Grishneshwar temple, 12th Jyotirlinga shrine

Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga, temple, Ellora.
Grishneshwar,  also referred to as  'Ghushmeshwar Jyotirlinga is 'one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana "kotirudra sahinta". Perhaps, it is the last  or the twelfth Jyotirlinga shrine  on earth located  in a village called Verul near  Ellora, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) north-west of the city of Aurangabad, Maharastra.  The temple is situated in a serene and quiet place far  away from the  noisy urban conglomerate. Grishneshwar Shiva temple is next to the Ellora Caves, a world famous  UNESCO recognized Heritage site.  It is an important pilgrimage site in Shaiva tradition of Hinduism. Here, lord Shiva is in Jyotirlinga form - a  huge column of fire. Among the Jyotirlinga temples in India, this one is the smallest one. Lots of pilgrims visit this temple daily for prayer and blessings.
Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple, Ellora.
Ghushmeshwar Jyotirlinga temple,
 The temple has a chequered history of destruction and reconstruction during the Muslim rule - Delhi Sultanate  in the 13th and 14th centuries and  the Mogul Maratha wars and  consequently,  early artistic stone works and sculptures  were lost for ever. 

 The temple was re-built by Maloji Bhosale of Verul, (grandfather of Shivaji) in the 16th century and later Rani Ahalyabai of Indore, after the fall of the Mughal Empire, took the initiative and had the temple rebuilt, preserving as much as possible the heritage value of the temple and the old glory.  Hindu temples such as the Kashi Vishvanath temple in Varanasi, a Vishnu temple in Gaya, and a much larger Shiva Jyotirlinga temple in Somnath owe a lot to this queen of Indoor who personally took keen interest and rebuilt them and now they form major centers of pilgrimage.
Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple near Ellora
 There is an interesting legend  about this temple and the appearance of Jyotirlinga here. According to Shivapurana, on  a mountain named Devagiri there lived a Brahmin  by the name of  Brahmavetta Sudharm with his wife Sudeha. That the couple had no kid saddened them very much.  Sudharam, because of compulsion, married his wife's sister Ghushma, a true devotee of lord Shiva  for the second time.  Ghushma  was blessed with a son and  obliviously Ghushma received  more attention by her  husband than her Sister. Consequently, her sister Sudeha became jealous of her and  at one point of time she became so envious, she wanted to kill her sister's son after his marriage. As planned, Sudeha  one  night silently  killed him with a knife when everybody was fast asleep. Being a maniac, she  cut the body into pieces and threw them into the near-by  lake in which Ghushma used to  drop Parthivlinga after prayer. Same night, after commuting this heinous crime  without scruples whatsoever, she  returned home and began to sleep as if nothing had happened. Following  morning the family members were busy with morning puja,  ablutions, household chores, etc. Sudeha  also started  her daily routine work. 

Ghushma' s daughter-in-law,  when removing her husband's bed, was shell-shocked to find blood stains and blood-stained parts of the body on the  bed. Grief-stricken and horrified, she told her mother-in-law about it. Upon hearing this,  Ghushma  never panicked, rather, she had begun to chant Lord Shiva’s mantra ‘Om Namah Shivay’ more vigorously and later, as it was her wont, she went to the lake as before, to  drop  Parthivlinga into the waters.  To her surprise, she  saw her son standing besides the lake. Her heart was filled with joy and Lord Shiva appeared and said, "I am pleased with your devotion and your sister had killed your son". Ghushma offered her prayers and asked Lord Shiva to forgive her sister as she was elder than her.  Ghushma requested Lord Shiva to stay in that place to protect and bless the people to which the lord happily agreed; he  turned himself into a Jyotirlinga close to the lake. Hence, the lake  is called  Shivalaya.

This temple,  built in South Indian temple architecture, has 5 tiers with Shikera and  is made of red basaltic volcanic rock stone (the Deccan Plateau is mostly mad of volcanic rock Basalt).  Among the attractions, the episodes of Dashavataras of Vishnu  carved in red stone and a big hall with  24 ornate pillars, depicting various legends and mythology of Shiva attract our attention.  The linga enshrined in the Garbhagraha faces the East. Regarding entry of pilgrims into the Sanctum, there are dress restrictions.  As in many Shiva temple, the Nandi (Bull) faces the main shrine.  Besides, there are   stone carvings and sculptures of many  other Hindu gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. Maharaj’s mausoleum is also situated in this temple.