Shivratri 2021: One of the most religious celebrations performed by the people worldwide is Shivaratri. It is also known as ‘Padmarajarathri’ and ‘The Great Night of Shiva’. There are several stories behind the Maha Shivaratri 2021 festival.
On this festival day, people dedicate themselves to Lord Shiva by performing various Shivratri Rituals like Puja, Mahashivratri Vrat, and also people visit lord shiv temples and jyotirlingas. India is the only place where “12 Jyotirlingas” i.e. the twelve pilgrimages of Lord Maheswara are placed.
As a matter of fact, Jyotirlingas are the radiant mark of the Lord, manifested by himself. As a person reaches a higher level of transcendence he gets to witness the jyotirlingas as columns of fire piercing in the earth. Legends of Lord Shiva are also associated with Shakti Peethas of Devi Sati (Shakti). The immense belief of people in Lord Shiva is a testimony of his miracles and legends.
Most Famous Shiva Temples in India
Let’s take a step forward to sharpen our knowledge about the most famous Shiva temples in India and what is unique about each one of them.
- 1. Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand
- 2. Amarnath Temple, Kashmir
- 3. Somnath Temple, Gujarat
- 4. Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Andhra Pradesh
- 5. Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain
- 6. Omkareshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh
- 7. Bhimashankar Temple, Maharashtra
- 8. Madhyamaheshwar Temple, Uttarakhand
- 9. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
- 10. Trimbakeshwar Temple, Maharashtra
- 11. Vaidyanath Temple, Deoghar, Jharkhand
- 12. Nageshwar, Dwarka, Gujarat
- 13. Ramanathaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
- 14. Grishneshwar Temple, Maharashtra
- 15. Brihadeeswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu
- 16. Shore Temple, Tamil Nadu
- 17. Lingaraj Temple, Odisha
- 18. Kotilingeshwara Temple, Karnataka
- 19. Daksheswara Mahadev Temple, Haridwar
- 20. Annamalaiyar Temple, Tamil Nadu
- 21. Tarakeshwar Temple, West Bengal
Kedarnath Temple in UttarakhandKedarnath Temple of Lord Shiva is settled near the banks of Mandakini River in the Garhwal Himalayan Range. The highly-venerated pilgrimage circuits of Hindus, Char Dham includes Kedarnath Temple of Shiva. Along with this, the temple also happens to be one of the twelve jyotirlingas of the lord.
The temple is accessible for six months (April-November/ Akshaya Tritiya- Kartik Poornima) due to extreme weather conditions. During the winter season, the deity is brought to Ukhimath for the other six months. In order to reach Kedarnath Temple, you have to take a 14-kilometer-long trek from Gaurikund.
Kedarnath Yatra Starts on 17th May 2021(expected date) and soon will update the close date.
Amarnath Cave in KashmirAmarnath is a cave-shrine perched at an altitude of 3888 meters in Kashmir. Owing to this height, the temple is surrounded by snow and it itself get covered in snow for a significant amount of time during the year. Amarnath is an important pilgrimage destination for the followers of Lord Shiva.
Every year, when the temple gets accessible, more than thousands of pilgrim makes their way to the temple crossing mountainous terrains. The linga of this temple is a stalagmite formed by freezing of water drops dripping from the floor of the cave.
Somnath Temple in GujaratAlthough been destroyed and built a several times, but the faith of pilgrims on the Somnath Temple prevails unscathed. The temple is one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and dates back to a time earlier than 649 CE. The present-day structure was built in 1947 in the Chalukya style of architecture. If legends are to be believed then this spot is where Lord Krishna concluded his lila on earth and disembarked for his heavenly adobe.
Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple in Andhra PradeshAnother one out of twelve jyotirlingas, Mallikarjuna Swamy is datable to more than six centuries ago. This also is one of 275 Paadal Petra Sthala, which are revered in the verses of Saiva Nayanars. It is believed that the carrier of Lord Shiva, Vrishbha performed penance here and Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati appeared before him. Furthermore, this beautiful temple is built by Vijayanagar Empire in their signature architecture. There are many other temples near Mallikarjuna Swamy, dedicared to Hindu Gods like Nataraja, Nandi and Sahasralinga.
Mahakaleshwar Temple in Madhya PradeshMahakaleshwar Temple too is one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, which means this is a temple of great significance. The lord is worshipped in the form of Shivalinga, believed to be a swayambu (emerged on its own). Sultan Shas-ud-din Iltutmish destroyed the older temple and the present-day structure was built in 1736 AD. Moreover, Sri Mahakaleshwar also happens to be one of 18 Maha Shaktpeethas, where different body parts of Sati Devi’s bodies fell.
Omkareshwar Temple in Madhya PradeshOmkareshwar Temple is located on an island that roughly looks like the “Om” (ॐ) symbol. The island is located on Narmada River, near the confluence of Narmada and Kaveri. The temple is one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It already is a significant pilgrimage point for Hindus, but the number of visitors ascends especially during Mahashivratri.
Here, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Shivalinga, which displays a beautiful blend of human and nature’s artistry. Many other temples are located near Omkareshwar Temple, which too are of great reverence; like Satmatrika Temple, Siddhnath Temple and Kajal Rani Cave.
Bhimashankar Temple in MaharashtraBhimashankar, the source of Bhima River, is a jyotirlinga temple of Lord Shiva. The shrine is datable to 13th-century and the temple is built in Nagara style of architecture. Excellency and dedicated on ancient Vishwakarma sculptors is portrayed in this temple.
A shrine of Kamalaja (an incarnation of Goddess parvati) is located in close proximity. It is located in the Sahyadri Mountain Range and proffers a brilliant view of the pristine nature.
Madhyamaheshwar Temple in UttarakhandMention of Madhyameshwar Temple is found in hundredth chapter of Kashi Khand, where it is written the devotees must take a dip in Mandakini Teerth and worship in Madhyameshwar Temple. Ancient topography suggests that Madhyameshwar (as its name suggests) was situated at the center of Kashi, which was a very large area. But with the passing time Kashi started constricting and the temple is thus no longer in the center. Name of this temple is also mentioned in Kurma Puran.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Uttar PradeshKashi Vishwanath is located in one of the holiest and oldest cities of the world, Varanasi. This jyoritlinga temple’s main deity is Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara, which means the ruler of the universe. Just like Somnath Temple, this too has been destroyed and built a lot of times. The last time it was demolished was by Aurangzeb, when he commissioned Gyanvapi mosque here. However, the current structure was built in 1780 by Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar.
Trimbakeshwar Temple in MaharashtraOne of twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, Trimbakeshwar Temple also happens to be the source of Godavari River, which is the longest river in India peninsular. Main deity of the temple is a Shivalinga and it has started eroding. People believe that this erosion represents the nature of human society.
Other extraordinary attribute of this temple is its three faces that embody Lord Brahma, Lord Rudra and Lord Vishnu. A jeweled crown is placed on the gold mask of Tridev. This crown is embedded with emeralds, diamond and other precious stones. It is believed that this crown dates back to the time of Pandavas.
Vaidyanath Temple in Deoghar, JharkhandVaidyanath Jyoritlinga is also known as Baba Dham or Baidyanath Dham. As per the beliefs, Ravana (the devil from the epic of Ramayana) worshipped Lord Shiva here and offered sacred water of Ganga as a ritual. Another name of the temple is Kama Lingam which addressed to the deity as a wish-fulfiller.
Nageshwar Temple in Dwarka, GujaratNageshwar Temple is believed to be first ever jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva on earth. It is impossible to overlook the beautiful 25-meter-tall Lord Shiva statue. The jyotirlinga of Nagnath is known as Nageshwar Mahadeva. A huge number of pilgrims visit this shrine to offer prayers to the almighty. It is believed that those who worship Nagnath or Nageshwar Mahadev (forms of Lord Shiva), become free from poison. The temple is located on an island on the coast of Saurashtra.
Ramanathaswamy Temple in Tamil NaduRamanasthaswamy Jyotorlinga is datable to a time way before 12th century, when it was expanded by the Pandya Dynasty. Of all temples in India, Ramanathaswamy temple has the longest corridor. It is located on an island town, Rameshwaram, which is a holy site for not just the followers of Lord Shiva (Shaivites) but for the followers of Lord Vishnu (Vaishanavites) and followers of Panchayatna (Smarthas) too.
As per beliefs Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva here in order to absolve his sin of killing a brahmana whilst on his war with demon king, Ravana. Lord Ram asked Lord Hanuman and his monkey army to bring the largest lingam for worshipping Shiva. For the time being Goddess Sita built a small lingam from the sand on the seashore.
Grishneshwar Temple in MaharashtraThe twelfth and last jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva is built upon a bed of rocks. The shikhara is five tiered and the temple as a whole is 240×185 feet tall. Though the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but sculptures and figurines of other gods and goddesses add a touch of beauty to it. The spring inside the temple is considered as a holy water. Ghushma a staunch follower of Lord Shiva found a treasure in a snake pit and used that money to renovate the temple and build a lake.
Brihadeeswarar Temple in Tamil NaduBrihadeeswarar Temple has several other names, such as Peruvudaiyar Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple and Periya Kovil, among others. This Shiva temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other monuments which are collectively known as Great Living Chola Temples. The temple is more than a thousand-year-old and portrays a spectacular work of architecture.
At the entrance a 16×13 statue of Nandi Bull welcomes the devotees. This statue is carved out of a single stone. The temple is built mainly of granite. The prime deity of this temple is off course Lord Shiva, who is known as Moolavar. This is one of the few temples which have idols for the Guardians of Direction, Ashta-dikpaalakas.
Shore Temple in Tamil NaduAs the name implies, Shore Temple is settled near the Bay of Bengal. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram. This rock-cut structure is datable to the time between 700 and 728 AD. Though the main deity of the temple is Shiva Linga but a shrine of Lord Vishnu is also placed here. Large sculptures of Nandi Bull are extensively used to decorate the temple.
Lingaraj Temple in OdishaThe largest temple of Bhubaneswar, Lingaraja Temple is a major tourist attraction of Odhisha State. Though the clear history of this temple is not documented by it is believed that it is at least 1100 years old. Some parts of the temple are considered to have built in sixth century CE as some seventh century Sanskrit text emphasize on this temple.
Architecture of this temple is similar to Kalinga architecture and it was built by the kings of Somavamsi Dynasty. It is built in Deula style, which comprises mainly of jagmohana (assembly hall), vimana (structure containing the sanctum), natamandira (festival hall and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offering).
Kotilingeshwara Temple in KarnatakaKotilingeshwara Temple has a 108-feet-tall Shiva Linga , in front of which a 35-feet-tall statue of Nandi Bull is erected. The temple complex comprises of one crore shiva lingas, along with eleven small temples dedicated to different Hindu gods like Lord Brahma, Lord Maheshwara and Lord Vishnu. There are two trees in the premises which are of utmost importance, namely cannon ball flower tree and nagalinga flower trees. As a matter of ritual, unmarried girls tie a sacred yellow thread around the tree and wish for a happy married life ahead.
Daksheswara Mahadev Temple in HaridwarDaksheswara Mahadev, also known as Daksha Mahadev Temple, is a venerated Shiva shrine named after father of Sati Devi, King Daksha Prajapati. The temple is one of the fourteen Prajapatis. The temple was commissioned by Queen Dhankaur in 1810, but the present-day structure was built in 1962. Other than the main temple, there are other structures of importance too like Das Mahavidya dedicated to Mahavidyas and one dedicated to Goddess Ganga.
Annamalaiyar Temple in Tamil NaduCounted among the largest temple complexes of India, Annamalaiyar covers an area of 10 hectares. There are four gateway towers (gopurams), of which the tallest has a height of 66 meters and is 11-storeyed. There are very few temple towers in India having such an influential height.
And off course, this temple complex houses many shrines; Ammalaiyar and Unnamulai Amman being the most significant ones. Dravidian style of architecture has been adopted in its construction. The gopurams are decorated with fine and vivid sculptures and figurines.
Tarakeshwar Temple in West BengalTarakeshwar Temple or Taraknath Temple is datable to 1729. Legend goes that once Raja Vishnu Das had a dream which led him to a Shiva Linga somewhere amid the woods of Tarakeswarar. This Shiva Linga today is the main deity of the temple and is believed to be swayambhu linga, referred as Baba Taraknath. A temple was built around the temple in 1729 AD. The temple is thronged with visitors every day, but especially on Mondays and Shivratri festivals, the crowd increases.