Maha Shivaratri - Famous Shiva temples devotees visit on that day -01

 Maha Shivratri, an annual Hindu festival, is held to honor Lord Shiva, one of the Trinity gods in the Hindu pantheon.  Shiva, the destroyer of evils, etc, Vishnu, protector and Brahma, the creator - all these deities,  it is believed, act in unison to get the universe going. Every lunar month, there is a Shivaratri (12 in a  year) and the major one is Mahashivaratri.

Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram Tamil

Above image:  Carved idols on the inner wall of Airavatesvara (Shiva) Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam. temple architecture: Dravida;  built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE..........

About God Shiva, the belief has been that on the day of Shivaratri he performed the famous Tandava dance, which is symbolic of creation, preservation, and destruction.  Hindus, on the day of the festival, normally celebrated on the 14th night (waning moon) of the Hindu month of Phalguna or Maagha (February or March)  devotionally engage in  fasting (abstain from eating food and drinking water), performing puja (worship)  and chanting mantras to get the lord's  blessings..

This festival is celebrated with across India and this year two days ago -18th February it was held with religious fervor at many temples in Tamil Nadu and other states. This year, the nishita kaal puja timing  began at 12:09 am and ended at 1 am on the following day- February 19. According to Drik Panchang, the Chaturdashi tithi began at 8:02 pm on February 18 and ended at 4:18 pm on February 19.

 Maha Shivaratri  is celebrated  at the following historical  Shiva  temples of great antiquity, built at various periods by  devout Hindu rulers; they symbolize  centuries old culture and ethos of India.

01. Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, India. 

One of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples built in the 12th century, it a famous Hindu pilgrimage center close to Dhanushkodi. The most striking features of this temple  are the long covered prakara  supported by ornate granite pillars. Perhaps, this temple has the longest  roof covered prakara (corridor) around the sanctum made of granite.  It is  the world' longest prakara - 1200 meters 

It was here Sri Rama worshipped God Shiva and did Tharpanam after his victory over demon king Ravana  who kept his consort goddess Sita hostage there.  Pilgrims who come here from various parts of India, not only do tharpanam for their pithroos (forefathers) but also  visit all the 22 holy wells on the temple premises and take head bath from the water.  Amazingly, they never experience fever or cold after taking bath at all wells. The belief is taking bath her will help the pilgrims  get rid of doshas and saabham(curse) and bring in prosperity and peace of mind.   


02. Bhootnath Temple, Mandi, HP 

Bhootnath Temple, Mandi, HP.

Bhootnath Temple is a popular tourist destination located at the heart of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. According to records, this temple was 

Built in 1527 AD by Raja Ajber Sen to celebrate the establishment of a new capital at Mandi,  in response to a dream in which god Shiva visited him, He selected the spot for the temple where a cow was frequently milking at a particular place.  The king constructed it with gold and silver gate specially made in Lucknow and a gold-plated kalasha. This Shiva temple has swayambhu Shivlinga and  lot of devotees visit it on the festival days.

The belief has been that before the commencement of the Shivaratri festival with a religious procession Devi Raj Madhav, the deity who ruled the state of Mandi, along with other hill deities, visits the temple and offers prayers. Unlike other Shiva temple, here Maha Shivaratri is a week long celebration and devotees in thousands  participate in the festivities.


03. Arunachaleswar temple, Temple, Thiruvannamalai, UP:

inner part Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar Temple

Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar Temple East Entrance Tower

Located at the base of the holy Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai Town, Arunachaleswar temple (also called Annamalaiyar Temple), is a popular Hindu temple where  the main God symbolizes Agni (fire), one of the Pancha boothas - five essential elements  that help us sustain life.  Karthigai Deepam festival held during the day of the full moon between November and December, is a famous one and on that day  a huge  Maha deepam is lit on the Arunachala hill. Here, god's consort is Unnamalai  Amman (parvati). Shivaratri is celebrated with great devotion here where the lingam is called Agni Lingam. Yet another important ritual being followed here almost all through the year by millions of devotees is Girivalam, roughly 14 km stretch along the Grivalam path  around the arunachala hill. The devotees do it barefoot and observe strict religious norms. A temple of great antiquity, the deity is revered in the  7th-century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets - Nayanmars. Built by various dynasties from Chola to Krishnadevaraya, it is one the biggest temples in India covering more than 10 acres of land. The eastern twoer-Gopuram is one of the tallest measuring 217 ft.


04.Kashi Vishwanath temple,Varanasi, UP:

Khasi Vishwanath temple, Varanasi,

Of all the historical Hindu temples of India, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Varanasi, UP is the most famous one. Rich in culture and tradition the temple attracts millions of  devotees to this place for worship and to conduct Tharpana Karyam - ritual in memory of departed forefathers.  Conducting tharpanam  is a must for any Hindu family and the members do it on the banks of the nearby holy Ganges.  The temple is on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of all Shiva temples. The main deity goes  by the names Shri Vishwanath and Vishweshwara  meaning Lord of the Universe. Varanasi was called Kashi in ancient times and also decades ago. 

The temple had been  demolished several times by the Muslim rulers, most recently by Mogul ruler Aurangzeb who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. The current structure came up on an adjacent site and the Maratha ruler, Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in  1780 built it.

The temple is an ancient one  found mention in the Puranas including the Kashi Khanda (section) of Skanda Purana(4th-5th century). Lord Vishweshwara is so revered that he is said to be the ruler of Varanasi, having exalted power over the people as well as other deities within the city as well as  areas falling within  the radius extending about 50 miles.  The attractions are 15.5-metre-high gold spire and gold Onion domes,  each pure gold plated, donated in 1835 by Maharajah Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire; it was  at the request of his wife, Maharani Datar Kaur, The magnanimous ruler  donated 1 tonne of gold for plating the temple's dome. In 1841, Raghuji Bhonsle III of Nagpur donated silver to the temple. A 7-foot high stone statue of Nandi is a gift from  the Rana of Nepal  in the 1860s l

The Kashi Vishwanath temple has always been busy and receives more  than 3000 to 5000 devotees daily and on festival days the crowd swells into ten thousand plus.

Millions of devotees across the world converge at this place  to get blessed by God Shiva, especially on the day  of Mahashivratri and Shivratri. It is an auspicious one as this temple is  is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, one of the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva.


05. Baidyanath temple (also known as  Vaidyanatha Jyotirlinga temple, Jharkhand:
Baidyanath temple of Deoghar town, Jharkhand, /

Baidyanath temple (also known as  Vaidyanatha Jyotirlinga temple ) of Deoghar town, Jharkhand, India, yet another one among  twelve Jyotirlingas,  is a complex consisting of many  smaller shrines and ponds. The idol of God Shiva in enshrined in the main shrine that is architecturally rich with fine carvings and sculptures. The legend has it that once Ravana Prayed to God Shiva to cure his injuries and was willing to sacrifice all his ten heads. Pleased with his commitment, God Shiva  cured him of his ailment by way of acting as it is believed, that Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, hence this place is much revered as an important  Jyotirlinga Shrine.. The same shrine of Vaidyanath is considered one of 51 Shakti Peethas where Sati
is worshipped as Jayaa Durga (Victorious Durga) and Lord Bhairava as Vaidyanath or Baidyanath.  Dakshayani was reborn as Parvati, daughter of Himavat, king of the mountains, and his wife, the Devi Mena. This place is referred to as Arogya Baidyanath Tee, the holy place where Shakti lives and assists Shiva in freeing people from incurable diseases. In 1788  when this place was under the early colonial ruler EIC. The officials upon their visit to to the temple, decided not to interfere and hand the temple and its properties to the local people. 

Unlike many ancient tradition bound south indian  temples like  Rameshwaram, Srisailam, Thiruvannamalai, etc here the devotees can enter the sanctum and offer  Abhishek themselves on the Jyotirlinga. Yet another ritual Kanwar Yatra  is millions  devout Hindus - Kanvarias or Bhole gather holy Ganga  water from Bihar and  carry it across hundreds of miles to  do abhiseka in Baidyanath Temple in Jharkhand.The temple's annual festival, Shravani Mela, is a major attraction and draws millions of devotees every year. This temple being a Joyathis sthalam, Mahashivaratri is celebrated with dedication. The devotees are allowed to do puja themselves only ater Panda (priest) did the morning puja first.