Origin of the 12 Jyotirlinga

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Somnath Temple in Gujarat

The moon was married to the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. But he had special love towards one, Rohini and neglected the others. Daksha Prajapati cursed Chandra that he would lose his beauty and radiance. Chandra, came down to earth with Rohini and worshipped the Sparsa Linga of Somnath after which lord Shiva blessed him to grow and shine in the bright half. On the request of the Chandrama and other gods, lord Shiva assumed the name Somchandra Jyotirlinga and resided there eternally. He became famous by the name Somnath. Image Courtesy: www.wikipedia.org

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Somnath Temple in Gujarat
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Mallikarjun Temple in Andhra Pradesh

Once, lord Shiva’s son Kartikeya was angry and went away to the Kraunch Mountain. Shiva and Parvati decided that they would themselves go to Kraunch Mountain. However, when Kartikeya came to know that his parents have arrived, he went away. Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirlinga and resided on that mountain by the name of Mallikarjuna. Mallika means Parvati, while Arjuna is another name of Shiva. It is said that by merely seeing the tip of the mountain can cleanse one of all his sins and worries. Image Courtesy: www.harekrsna.com

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Mallikarjun Temple in Andhra Pradesh
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Mahakaleshwara Temple in Ujjain

A demon by name, Dushana tormented the residents of Avanti. Shiva appeared from the ground and vanquished the demon. Then, upon the request of the inhabitants of Avanti, Shiva took up a permanent abode here as Mahakaleshwara Jyotirlinga. Image Courtesy: www.staticflickr.com

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Mahakaleshwara Temple in Ujjain
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Omkareshwar Temple in Madhya Pradesh

Legend says that once upon a time Vidhya Parvat practiced severe penance and worshipped Parthivarchana along with Lord Omkareshwar for nearly six months. As a result Lord Shiva was pleased and blessed him with the desire boon. On the sincere request of all the gods and the sages, Lord Shiva made two parts of the lings. One half being Omkareshwara and the other Amaleshwara or Amareshwar. Image Courtesy: www.sandeepnadendla.com

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Omkareshwar Temple in Madhya Pradesh
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Vaidyanath Temple in Deogarh

Ravana meditated to Lord Shiva, as he wanted lord Shiva to come to Sri Lanka and make his capital invincible. Ravana prayed to lord Shiva, who pleased with his devotion, gave him a Jyotirlingam on condition that if it were placed on the ground it shall fix itself to the ground for eternity. Lord Vishnu tricked Ravan and placed the Jyotirlingam on the ground. Disappointed, Ravana offered severe penance and cut off nine of his heads. Shiva revived him and joined the heads to the body, like the work of a Vaidya or a physician, hence this Jyotirlingam goes by the name Vaidyanath. Image Courtesy: www.blogspot.com

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Vaidyanath Temple in Deogarh
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Bhimashankar Temple in Pune

Once a demon called Bhima lived with his mother Karkati in the dense forests of Dakini. His mother revealed that he was the son of Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of King Ravana and that Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama had killed his father. Bhima vowed to take revenge. Bhima performed severe penance to please Lord Brahma. Pleased, lord Brahma granted him immense prowess. Bhima began to cause havoc in the three worlds. He conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva, Kamrupeshwar and put him in the dungeons. When Kamrupeshwar refused to stop worshipping lord Shiva, Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga. Lord Shiva appeared and reduced him to ashes. Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga. Image Courtesy: www.blogspot.com

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Bhimashankar Temple in Pune
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Rameshwaram Temple in Tamil Nadu

It is said that Hanuman was entrusted with the task of bringing an image of lord Shiva from Banaras. Anticipating delay in Hanuman's return from Benares, Rama offered worship to a Shivalingam at a chosen auspicious moment. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam and the town is known as Rameswaram. There is yet another Shivalingam at Viswanathar said to have been brought by Hanuman from Banaras. This Shivalingam is referred to as Kasilingam and Hanumalingam. Prayers are offered to Hanumalingam before they are offered to Ramanathaswamy. Image Courtesy: www.saivagjana.eoldal.hu

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Rameshwaram Temple in Tamil Nadu
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Nageshwar Temple in Dwarka

According to Shiv Purana, 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. Supriya advised all prisoners to recite the mantra ‘Aum Namaha Shivaya’. When Daaruka came to know about this he tried to kill Supriya. Instantly Lord Shiva appeared and vanquished the demon. This Jyotirlinga manifestation of Shiva is worshipped as Nageswara. Image Courtesy: www.wikipedia.org

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Nageshwar Temple in Dwarka
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Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi

Also famous by the name of Shiv Vishwanath Kashi, Shri Vishweshwar Temple is said to be dear to Lord Shiva. The one who prays and worships Vishweshwar with devotion attains all his desires. It is believed that Varanasi is the point at which the first Jyotirlinga. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remain the devotional focus of Varanasi. Millions of pilgrims converge here to pray to the sacred Jyotirlingam. Image Courtesy: www.blogspot.com

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Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi
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Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nasik

Sage, Gautam Rishi resided on the Brahmagiri hill. By virtue of his devotion, the sage received a bottomless pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains. The other rishi's were jealous and arranged for a cow to enter his granary and caused it to die. Gautam Rishi worshipped Lord Shiva to bring the Ganga down to his hermitage to purify the premises. After Ganga flowed down, lord Shiva told Ganga to stay there eternally for the good of everyone. On the request of all the Gods, Lord Shiva resided by the river by the name Trimbakeshwar. Hindus believe that Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga is one, which fulfills everyone’s desires. www.wikipedia.org

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Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nasik
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Kedarnath Temple in Himalayas

Nara and Narayana, two incarnations of Vishnu performed severe penance in Badrikashraya of Bharat Khand, in front of a Shivalingam fashioned out of earth. Pleased with their devotion, Lord Shiva appeared in front of them and said that they may ask for a boon. Nar and Narayan requested Shiva to take up a permanent abode as a Jyotirlingam at Kedarnath so that all people who worship Shiva shall be freed from their miseries. Image courtesy: www.wikipedia.org

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Kedarnath Temple in Himalayas
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Grishneshwar Temple in Daulatabad

On a mountain named Devagiri lived a Brahmin called Brahmavetta Sudharm along with his wife Sudeha. The couple did not have a child because of which Sudeha was sad. Sudeha got her sister Ghushma married to her husband. Ghushma used to make 101 lingas, worship them and immersed them in the near by lake. Ghushma gave birth to a baby boy. Sudeha started feeling jealous towards her sister and one night she killed Ghushma's son and threw him in the lake. When Ghushma saw the bed drenched in blood she said that he who has given me this child shall protect him and started reciting the name of lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was pleased and appeared before her and gave her son back to her and asked her to make a wish. Ghushma asked lord Shiva to reside there eternally for the benefit of the mankind and to be known by her name. Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Jyotirling and assumed the name Ghushmeshwar and the lake was named as Shivalaya. Image courtesy: www.wikipedia.org

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Grishneshwar Temple in Daulatabad
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