There was once an argument between Bhagwan Vishnu and Brahma Ji as to who was great among both. To solve their conflict, Mahadev appeared in front of them as an enormous light pillar and spread himself to the sky and the underworld. This form which he took to resolve the fight between the two is the Jyothirling form and the day he took this form in celebrated as the MahaSivaratri. There are twelve Jyothirlings in India which celebrate this cosmic power of Bhagwan Shiv.
The first temple is the Somnath temple, located in Vereval, Gujarat. This Jyotirling was worshipped by Som, the moon god to relieve himself from the curse of his father-in-law Daksh. The original temple was first built in pure gold by the moon god, later in silver by Ravan, and then in sandalwood by Shri Krishna and the present temple stands in stone built by King Somadev.
The second temple is the Srisailam temple in Andhra Pradesh where Bhagwan Shiv is worshipped as Shri Mallikarjun. As Bhagwan Shiv is worshipped by jasmine (malle – in Telugu) flowers, he is called as Mallikarjun and his consort Bhagwathi Parvathi as Bhramaramba.
The third is the Omkareswara temple and is present on an Om shaped island Mandhata in Madhya Pradesh. Legend says that Rishi Agasty worshipped Bhagwan Shiv after bringing down the arrogance of the Vindhya Mountains. The devotees worship Bhagwan Shiv by doing a Pradakshin around the Mandhata Island of five kilometres.
The fourth temple is the Baijnath temple in the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas. This was the very place where Ravan cut off his nine heads to appease Bhagwan Shiv and Bhagwan Shiv appeared in front of him before Ravan cut off his tenth head. There are other two places (fifth and sixth) of the same name also popular as Jyothirling Kshetras, in Deogarh and Patna.
The seventh temple is the Bhimshanker temple in Maharashtra. Legend says that Bhagwan Shiv appeared in a ferocious form to kill the demon Bheem, and remained as a Jyothirling at this place. The largest tributary of River Krishna , Bheema originates from this place.
The eighth temple is the Rameswaram temple in Tamil nadu. This is the only temple which has two Jyotirlingas, one made by Shri Ram, and the other bought by Shri Hanuman. Shri Ram had worshipped Bhagwan Shiv after his victory over Ravan. The devotees offer their first prayers to the Shivling made by Shri Ram and then to the one bought by Hanuman from Kailash.
The ninth temple is the Nageswar temple in Gujarat. Bhagwan Shiv incarnated with a body full of serpents to slay a demon named Daruk. Bhagwan Shiv is worshipped as Dakshinamurti, the first guru of the Universe. The tenth temple is the Kashi Vishwanath temple which is the most important Jyothirling Kshetra. This was the very place where Bhagwan Shiv had taken the form of the divine Jyothirling to solve the conflict of Bhagwan Vishnu and Brahma Ji.
The eleventh temple is the Triambakeshwar temple in Nasik, Maharashtra. This was the place where Bhagwan Shiv unlocked one of his Ganga streams from his hair from which River Godavari originated known to be as the Dakshin Ganga. The twelfth one is the Kedarnath temple in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand. The Pandavas had performed penance here after the Kurukshetra war. This is the temple which is located in the highest altitude in the Himalayas at 3583mts from sea level. The
twelve Jyothirlingas are the twelve infinite sources of light which enlighten our lives with devotion, happiness and health.