Maha Shivaratri - Famous Shiva temples devotees visit on that day - 02

Maha Shivaratri (originated in the 5th century BCE) that was celebrated o the 18th February is an important Hindu festival for the Shaivites.  Literally meaning ' The Great Night of Shiva'), this annual event is held in honour of Shiva whose mystic cosmic dance is well known. Commemorating  the divine wedding of Shiva and Parvati,  it was on this joyous occasion  Shiva performed what is called  Anantha Tandava. To get rid of ignorance, fear and uncertainty, devout Shaivites visit Shiva temples to get his blessing 

Most elderly  devotees stay awake throughout the night and engage in meditation or read stories from Hindu scriptures. Others prefer going on a pilgrimage  to the Jyotirlinga shrines.

At important temples like Konark, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Modhera and Chidambaram,  Maha Shivaratri festival provides a platform for the young dancers and artists  to participate in the  annual dance festivals  to showcase their talents. This confluence of artists retains the age old dance tradition that was common at temples in the way back. Natyanjali, literally "worship through dance", at the Chidambaram temple is famous and the temple  event that provides a  congenial ambiance for the participants because this temple is  famous for its sculptures depicting  countless dance mudras found in the ancient Hindu text of performance arts called Natya Shastra.

 As part of maha Shivaratri, lots of people in Tamil nadu, particularly,  those residing in northern districts participate in the Girivalam  around the Arunachala hill at Tiruvannamalai. In the north Indian states devotees visit well-known Jyotirlinga shrines o get blessed by the lord.  

Find below are some of the temples where Maha Shivaratri is held in a grand manner. 

01.The Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu: 

Mystifying Cosmic dance of 

Above image: The mystic dance of God Shiva-  ''The cosmic dance is not random motion but is beautifully choreographed and the movements obey laws of nature. The most fundamental laws of physics are the conservation laws.............Nothing new in the universe has been created, since the Big Bang, but only transformed from one form to another. What appears as creation or destruction is only a transformation from one form to another in accordance with physical laws. The laws are fixed but the dancers and the dancing change. The dance never stops''. (

Chidambaram Sri Nataraja temple,

Golden hall. Thillai Natarajar temple, Chidambaram,

One of the most famous and ancient Shiva temples in India in  the Nataraja Temple of Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu  god Shiva is being worshipped as  the Akasha Lingam representing Akash or space which is one of the natural elements of the earth without which sustenance of life is impossible. This more than 1000 year old temple with four entrance towers facing the cardinal directions is a fine example of Chola architecture and attractive  sculptures adoring big mandapams. The Kanaka sabha or golden hall hall (with gold plated roof) is an epitome of intricate stone carvings.  It was here the lord perforced the cosmic dance of bliss, Ananandatandava  that represents the fundamentals of dynamics of the universe and the movements of planets,besides maintaining the balance between constructive forces and destructive forces on earth    The temple complex has  many shrines,  halls, long prakara supported by ornate stone pillars and  structures.  

The image of Bilva leaf hanging in the air in the golden hall has a religious and spiritual connotation;  the  message.being.  'The god does not have either beginning or the end'' (no Aathi and no Antham).  It is of interest to note here that there is a hall beyond, all empty, to suggest a vast expanse of space, Akasa. When the screen is pulled to one side, an empty space emerges without any image or any stone figure, suggesting nothingness-purportedly the sky. The removal of the screen/veil between us and the empty space is tantamount to the removal of ignorance. Beyond the veil is the truth Sat Sit Ananda representing the lord in all his splendor. This representation of space or emptiness or void  is often referred to as Chidambara Rakashya or simply mystery. 

Chidambaram is a huge temple complex spread over 40 acres (160,000 m2) in the heart of the city. The main complex dedicated to Lord Shiva - Nataraja also has shrines for deities such as Shivakami Amman, Ganesh, Murugan and Vishnu in (Govindaraja Perumal). 

Rich in culture and heritage, this temple is the venue of the annual   Natyanjali festival that is held with dedication and religious fervor; the Shiva shrine and the hall providing an ideal ambiance for the upcoming young Bharatanatyam artists. All the 108 postures of Bharathanatyam are intricately  carved  on the walls adding more color to the ambiance.

Shivaratri celebrations at Chidambaram temple are normally held on a grand scale and elaborate puja rituals are being followed on that occasion. Thousands of devotees  od devotees participate in the festivities. The temple is being well managed by Pothu Dikshidars of Chidambaram.


02. Somnath temple of Veraval, Gujarat 

Somnath temple

Gold-plating of the 1,450 spires or kalash

Somnath located  in Sagar Kant of Saurashtra near Veraval, Gujarat the famous Somnath temple dedicated to god Shiva  is the first and foremost of all Jyotirlingas. Itt was here very first  Jyotirling shrine emerged.  Legend has it that the temple  was built in four phases;  01. By the Moon who is said to have  prayed to the lord to free him from  a curse cast on him  by his father-in-law, Daksha. On getting Shiva’s blessings, The moon was back to his old resplendent cool glory, regaining   his light after lord's gesture. 02.The  second phase was completed in silver by Ravi. 03 The third phase was completed in wood by Lord Krishna and 04. Using stone, the fourth phase was completed  by king Bhimadeva. 

The temple was ravaged several times centuries ago  by the raiders from NW India  and after the threats were over the old temple was demolished and in its place a new temple with fine splendor was rebuilt  in the Māru-Gurjara style of Hindu temple architecture.The contemporary Somnath temple's reconstruction was started  under the guidance of the first Home Minister of India Vallabhbhai Patel and completed in May 1951 after his death.

The temple was rebuilt with vigor using  dressed reddish yellow stones  with which the talented native stone artisans made mind-boggling carvings and sculptures  based on a well-conceived plan. The temple was open to public by the first Indian President Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1951.

Set close to the shore of the Arabian sea the temple offers a unique ambiance for the devotees. Except ponda /priests others are not allowed inside the sanctum to do abhishekam, however,  those with  Ganga water  can offer it  through a mechanical device.

Only recently in 2021 the tedious  task of old-plating of the 1,450 spires or kalash atop the Somnath Temple was completed and the cost was borne mostly by public donations. Here Maha Shivaratri is a major religious event well attended by people in thousands.  A total of 52.68 lakh visitors came to the temple in 2021 to seek the blessings of the lord.


3. Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur, TN:

Brihadeshwara temple  big temple, Thanjavur, wikipedia

Huge lingam at big temple, Thanjavur, TN

 Above image: Brihadeeswarar Temple.Thanjavur -  the inner sanctum which is more than 2 story tall and enshrined in it is  one of the largest  monolithic Maha-lingas, 3.5 metres (10½ feet) high and 8.7m (27 ft) in circumference. It is said  the stone for the linga was taken from the Narmada River. There are over 250 lingas in the temple.  

one of the largest Nandi Brihadeeswarar Temple
Thanjavur, TN,

Above image: Brihadeeswarar Temple.Thanjavur -  this temple is known for the second largest monolithic stone bull (nandi) weighing 20 tons. The nandi mantap built in the later period faces the main shrine of Shiva..................

Thanjavur big temple hollow core of the

A UN World Heritage site known for its mind-boggling  engineering dynamics  and profusion of  inspiring stone sculptures of all sizes , the Brihadeeswara temple (dedicated to God Shiva) is one of the popular Shiva temples in this country. A classic example of mastery of Chola temple architecture  never short of   myths and mysteries, the entire temple is made of oldest granite related rocks on earth (of  Archaean group) - about  130000 tons used in the construction. Mind you there ae no outcrops in this cauvery delta region. -  i

Also known as Periya Kovil locally and  RajaRajeswara Temple, it was  built by  King Raja Raja Chola I in 1110 CE  made entirely of granitic rock . The tower/ gopuram over the sanctum (a rare temple design in Dravida style) built with interlocking system of blocks rises to a height of 2i6 ft with a cupola atop over a thick granite platform (total weight  80 tons), indeed a jaw-dropping  masterpiece of Chola architecture never attempted in the later period. Thousands of people visit this temple, particularly on the holidays. Lots of devotees visit the temple on the day of Pradosham and on the Maha Shivaratri day.


04. Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval:

Jambukeswarar temple, Thiruvanaikava

ornate pillar joinsd Jambukeswarar temple, Thiruvanaikaval

Prakaram Jambukeswarar temple, Thiruvanaikaval

Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval

Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval (also Thiruvanaikal, Jambukeswaram)  in the Srirangam island close to Thiruchirappalli city is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy),Tamil Nadu, is a famous temple  in this Delta region. A panchabootha Sthala, the god here presents water (Appu).  Built during the early  Chola period, the rare feature is the sanctum is just below the ground level. The ground water level is so close to the ground water in the sanctum has to be pumped out  periodically and the priests have to do their daily puja rituals, standing in the water. The ligam is called   Appu Lingam. The four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints)  sang in praise of this temple deity and it is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams. There are  inscriptions from the Chola period and the Chola dynasty made a valuable contribution for the temple construction.

The huge temple has wide and long prakaras around the sanctum supported by beautifully carved granite stone pillars. The massive 2 foot thick and 25 ft tall  outer wall covering the fifth precinct, known as the Vibudi Prakara, stretches over a mile. The length of the prakaras decreases toward the sanctum.  The fourth precinct has  a hall with 796 pillars and measures 2436 feet by 1493. It also has a small tank fed by  springs that hardly go dry.  The third enclosure is 745 feet by 197 ft surrounded a wall 30 feet high walls. The inner most prakara measuring 126 feet by 123 has the sanctum.

Mahashivratri and karthigai deepam are celebrated in a grand manner here.,_Thiruvanaikaval