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Best Lord Shiva Temples To Visit in India
Hinduism is the main religion in India. Almost 80 per cent population of India is Hindu. Lord Shiva is considered as one of the major Hindu deity and he is worshipped across India. There are over 10,000 Lord Shiva temples in India out of which some have very significant value. Here are the best Lord Shiva Temples to visit in India.
Somnath Temple, Gujarat
One of the most significant Lord Shiva temple is Somnath temple in Gujarat. It is believed to be one of the oldest temples in India, older them some religions in the world. Although it was destroyed several times by the Muslims but later reconstructed by the Hindu rulers.
Last time it was rebuilt after Independence of India. Following the independence of India, Vallabhbhai Patel, who was the first Home Minister of India was traveling through Junagadh when he found Somnath temple in ruined conditions. He immediately decided to restore the temple. The restoration was completed in 1951.
The temple is built in Chalukya style. It is believed that the very first temple was built by the Moon God. Moon was cursed by his Father in Law because he only loved one of this 27 wives. Moon God came to earth and worshiped Lord Shiva at this very place. Lord Shiva partially removed the curse following which Moon God built the first Somnath temple. While traveling to Somnath, you may also like to visit Gir National Park which is located nearby.
Located in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, Kedarnath temple is one of the holiest Lord Shiva temples in the world. According to a legend, Pandavas went to Himalayas in search of Lord Shiva. They were looking for forgiveness for sins they committed by killing their own cousins. On knowning that Lord Shiva decided to hide himself from the Pandavas. In Kedarnath Panadavas were following Lord Shiva who turned into he-buffalo and hide himself in a group of buffalo nearby.
The Panadavas came searching for the Lord reached the group of buffalo. They found he-buffalo to be odd looking and tried to catch him. As they came close to catch him, buffalo hit his face hard in the earth. Immediately Bhima catched the he-buffalo from his tail and tried to bring his face out. However the face of the buffalo came out in Nepal where today another popular Lord Shiva temple Pashupatinath is located.
As they were trying to pull out the head of the buffalo, the hind part of buffalo turned into triangular shaped JyotirLinga and Lord Shiva appeared in his true form and absolved Pandavas of their sins. While trying to catch Lord Shiva, Bhima had injured him. In remorse he applied ghee on body of Lord Shiva. This trend is continued at the triangular shaped JyotirLinga which is now inside the Kedarnath temple.
Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar
Located in Bhubaneswar, which is called temple city of India, Lingaraj Temple is one of the oldest and largest temple in the city. It is over 2000 years old and the only Shiva temple that does not allow entry to non-Hindus. The temple is built in Kalinga style of architecture.
Lingaraj Temple is part of golden triangle of Orissa. The golden triangle consists three important pilgrimage destinations, first is Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar while second in Konark Sun temple. You will have to travel to Puri for the third stop which is Lord Jagannath Puri temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It also does not allow entry to non-Hindus. It is believed that both Lingaraj Temple and Jagannath Puri temples were constructed around same time. Devotees should visit both temples in one visit. They are located with 50km of each other. You can take bus or taxi from Bhubneswar to reach Puri.
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Ramemshwaram
The only Lord Shiva temple which is part of holy char dham yatra. Ramanathaswamy Temple is located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. This is one of the 12 Jyothirlinga temples of Lord Shiva. More than 10 million devotees visit this temple every year.
According to Ramayana, Ramanathaswamy temple was built by the Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to Ramayana, demon king Ravana, kidnapped Sita and took her to Lanka. To reach Lanka Lord Rama built a bridge between Rameshwaram and Sri Lanka. After killing Ravana on return journey, Lord Rama decided to worship Lord Shiva at Rameshwaram to absolve him of any sins he committed during the war. Lord Rama asked Lord Hanuman to bring largest Shiva Lingam from Himalayas for worship but when it took so much time to bring the Shiva Lingam, Sita Mata built a small lingam.
Today at this place Ramanathaswamy temple stands tall. In order to reach the main hall where idols are kept, devotees have to take bath from water of 22 kundas.