Jyotirlingas are the 12 auspicious temples that have been dedicated to Shiva since ancient times. A Jyotirlinga, also called Jyotirling or Jyotirlingam, is a temple where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlingam or column of Light. There are Twelve Jyotirlinga temples in India: Somanath, Omkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimashankar, Vaidyanath, Rameshwarm, Grishneshwar, Mallikarjun, Mahakaleshwar, Vishwanath, Tryambakeshwar, Nageshwar.
The Jyotirlinga temples have been held in reverence since time immemorial. The southernmost of these is located at Rameswaram, while the northernmost is located in the snowy heights of the Himalayas at Kedarnath. These temples are closely linked with stores from the puranas and are rich in history and tradition.
These temples provide a fine view of Indian architecture and definitely add to the rich glory and tradition of Indian history. These places are a must visit both in terms of pilgrimage and as tourist destinations.
Somnath: Somnath Jyotirlinga is located at Somnath Patan, near Veraval in Gujarat is a pilgrimage center held in great reverence throughout India. Somnath is considered to be the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. Somnath is situated on the south coast of Saurashtra.
Omkareshwar: Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga 12 miles from Mortakka and close to Bhopal city in Madhya Pradesh on the Mandhata hill on the banks of the Narmada is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. The Omkareshwar temple built in the Nagara style is characterized by a lofty shikhara. There are also shrines to Annapurna and Ganesha here.
Kedarnath – Kedarnath Jyotirlinga is located Near Badrinath, Uttaranchal. This is one of the best known Shivastalams in India and is considered to be one of the most sacred pilgrimage centers of the country, located in the lofty Himalayas. It is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlingams – the Northern most one, while the southernmost one is Rameswaram. Kedarnath is a shrine steeped in antiquity, rich in legend and religious significance.
Mallikarjun – Mallikarjun Jyotirlinga is located at Sree Sailam – 250 km From Hyderabad, near Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh. This is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in India and it constitutes one of the 12 Jyotirlingam shrines of Shiva. The presiding deities here are Mallikarjuna (Shiva) and Bhramaramba (Devi). The shrine dedicated to Bhramaramba is considered to be of great significance. Legend has it that Durga is said to have assumed the shape of a bee and worshipped Shiva here, and chose this place as her abode.
Mahakaleshwar – Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is located in Ujjain or Avanti , Madhya Pradesh. Ujjain, a historic capital of Central India in Madhya Pradesh is a venerated pilgrimage center enshrining Mahakaleshwara, one of the Jyotirlinga manifestations of Shiva.
Bhimashankar – Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is located in a Village of Bhavagiri 50 km north west of Khed, near Pune in Maharashtra. It is an ancient shrine, enshrining Bhimashankara one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. It is located 110 km away from Pune in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows south east and merges with the Krishna River near Raichur. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Tryambakeshwar and Grishneshwar.
Vishwanath : Vishwanath Jyotirlinga temple is located in Benares, Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi – Benares – Kaasi is considered to be the holiest of all pilgrimage sites in India. It is considered home to Shiva – Visweswara. Benares is also known as Kaasi because it is believed that Supreme brilliance shines there, and lights the way to salvation (Kas – to shine). Varanasi is located between two rivers Varana and Asi, and hence the name Varanasi.
Tryambakeshwar – Trayambakeshwar Jyotirlinga near Nasik in Maharashtra. Tryambakeshwar located near at a distance of about 30 km from Nasik in Maharashtra is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Tryambakeshwar is the source of the river Godavari. This is an ancient shrine, however the current structure is a result of the reconstruction efforts undertaken by the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao in mid 18th century. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Bhimashankar and Grishneshwar.
Vaidyanath: Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga is located in Deogarh , Santal Parganas area of Bihar. This shrine represents one of the 12 Jyotirlingams of Shiva held in reverence throughout the country. Vaidyanath is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Bihar. Vaidyanath is also considered to be one of the 52 Shakti Pitha shrines of Sati.
Nageshwar : Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is located near Dwarka in Gujarat is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shrines of Shiva. Lord Krishna Himself used to worship it and perform Rudrabhishekam. It is located on the route between Dwarka and the Bet Dwarka Island, on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat. The Rudra Samhita sloka refers to Nageshwar with the phrase ‘Daarukaavane Naagesham’.
Rameswaram: Rameswaram Jyotirlinga is located in Southern Tamilnadu. This Shivastalam is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in India. It represents the southernmost of the 12 Jyotirlingams of India and has been a time honored pilgrimage center held on par with Banaras. The island-temple town is located off of the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu.
Grishneshwar: Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga is located at a distance of 11 km from Daulatabad near Aurangabad, close to Near Ellora, in Maharashtra. Grishneshwar is an ancient pilgrimage site revered as the abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva.
So do try to visit these twelve Jyotirlingas at least once in your life time.