The word linga originates from Sanskrit Langauge, which means Symbol. The Agama text defines the literal meaning by breaking it into two pieces. “Ling” means to dissolve or destroy and, “Ga” means to emerge or create. The in-depth sense of shiva linga describes, we are a creation of Lord Shiva (Universe), and we all dissolve back into him at the end. Shiva Linga marks the cosmos of the universe.
There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India. The 12 Jyotirlingas are Somnath in Saurashtra (Gujarat), Mallikarjuna in Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), Mahakaleswar in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Uttrakhand, Bhimashankar in Pune (Maharashtra), Vishwanath in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Trimbakeshwar in Nashik (Maharashtra), Baidyanath Temple in Deoghar District of Jharkhand, Aundha Nagnath at Aundha in Hingoli District in Maharashtra, Rameshwar in Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu) and Grishneshwar at Ellora near Aurangabad, in Maharashtra.
Somnath Temple, Gujarat
This Jyotirlinga is one of the first Jyotirlinga Shrine of Lord Shiva. The Somnath temple has its location in Prabhas Patan, also known as Somnath Patan or Prabhas Kshetra, historically named Dev Patan. Considered one of the most auspicious pilgrimages of Sanatan Dharma, the temple is also a famous tourist attraction of Gujarat. The term Somnath derives from the Sanskrit word “Som” and “Nath,” an epithet of Lord Shiva. According to the legends, lord Chandraman (God of Moon) himself created the Somnath temple. The temple has witnessed numerous attacks by foreign invaders (destroyed 16 times and rebuilt), but it resisted and still stands with dignity.
Mallikarjuna Temple, Andhra Pradesh
The Amllikarjuna Jyotirlinga temple has its location at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh. According to the legends, Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati stayed in Shrishailam to live close to their son, lord Kartikey, who choose to live in penance on Mount Kravunja. Mallikarjuna is one of The Paadal Petra Sthalam that are 275 temples revered in the verses of Saiva Nayanars and are amongst the grand Shiva temples of Asia.
Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand
The Kedarnath Jyotirlinga temple has its location in the Garhwal Himalayan Range near the Mandakini river in Uttarakhand. The temple is open for the public from April till November due to extreme weather conditions. According to the legends, the temple was built by the Pandavas and later revived by Adi Shankaracharya. It is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam.
Mahakaleshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh
The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga have a location in the ancient city of Ujjain. The idol at the temple is also known as Dakshinmurti (facing in the South). The Jyotirlinga has believed to be born by itself (Swayambhu). According to the Puranas, Ujjain is known as the devotional epicenter and was famous for its beauty and scriptures during ancient times.
Omkareshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh
Omkareshwar Temple, situated on Mandhata, an island in the Narmada river, Madhya Pradesh. The shape of the island is said to be like the holy symbol “OM.” There are two main temples of Lord Shiva here, Omkareshwar (Lord of Om Sound) located on the island and Mamleshwar (Lord of immortals) located on the bank of Narmada. It is the second Jyotirlinga in Madhya Pradesh after Mahakaleshwar.
Bhimashankar Temple, Maharashtra
Bhimashankara is one of the 12 ancient Jyotirlinga situated at the Sahyadri hills in Maharashtra. According to the legends, the name Bhimashankara originated from the river Bhima. The river evaporated due to the energy generated during the war between Lord Shiva and Demon Tripurasura. Chatrapati Shivaji and Rajaram Maharaj were known to visit this Jyotirlinga.
Trimbakeshwar Temple, Maharashtra
Trimbakeshwar temple is another Jyotirlinga in Maharashtra. Located in Nashik city, the temple gets surrounded by the three mountains, Brahmagiri, Nilagiri, and Kalagiri. According to the legend, Gautam Rishi and Godavari request Lord Shiva to reside in Trimbakeshwar. It is a unique Jyotirlinga with three faces, symbolizing Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. The current temple has built by Peshwa Bajirao.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Uttar Pradesh
Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the most popular Jyotirlinga. Located at the western banks of the holy river Ganga, this Jyotirlinga is a sacred Shiva temple. The name Vishwanath originated from the Sanskrit language, meaning “Lord of the Universe.” Varanasi city was called Kashi during ancient times, and hence the temple is popularly known as Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The temple is mentioned in the Puranas as well as in the Kashi Khanda of Skanda Purana.
Baidyanath Temple, Jarkhand
Baidyanath Temple is one the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. This Jyotirlinga shrine, located in Deoghar, Jharkhand. The name Baidyanath originates from the term Vaidya, meaning doctor. Lord Shiva healed and cured demon king Ravana at this place when he offered his ten heads to the lord. Ravana was one of the eminent worshippers of Lord Shiva.
Nageshvara Temple, Gujarat
Nageshvara Temple is one of the sacred Shiva temples and Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. A self-manifested Shivalinga appeared after Lord Shiva killed the demon named Daruka. Daruka imprisoned a Shiva Devotee named Supriya. Close to the temple is another important spiritual spot called Gopi Talav Tirth, a lake that’s connected to the legends of Gopis visiting Lord Krishna.
Rameshwaram Temple, Tamil Nadu
Ramanathanswamy Temple is an ancient Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. Located on the Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu, it is one of the holy 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam. According to the Ramayana, the Jyotirlinga was established by Lord Rama himself to make amends of Killing Demon king Ravana, as he was a brahmin. There are two Shivalinga inside the temple – one created by Lord Rama, from the sand. The second Linga has brought by Lord Hanuman from Kailash. That is known as Vishwalingam. Lord Rama instructed to worship the Vishwalingam first brought by Lord Hanuman from the abode of Lord Shiva.
Grishneshwar Temple, Maharashtra
Grishneshwar Temple, also referred to as the Ghumeshwar Temple that is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva that, also mentioned in Shiva Purana. The name Grishneshwar means “Lord of Compassion.” The ancient pilgrimage, located in Ellora, near the Ellora Caves (UNESCO Heritage Site). It is approx. 30 km away from the city of Aurangabad.