Jyotirlinga means 'the luminous beam that emits light'
Legend has it that once, Lord Brahma and Vishnu got into an argument to prove each other's supremacy. This didn't go well with Shiva, who took the form of a beam of light. According to the ancient texts, there are as many as 64 Jyotirlingas, but twelve are very famous. These Lingas are Swayambhus, meaning the self-originated ones.
1. Somnath Temple, Gujarat
One of the legends about the temple is the story of Moon (Som) God. It is said that once moon lost it shine and lustre because of a curse. To get rid of the curse, he bathed here and got the lustre back. Since then, it’s called Somnath, meaning the ‘lord of the moon’.
2. Sri Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
Legend has it that Shiva and Parvati came here to meet their angry elder son Kartikeya because his younger brother Ganesha was getting married before him. The mammoth fort like temple features Mallikarjuna Swamy and Bharmaramba Devi as its main deities.
3. Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
Set on the banks of Rudra Sagar lake, the lingam here is consider to be Swayambhu and it derives its powers from Shakti within. The temple features more than a hundred little shrines within the temple complex and remains crowded on most of the days.
4. Omkareshwar in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
Set on an island named Mandhata or Shivapuri by the Narmada River, the shape of the lingam here looks like ‘Om’. The place features two main Shiva Temples, one is Omkareshwar and the other is Amareshwar.
5. Kedarnath in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand
Devotees from across the country visit here to pray to the lord which is definitely a difficult journey. It is also a prime Chardham Yatra destination and remains closed for six months due to extreme weather conditions.
6. Bhimashankar in Maharashtra
Bhimashankar is around 100 km from Pune, situated on the hills of Sahyadri Range. This is also the place from where one of largest tributaries of Krishna River originates, called the Bhima River. Here you can also see Buddha style carvings of Amba-Ambika in the surroundings.
7. Vishwanath in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Situate on the banks of the holy river Ganga, Vishwanath Temple is considered one of the holiest temples. Vishveshvara, meaning Ruler of The Universe, the temple finds its mention in ancient Hindu scriptures.
8. Trimbakeshwar in Nashik, Maharashtra
It is located on the banks of river Godavari. There is also a Kusavarta, a holy kunda (sacred pond) inside the temple whose source of water is the Godavari River.
9. Vaidyanath or Baijnath in Deogarh, Jharkhand
This is one of the disputed jyotirlinga temples, considering there are three destinations in the country whose natives claim that the jyotirlinga is there. These are Vaidyanath in Deogarh, Jharkhand, Baijnath in Himachal Pradesh and Parli Vaijnath in Maharashtra.
10. Nageshvara in Dwarka, Gujarat
Legend has it that Shiva in Nageshvara form (meaning body full of serpents) once defeated a demon called Daruka and his army to rescue one of his ardent devotees named Supriya. Since then, it is called the Nageshvara Temple.
11. Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
As per legends, while Lord Ram was on his way to Sri Lanka, he took a halt at Rameshwaram and was drinking water on the seashore. Just then, there was a celestial edict, which stated: “You are drinking water without worshipping me”. Hearing this, Lord Ram made a linga of sand, worshipped it and sought blessings to defeat Ravana.
12. Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga, Aurangabad
Legend has it that a very religious woman named Kusuma used to immerse Shiva’s lingam in a tank daily as part of her daily prayer. However, her husband’s second wife got jealous of her devotion and in a fit of rage, she killed Kusuma’s son. Kusuma was heartbroken and depressed, yet she continued worshipped Lord Shiva and her son came alive. Then God Shiva appeared before Kusuma and remains in the form of Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga.