Jyotirlinga or Jytoilingam:- words are derived from the Sanskrit words "Jyoti" meaning light and "lingam" meaning the image of Shiva. Jyotirlinga has tremendous significance in Hindu mythology there are 12 different shrines in India.
According to Shiva Puran "Each Jyotirlinga has the special manifestation of Lord Shiva and immense reverence and considered sacred places to worship”, thousands of pilgrims across the world and followers of Shiva visit these very auspicious 12 jyotirlingas every year to pay homage to honor the esteem of Lord Shiva and receive the blessings.
1. Studded with gold and jewel Somnath JyotirLinga in Saurashtra in the state of Gujarat is one of most distinguished of all 12 jyotirlingas in India.
Story behind Somnath temple - Chandra ( Moon) in the past was married to all 27 daughters of Daksha, one of them was Rohini and Chandra used to give all the importance and limelight to his wife -"Rohini" and other 26 wives were left unattended and lonely most of the times. This biased attention from Chandra to his wife Rohini and leaving others unattended led to anger and discomfort to Daksha so he cursed Chandra to lose all his light and become lightless. Entire world became dark as a result of the curse from Daksha.
To nullify the effect of the curse, all of the Gods came together to find a solution to this grave problem of darkness and after perusal, Daksha agreed that only if Chandra pray and worship to please Lord Shiva, he would get his lightness back and will again shine like before. Chandra soon started worshipping Shiva and finally, Shiva appeared and blessed Chandra with his ray of light back again.
Thus the Moon started to shine like before it is believed that on moonless nights still today Chandra comes and dips in the holy water and starts shining again. Thus the name SOMMESWAR or Jyotirlinga came into existence.
2. Mallikarjun jyotirlinga temple in Srisailam (Andra Pradesh )
Story behind Mallikarjun temple - Very long ago Shiva and Parvati were once not able to decide which of their sons "Karthikeyan or Ganesh" should get married first. So they decided to give both their sons a task of going around the world and whosoever will come first will be the winner and would get married first to Riddhi and Siddhi Karthikeyan started the journey to go around the world on his peacock, while Ganesh said that he would start with going around his parents -Shiva and Paravati and meaning of world means his parents and going around them would mean going around the world , lord Ganesh became the winner and his parents was very pleased with this gesture from Ganesha and got him married first , on the other hand lord Karthikeyan when returned found that Ganesha has already won and felt humiliated and was furious and told his parents he would never ever get married and went to a mountain called "Kravunja" and started living there knowing about this Lord Shiva and Parvati decided to pay a visit to his son Kartikeyan and thus the Jyotirlinga came into existence this is exactly where the lords visited Karthikeyan.
3. Mahakaleshwar jyotirlinga in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh ):- situated at the bank of the river "Rudra Sagar"
Story behind the Mahakaleshwar - There was a big kingdom ruled by a king named Chandrasena who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. One day the kingdom was attacked by another king named Ripudamana who had a demon with him named Dushan who was very fierce and almost impossible to overthrow the power of "Dushan " who has the power to become invisible , fearing defeat Chandrasena kingdom and people prayed to Lord Shiva to help them overcome the defeat, thus lord Shiva appeared and promised to stay back at the kingdom in the form of Mahakaleshwar to protect them from all demons like Dushan and others, it is still believed Mahakaleshwar - Shiva still lives here.
4. Omkareshwar jyotirlinga in Shivpuri -mamaleswara (Madhya Pradesh )
Story behind Omkareshwar - Mount Vindhya a mighty mountain requested Shiva to appear and protect people from the demons, king of this region named " Mandhata" used to worship Shiva here and Lord Shiva was so pleased and decided to stay here at Omkareshwar forever.
5. Kedarnath (Himalayas) -Uttara Khand filled with mystic positive energy and very beautiful region
Story behind Kedarnath - Pandavas of Mahabharata epic once thought of letting all their sins go away in order to find a place in heaven, they started their journey to find such a place and was guided to please Lord Shiva and find the shrine which is Kedarnath now and finally they discovered Shiva in vast triangular shaped "Jyotirlinga" .
6. Bhimashankar jyotirlinga in Dakini near Pune, Maharastra
Legend behind Bhimashankar- Very long ago there was a little boy named "Bhima" and as he was growing up his mother "Karkati told him Kumbhkaran -mighty brother of Ravana was his father and was killed in a battle by an avatar(reincarnation) named Rama so little boy decided to avenge his father's death and spend his day and night to please lord Brahma to get worldly powers and finally his wish was granted , however Bhīma became so powerful and starting misusing his powers to harm common people and ask them to worship him, he once took Kamarupeshwar a big Shiva devotee in his custody and was about to kill him with sword then Lord Shiva who became very furious appeared and killed Bhīma and devoid him of all his powers.
All of the gods requested Shiva to stay here for the benefits of the people and empower them against demons like Bhīma.
7. Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi (also known as Kashi), Uttar Pradesh
The legend behind Kashi Vishwanath- Vishwanath means ruler of the universe, this Jyotirlinga has a rich 3000 years old history and is one of the oldest known places on Earth. This is only placed where all the lords Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh lives and is known for a place where people can get rid of all their sins and anyone who worship here will achieve liberation. It is believed Shiva himself created the place and the city can never be destroyed.
8. Trimbakeshwar temple - Maharastra There are distinguished 3 lingas here ar Timakeswhwar -Bhrama, Vishnu and Mahesh, there is a stunning crown made of precious jewels that cover all the 3 lingas.
The legend behind Trimbakeshwar- There was one Rishi a sadhu named Gautam rishi who used to live here along with his wife named Ahilya , As Gautam Rishi pleased Lord Shiva he was blessed with pit which could create unlimited amount of food and grains, because of the this blessing there were many rivals who became jealous of Gautam Rishi and in agony sent a dead cow to pit where he used to get unlimited food and grain , this made Gautam Rishi very angry and he recalled lord Shiva to appear and help him wash his sins of dead cow so Shiva was pleased and granted him the Ganges will flow through this region so that all sins are washed away, Lord Shiva thus started to stay here and it is believed all wishes come true here
9- Vaidhnath Jharkhand, Bihar
The Legend behind Vaidhnath- Mighty Ravana was a great devotee of Lord Shiva thought as he belonged to Lanka, thought Shiva doesn’t reside at Lanka and this makes Lanka his kingdom would become vulnerable of attacks and can be destroyed so he started pleasing Shiva and God appeared and asked his wish he said he wanted a Lingam which could be placed at Lanka, however, warned him that if he places the lingam on ground then it can't be unearthed and will stay there forever. On his way back Ravana asked a local Shepard to hold the lingam until he returns and shouldn’t keep the lingam on the ground, Shepard agreed however said if Ravana didn’t return on time he would leave the lingam and go away. Ravana couldn’t return on time and thus beautiful lingam was established here forever.
10. Nageshwar Temple near Dwarka, Gujarat
The Legend behind Nageshwar- At Dwarka there used to live a huge devotee of Lord Shiva named Supriya who was once feared attacked and held captive by demon named "Daaruka", being devotee of Lord Shiva she started praying to Lord Shiva to get herself free from this demon, thus lord Shiva appeared and freed Supriya from Daaruka and killed him. Thus it became the home of Nageshwar Lord Shiva who resides here
11. Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
The Legend behind Rameshwaram- Very auspicious of all Jyotirlinga in India and is also part of Char Dhams in India. There are 2 Jyotirlinga here one brought by Lord Hanuman and other bought by mother Sita, worship of these jyotirlingas are also done in the same order first bought by Lord Hanuman and second brought by mother Sita. This is the place where Lord Rama worshipped Vishnu after defeating demon Ravana.
12. Grishneshwar, Maharashtra
The Legend behind Grishneshwar- Also known as Kusumeshwar Jyotirlinga in the name of pious and religious lady named Kusum who used to live here and worship Lord Shiva in a very unique way she used to immerse the lord in the water tank and then worship the Lord, her husband who had many wives was jealous of her as she was respected by the villagers a lot because of her unique rituals of worshipping Shiva. Her husband killed her son out of anger still Kusum continued her rituals of worshipping Shiva like before one day Lord Shiva appeared live with his son out of the water tank and thus the Jyotirlinga stays here forever.