1. Somnath Temple (SOMANATH) in Saurashtra, Gujarat
saurAShTradeshe vishade.atiramye jyotirmayaM chandrakalAvataMsam | bhaktipradAnAya kRipAvatIrNaM taM somanAthaM sharaNaM prapadye ||
“Jay Somanath! Jay Somanath”!
Somnath temple, the first in the twelve jyothirlingas, is located at the Viraval port - Prabhas Pattan in Saurashtra - Gujarat.
Anceint Glory of Somnath Temple
Known as prabhAsa kshetra, Somnath occupied a much esteemed place in the Hindu holy places. It finds many references in the purANas & itihAsas.
The inner temple of the Garbhashay was supported to be aglow with the luster of these gemstones. The Nanda Deep was always kept lighted with Kannauji attar. The treasure of the temple was forever full of vast wealth and was kept safe.
For worship of the Lord-and Abhishek (worship with holy water) sandalwood scented water was brought from Haridwar, Prayag Kashi every day. However flowers for special festivities were imported from Kashmir. For the routine daily worship, one thousand Brahmins were appointed. About three hundred and fifty dancing girls were appointed for the regular music and dance concerts that took place in the Temple courts.
This religious place of worship was earning the produce of ten thousand villages. Among the twelve JyotirLingas (Lingas of light) Somanath is considered as the primary one. Because this deity is supposed to be Swayanbhu (self-born) and is always awake, lakhs of devotees visited this temple and considered themselves blessed and to have achieved piety. Offerings made by crores of devotees amounted to crores of rupees which kept the Somnath Temple always rich and abundant. Along with this, the Sun worshipping foreigners (probably Parsis) also contributed a pat of their profits to the temple treasury which kept its coffers full, all the time.
Chandra, (moon) was the first one to receive the benefic boon of Shri Somanath of Saurashtra, the Shiva pilgrimage, Agni Teerth and Surya Teerth. Then Chandra built a beautiful golden temple and put a glorious JyotirLinga in it, the first of its kind in India.
According to Prabhaskhand of Skanda Purana, the legend goes like this:
Chandra married the twenty seven daughters (stars) of Daksha, but was very partial and showed lot more love and affection to rohini. The remaining twenty six wives not only felt neglected but also insulted. They were disappointed with their husband and went and complained to their father. Daksha was upset to see his daughters suffer thus, and tried twice to convince his son-in-law to change himself, but in vain. He put a curse on him that Chandra would be “decreasing” in size.
The Devas (Celestial gods) were very sad at Chandra’s plight and went to Brahma. The Creator, in order to find out a remedy for this condition of Chandra and get a solution for redressing the curse. Brahma told them that the only way out was to worship Vrishabhdhwaj Shankar at Prabhas Kshetra Mahamrityunjay. Chandra went on a penance for six months and prayed to Lord Shiva, at the end of which Shankara appeared before him. He gave Chandra the boon that in a month, he would grow for fifteen days in one half and in the other half he would keep loosing one Kala (shade) per day and decrease in size. He was pleased with the Devas and in order to increase the prestige of the place, Lord Shiva Himself came to be known as Someshwar, meaning famous moon (Soma). The Devas established a Someshwar Kund there. By taking a holy dip in this pond or Kund, it is believed that one would obtain release from all the sins.
Chandra or moon is also called Som. That is why this JyotirLinga has become famous as Somanath. Chandra or moon looks very bright here. Therefore, this place is also known as “Prabhasapattana”.
Later, Shri Somnath Mandir was built by Ravana fro Rupa in the treda yug and LordKrishna fro Chandran in . Emperor vikramAditya built the temple in the kali yug.
2. Srisailam Temple - SRI MALLIKARJUNA JYOTIRLINGAM
shrIshailashRiNge vibudhAtisaNge tulAdrituNge.api mudA vasantam |
tamarjunaM mallikapUrvamekaM namAmi saMsArasamudrasetum ||
“Jaya Mallikarjuna! Jai Mallikarjuna”
Srisailam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. This whole area is full of forests of Kadali, Bilva trees, mountain ranges and Patalaganga (Krishnaveni river). All of them echo from these joyous voices of devotees.
Puranic History of Srisailam Temple
When Kumar Kartikeya returned to Kailash after completing his trip around the earth, he heard about Ganesha’s marriage from Narada. This angered him. In spite of being restrained by his parents, he touched their feet in obeisance and left for Krounch Mountain. Parvati was very distraught at having to be away from her son, implored Lord Shiva to look for their son. Together, they went to Kumara. But, Kumara went away a further three Yojanas, after learning about his parents coming after him to Krouncha Mountain. Before embarking on a further search for their son on each mountain, they decided to leave a light on every mountain they visited. From that day, that place came to be known as JyotirLinga Mallikarjuna. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati visit this palce on Amavasya (No moon day) and (full Moon day) Pournami, respectively. Visiting this JyotirLinag not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires.
Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw. There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.
Location and Development of mallikarjuna swamy temple
Shaila Mallikarjuna’s holy place is located on the banks of River Krishna. Here River Krishna is in the form of Patalaganga (underground spring). Lakhs of devotees take a holy dip here and then go for the Darshan of the JyotirLinga.
During the Karnataka Movement, Chatrapati Shivaji used to come to take a Darshan of the JyotirLinga during the Maharatri. He built a tower on the right side of the Temple and also opened a free-meal center.
The kings of the VijayaNagar Dynasty too built a Temple, Tower, Portico and a pond. Ahelyadevi Holkar, a great devotee of Siva built a strong bathing wharf consisting of 852 steps on the banks of the Patalganga.
Earlier, this part of the Shaila mountains was an unreachable tough terrain and fraught with danger. Even then, devotees, with their sheer will power, used to reach there in large numbers. Hiranyakashipa, Narada, Pandavas, Sri Ram are some of the great mythological personalities who have visited this holy shrine. shankara bhagavatpAda, rENukAchArya(2), akka mahAdevi, hemareddy mallamma are some of the great devotees who worshipped Lord mallikArjuna here.
sambandhar, appar and sundharar have sung one padhikam (3) each on the Lord of Srisailam.
3. SRI MAHAKALESHWAR (mahakal) in Ujjain
avantikAyAM vihitAvatAraM muktipradAnAya cha sajjanAnAm |
akAlamRityoH pariraxaNArthaM vande mahAkAlamahAsuresham ||
On the banks of river Kshipra, the city of Ujjain exists in Madhya Pradesh. It is also known as Indrapuri Amaravati, and Avantika. Because of the number of golden towers of several temples, this town is also known as “Swarna Sringa.”
One of the seven cities of deliverance or salvation, Avantika Nagar has 7 Sagar Teerthas, 28 teerthas, 84 SiddhaLingas, 25-30 SivaLingas, Ashtabhairav, Ekadasa Rudrasthana, temples for hundreds of deities, Jalakund and monuments are there.
sthala purANa of Ujjain Mahakaleshwar jyotirling
Once there lived a Brahman who had four sons, who were all devotees of Siva. The wicked demon king Dushan came to Avantika after attaining a boon from Lord Branhma and started torturing the erudite Brahmanas of Avantika. But the Brahmanas who were very engrossed in their worship of Shiva did not even flinch.
The demon king sent all four of his henchmen with the orders that they have to ensure that no Vedic Dharmanushtan activities are to take place. The harassed people came running to the Brahmans seeking help. The Brahmanas assured the people and pacified them. They immediately started praying to Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, just as the Demon king tried to attack the Brahmanas, the earth would split open near the Parthiv Murty with a loud noise and huge crater would form there. In this manner, Siva assumed the colossal form of Mahakal and appeared. He ordered the wicked Demon from going anywhere near the Brahmanas. But the wicked Demon king did not pay heed. As a result, Siva burnt him to ashes with just one grunt. Seeing Lord Siva in this Avatar, Brahma, Vishnu and Indra and other Devas came down and prayed to the Lord and pleased Him.
The grandeur of Mahakaleswar is indescribable. Chandrasena, the king of Ujjain was not only a scholar, but also a staunch devotee of Lord Siva. Once his friend Maheswari’s follower Manibahdra gave him a beautiful gemstone called Sundara Chintamani. It shone so bright and beautiful when Chandrasen wore it on his neck, that he looked even more glorious than the celestial gods. It would make even them feel jealous. Once, some kings went and asked Chandrasen to part with the jewel and Chandrasen promptly refused to do so. This angered the kings, who in turn attacked Chandrasena’s kingdom. When Chandrasena realized that he was surrounded by the enemy he sought the help of Mahakal. Bhagawan Shiva was pleased with his prayers and showed him a solution for his problem. Just then, by chance, a Brahman woman wandered near Mahakal, carrying her child with her, and suddenly became a widow. An illiterate boy once saw the king performing Puja in the stone and installed it in his empty house. He imagined it to be an incarnation of Shiva and started worshipping it. The boy became so engrossed in prayer and chanting, that he even forgot all about food. When his mother went to call him, any number of calls had no affect on him. He was silently praying. Angered by this, the mother who was still bound by worldly love, threw away the SivaLinga. She destroyed all the thing of worship. The boy was very sad at what his mother had done. He started to pray to Shiva with his entire concentration. Siva was not long in coming to the rescue of his devotee. This stone SivaLinga which was brought by the son of a cowherd soon became adorned with gemstones and turned into a JyotirLinga. After singing in praise of Lord Siva, when the boy returned to his house, he was amazed to find a beautiful palatial home instead. Thus, with the Grace and Blessings of Lord Siva, the boy became rich and led a very happy life.
In the mean time, the enemy kings who attached ceased Chandrasena’s empire, began to fight among themselves. They began to say king Chandrasena is a Siva devotee and ujjain itself is the city of Mahakal. It is therefore, impossible to anyone to win it. They then decided to extend a hand of friendship to king Chandrasena and together they all worshipped Mahakal.
At that time, the Vanara King Hanuman appeared there. He told the kings that only Siva could grant salvation to mankind and nobody else. Siva can be pleased with worship done even without chanting any mantras. The example of the son of cowherd is for us. Then Hanuman looked at Chandrasena with eyes filled with affection and benevolence and disappeared.
Historic glory of Ujjain
The Adyapeetha i.e., is the foundation of Sanskrit learning, ethics, knowledge or science and art had their initiation at this place. It is indeed the Triveni Sangam or learning of the three great things. The greatness of Ujjain city was enhanced by the Maurya kings as well as other dynasties. The great emperor Vikramaditya who began new era by starting a new way of counting the years, made Ujjain his capital.
It is here that Raja Bhartrihari wrote his great epics (love stories) Virat Katha, neeti Sataka, the love story of Pradyot Princess Vasavadatta and Udayan. The beauty of this city found a pride of place in the descriptions of a great many poets and writers who song its praise. At the auspicious time at dawn, the women of this town sprinkled vermillion water in their courtyards and decorated them with Rangoli designs.
In the Mahakal Shiv temple located in Ujjain on the banks of River Kshipra, at 4 AM puja is performed. After Abhishek, Chitabhasm (Ash of cemetery) is applied all over Mahakal.
According to classics, Chitabhasm (human ash) is considered as unholy and inauspicious. If any one even touches it by mistake, one is required to bathe in order to be purified. But this very ash becomes holy, by merely touching the body of Mahakal, because Siva is Nishkam or lust-less. He is not touched by material desires. That is why Shiva is Mangalmay
In the mean time, the enemy kings who attached ceased Chandrasena’s empire, began to fight among themselves. They began to say king Chandrasena is a Siva devotee and ujjain itself is the city of Mahakal. It is therefore, impossible to anyone to win it. They then decided to extend a hand of friendship to king Chandrasena and together they all worshipped Mahakal.
At that time, the Vanara King Hanuman appeared there. He told the kings that only Siva could grant salvation to mankind and nobody else. Siva can be pleased with worship done even without chanting any mantras. The example of the son of cowherd is for us. Then Hanuman looked at Chandrasena with eyes filled with affection and benevolence and disappeared.
4.SRI OMKARESHWAR MAMALESHWARAM Temples
kAverikAnarmadayoH pavitre samAgame sajjanatAraNAya |
sadaiva mAndhAtRipure vasantamoNkAramIshaM shivamekamIDe ||
Location of OmkAreshwar Jyothirling
OmkAreshwar is a beautiful self manifest (swayambhu) linga. From the Vindhyanchal mountain range in Madhya Pradesh, river Narmada, turns westward and meanders in that direction. The deep wide river looks like it has assimilated into itself all the sins and sorrows of the humans and releasing them from these. This river Narmada, which flows rippling from the mountains, is also known as “Reva”. The smooth, round pebbles found in this river are called “BanaLingas”.
“Narmada ke Kankar, UtteShankar” is the belief of the devotees. That is how, Narmada is also known as “Shankari” river.
On the banks of river Narmada, there is a huge island on which the fourth of the JyotirLinga “Omkaram Amaleshwar” is situated. This island and the river are shaped like “OM” and that is how it derives its name. It is a natural phenomenon. The devotees who go round the temple consider themselves blessed because they are doing a Parikrama or Circumambulation of Omkara itself and Darshan of the holy JyotirLinga. The Narmada banks and the island are extremely beautiful. The beauty of Nature here is seen to be believed. The houses perched on the terraced green, strong mountains, the temple, KotiTeerth located in the waterfalls and valleys like Chakrateerts are some of the places to be seen. One can see very big fish and also crocodiles in these waers. There are many trees with beautiful creepers all over them. Groups of monkeys live on these trees. There are a variety of birds. The temple towers look bright and shiny in between. The whole atmosphere echoes with the the sound of “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is here that Lord Sankara has taken the forms of “Omkareshwara” and “Amaleshwara”, as JyotirLinga.
sthala purANa of Omkareshvar
In the ancient times the Demons defeated the gods or divines. Indra was worried. The Danavas or Demons have wrecked havoc in all the three worlds, i.e., Trilokas. In order to empower the Devas once again, Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirmaya Omkararoop. He came out of the nether world or Patala. Lord Shankar came out in the form of Linga on the banks of river Narmada. The gods or Devas have worshipped the Linga which made them powerful once again. This time they were able to destroy the demons and re-acquiesced their empire in Heavens.
Brahma and Vishnu also lived in the same place as Omkar Amaleshwar. That is why on the banks of Narmada Brahmapuri, Vishnupuri and Rudrapuri are built which are known as Tripuri Kshetra. The Amareshwar JyotiraLinga is situated in Rudrapuri.
Later on, in the mythological era or Purana Kala, Yavanaswa Putra Mandhata came into power here with the blessings of Indra. He served Lord Shankara with great devotion. Lord Shankara was pleased with him. The waters of Narmada emanated from the Arghya (holy water) or Jalahari of the Omkar JyotirLinga and flown through the mountains, downward and later on flow unseen. Narmada joins the deep-water spring located near the Linga idol of Omkareshwar. It flows there eternally. When some bubbles appear at the bottom of this spring, it is said, that Lord Shankar is pleased.
King Mandhata made this holy place his capital. Therefore, this place is also known as Omkar Mandhata. The descendents of Mandhata live here even today. The Vindhya mountain also performed a severe penance and pleased Omkar-Amareshwar. As a result of which, the whole place turned beautiful. Many hermits like Agastya have performed severe penances and japas at Omkar-Amaleshwaram JyotirLingam. They had built their hermitages.
This place of pilgrimage became famous in the historical times too. In 1063 AD, Paramarking Udayaditya installed four stone inscriptions with four Sanskrit Stotras and dedicated them to the Amaleshwar Temple. Pushpadanta’s “Shiva Mahima Stotra” can also be seen as a stone inscription.
Initially aboriginals used to live here on Omkareshwar island as a settlement. It belonged to Kalika devi. Devotees of this goddess were known as Bhairavgan and used to harass pilgrims. They used to sacrifice them. After sometime, a saint by the name Dariyayinath took charge of that place and stopped the atrocities of the Bhairavgan. Since then, pilgrims started moving there freely.
After that, Bhil reign began there. In 1195 AD, King Bharat Singh Cahuhan won over the Bhils and improved the grandeur of the Omkar Mandhata. Even today the palace ruins of Raja Bahrat Singh Chauhan can be seen. The heirs of Bharat Singh Chauhan call themselves the ‘Kings’ of Omkar island, even now staking their right.
The temple was renovated by Peshwa Baji Rao, the second. After Peshwa, Punyashlok Ahilya Devi Holkar, has made several improvements in this ancient shrine. She built strong, expansive and beautiful ghats. The important one among there is the KotirLingarchana schedule.
This shrine of Omkar Mandhata Shiva pilgrimage is most beautiful.
5. SRI VAIDYANATH temple in Parali
Location of Vaidyanath Temple
f one is to draw a line between Kanyakumari and Ujjain, Parali village can be clearly seen on that line. This village is located on the slopes of Meru or Naganarayana Mountain. Parali is an ancient village located near three rivers, Brahma, Venu and Saraswati, because of the presence of one of the twelve JyotirLingas of Shankara, it has become famous. This village is also known as Kantipur, Madhyarekha Vaijayanti or Jayanti. It is 26 kilometers from Ambejogai in the Beed district.
(However, there are references to "Baidyanatham chithabhoomau" in Shiva MahaPuran KotiRudra Samhita 1/21-24 in which the location is identified as"chidabhoomi" - which is possibly the ancient name of Deoghar. In the longer version of the "stotram", there is more explicit reference viz
Poorvothare prajwalika nidhane sada vasantham girija sametham surasuraradhitha padapadmam srivaidyanatham thamaham namami
This stotra suggests that Vaidyanath jyotirlinga is located at Prajwalika Nidhanam (meaning funeral place i.e., chithabhoomi) in the North-Eastern part of the country. Deoghar is far located in east compared to Parli which is in west central part of the country. Also Chidabhoomi indicates that, in olden days, this was a funeral place, where corpses are burnt and post-death ceremonies were performed. )
History of Parali Vaidhyanath jyothirlinga temple
Yogeshwari of Ambejogai was married to Lord Vaidyanatha of Parali. But by the time the marriage party reached, the auspicious time of the wedding had passed. As a result the people of the marriage party turned into stone statues. Yogeshwari was waiting away from Parali. This is one story that is frequently heard there.
When the Gods and Demons made their combined effort in Amrit Manthan (Churning for Nectar), fourteen gems emerged. There were Dhanwantari and Amrit Ratnas in it. When the Demons rushed to grab Amrit, Lord Vishnu hid the Amrit and Dhanwantari in the Shiva Linga of Lord Shankara. Just as the Demons tried to touch the Linga, flames started emanating from the Linga. The scared Demons ran aay. But when devotees of Lord Shankara touched the Linga, there was a free flow of Amrit from the same. Even today, devotees touch the Shiva Linga as a part of taking Darshan. Here, there is no discrimination between caste, creed or color. Anyone can come and visit this place. As the Lingamurthy is supposed to have Amrit and Dhanvantari, it is also known as Amriteshwar and Dhanvantari.
“Vaidyabhyam Poojitam Satyam, Lingametat puratamam
Vaidyanathamiti prakhyatam Sarvakamapradayakam”.
The mountains and jungles and the rivers, are full of useful medicinal herbs. That is why Parali JyotirLinga is also known as Vaidyanatha.
It is here that Lord Vishnu successfully helped the Devas to obtain Amrit. Therefore, this place is also known as ‘Vaijayanti”.
Once the Demon King Ravana went to Kailasa mountain and did a severe penance to please Lord Shankara. Put up with cold, heat, rains and fine and even then when Lord Shiva did not appear before him, he began to cut his head off in order to offer it to the ShivaLinga. Then the Lord appeared after Ravana tried to offer his tenth head. He restored all of Ravana’s heads and granted him boons. Ravana expressed his desire to take Lord Shiva to Lanka as a boon. He said, “I want to take you to Lanka”. Shankara, who is very soft hearted to His devotees, agreed to accompany Ravana to Lanka. He told Ravanan, “You must carry my Linga with care and devotion, but do be careful not to put it down on the earth until you reach your destination, or else, it will stay at whichever place you put it down” Shiva cautioned.
Ravana began the journey homeward carrying the Shivaling. On the way, he wanted to relieve himself by urination. He bid a cowherd boy to hold the Linga while he relieved himself. The cowherd was not able to bear the weight of the Linga and when he could no longer hold it, he put it down on the earth. And the Shiva Linga put there stayed as Lord Shiva already ordained and came to be known as Vaidyanatheswar.
Here, the gods were sad about Ravana taking away Shiva to his Lanka. They requested saint Narada to do something. Narada met Ravana and said to him by way of praising his penance and Tapas. “You made a mistake in trusting Shiva. Believing Shiva’s word was wrong. Go to him and slander him and get your way. Go to Kailasa and move it entirely. Your success will be gauged by your art of moving Kailasa from there”. Ravana was tricked into believing Narada. Ravana promptly carried out Narada’s bidding. Lord Shiva saw the ego driven mischieves rAvaNa and told him: “A unique power is soon going to born which will destroy your pride in the strength of your arms”. Narada informed the Gods of these tidings and his success in his mission. The gods were relieved and were happy. In the meanwhile, Ravana too was happy with the boon he received from Lord Shiva. He returned and was in a trance and was under the influence of Shiva’s mythical power. He was heady and drunk with power. He decided to conquer the entire universe. To subdue his ego only God had to descend on the earth in the Avatar of Rama.
Recent developments in Parli Vaidhyanath
Near Parali Village, the temple is built with stones on a high mound. The temple is surrounded on all four sides by strong walls. The insides have corridors and a courtyard. Outside the temple there is huge Deep Stambh or pillar. The main gate or the Mahadwar has a Minaret nearby. It is called a Prachi or Gawaksha, i.e., window. With the help of the location of these special prayers are held for Sun God, based on the sunrays falling through these windows, directly on to the Lingamurthy.
There is a strong, wide staircase to enter the Temple. It is called ‘Ghat’. The old Ghat was built in the year 1108.
The inner portal of the temple and the court hall are both of the same size. Therefore, the deity’s Darshan has to be done from the courtroom itself. No other place has this type of arrangement. At other places, the inner portal or the Garbhagriha is visually deep.
The Lingamurty at Vaidyanath is made of Shaligram stone. It is beautiful and very smooth and is in a benevolent attitude. On all the four sides of the temple, Nanda Deeps (lights) keep burning.
Vaidyanath temple was renovated in the year 1706 AD, by Shiva devotee Ahalyadevi Holkar. She obtained some special stones from the nearby mountain range of Trishula Devi range, which is close to Parali. This place was Ahalyadevi’s favorite.
Late Nanarao Deshpanda built the wonderful court hall of the temple. The artisans were brought from the village and with the help of the devotees. A Rama Rajeshwar Mahadev Temple too is built in memory of them near to the Vaidyanath temple. With in the premises of the Vaidyanath temple itself, there are eleven more temples for Shiva. The Veerashaiva Lingayats consider Vaidyanath Temple as the best.
Srimant Pershwa donated a large piece of land as an endowment to the temple commission. Today this establishment works through a committee. Several auspicious events are arranged here. Travelers can stay here in comfort.
Just as Parali is a place of pilgrimage for Shiva devotees, it is also a meeting point for Hari Hara. In this mixed holy place, Lord Krishna’s festivals too are celebrated along with Lord Shankara’s festivals, with great festivity. The water from the Harihar Teerth is brought for the daily worship of Vaidyanath. Every Monday devotees gather here in great numbers.
On Chaitra Padva, Vijayadashani, Tripuri Pournima, Maha Shivaratri and Vaikunth Chaturdashi, big celebrations take place. During these celebrations, there is no distinction between Bel and Tulsi. Mahadev is offered Tulsi leaves and Vishnu is offered Bel leaves. This unique practice is seen only in Vaidyanath. During the rainy season (Sravan) worship of Vaidyanath, the entire area of Parali echoes with the chanting of Rudrabhisheka Mantrochchar. The regular Puja is also done with great devotion and dedication.
Markandeya, obtained his boon of life here in Parali from Vaidyanatha. This story is from Shivapuran, Markandeya was not blessed with a long life. Yama wanted to take his life in accordance with the time of Markandeya’s life. But Shiva released him from imminent death and from Yama. A pond is named after him. It is here that this happened.
The story of Satyavan and Savitri too is based in Parali this holy place. On the Narayan mountain, the Vata Vriksh or Banyan tree of Savitri’s story, is still here to be seen. There is a temple of Vateshwara there.
King Sriyal and Queen Changuna’s dear son Chilia, came to life due to the kindness of Lord Shiva in Parali Vaidyanath.
Lord Ganesha’s idol without the usual trunk and in a sitting posture like a body builder can be seen here.
Great saints like Vakrebua, Dhundiraj, Yamaraj, Vishweswar, Guru Lingaswamy lived here. Their holy touch has made Parali even holier. It is a place of pride for Maharashtra.
6. SRI NAGANATH Temple in Darukavanam (Aunda)
Purana of Aunda Nagnath temple
Pandavas came here during their Vanvas (life in forests) build a hermitage for themselves. Their cows used to go to the same river bank to drink water. After drinking wate, milk used to automatically flow into the river as if the cows were offering to the river. One day Bhima saw this miraculous event. He promptly told Dharmaraja about the same. Then Dharmaraja said, “Surely, some great God must be living in this river”. Then the Pandavas started removing the water from te river. The middle part of the river was so hot that the water there was boiling.
Bheema lifted his mace attacked the river thrice. The water gave way instantly. At the very moment , instead, blood started oozing like a spring. Lord Shankara’s Linga could be seen as the JyotirLinga.
On the west coast in an area of 16 Yojanas Daruka and Daruk need to live. The hermits were tired of being harassed by Daruk, and others. So they went and sought refuge with Orvamuni, who in turn cursed the Demons that they would be destroyed. The Devas launched an attack on the Demons. Now, the Demons began to worry. Daruka, who received some special boons from Parvati, lifted the entire forest, took it away on the path of the sky and put it in the middle of the sea. Only then, did the Demons relax and continue to live there. They used to go by boats and capture the hermits and imprison them the island. Once, there was a Shiva devotee by the name Supriya who was among the prisoners. He never ate food or drank water without worshipping Shiva. He continued to do Puja even while in prison.
When the guards informed their chief about his, he ordered that Supriya be put to death. Then Supriya prayed to Lord Shankara for his life. The Lord appeared before him immediately and destroyed the entire group of demons including their families. The Lord laid open the entire island for all the four classes of people for living. On the other land, Parvati here granted a boon to Daruka. As a result, at the end of that era, only Demons would be created and she would rule Daruka. Lord Shiva accepted this. Then Shiva and Parvati stayed there. Shiva once again assumed the form of JyotirLinga, with the name Nageshwar and Parvati was known as Nageshwari.
Specialities of Aundha Naganath Temple
The architectural beauty of the Nagesh Temple is simply exquisite. This temple built with stones during the Pandava period is strong. The four walls of the temple are very strong and the corridors are large. The court hall is supported by eight pillars. It is oval shaped. Both this and the Nagesha Lingamurthy is located in the small internal Garbhagriha.
Here, there is no Nandi idol in front of Mahadeva. There is separate Nandikeshwara temple back of the main temple. On all the four sides of the main temple, smaller temples for the twelve JyotirLingas are constructed. Apart from these, VedavyasaLinga, bhandareshwar, Nilakanteshwar, Ganapati, Dattatreya, Muralimanohar, Dasavatar temple and idols etc., are there. In all, there are 108 Shiva temples and 68 shrines are located here.
The structure of the Naganath temple is very beautiful. Inside it, there is another shrine called Runamochan teerth. Both these shrines are called “Mother-in-law- Daughter-in-law” shrines. Every 12 years, at the time of Kapila Shashti, kashi Ganga offering as “Padarpan” is performed. During this the water in the teerth kund looks crystal clear. Again at a specific time it becomes ‘Shivala Yukt”.
Close to the Naganath temple, there are several statues of various divines. Besides these there are many more idols of animals, soldiers relating some stories. These stones idols are very beautiful to look at. At a huge corner, there is an idol of Paravti, who is sulking with Shiva trying to pacify her. This statue is amazing to look at with its stunning features. It is unmatched in its expression of emotions.
Aurangazeb was intolerant towards other religions and wanted to destroy this Hindu temple. When he tried, thousands of bees came out of the temple and attacked Aurangazeb and his army. He left the demolition work midway and went away. The devotees rebuild the broken temple.
Sometimes snakes with their hoods open can be seen standing guard on the Naganath Linga idol. When they drink the milk left in cups for them, is never known.
7. SHRI KEDARNATH Temple in Himalayas
Among the twelve JyotirLingas of Bhagwan Shankara, the one at Kedarnath is located in the snow-covered area of the Himalayas. This JyotirLinga can be visited only during six months in a year. From the month of Vaisakha to Ashwin (Ashwiyaja) is the time when pilgrims can make the journey to this. The rest of the year it is too cold and the Himalayas are covered in snow. Therefore, the Kedarnath temple remains closed for pilgrims.
During the month of Karthik, due to snowfall, Sri Kedareshwar idol is brought out of the temple after lighting a ghee lamp, “Nanda Deepa”. Then the temple is closed for the winter. From the month of Karthik to Chaitra Sri Kedareshwar’s abode is shifted to the Urvi Math, which is in the valley. In the month of Vaishakh, when the temple doors are opened the lamp “Nanda Deepa” still keeps burning. People come to see this glorious lamp and the Shiva devotees consider themselves blessed.
Hardwar is considered to be the gateway to heaven, the magic city or Mayapur. Ahead of Haridwar, there are holy places like Rishikesh, Devprayag, Sonprayag and Triyugi Narayan, Gaurikund. To Kedarnath one has to pass through these places. Some part of the journey is motorable and the rest has to be walked upon. This part of the way through the Himalaya is very difficult. But devotees go through all this with dedication and determination. They overcome all the difficulties with perseverance.
To climb the steep path, some use mules, some use Dolis (swing like carriages) and some others use walking sticks. There are arrangements for acquiring these here. There are chowltries and resting places in between for the tired yatris. At Gaurikund, the pilgrims get to have a bath in the hot springs there. After this, they take a Darshan of the head-less Ganesha. It is here in Gaurikund, that Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha’s head with the trident and later replaced with the head of an elephant.
A little farther from Gaurikund, near the snow-clad mountains, on the banks of River Mandakini, the Kedarnath temple of the glorious JyotirLinga of Lord Shankar becomes visible. This is where Lord Shankar had made His abode. The shivalinga here is self-manifest and not installed by anyone. It is said that this is the hind part of Mahisha (he-buffalo).
Purana of Kedarnath
During the war between the Kauravas and Pandavas, their own kith and kin gor killed. In order to absolve themselves of this sin, the Pandavas went for a pilgrimage. But Lord Vishweshwara was away in Kailasa in the Himalayas. On learning this, the Pandavas, left Kashi. They reached the Himalayas via Hardwar. They saw Lord Shankar from a distance. But Lord Shankara hid from them. Then Dharmaraj said: “Oh, Lord, You have hidden yourself from our sight because we have sinned. But, we will seek You out somehow. Only after we take your Darshan would our sins be washed away. This place, where You have hidden Yourself will be known as Guptkashi and become a famous shrine.”
From Guptakashi (Rudraprayag), the Pandavas went ahead they reached Gaurikund in the Himalayas valleys. They wandered there in search of Lord Shankara. While doing so Nakul and Sahadev found a he-buffalo. It was unique to look at.
Then! Bhemma went after the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was clever and Bheema could not catch it. But Bheema managed to hit the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo had its face hidden in a crevice-in the earth. Bheema started to pull it by its tail. In this tug-of war, the face of the buffalo went straight to Nepal, leaving its hind part in Kedar. The face of the buffalo is known as Pashupatinath in Nepal.
On this hind part of Mahesha, a glorious JyotirLinga appeared. Lord Shankara appeared from this great light. He appeared before the pandavas. By getting a Darshan of Lord Shankar, the pandavas were absolved of their sins. The Lord told the Pandavas, “From now on, I will remain here as a triangular shaped JyotirLinga. By taking a Darshan of Kedarnath, devotees would attain piety”. Near Kedarnath, there are many symbols of the Pandavas Raja Pandu died here, when he tried to make love to Madri. This place is famous as Pandukeshwar. The tribals here perform a dance called “Pandav Nritya”. The mountain top where the Pandavas went to Swarga, is known as “Swargarohini”. When Darmaraja was leaving for Swarga, one of his fingers fell on the earth. At that palce, Dharmaraj installed a Shiva Linga, which is the size of the thumb.
To gain Mashisharupa, Shankara and Bheema fought with maces. Bheema was struck with remorse. He started to massage Lord Shankara’s body with ghee. In memory of this event, even today, this triangular Shiva JyotirLinga is massaged with ghee. Shankara is worshipped here in this manner. Water and Bel leaves are used for worship.
When Nar-nrayan went to Badrika village and started the worship of Parthiva, Shiva appeared before them. A few days later, a pleased Shiva granted them some boons. Nar-narayan wished that for the welfare of the humanity, Shiva should remain there in his original form. Granting their wish, in the snow-clad Himalayas, in a place called Kedar, Mahesha himself stayed there as a Jyoti. Here, He is known as Kedareshwara.
By visiting Kedareshwar, sorrows do not come even in dreams. By worshipping Shambara (Kedareshwar) Pandavas were rid of all theor sorrows. Badri-Keshwar’s darshan rids one of the material ties. Whoever gives Dan (alms) at Kedareshwar, just gets assimilated into Shivaroopa.
Around the main Kedarnath temples, there are many holy places. At the back, there is the Samadhi of Shankarachrya. A little further up, there is dangerous cliff called Bhariguptan (Bhairav Udan). One has to pass through dreadful, and life threatening circumstances. But what one gets is not Mrityu (Death) but Moksha (Salvation). On all the eight sides of the temple, there are eight shrines.
In short, it is to say that in order to visit Kedarnath, JyotirLinga, one has to go through a treacherous route. But when people are determined and dedicated, they never get tired. Every one keeps chanting Jay Kedarnath! Jay Kedarnath!!
Srimat Shankaracharya praised Lord Shiva thus:
mahAdripArshve cha taTe ramantaM sampUjyamAnaM satataM munIndraiH |
surAsurairyaxa mahoragADhyaiH kedAramIshaM shivamekamIDe ||
Oh Lord, who resides in the great heights of Himalayas, oh Lord, thou, who art worshipped forever by saints, Hermits, Demons, Gods, Yakshas and Maha Nag (giant snakes), I bow and offer millions of Pranams.
sambandhar, and sundharar have sung one padhikam (1) each on the Lord of Kedharam.
Badrinath which is near the Kedarnath is also a significant pilgrimage spot for the devotees of Lord shiva. The Neelkant peak behind the Badrinath temple is an abode of Lord shiva - like how the Mount Kailash is. It is called Indra Neel Parvat. It has been sung by saint Sambandhar (2).
8. SHRI TRYAMBAKESHWAR Temple in Nasik
sahyAdrishIrShe vimale vasantaM godAvaritIrapavitradeshe |
yaddharshanAtpAtakamAshu nAshaM prayAti taM tryambakamIshamIDe ||
Of the twelve JyotirLingas of Lord Shankara, the tenth one is known as Tryambakeshwara. Tryambak is near Nasik in Maharashtra. This great JyotirLinga on the banks of Gautami has a unique form. The Lord in this temple’s Grabhagriha is not worshipped with Abhisheka with water (Jalahari) unlike others. There is just a bottom part of the pounding stone (Ukhali), instead, like a hole.
In that hole there are three Lingas shaped like the Thumbs. Hence Tryambakeshwara. Of these three Lingas, the Linga of Mahesha has a constant shower of water from an orifice above. It is a natural source of water coming down as Abhisheka for the Lord.
Purana of Tryambakeshwar Temple
Ahalya’s husband, Gautama was doing Tapas or penance on the Dakshina Mountain. It did not rain there for a hundred years and the land was drying up and life forms disappearing. Seeing these conditions of drought, the residents, the saints, and all the birds and animals fled from there. Saint Gautam did a great Mangalik tapas through Pranayama for six long months. Varuna, the deva of rains, was pleased and appeared before Gautama, who inturn asked for water. At the behest of Varuna, Gautam dug a hole on his hand. With the help of Varuna’s miraculous power, it filled with water. Varuna said, “Due to the power of your penance, this hole would be an unending source of water “Akshya”. It will become famous by your name. It will augment all holy rituals like Yagna, Dana, Tapa, Homa Shraadha, and worship of Gods. After this water was thus acquired, the saints started making preparations for the Yagna and the production of Breehika
Once when the disciples of Gautama went to fetch some water, from that waterhole, just then some of the saints wives were also there for the same purpose. They insisted on taking water first. The disciples of Gautama called Gautama’s wife. She intervened and allowed her husband’s disciples to fetch water. The wives of the Rishis felt insulted at this and complained to their husbands and while doing so added a few lies here and there. The great saints at once started the worship of Ganesha as an intial Puja in sheer scheme of vendetta. When Ganesha appeared before them and granted some boons, they asked for the power of being able to insult and chase away Gautama, as an indesirable person from there. Ganesha understood that Gautama was very helpful by nature, tried to persuade the saints from getting their way. He knew that, but for Gautama’s efforts, the saints would be craving for even a drop of water. But the saints would have none of it. Reluctantly, Ganesha had to accode to the request of the adamant Rishis, but warned them to be ready to face the consequences of angering a great saint like Gautama.
One day, when Gautama went to get some “Breehi”, he saw a thin, starving cow there. Just when he lifted a little twig to show away the cow, the cow fell dead. The other Rishis caught the opportunity and accused Gautama of slaying a cow “Gohatya”. They insulted him and said that he must leave that palce immediately in order to save it from the aftermath of Gohaty. Gautama became very sad and left feeling greatly depressed.
Gautama wanted to absolve himself of the sin of Gohatya “Cow slaughter”. He thus resorted to the method of Tapas recommended by great saints. He began the difficult task of bringing Ganga water with the power of his Tapas, take bath with that water and chant Shiva mantras a crore times and worship the Parthiva Linga. Shiva was pleased and told him that he is indeed a pure soul and a great Mahatma. A great injustice was done to him, Shiva told him that he could ask for some boons. Gautama asked for Ganga, which would be of great help to the humanity. Shiva gave Ganga to Gautama, in the form of Tatwarupa Avishishta Jal. After taking the water, Gautama requested Shiva to absolve him of the sin of cow slaughter. Shiva purified Gautama and wanted to go back to His abode after that. But he told the Lord to remain on the earth till the end of Kaliyuga. Ganga prayed to him and requested him to stay on the earth, along with his consort Parvati. For the welfare of the world, Lord Shiva granted Ganga her wish.
Ganga wanted to know from Lord Shiva, how people will know about her greatness. The Rishis said that until Brihaspati stays on the Simha Rashi (Leo), we will stay here on your banks and will take a holy dip in your waters thrice a day before taking the Darshan of Shiva. Only by doing so, would we able to war our sins. On hearing this Lord Shiva and Ganga stayed there. Ganga has also come to be known as Gautami and the Linga came to be known as Tryambaka.
The starting point of Godavari River is from Trayambakeshwar
The river which gave away cows as Go-Daan became Godavari. Ganga who came on the request of Gautama became Gautam Ganga. That was the auspicious time of Brahmagiri, the time in between, when the Kurmavatar was over and before the assumption of Varahavatar, the Sanghiparva. The planet Guru (Jupiter) was in the sign of Simha (Leo), Magha Shuddha Dashami, Thursday after noon, when Gautami Ganga was born. The area of Brahmagiri too looks like the Lingamurthyy. From the tip, the water of Gautami Ganga flows.
The spring at Brahmagiri from where Godavari comes out, is known as Gangadwar. The Ganga water flows from a rock shaped like a cow face, constantly. The temple of Godavari mata is located here. The idol looks happy and peaceful. The Varaha Teertha is close by.
After emanating from Gangadwar, the river Godavari thins down and almost disappears, only to appear again at Tahalhati. In order to prevent it from disappearing, Gautam Rishi threw Darbhas on all four sides. Because of this, Godavari flows in Kushavarti. The Kushavarti Maha Teerth is a circle of 27 meters. It is built very strong. There are steps on all four sides to facilitate going down to the waters.
At the time of Simhasta (in Leo), every 12 years, a Kumbhmela is held here. Lakhs of people take a holy dip in Kushavarta. On all the four sides of Kushavartha corridors are built. Beautiful statues are also carved here in the Brahmagiri Talhati, near Kushavarti, there is a big lake called Ganga Sagar.
On the parikrama path, there are beautiful places like Ram Teerth. Prayag Teerth and Nrisimha Teerth etc, The Peshwa kings planted trees at every 25 hand distance. During the reign of the Peshwas, criminals were asked to do the Parikrama (circumbulation) of Brahmagiri as punishment.
The Tryambakeshwar JyotirLinga is unique, great, holy and wonderful place of pilgrimage.
9. SRI RAMESHWAR Temple in Rameshwaram
sutAmraparNIjalarAshiyoge nibadhya setuM vishikhairasa.nkhyaiH |
shrIrAmachandreNa samarpitaM taM rAmeshvarAkhyaM niyataM namAmi ||
Importance of Rameshwaram
Taking the Ganga water to Rameshwar, is considered as a very auspicious and pious thing to do after the pilgrimage of the four holy shrines. After taking a holy bath in Ganga water, the holy water is carried and offered to Lord shiva of Rameshwaram. After this a little sand from here is carried to Ganga and immersed there. Completing this ritual is believed to make one’s pilgrimage complete and successful.
On the southern seaside of India, Rameshwar sea shrine is located.
In classics like the Skandha Purana, Shivapurana etc., Rameshwar is shown as a very important place. The story of Rameshwara goes like this:
Puranam of Rameshwar Jyothirlingam
After Sita’s abduction, Ram wandered in the jungles looking for her. While doing so, he met Sugriva and made friends with him. Later with the help of special messenger Sri Hanuman, he found out where Sita was taken. Then Rama prepared an army to invade Ravana’s empire and reached the southern seashore. He did not have any means of crossing the sea. Lakshman and Sugriva saw Rama, who is a Shiva devotee in great anguish and could do nothing. But Ravana received some special boons from Lord Shiva. Rama was aware of this and therefore, his fears could not be set at rest. In the mean time, Rama was full thirsty. Just as he was about to drink water, he remembered that he was yet to perform Shiva pooja. He immediately made a Prathiv Linga and worshipped it with sixteen methods, i.e., Shodasopachar Vidhis.
Ramji prayed to Lord Shiva ardently and soulfully, and sang songs of Lord Shiva’s praise in a loud voice. He danced and made the sounds of “Aagad bam bam”. This pleased Lord Shiva immediately and instantly appeared before Rama and told him that could ask for any boons and that he would grant them. Ram showed a lot of care, affection and love to Lord Shiva and prayed and paid obeisance. Rama said “If You want to grant me my wishes, please stay on this earth for the sake of all make it holy” Shiva granted the same by saying “Evamastu” meaning “so be it”. He thus stayed there and came to be known as Rameshwara, in the form of a Shiva Linga and became popular.
With the blessings of Lord Shiva, Rama killed all the demons including Ravana and became victorious. Any one who takes a Darshan of the JyotirLinga at Rameshwar and sprinkles the holy water of Ganga, attains salvation, Kaivalya Moksha or Nirvana.
Specialities of Rameshwaram
The place where the JyotirLinga is located, a large and expansive temple has been built. It is famous in the world as a typical architectural example. In the Ramnad district of Tamilnadu, this temple is situated on a big island of sand. It is worth seeing and is a wonderful experience. The main entrance of the temple tower has many storeys and stands tall. Its structure carvings, statutes and the peaks make people dumb founded. The grandeur of the Lord is really felt here. The human weakness for being narrow-minded is automatically removed and they feel their horizons broadened.
On the tall stone pillars of temple, beautiful carvings can be seen. Elephants with their trunks raised are seen. The four sides of the temple are enclosed by strong stone walls. They are 650 ft. and 12ft. wide and tall respectively. This wonderful temple built on the sand island, is a work of great art and very impressive.
Near to a gold plated pillar, a river is carved on a monolithic stone of 13 feet high and a foot wide. This indeed is a typical example of beautiful sculpting.
Near the main temple of Rameshwar, there is a separate temple for Parvati known as Parvatavardhini temple. Besides this, there are temples of Santana Ganapati, Veerabhadra Hanuman, navagrahas, etc., At a distance of about nearly 2 kilometers from the main temple, there is Gandhamaadhan mountain. In spite of being a sandy area, it is very green with a variety of flora. This is the Nandanavan of Rameshwar.
This island shrine consists of 24 odd holy water sources like Rama teerth, Sita Kund, Jata Teerth, Lakshman Teerth, Kapi Teerthas, Brahmakund, Galawa teerth, Mangala teerth, Kodandaram teerth, Pandav teerth etc., The waters at all these places is sweet and has a taste of its own. Every teerth has a typical story attached to it. Devotees take Darshan and feel purged by doing so.
Everyday, right from 4am till 10pm devotees keep coming to the temple and prayers go on. After the Harati at night, the Lord is made to sleep in a Golden swing i.e., the Bhoga statutes of Shankara and Parvati put to bed.
During Mahashivaratri and on the 15th day in the month of Ashadha (Rainy season) a Badatra mela/fete takes place, with great festivity. Devotees flock here on these days and at all times right from Nepal and entire India. People in a variety of dresses, attired differently come here.
sambandhar, and appar have sung padhikam (1) on the Lord of Rameshwaram.
10. SHRI BHIMASHANKAR Temple in Dakini
yaM DAkinishAkinikAsamAje niShevyamANaM pishitAshanaishcha |
sadaiva bhImAdipadaprasiddaM taM shaNkaraM bhaktahitaM namAmi ||
Location of Bhimashankar Jyothirlingam
On the banks of the River Chandrabhaga (Bhima) on the expansive meadows, a large number of devotees can be seen dancing as if they are in a trance. This is a constant scene in Pandharpur. Bheemamayya (mother Bhima) is equated with Ganga-Bhagirathi and people take a holy dip in this river. In Pandharpur, river Bhima came to be known as Chandrabhaga, because it is here that Bhima curves towards Chandrakor.
River Ganga came jumping down from the Jata (Hair) of Lord Shankar, straight through Swarg (Heaven), to the earth. Bhimamayya is the perspiration of Lord Shankara. The origin of River Bhima is BhimaShankar, which is one of the twelve JyotirLingas. In Maharashtra, in Pune District in the Tehsil of Rajguru nagar (Khed) ahead of Ghodegaon, there is Sahyadri mountain range. Bhavargiri, Rathachal and Bhima Shankar mountains are located here. On the Bhima Shankar mountains, the holy shrine of Bhima Shankar is situated. Although it is a very windy palce, one does not experience any cold winds here.
There are lions in the forests here. In these thick forests there are other wild lives too. It is a treasure of various medicinal herbs. It is now quite easy to reach BhimaShankar. Direct and easy roadways are laid that take the pilgrims right up to the shrine. Reaching here from Kokanpradesh is a little difficult because of the mountain terrain.
Many years ago, Shakini and Dakini used to live in these forests. The settlements were far and few in between. But on the festival of Shivaratri, there is a huge gathering of crowds, which brightens up the entire area. The devotees reach here in time and take a Darshan of Lord BhimaShankar. A lot of improvements made here. There is a Government guest-house also. It is said that the lions from these forests come to the shrine every night to get a Darshan of the Lord. Here are some of the stories attached to the JyotirLinga here
Purana of Bhimashankar Temple
In the ancient times demons by the name Tripurasura become drunk with power. They harassed every resident of Swarg (Heavens), Narak (Hell) and Patal (Nether world). The divines were very scared. Then Lord Mahadev Himself came to destroy Tripurasur. Lord Shankar assumed colossal proportions. Tripurasur feared when they saw this Rudravatar. The fight went on. In the end, Lord Shiva killed the wicked demon and set the there worlds, Tribhuvan, free. Lord Shankar in the form of a huge hunk (Virat) was very tired. In order to get some rest, He settled here on the high area of the Sahyadri mountains sweat started pouring down from His huge body in thousands of streams. It all joined together and collected in a pond or Kund. The river that started from there is known as Bhima, which can be seen even today. Devotees then prayed to Bhimakaya Rudra thus: “In order to save the good people, reside here forever”. Bholenath listened to the devotees and stayed there as a JyotirLinga forever.
There was once a demon called Bhima, whose parents were Kumbhakarna and Karkati. Demon Bhima was harassing and torturing one and all. He was hell bent in the path of destruction of Dharma. Once he asked his mother about the details of his father. His mother told him that his father Kumbhakaran is the younger brother of Ravana, the king of Lanka, who was slain by Sri Ramchandra.
“I am yet to see Lanka; I met your father on some mountains near by, and after you were born, I continued to stay here itself. After my husband was killed, only my parental place became a refuge of sorts for me. My parents are Pushkasi and Karkat. When they went to eat up Agastya the saint, he burned them to ashes with the power of his meditation and Tapas”.
When he heard the story, he was at once eager to take revenge against all the divines along with Hari. He began a severe penance or Tapas, and a pleased Brahma granted him the bon of becoming a very strong man. With this new strength, he captured all the divines including Vishnu and Indra. They were in his control. After this he won a victory over the great Shiva devotee Kamarupeshwar. Kamarupeshwar did not stop his worship of Shiva even when in prison. He performed the Puja with the same devotion, observing all the procedures his wife also joined him in this.
On the other hand, Brahma and Vishnu along with all the other divines started praying Shankara and of asking for deliverance from the wicked Demon King. Shiva assured the divines and sent them home after pacifying them.
Bheema learnt from someone that Kamarupeshwar was making preparations to kill him. On hearing about this, he went straight to the prison and started inquiring into the process and aim of his worship. When he learnt the truth from the king, the wicked Demon called Lord Shiva names and insulted Him and ordered the king to worship Bheema himself instead. When Kamarupeshwar resisted, Bhemma attached the Linga with his sword. Before he could strike, Shiva appeared there. A severe fight ensued in which bows, arrows, swords, axe, the disc and trident etc. were used. In the end, at the request of Narada , Lord Shankar blew a fire and burned the wicked Demon Bheema to ashes. Thus the Devas were released from their sorrows. After this, the divines who were present there, and the saints together pleaded with Lord Shankara to remain there. In view of the welfare of the world, Shiva decided to stay there in the incarnation of Bheema Shankar JyotirLinga.
Self-emanating Mahadev, in the shape of a chariot, the mountains have become the abode of BheemaShankara. It is also known as Rathachala. One Bhatirao Lakadhara (wood-cutter) used to live here. Once he was cutting some wood. Just as he struck the tree with his axe, blood started to flow from the earth. Bhatirao got scared and ran away. Soon, a crowd had gathered there. Someone brought a milk cow and made it stand there. The milk that came from the cow’s udders stopped the bleeding of the earth. Surprising everyone, a glowing JyotirLinga of Shankara, emanated from the earth. People built a temple there and installed the JyotirLinga in the temple. This temple eventually came to be known as Bhima Shankara temple.
Glories of Bhimashankar
In some classics like Shiva Leelamrit, Gurucharitra, Stotraratnakar etc., BheemaShankara is described as a woman. Gangadhar Pandit, Ramdas, Sridhar swamy, narahari Malo, Gnaneshwar, and other saints describe BheemaShankara as JyotirLinga.
Historical figures like Chatrapati Shivaji and Rajaram Maharaj were known to visit this shrine. This was a favourite palce for Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath and Raghunath, Raghunath Peswa had a well dug up here. The Diwan of the Peshwar, Nana Phadanvis renovated this temple. A court hall was built by a Pune trader or Sahukar by the name Chimanji Antaji Nayik Bhinde in 1437 AD.
The temple of Bhima Shankara is built in Hemadpanthi style. It is decorated with the Dashavatar statues. These are very beautiful to look at. The Nandi temple is close to the main temple. A huge bell weighing 5 mans(1 man=40 seens) is located close to the temple. It has 1721 AD inscribed on it. When this bell is rung, the entire echoes with its sound.
The worship of BhimaShankar is done, with Rudrabhishek, Panchamrit snan, everyday. The Lord is praised in rich words. On Mondays as well as other days, lot of devotees flock here for Darshan. A big fete (mela) takes place on Maha Shivaratri festival. The natural scenic beauty of this place is wonderful to look at.
There are many places of tourist interest near BheemShankar temple. Among these are Mokshakund, Gyankund, Gupta Bhumeshwar, SarvaAteerth, Papanasini, akhya Teerth, Vyaghrapada Teerth, Sakshi Vinayaka, Gorakhnath Ashram, Daityasamharini Kamalaja devi’s place, Kamalaja lake, Hanuman lake, etc are worth seeing. The Kokan Kagar or Nagphan is a very dangerous palce located at a height or approximately three thousand feet, from were the entire Talahati Kokan area can be seen. It feels like we are being air-borne. It is very difficult to see this “Kokan kagar” sanding. One has to lie down on the ground, near Kagar and then only it can be seen. A person who is seeing this in a prostrate position has to be kept steady by holding his feet firmly. While watching this is frightening, yet beautiful scene one has to chant “Jaya Bheema Shankar Jaya Bheema Shankar”.
11. Kashi SHRI VISHWESHWAR (Varanasi)
sAnandamAnandavane vasanta mAnandakandaM hatapApavR^indam |
vArANasInAthamanAthanAthaM shrIvishvanAthaM sharaNaM prapadye ||
Location of Kashi Vishvanath Jyothirlinga
Where the Varana and Asi rivers join the Ganges, a beautiful city was built there in the ancient times. It was named Varanasi. Varanasi, a prime place of pilgrimage, a tribe called kasha used to live. Therefore, Varanasi was also known as Kashi. Near Kashi, Ganga flows in the shape of a bow. Hence it acquired special importance. A king called Deivodas expanded this area.
Varanasi is located in Uttarpradesh, in the Gangetic plains.
Purana of kashi vishwanath jyotirlinga
Nirvikar cahitanya and Sanatan Brahma have assumed the form of Saguna Vishwarupa from the initial Nirgun Roopa or form. The Shiva Shakti roopa became the Purusha (man)and Stree (the woman) again. Prakriti and Purusha (Nature and man) (Shiva-Shakti) were once ordained by Shiva to do tapas in the universe in order to create the best being. He specified the best place for this purpose. When a prayer was held, Nirgun Shiva, with His own powers and aura, created a wonderful city called Panchakoshi. Vishnu, who resided there, spent a lot of time praying to Shiva after which several watersprings originated there. Vishnu was amazed at this wonderous event, and even as he tilled his head, a gemstone fell from his ear. Because of this place, it was also called Manikarnika. The entire Panch Koshi area of Manikarnika waters were then gathered into the Trident by Shiva. Then from the navel of Vishnu was born a lotus flower with Brahma in it. Brahma was ordained by Shiva to create a world, at which Brahma created this wonderful world. It had fifty crore Yojanas of area and fourteen lokas. In order to save the lives of these who are bound by their own actions or karma. Shiva kept panchakoshi city away from the entire universe. In this city, Shiva Himself established the saviour Muktidayak JyotirLinga, which He can never leave. Shiva removed this very Kashi from His Trident and set it in this mortal world. It was not to be destroyed when Brahma’s day ends, but during Pralay i.e., final destruction of the world, Shiva saved it by keeping it safe in his trident. So the kashi is called avimukta kshetra. In Kashi, the Avimukteshwar Linga is there forever. Those who can never hope for salvation, attain Moksha here.
This holiest city of Panchakoshi, with its capacity to destroy every conceivable sin, is the vehicle of a special Moksha by the name “Samyugha”. That is the reason why this city which is ruled by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha, is the place, where even divines want to die. Sarwaguna from inside and Tamoguna from outside, are the qualities of Rudra here. When prayed to, Vishwanatha Bahagavan Sri Shankar made this abode and resided there with Parvati.
Glory of Kashi
Kashi city is the place for Moksha and Ganga. Those who live here attain Mukti or Salvation, even without having to travel to any place of pilgrimage. Any one, be it a man, woman, young, old, Sahava, pure or impure, Prasuta, Aprasuta, Swadesh, Andaja, Udibhaja, of whatever caste, all attain Moksha. There is not an iota of doubt in this. Whatever a person may be doing, eat, sleep or anything else, if he departs from this world from Avimukteshwar, he definitely attains Moksha. Any small act of goodness or Punyakarya, takes away all the sins. Good as well as bad people are born on this earth. But by living in Kashi, both attain Moksha. Later, several people came forward to build this temple. A king by the name Banar developed this city of pilgrimage. About one and half thousand beautiful temples were built here. The tower of the Vishweshwara temple is a hundred feet high.
Kashi nagar is so great that even if the universe is to be destroyed in Pralaya, it would remain intact. Dandapani and Kalabhairav guard this city. They stay there forever. On the Ganga banks eighty four bathing ghats are located. There are also several teerthkundas. They have been there right from the times of Vedas.
History of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Varanasi, which was a pious place of pilgrimage for the hindus, soon became an eyesore and source of jealousy for the Muslims. From 1033 to 1669 AD Kashi came under several destructive attacks. Temples were demolished and Masjids built there instead. But due to the dedication of the Hindu devotees, the JyotirLinag pilgrimage place continued to develop. During the reign of the British and the Marathas, this place really developed well. Even the Jaina and Boudha monks helped to keep the place of the city intact.
The Kashi Vishweshwar temple as we see it now was built by Ahalya Devi Holkar in 1777 AD. In 1785 AD, the then King of Kashi, Mansaram and his son Belvant Singh built many more temples near Varanasi. In 1755 AD, the Avadh pantof pratinidhi (representative) got the old temple of Bindumadhava repaired and renovated it beautifully. The kalabhairava temple was built by Srimant Baji Rao Peshwa in 1852 AD.
King Ranjit Singh had the Kashi Vishwanath temple towers covered in gold. A huge bell hangs in the temple. It was donated by the King of Nepal. Surrounding Saranath, there are many Budhhist stupas, Viharas and Chaitra grihas. In 1931 AD the mahabodhi society had built a very beautiful Buddha temple in Saranath.
The Hindu devotees visit Kashi to make offering. Here they perform many rituals and consider themselves blessed. Along side, several foreign tourists visit this place regularly. Places worth seeing include Ghats, temples, tapobhoomi and the scenic beauty of the surroundings. Kashi Kshetra and Sri Vishweswara JyotirLinga are connected as the holiest shrines in the world. The Ganga water here is considered as the nectar of the earth. Dying in Kashi or performing the final rites is considered as the way to the Heavens. Kashi - Rameshwar(1) yatra is the prime pilgrimage for the Hindus.
Jaya Ganga, Jaya Vishwanath, Om Namah Shivaya. The entire area echoes with these chantings. The Gods in Varanasi are described in Sanskrit in the following way:
12. SHRI GRISHNESHWAR Temple, Ellora
ilApure ramyavishAlake.asmin samullasantaM cha jagadvareNyam |
vande mahodAratarasvabhAvaM ghR^iShNeshvarAkhyaM sharaNam prapadye ||
Grishneshwar jyotirlinga location
Blessed by VerulNagar, there is no other place like it on this earth, where Lord Grishneswara resides, the best palce on this earth.” – Madhwamunishwar
On this holy pilgrimage of the JyotirLingas of Lord Shankara, the last one, with out which the pilgrimage will not be considered as complete, is the twelfth JyotirLinga, of Grishneshwar.
About 30 km towards the west side of Aurangabad, there is a village called Verul. In this village there is a place of pilgrimage called Shivalay, when the great Holy Trilinga of Ghrishneshwar is located. The stories associated with Verul, Shivalay and Ghrishneswar are like this:
This was originally a settlement of the Naga tribes. The place of the Nagas is Bambi, which is known as “Varul” in Marathi “Varul” gradually changed into “Verul” and is known by this name only. River Yelaganga flows here. The name “Verul” is derived from Yelaganga, on whose banks the village is located. There was a king by the name “Yela” here. The capital of his kingdom was Yelapar, or Yelur or Verul.
Sthala purana of Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga
Once the king went hunting. While hunting, the king killed the animals living with the Rishis and munis too. Seeing this, the irate Saints cursed the king, as a result of which, his entire body was infested with insects.
Now, smitten by this curse, the king began to wander in the forest. His throat was parched because he was very thirsty. There was, alas, no water to be found anywhere. At last he found a water hole made by the hooves of a horse. Just as the king started to drink water a miracle occurred. The king’s body was rid of all the insects. The king did severe penance (Tapa) there. Lord Brahma was pleased and appeared before him and installed Parashta Teerth there. He also created a huge and holy lake near by.
This Brahma sarovar later came to be known as Shivalay.
There is a story about Shivalay also:
Once Shiva and Parvati were playing chess on Mount Kailasa. Paravti checkmated Shiva. Shankara played to be angry at this and went away southward. He went and stayed at a place on the Sahyadri range, where there is cool breeze. This place was given the name of Maheshamauli Bhainsmal. Parvati came there looking for Shankar. She won the heart of Shiva in the form of a hill mountain tribal girl. They both spent some time there happily.
This forest came to be known as Kamyakavana. Lord Mahesha forbade crows from entering the area of Maheshamouli or Bhainsmal. One day, Paravti was very thirsty. Shankara pierced earth with his trident and got the water of Bhogavati from the Patal (Nether world). This is the Shivalay.
The Shivalay expands a little ahead where Shivanadi (Shivanand) meets it and a little more further, Yelaganga also flows just near it. When Shiva and Parvati were staying here pleasently, a hunter by the name Sudhanwa came there looking for a prey. A miracle happened and Sudhanwa turned into a woman. At this he did a severe Tapa there. Shankara was pleased and appeared. Actually, Sudhanwa was a woman by birth in his previous life. Thus, Shankara from that very curse of becoming a woman turned Sudhanwa into Yelaganga river. Thus, Punya Sarita Yelaganga was born in the Kamyawana. Later, it was to become the bathing place called Dhara Teerth or ‘Sita’s Snangriha’ and flow from a higher place and goes through Verul village.
Once Parvati, was about to fill her hair parting with vermillion and saffron, in Kamyavana. She kept them in her left palm and mixed the water of Shivalay in it. With the right thumb she started mixing them both. Then a miracle occurred, vermillion turned into a ShivaLinga and a great light appeared in it. Parvati was awe struck at this. Then Lord Shankara said: “This Linga was hidden in the Patala.” And removed it with his trident.
Then a bubble emerged from the earth with water (Kashikhand).
Parvati kept that glorious light in stone Linga and installed it there. This Purna (complete) JyotirLinga is called Kunkumeshwar. But since Dakshayani created this Linga with the function of her thumb. She gave it the name of Grishneshwara (Grishna means friction).
On the southern mountain called Deva Parvata, a great scholar Brahmin Sudhama of Bharadwaja gotra, used to live with his beautiful, devout wife called Sudeha. They had no children. They were very unhappy because of this. They were harassed and tortured by the sly remarks of their neighbours. But Sudhama, an intelligent person, did not care about these. One day, Sudeha threatened to commit suicide and sister Dushma, married her husband. Both of them promised that there would be no jealousy between them.
After sometime, Dushma gave birth to a son. And eventually even that son married. Both Sudhama and Dushma, were nice to Sudeha. But jealousy did get the better of Sudeha. Once she picked up Dushma’s son who was sleeping by her side and killed him. She threw the body into the lake near by.
In the morning there was a big hue and cry. Dushma’s grief knew no bounds. Even then, she went to the river to do her routine worship. She made her usual hundred Lingas and began worship she saw her son standing near the lake. Shiva was pleased with her worship and revealed the truth about Sudhas forgiveness of Sudha’s sin. She indeed requested Shiva to remain there itself for the welfare of the humanity.
Shiva acceded to her request and remained there with the name of Dhushamesha.
History of the Grishneshvar Temple
The very devout Shiva devotee, Bhosale (The Patel or chief of Verul) once found a treasure hidden in the snake pit (ant hill) by the grace of Lord Grishneshwar. He spent that money to renovate the temple and built a lake in Shikharshinganapur.
Later on, Goutamibal (Bayajabai) and Ahilyadevi Holkar renovated the Grishneshwar temple. This 240ft x 185 ft temple is still there strong and beautiful as ever. Halfway up the temple, Dashavataras are carved in red stone. These are beautiful to look at. There are also other beautiful statutes carved out. A court hall is built on 24 pillars. On these pillars there are wonderful carvings. The scenes and paintings are beautiful. The Garbhagriha measures 17ft x 17 ft. The Lingamurty faces eastward. There is a gorgeous Nandikeshwara in the court hall.
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