The 12 Jyotirlingas In India

A Jyotirlinga, sacred to the Hindus, is essentially a representation of Lord Shiva, in all his magnificence, for the purpose of worship. ‘Jyoti’ means light or radiance and ‘linga’ means sign or symbol of Shiva. Thus the word ‘Jyotirlinga’ refers to the ‘radiant symbol’ of the mighty Shiva which is represented in the form or image of a phallus and installed in a shrine for veneration. There are 12 such traditional shrines of Jyotirlingas across the country. According to legend, the Jyotirlinga shrines are temples where Lord Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. It is also believed that those who recite these Jyotirlingas every morning and evening are relieved of their current sins and those of their past lives and visiting these shrines would ensure that their wishes are fulfilled.

The 12 Jyotirlingas most revered in the country are :

1) Somnath Jyotirlinga – Gujarat

Located in Prabhas Patan in Saurashtra, on the west coast of Gujarat, the Somnath Temple is believed to the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. One of the most revered and famous pilgrimage spots, in Gujarat, this shrine has been repeatedly destroyed by Muslim invaders and the Portuguese and reconstructed several times over the years, thus earning the title of ‘The Shrine Eternal’ based on K.N.Munshi’s book where he narrates the several incidents of destruction and restructuring of the temple. The arti takes place several times during the day and there is also a light and sound show ‘Joy Somnath’ that takes place everyday between 8 – 9 pm.

Timings: 6 am to 9 pm

Somnath
How to reach :

By air – Somnath does not have an airport. The nearest one is the Diu Airport.

By train – There is good rail connectivity between Somnath and other major cities of the country.

By bus – Buses are available from several cities of India to Somnath.

2) Mallikarjuna – Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh

Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, the Mallikarjuna temple in Srisailam is important to the Hindu sects of Shaivam as well as Shaktam because it is not only referred to as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, but is also one of the 18 Shakti Peethas of Goddess Parvathi. In fact, this is the only temple in India which is worshipped as both, a Jyotirlinga and a Shakti Peetha. According to Hindu folklore, the presiding deity, in the form of linga, was venerated with Jasmine (locally called Mallika) and thus the name Mallikarjuna was attributed to the presiding deity of this temple.

Timings: 4.30 am to 10 pm daily.

Mallikarjuna
How to reach :

By air – The nearest airport is the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad.

By train – Srisailam does not have a railway station. The nearest one is at Cumbum, 60 kms away.

By bus – Buses are available from many major cities across India to Srisailam.

3) Mahakaleswar – Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

This sacred abode of Lord Shiva is located on the side of the Rudra Sagar Lake in the city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The idol in this temple faces south and is hence known as Dakshinamurti. This is an exceptional feature, supported by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be  found only in the Mahakaleshwar temple, amongst the 12 Jyotirlingas. The temple itself is built in a spacious courtyard, surrounded by massive walls on the lake side. It is believed that the offerings made to the deity here, can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

Timings: 4 am to 11 pm.

Mahakaleshwar
How to reach :

By air – The Indore Airport is closest to Ujjain and has regular flights with several cities across the country.

By train – Ujjain has several trains coming into the city from other places around the country.

By bus – Regular buses ply to and fro between Ujjain and other cities across India.

4) Omkareshwar – Madhya Pradesh

The Omkareshwar temple is situated on an Om shaped (Hindu symbol) island called Mandhata or Shivapuri in the Narmada river. The word Omkareshwar means ‘Lord of  Omkara’ or Lord of the OM sound. This place is considered very sacred by the Hindus as it was here that Lord Shiva, in answer to the earnest prayer of the Devas, defeated the Danavas.

Timings: 5 am to 10 pm.

Omkareshwar
How to reach :

By air – There are no direct flights to Omkareshwar due to the absence of an airport, but the airport at Indore is closest and has regular flights to several cities across the country.

By train – The railway station at Omkareshwar Road has good rail connectivity with several cities across the country.

By bus – Omkareshwar is connected to Indore, Khandawa and Ujjain by regular bus services.

5) Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

Situated on the Garhwal Himalayan Range near the Mandakini River in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India, the Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is the highest amongst the 12 Jyotirlingas across the country and is one of the four major sites for India’s Chota Chaar Dham pilgrimage of the Northern Himalayas. During winters, due to extreme weather conditions, the vigrahas (deities) are carried from the Kedarnath Temple to Ukhimath and worshipped there for 6 months.

Timings: 4 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 9 pm

Kedarnath
How to reach :

By air – There are no direct flights to Kedarnath. The nearest airport is at Dehradun.

By train – The nearest railway station is at Harrawala as there is no station in Kedarnath.

By bus – Regular buses to Kedarnath are available from several cities in the north. However, the last stop is at Gaurikund, from where one has to trek for about 14 kms or hire a palkhi.

6) Bhimashankar – Pune, Maharashtra

This Jyotirlinga shrine is located 50 km northwest of Khed, near Pune in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri Hills. This temple is an amalgamation of old and new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. Far from urban life, this temple is nestled deep among the dense forests with wonderful flora and fauna and one can get a spectacular view of the surrounding rivers and hillsides. Thus this shrine is often referred to as a pilgrim’s paradise.

Timings: 4.30 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 9.30 pm

Bhimashankar
How to reach :

By air – Pune is the nearest domestic airport to Bhimashankar while Mumbai has the nearest international airport. Both cities are well connected by air to several other major cities across the country.

By train – The railway station at Pune is well connected with rail network with many major cities of the country.

By bus – There are several buses available to Bhimashankar from several major cities.

7) Vishwanath Temple – Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, at Varanasi. One of the most famous  temples, it is presided over by the deity Vishvanatha or Vishveshwara, meaning ruler of the universe. As Varanasi is also known as Kashi, this temple has come to be known as Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Having been destroyed and rebuilt many times over in the course of history, the temple is now managed by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The temple is famous for its 15.5 metre high gold spire and 3 domes made of pure gold. The Manikarnika Ghat on the banks of the Ganga, near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, is considered as a Shakti Peetha, a most holy and worshipped place for the Shaktism Sect.

Timings: 2.30 am to 11 pm

Vishvanath
How to reach :

By air – Varanasi has regular flights coming in from several cities of the country.

By train – Varanasi also has a good rail network with many other cities across India.

By bus – There are plenty of buses that ply regularly from several cities to Varanasi.

8) Triambakeshwar – Nashik, Maharashtra

This ancient Shiva temple in the town of Trimbak, in the Nasik district of Mahrashtra is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The temple is situated between the hills of Brahmagiri, Nilagiri and Kalagiri and has three lingams representing Shiv, Brahma and Vishnu. This temple is considered to be a source of the river Godavari, which is known as ‘Gautami Ganga’, the most sacred river in South India. Hindus believe that this temple is the one that fulfills the desires of everyone.

Timings: 5.30 am to 9 pm on all days.

Triambakeshwar

How to reach :

By air – The nearest airport is at Mumbai, which has great air connectivity with several cities across the country.

By train – The nearest railway station is at Nasik, which has a good rail network with several major cities across the network.

By bus – Regular buses operate between Nasik and many other cities of India. From here, one can hire a cab or travel in the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation buses.

9) Baidyanath Temple – Deogarh District, Jharkhand

The Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple, which is also known as Baba Baidyanath Dham or Baidyanath Dham is located in Deogarh in Jharkhand. One of the twelve main Jyotirlingas, it is a temple complex which houses the main lotus-shaped temple of Baba Baidyanath where the Jyotirlinga is positioned and 21 other temples. So these 22 temples in the same complex are dwellings for different Gods and Goddesses, but amongst them all, Lord Shiva is held supreme. This temple is thronged by millions of pilgrims each year, especially during the Shraavan Mela held between July and August.

Timings: 4 am to 3.30 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm daily.

Baidyanath
How to reach :

By air – The nearest airport to Deogarh is at Patna, which is very well connected with daily flights to several major cities across the country.

By train – There are two railway stations, one at Baidyanath Dham and another at Deoghar which has good rail connectivity with several cities.

By bus – Regualar Buses are available from several cities to Deoghar.

10) Nageshwara – Dwarka, Gujarat

The Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is another of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shrines in India and believed to be the first one. This Jyotirlinga is most revered as it represents protection from all types of poison and is considered most powerful.The temple houses a 25 m tall statue of Lord Shiva and is surrounded by a beautiful garden, which has an amazing view of the Arabian Sea.

Timings: 5 am to 9 pm daily.

Nageshwar
How to reach :

By air – The closest airport to Dwarka is at Jamnagar, about 137 km away. From here one can take a taxi to Dwarka.

By train – There are several trains that come in from other cities to Dwarka.

By bus – One can get regular buses to Dwarka from several cities.

11) Rameshwar – Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

The Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga shrine is one of the huge temples located on the island of Rameshwaram. Famous for its long, elaborately decorated corridors, towers and 36 theerthams, this temple down south is one of the most revered holy destinations and is also known as the Banaras of the South. These corridors with their 1,212 pillars on the north and south side give an admirable receding effect and the architecture of the temple is most commendable. It is believed that the temple was sanctified by Lord Rama himself and thus the temple acquired its name. This is also one among the Char Dhams of India.

Timings: 5 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to  9 pm

Rameshwaram
How to reach :

By air – Rameshwaram does not have its own airport. The nearest airports are at Tuticorin and Madurai which have flights coming in from different cities.

By train- Trains to Rameshwaram, are available from several cities of the country.

By bus – There are regular buses to Rameshwaram from many major cities of India.

12) Grishneshwar Temple – Aurangabad , Maharashtra

Located in Ellora, less than a kilometer away from the famous Ellora Caves, this temple is considered the last or twelfth Jyotirlinga (linga of light) and is considered an important pilgrimage site in Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. This temple is also referred to as the Ghrneshwar (meaning Lord of Compassion) Jyotirlinga or Dhushmeshwar Temple. Having been destroyed and rebuilt several times in history during the Maratha-Mughal conflict, this temple today is an important and pilgrimage site and witnesses long queues of pilgrims. The temple is constructed with red rocks and is a fine demonstration of South Indian architectural style. Displaying the carvings and sculptures of several Hindu Gods and Goddesses, this is also one of the smallest Jyotirlinga shrines in India.

Timings: 5 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 9 pm

Grishneshwar
How to reach :

By air – The airport at Aurangabad is well connected by flight to several cities in India.

By train – The railway station nearest is Manmad at a distance of 140 km from Grishneshwar city. Aurangabad however has a great rail network with many cities across the country.

By bus – Buses to Aurangabad are easily available from several cities.

Picture Credits :  Somnath – Somnath.org,  Mallikarjuna – Punyadarshan.com,  Mahakaleshwar – india.com,  Omkareshwar – Youtube,  Kedarnath – Temple Advisor,  Bhimashankar – universeonweb.com,  Vishvanath – patrika.com,  Triambakeshwar – Trimbakeshwartrust.com,  Baidyanath – Onlineprasad Blog, Nageshwara – Mymandir.com,  Rameshwaram – myowncity.in,  Grishneshwar – Temple Advisor

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