the Bhima river. As the name suggests, this linga is related to Kumbhkaran’s son, Bhima.

It is said that when Bhima came to know about his father’s defeat by Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama. To avenge Lord Vishnu, Bhima prayed Lord Brahma, got powers and started creating havoc in the world. To end the tyranny, gods requested Lord Shiva to descend Earth and put an end to it.

Shiva defeated Bhima and thus was requested to abode at the place. He resided there in the form of  Jyotirlinga.

Rameshwar Jyotirlinga, Tamil Nadu


It is the southernmost of the 12 Jyotirlingas. It is believed that Lord Rama on his way to Sri Lanka took a halt at Rameshwaram and drank water on its seashore. A celestial proclamation was heard of drinking the water without worshipping the place.

So, to seek blessings to defeat Ravana, Lord Rama made a linga of sand and worshipped it. As a result, he got blessings from Lord Shiva and turned linga into Jyotirlinga and resided there for eternity.

Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, Gujarat


According to Puranas, Shiva’s devotee, Supriya along with several others were seized by the demon, Daaruka in his capital Daarukavana. She suggested everyone recite ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. This enraged the demon and he wanted to kill Supriya.

Then, Lord Shiva defeated Daaruka to save his devotee. So, this is how this Jyotirlinga in Gujarat came into being.

Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi


Located near the holy river Ganga, this place is considered to be the dearest of the lord. It is believed that Shiva himself dwells in this place. Also, it is said that people who die naturally at this place, Lord Shiva himself blow mantras of moksha e. salvation in the ears of the dead.

Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga, Nasik


Situated near Brahmagiri mountains, this temple is considered as the source of the Godavari river. According to the Shiv Purana, Gautam Rishi was blessed with a pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains. Out of jealousy, other gods had sent a cow in the premises and Rishi killed it by mistake.

Also, to purify the premises, he worshipped Lord Shiva and the Lord asked Ganga to flow and purify it. After this, all gods requested lord to mark his residence there. Shiva then resided beside Ganga in the form of Jyotirlinga.

Kedarnath Jyotirlinga, Uttarakhand


One of the holiest pilgrimages in India is located on the mountain Kedar on the Himalayan Range.

Moreover, it is believed that Shiva pleased with self- imposed incarnations of Nar and Narayan- two incarnations of Lord Vishnu, decided permanent abode in the mountains of Kedar in the form of this Jyotirlinga.

Ghushmeswar Jyotirlinga, Aurangabad


This place located near Ajanta and Ellora caves is one of the revered places in Aurangabad. According to Shiv Purana, a childless couple Sudharma and Sudeha resided on the Devagiri mountain. So, Sudeha married her sister Ghushma to Sudharma. Also, they bore a son and out of jealousy, Sudeha threw the child in the lake where Ghushma used to discharge 101 lingams. Ghushma ultimately prayed Lord Shiva to return her son.

Ghushma asked the Lord to forgive her sister when he returned her son. So, this pleased Shiva and he decided to manifest himself as Jyotirlinga and named as Ghushmeswar. Hindus try to visit these jyotirlingas once in their lifetime as they are of great reverence and mark their significance in Puranas.

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