There are many stories in mythology to describe the origin of the festival. All devotees believe that the formless God appeared in the form of “Lingodbhav Moorti” at midnight on Maha Shivratri. For this reason devotee keep vigil all the night and offer prayers to the Lord. It is also believed that Hindu devotees stay awake whole night to give company to God Shiva, who was not supposed to fall asleep after drinking the ocean poison. To protect the world from its evil effects, Shiva drank the deathly poison but held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. Devotees believe that Lord Shiva married Devi Parvati on Shivratri. Thus, the day is the union of Shiva and Shakti, the two greatest forces of the Universe. The day is considered auspicious for women. They fast and pray to the Lord to get blessed with blissful married life, while unmarried woman would pray for an ideal husband like Shiva.
On this day, in all Shiva temples, the most auspicious Lingodbhava Puja is performed.
The twelve Jyotirlingas (lingams of light) are sacred shrines to Lord Shiva, and centres for his worship. They are known as Swayambhus, meaning the lingams sprung up by themselves at these locations, and temples were built there afterwards.
Somnath Temple is one of the greatest temples of India and it is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Located in Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval, Somnath Mandir falls in Saurashtra region that lies on the western coast of Gujarat. The Temple has a legend behind its establishment. It is believed that Lord Chandra (Moon God) was very proud of his beauty. Due to this reason, he was cursed by his father-in-law Daksha, to get smaller. In order to get rid of this curse, Moon God prayed to Lord Shiva at Prabhas. Lord Shiva became happy with the penance of the Moon and reduced the curse to an extent. This incident led to the periodic waning of moon.
Meaning of Somnath is the protector of God moon. Somnath temple is also famous for its architecture. The seven-storied structure of Somnath is tall to 155 feet. Now Somnath Temple is built in Chalukya style which is also known as Kailash mahameru Prasad Style. The temple is sited in such a manner that no mass of land can be seen from Somnath seashore till Antarctica. This information is presented in an inscription, written in Sanskrit, on the Arrow-Pillar of the sea-protection wall at the temple.
How to reach:
The nearest Airport is at Keshod, (125 kms.) which is connected with Mumbai. Veraval, (5 kms.) is the closest Railway station. State transport buses and private luxury coaches connect various centres of Gujarat to Somnath.
Srisailam is one of the main pilgrimage destinations of Andhra Pradesh. The temple is counted second among the twelve Jyotirlingas temples of India. Srisailam is situated on the Nallamalai Hills of Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. This ancient Shiva temple of Srisailam boasting of wonderful Vijayanagara architecture. It is situated on the southern bank of the Krishna River. A part of the inscriptional evidences, the Architectural features of the temple complex of Srisailam attest the patronage of Chalukyas. The Kakatiyas contributed much for the growth of the temple.
How to reach:
Srisailam is very well connected by air, train and road to the rest of the country. The nearest Airport is at Hyderabad. The nearest railway station to reach Srisailam is the Markapur Railway Station. Srisailam is most easily accessible by road.
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the most famous Hindu and is counted third among the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake. The lingam at the Mahakala is believed to be swayambhu deriving currents of power from within itself as against the other images and lingams which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.
The story of Shiva as Mahakala mentioned in the Shiva Purana. Once there lived a pious man in Avanti who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He had four sons and the family worshipped Lord Shiva daily. Not far away from their home in a hill named Ratanmala there lived an Asura (demon) named Dooshana. Demon Dooshana hated all forms of Shiva and vedic worship. He went around killing people who worshipped Shiva. Soon Dooshana came to know about the family in Avanti that worshipped Shiva. But still family continued to worship Shiva in the form of a Shivling. Once the demon and soldiers reached the home of the pious man and advanced towards the Shivling by raising a sword. Suddenly, there was a deafening sound and there appeared a dreadful form beyond explanation before the Shivling. A single glance by the Mahakala form of Shiva burned the demon and his army into ashes. Uncontrollable and unsatisfied, the form of Shiva gave a huge roar; the entire universe trembled in fear.
The family was but delighted to see Lord Shiva and continued chanting his glory and prayers. Since then Shiva remains at Ujjain Mahakala Temple as Mahakala – the one with the power to annihilate all living and non-living.
How to reach:
Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in Indore is the nearest airport to Ujjain, which is situated 55 km away. Indore is air connected to major cities in India by public and private domestic airlines.Ujjain Junction Railway Station is an important railway station in Western railway zone. It is well connected to all major railway stations in India.
OmkAreshwar is a beautiful self manifest (swayambhu) linga. On the banks of river Narmada, there is a huge island on which the JyotirLinga “Omkaram Amaleshwar” is situated. It is counted as fourth among the twelve Jyotirlingas. This sacred island, shaped like the holiest of Hindu symbols ‘Om’ and that is how it derives its name. In the ancient times the Demons defeated the gods. Indra was worried. The 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.
How to Reach:
The nearest airport, Indore – 77 km from the shrine, is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal and Gwalior with regular flights. Nearest railhead is Omkareshwar Road on the Ratlam-Khandwa section of the Western Railways.
Kedarnath Temple is located on the Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. It is counted as fifth among the twelve Jyotirlingas. 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 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.”
How to reach:
The nearest domestic airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun about 239 km from Kedarnat. The nearest airport from Kedarnath is the Jolly Grant Airport near Dehradun, about 239 km from Kedarnath. In fact this airport is closer to Rishikesh (approx. 16 km) and takes roughly 20-30 minutes to reach Rishikesh. The nearest railway stations to Kedarnath are at Rishikesh.
Bhimashankar is located in the village of Bhavagiri 50 km north west of Khed, near Pune. It is located 110 km away from Pune in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. It is counted as six among the twelve Jyotirlingas. Bhimashankar temple lies on the banks of the river Bhima. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges into the Krishna River in Raichur. According to the belief, Lord Shiva rested in this region after slaying Triprasur, and his sweat droplets created the Bhima River. In this battle, Shiva appeared in a magnificent (Bhim) form. Hence, it came to be known as Bhimashankar Jyotirling.
How to reach:
The nearest International Airport is Pune Airport, roughly two and half hour drive from Bhimashankar. Pune Airport is well connected to a spectrum of cities. The nearest Railway Station is Pune Railway Station, located at a distance of 111 Kms from the city.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is counted as seventh among the twelve Jyotirlingas. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga. It is also known as the Golden temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva. It is counted as seven among the twelve Jyotirlingas. The Varanasi city is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple. Near Kashi, Ganga flows in the shape of a bow. According to the legend, at the time of creation when no one was there, only Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu were present. They both started to fight for supremacy. They both used their most powerful weapons against each other after thousands of years fighting. When the two weapons were about to hit each other causing total destruction, an endless pillar of fire rose between the two absorbing their weapons. Both Brahma and Vishnu wanted to know the end. Brahma assumed the form of Swan and flew up and Vishnu assumed the form of Boar and went down to find their ends and declared that whoever finds the end first would be the winner. Both couldn’t find the ends and came back after 100 years. Vishnu told that he couldn’t find the end whereas Brahma along with false testimony flower Kewada and cow told that he found the end of the pillar. This angered Lord Shiva and he emerged from the fire and declared that All the three are forms of same Omkaar and Brahma is Creator, Vishnu is Preserver and Shiva as Destroyer. Since Brahma had told lies, Lord Shiva cursed him that no one will worship him and He gave Lord Vishnu the title of Purushottam being the Supreme being. The pillar of fire vanished from then and small portion of it remained at Varanasi as jyotirlinga called Kashi Vishwanath. Lord Shiva being the last to complete the cycle is called Mahadeo or great God and giver of Moksha. Those who have bath in Ganges and worship Kashi Vishwanath, Lord Shiva utters Tarak mantra in his ears at the time of death which gives Salvation.
How to reach:
Varanasi is well connected with all major railway stations in India. There are two railheads nearby, namely Varanasi junction and the Kashi junction. Varanasi airport is connected to some cities in India including Delhi, Mumbai and Agra. There are daily domestic flights from Varanasi to these cities. International travelers can get connecting flights from Delhi, which is 810 km away.
Trimbakeshwar is one of the holy places in the country. It is located about 40 km from Nashik. The temple lies in the foothill of mountain Bramhagiri which is the origin of river Ganga (called here by name Godavari). It is counted as eighth among the twelve Jyotirlingas. The most attractive part of this temple is presence of 3 linga’s each representing Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. All three resides in a hallow space within the Shiva lingam. Legend goes that a sage name Gautam Muni resided on the Brahmagiri hill.
By virtue of his devotion, the sage received from Varuna, a bottomless pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains and food. The other rishis, jealous of his fortune, arranged for a cow to enter his granary and caused it to die as Gowtam Rishi attempted to ward it off with a bunch of Darbha grass. Gautam Rishi, therefore, worshipped Lord Shiva to bring the Ganga down to his hermitage to purify the premises. Pleased with devotion, Shiva requested Ganga to flow down and make Sage Gautam pure. After that Ganga flowed down. Lord Shiva told Ganga to stay there eternally for the good of everyone. All the Gods started singing the praises of Gautam Rishi, Ganga and Lord Shiva. On the request of all the Gods, Lord Shiva resided by the river Gautami by the name Trimbakeshwar (one of the Jyotirlingas). Hindus believe that Trimbak Jyotirlinga is one, which fulfills everyone’s desires. It emancipates all from their sins and miseries.
How to reach:
The Ozar Airport operates flights from Nashik to Mumbai, Pune, Hyderbad and Chennai. The nearest railway station in Nashik is located 11km away from city center. The Panchavati Express and the Godavari Express make stopovers at Mumbai and once you arrive here, any sort of transportation is available.
Vaidyanath temple is located in Deoghar in the Santhal Parganas division of the state of Jharkhand, India. It is counted as ninth among the twelve Jyotirlingas. There are 22 temples in the same campus of different Gods and Goddesses among which Lord Shiva is empowered as being supreme. Modern concepts ascribe that the shrines are of both old and new styles. The temple of Shiva, Baidyanath faces the east, and is 72 feet tall, and it is lotus shaped. According to religious belief this temple has been built by Vishwakarma, the architect of gods. Legend has it that Ravana, the king of Lanka, meditated to Lord Shiva and requested him to come to Lanka to protect his capital. Lord Shiva gave Ravan a Jyotirlinga and ordered him to hold on to it till he reaches Lanka and told him that if he placed the lingam anywhere along his journey it will get permanently rooted there. Ravana took off on his journey to Lanka with the Jyotirlingam. The other gods took objection to this as they felt that this would give Ravana immense power and make him invincible and that his evil ways may destroy the world. Hence the gods made a plan to pervert Ravana from taking the lingam back to Lanka. Ravana was offered water by Parvati, who then directed the water from three different rivers (Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) to his stomach. Hence Ravana felt an immediate need to relieve himself. Ganesha then came down in the form of a man and offered to hold the lingam while Ravana relieved himself. Ganesha immediately laid the lingam down on the ground and it was permanently rooted. Ravana tried to move the lingam but failed to do so. In the process he chipped of a small piece of the lingam. It is believed that if a devotee sincerely worships the Vaidyanth Jyotirlinga he or she will attain moksha and happiness.
How to reach:
The Ranchi airport is connected to major cities of India. Through Railways the trains of Ranchi on South-Eastern railway is connected to all parts of the country through several express and super-fast trains.
Temple of Lord Nageshwar is situated in Gujarat, and is about 12 kms on way from Gomti-Dwarka to Bhet-Dwarka. It is counted as tenth among the twelve Jyotirlingas. This powerful jyotirlinga symbolizes protection from all poisons and those who pray to the Nageshwar Linga therefore become poison free. This Sivalingam is facing South, with the Gomugam facing East. There is a story for this position. A devotee by name Naamdev was singing bhajans in front of the Lord. Other devotees asked him to stand aside and not hide the Lord. To this Naamdev asked them to suggest one direction in which the Lord does not exist, so that he can stand there. The enraged devotees carried him and left him on the southside. To their astonishment, they found that the Linga was now facing South with the Gomugam facing east. Legend has it that a Shiva devotee by name Supriya was attacked by a demon Daaruka while in a boat. The demon imprisoned him along with several others at his capital Daarukaavana where he resided with his wife Daaruki. Supriya advised all prisoners to recite the mantra ‘Aum Namaha Shivaya’. When Daruk came to know about this he ran to kill Supriya. Instantly Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Jyotirlingam and vanquished the demon with the Paasupata Astram. According to the Shiv Purana who ever with devotion reads the birth and greatness of this Jyotirlinga will achieve all material happiness and shall get divine status in the end.
How to reach:
The nearest railway station to nageshwar jyotirlinga temple is Dwarka Train Station. Daily trains available to Dwarka from Mumbai and other cities. The closest domestic airport to Dwarka is located at Jamnagar, which is about 137 km away. There are regular flights from Jamnagar to Mumbai International Airport. Distance from Dwarka to Nageshwar is around 18 km.
Rameshwaram Temple is situated in the island of Rameswaram, off the Sethu coast of Tamil Nadu and is reached via the Pamban Bridge across the sea. It is counted as eleventh among the twelve Jyotirlingas. The huge temple is known for its long ornate corridors, towers and 36 theerthams. According to a popular legend, it was Lord Rama who installed this Linga here. Story goes that when Lord Ram was on his way to attack Ravana, he reached this place where he made a linga of sand and worshipped it. It is said that when Lord Rama was drinking water on the seashore there was a celestial proclamation – “You are drinking water without worshipping me”. Listening to this Lord Rama made a linga of sand and worshipped it and asked to be blessed so that he could vanquish Ravana. Lord Shiva blessed him accordingly. He also requested Lord Shiva to reside eternally here so that entire mankind should benefit from it. Shiva then manifested himself as the Linga and got installed there for eternity.
How to reach:
Nearest airport Madurai is connected by Indian Airlines flights with Bombay, Calicut and Chennai. Rameshwaram is connected by rail directly to Chennai, Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore where Madras is connected with all the main places in India.
Ghrishneshwar Temple is situated in the state of Maharashtra. It lies very near to the Buddhist caves of Ellora, only half a kilometer away. It is counted as twelfth among the twelve Jyotirlingas. Grishneshwar Temple, also known as Ghushmeshwar, has a very interesting legend attached to it. It is said that there was once a very religious woman, known as Kusuma, who used to worship Lord Shiva on a daily basis. She used to immerse His Shivalingam in a tank, as a part of her everyday prayer. Her husband had a second wife, who got jealous of the devotion of Kusuma and her resultant respect in the society. In a fit of rage and resentment, she murdered Kusuma’s son. Kusuma became extremely depressed when she came to know that her son had been killed. However, she continued worshipping the Lord. It is said that when she immersed the lingam into the tank, after her the death of her son, he miraculously came back to life again. The legend further goes that at that time, Lord Shiva appeared before Kusuma as well as the villagers. It is said that on Kusuma’s request, Lord Shiva manifested Himself at the very site, in the form of the Jyotirlinga Ghusmeshwar. From then onwards, the temple is highly revered by people and attracts devotees from far and wide.
How to reach:
Nearest Airport is located at Aurangabad, which is at distance of about 29 km from the city of Grishneshwar (Verul village). Nearest Railway station is Aurangabad which is 22 km from Grishneshwar.