A Jyotirlinga (Sanskrit: ज्योतिर्लिङ्ग, romanizedJyotirliṅga, lit.'lingam of light')[1] or Jyotirlingam, is a devotional representation of the Hindu god Shiva. The word is a Sanskrit compound of jyotis ('radiance') and linga ('sign'). The Śiva Mahāpurāṇam (also Shiva Purana) mentions 64 original jyotirlinga shrines in India.



According to a Shiva legend from the Shiva Purana, once, Brahma (the god of creation) and Vishnu (the god of preservation) had an argument over their supremacy.[2] To settle the debate, Shiva pierced the three worlds, appearing as a huge, infinite pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Brahma and Vishnu decided to ascend and descend across a pillar of light respectively, to find the end of the light in either direction. According to some iterations, Vishnu assumed his Varaha avatar to achieve this task, while Brahma rode a hamsa (swan).[3] Brahma lied that he had discovered the end of the light, producing a ketakī flower as proof, while Vishnu admitted that he could not find the end of the light from his journey.[4] The dishonesty of Brahma angered Shiva, causing him to curse the creator deity that he would not be worshipped; he also declared that Vishnu would be eternally worshipped for his honesty.[5] The jyotirlinga shrines are regarded to be the temples where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.[6][7]

Original 64

Originally, there were believed to have been 64 jyotirlingas of which twelve are considered to be very auspicious and holy.[2] The twelve jyotirlinga sites take the names of their respective presiding deity, and each is considered a different manifestation of Shiva.[8] At all these sites, the primary image is lingam, representing the beginningless and endless stambha (pillar), symbolising the infinite nature of Shiva.[8][9][10]

Sanskrit shlokas

The following shloka (द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम् Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram) describes the 12 jyotirlingas:[11][12]

Sanskrit IAST English
सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्। Saurāṣṭre Somanāthaṃ cha Śrīśaile Mallikārjunam Somnath in Saurashtra and Sri Mallikarjuna in Srisailam;
उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्॥ Ujjayinyāṃ Mahākālam Omkāram Amaleśwaram Mahakala (Mahakaleshwara) in Ujjain, Omkareshwara in (Khandwa);
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्। paralyam Vaidyanāthaṃ cha Ḍākinyāṃ Bhīmaśaṅkaram Vaijanath in Parli or Baidyanath in Jharkhand and Bhimashankara in Dakinya;
सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥ Setubandhe tu Rāmeśaṃ Nāgeśaṃ Dārukāvane Ramesham (Rameshwara) in Sethubandh, (Nagesham) Naganath in Daruka-Vana;
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे। Vārāṇasyāṃ tu Viśveśaṃ Tryambakaṃ Gautamītaṭe Vishwesham (Vishweshwara) in Varanasi, Tryambakam (Trayambakeshwara) at bank of the river Gautami (Godavari);
हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥ Himālaye tu Kedāraṃ Ghuśmeśaṃ ca Śivālaye Kedar (Kedarnath) in the Himalayas and Ghushmesh in Shivalay , (Grishneshwar / Ghushmeshwar )
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः। etāni jyotirliṅgāni sāyaṃ prātaḥ paṭhennaraḥ One who recites these jyotirlingas every evening and morning
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति॥ saptajanmakṛtaṃ pāpaṃ smaraṇena vinaśyati is relieved of all sins committed in past seven lives.
एतेषां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति। eteṣāṃ darśanādeva pātakaṃ naiva tiṣṭhati One who visits these, gets all his wishes fulfilled
कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः॥: karmakṣayo bhavettasya yasya tuṣṭo maheśvarāḥ and one's karma gets eliminated as Maheshwara gets satisfied to the worship.

Twelve most sacred sites

The names and the locations of 12 jyotirlingas are mentioned in the Shiva Purana (Śatarudra Saṁhitā, Ch.42/2-4). The detailed stories are given in Kotirudra Saṁhitā, chapters 14 to 33. These temples (not in order) are:

# Jyotirlinga Image State Location Description
1 Somnath
Gujarat Veraval Somnath is traditionally considered the first pilgrimage site: the Dwadash Jyotirlinga pilgrimage begins with the Somnath Temple. The temple, that was destroyed and re-built sixteen times, is held in reverence throughout India and is rich in legend, tradition, and history. It is located at Prabhas Patan, Veraval in Saurashtra region of Gujarat state in western India.
2 Mallikārjuna
Andhra Pradesh Srisailam Mallikārjuna, also called Śrīśaila, is located on a mountain in Kurnool District in Rayalaseema.[13] It enshrines Mallikarjuna in an ancient temple that is architecturally and sculpturally rich. It is a place where Shakti Peetha and jyotirlingam are together. Adi Shankara composed his Shivananda Lahari here.[citation needed]
3 Mahakaleshwar
Madhya Pradesh Ujjain Mahakal, Ujjain (or Avanti) in Madhya Pradesh is home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple. The Lingam at Mahakal is believed to be Swayambhu, the only one of the 12 jyotirlingams to be so. It is also the only one facing south and also the temple to have a Shree Rudra Yantra perched upside down at the ceiling of the Garbhagriha (where the Shiv Lingam sits). It is a place where Shakti Peetha and jyotirlingam are together.
4 Omkareshwar
Madhya Pradesh Khandwa Omkareshwar is in Madhya Pradesh on an island in the Narmada River and home to a jyotirlinga shrine and the Mamaleshwar temple.
5 Baidyanath
Baidyanath Temple
Jharkhand Deoghar Baba Baidyanath Dham, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is located in Deoghar, in the Santhal Parganas division of the Indian state of Jharkhand.
6 Bhimashankar
Maharashtra Pune Bhimashankar temple is situated in Bhimashankar village of Maharashtra, where the Bhima river originates. The Bhimashankar forest is known as Dakini Vana.
7 Rameshwaram
Tamil Nadu Rameswaram Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu is home to the vast Ramalingeswarar Jyotirlinga temple and is revered as the southernmost of the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of India. It enshrines the Rameśvara (God of Rama) pillar.[13] It is also one of the Padal petra stalam of Pandya Naadu mentioned in Tevaram.
8 Nageshwar Gujarat Near Dwarka Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana and the Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram, says one of the jyotirlinga namely Nagesh is situated in Daruka-Vana and most probably the present day Dwarka region. Other claims to the Nagesh Jyotirlinga status come from - Aundha Naganath (Hingoli District of Maharashtra) and Jageshwar (Almora District of Uttarakhand)
9 Vishwanath
Uttar Pradesh Varanasi The Kashi Vishwanath (Vishweshwar) Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh is home to the Vishwanath Jyotirlinga shrine, which is perhaps the most sacred of Hindu shrines. It is also one of the Padal petra stalam of Vada Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram. The temple is situated in Varanasi, the holiest city for Hindus, where a Hindu is expected to make a pilgrimage at least once in his life, and if possible, also pour the remains of cremated ancestors on the River Ganges. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve jyotirlingas. In fact, it is a place where Shakti peeta and jyotirlingam are together. It is the holiest of all Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanath or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The temple town, is considered the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi.
10 Trimbakeshwar
Maharashtra Trimbak The Trimbakeshwar Temple, near Nashik in Maharashtra, is a jyotirlinga shrine associated with the origin of the Godavari River.
11 Kedarnath
Uttarakhand Kedarnath Kedarnath in Uttarakhand is revered as the northernmost and the closest jyotirlinga to Lord Shiva's eternal abode of Mount Kailash. Kedarnath forms a part of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage circuit of Hinduism. Kedarnath, nestled in the snow-clad Himalayas, is an ancient shrine, rich in legend and tradition. It is accessible only for six months a year. It is also one of the Paadal Petra Sthalam of Vada Naadu mentioned in Thevaaram. Shiva assumed the form of wild boar and dived into the earth at Kedarnath to emerge at Doleshwor in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Pure ghee is applied at Kedarnath lingam as the boar was injured.
12 Grishneshwar
Maharashtra Aurangabad Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, referred to as the Grishneshwar temple in Shiva Purana, is one of the 12 jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. According to Shiv Puran, Grishneshwar is one of the Shiva Jyotirlinga which is situated near Ellora village, less than a kilometer from UNESCO site Ellora Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.



  1. ^ Wisdom Library 2019
  2. ^ a b Venugopalam 2003, pp. 92–95
  3. ^ Pattanaik 2017, p. 126
  4. ^ Kumar 2003, p. 1645
  5. ^ Gangashetty 2019, p. 102
  6. ^ Eck 1999, p. 107
  7. ^ Gwynne 2009, section on Char Dham
  8. ^ a b Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324–325
  9. ^ Harding 1998, pp. 158–158
  10. ^ Vivekananda, v. 4
  11. ^ Vaidika Vignanam n.d.
  12. ^ "Archived copy of Dvādaśa Jyotirliṅga Stotram" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  13. ^ a b Chakravarti 1994, p. 140

Works cited