10 Jyotirlinga Temples Tour India
Tour Duration: 21 Nights / 22 Days
The southernmost of these is located at Rameswaram, while the northernmost is located in the snowy heights of the Himalayas at Kedarnath. These temples are closely linked with legends from the puranas and are rich in history and tradition. The Dwadasa Jyotirlinga shrines or the 12 shrines enshrining Shiva in the form of a Jyotirlingam, have been held in reverence since time immemorial in the Indian system of beliefs.
Destinations Covered: Delhi - Patna - Baijnath - Varanasi - Rishikesh - Guptakashi - Kedarnath - Haridwar - Indore - Ujjain - Omkareshwar - Indore - Mumbai - Aurangabad - Tryambakeshwar - Nashik - Bhimashankar - Pune - Hyderabad - Mallikarjun - Chennai - Madurai - Rameswaram - Chennai
Day 1 – Delhi to Patna – Fly
Morning after relaxed breakfast at the hotel transfer to the airport to board flight for Patna. Meeting on arrival and transfer to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 2 – Patna to Baijnath – drive
Morning after an early breakfast drive to Baijnath to reach in around 6 hours time. Arrive and darshan. Evening transfer to Railway Station to board Jan Shatabdi express train for Patna d– 1826 / 2215 hrs. Overnight stay at Patna.
Baidyanath - The temple of Baidyanath faces the east and is a plain stone structure with a pyramidal tower which rises from a square base to a height of 72 feet from the ground. To the east of the northern verandah of the temple there is a large vat into which flows the water and milk offered as ablution. The lingam is of a cylindrical form about 5 inches in diameter and projects about 4 inches from the centre of a large slab of basalt. It is not possible to ascertain how much of the lingam is buried. The top is broken and has uneven surface.
There are different porches in the temple. One porch leads to the cell where the lingam is fixed. The second porch is in front with a row of pillars spanned by blocks of basalt and on the right side there is a sandstone image of a bull. There are bells fixed in the ceiling and pilgrims are supposed to pull the bell-ropes to announce their approach to the divinity. The courtyard has eleven other temples.
According to other traditions, not noticed in any purana, the 'LINGAM' (Lord Shiva) lay neglected after the death of Ravan until it was noticed by a rude hunter, Baiju, who accepted it as his God and worshipped daily; proclaiming to the world as the Lord of Baiju (Baidyanath).
Day 3 – Patna to Varanasi – train – 1050 / 1500 hrs
Morning after relaxed breakfast transfer to Railway Station to board day train to Varanasi. Meeting on arrival at Varanasi and transfer to the hotel. Rest of the day free to relax. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4 – At Varanasi
Early morning excursion to holy Ganges river for early morning boat ride. Return to hotel for breakfast. Later proceed to visit Vishwanath temple. Overnight at the hotel.
Vishwanatha - Situated amidst the crowded lanes of Varanasi, the temple of Vishwanatha can be approached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. Inside the courtyard is the temple of Vishwanatha surrounded by many subsidiary shrines. There is a well, called Jnana Vapi i.e. ‘wisdom well’ located to the north of the main temple. As one enters the temple from the southern side the first temple to the left of the pilgrim are three temples in a row one behind the other – Vishnu, Virupakshi Gauri and Avimukta Vinayaka. A cluster of five lingas enclosed in a temple is called Nilakantheshvar temple. Just above the Avimukteshvara Vinayaka are temples of Shanishchara and Virupaksha. To the right just near the entrance is the temple enshrining a linga called Avimukteshvara. There is a controversy regarding the original Jyotirlinga at the place, which suggests that not the Vishwanatha but the Avimukteshvara is the original Jyotirlinga.
According to some scholars the other lingas like the Mahakala, Nikumbheshvara, Dandapanisvara, Vaikuntheshvara, kala Bhairava, kapileshvara, Kubereshvara bear the names of Yakshas. There are also images of Saubhagya Gauri, Shringar Gauri, Savitri, Vighneshvara Ganesha, Vyaseshvara etc. along with a cluster of small lingas to the north is called the court of Vishwanatha.
The Vishwanatha temple consists of a mandapa and a sanctum. Inside the sanctum a linga is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. The Linga is of black stone. Though the interior of the temple is not large and elaborate it presents the peaceful atmosphere ideal for worship.
Puja timings: The temple is kept open from 5.30 in the morning and stays so till 12 in the noon. The temple usually remains closed during the noon hours, and reopens in the evening at 4 p.m. The temple closes in the night after the last pujas are performed by 8 p.m.
Day 5 – Varanasi to Delhi – Fly
Transfer to the airport after breakfast to board flight for Delhi. Meeting on arrival at Delhi airport and transfer to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 6 – Delhi to Rishikesh – drive
Morning after breakfast at the hotel drive to Rishikesh in around 6 hours time. Arrive and check in at the hotel. Evening attent arati at Ganges. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 07 - Rishikesh – Guptakashi (155 Kms.)
Morning after breakfast drive to Guptakashi to reach in around 8 hours time, along with the river Alaknanda and Mandakini, en-route visit Devprayag (the confluence of River Bhagirthi and Alaknada) and Rudraprayag (the confluence of rive Alaknanda and Mandakini). On arrival at Guptakashi, check in at the hotel / camp for overnight stay.
Day 08 - Guptakashi - Kedarnath 32 kms Drive, 14 kms trek
After breakfast pick up your packed Lunch and leave for Gaurikund ( 32 kms drive one way ) on arrival start your journey on the tough trek ahead (ponies / porters can be hired here for further trek). Stop for the lunch en - route and restart after that to arrive by late afternoon. On arrival check in at the hotel. After freshening up perform Pooja and also Darshan at the shri Kedarnath ji. In the evening also visit Adi Shankaracharya samadhi at the back of the temple.
Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. It is set amidst the stunning mountainscape of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River. Kedar is another name of lord Shiva, the protector & the destroyer. Shiva is considered the embodiment of all passions - love, hatred, fear, death & mysticism which are expressed through his various forms.
Kedarnath is the most important Hindu shrine in Himalayas, and among the major Shiva temples, of the country. Located at the source of the river Mandakini, Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas, of Lord Shiva, and one of the Panch Kedars.
Mythology identifies the deity at Kedarnath temple, with the rump of a bull, a form assumed by Lord Shiva, when eluding the Pandavas, who had come for repentance for killing their kith and kin, in the great battle of Kurukshetra. When the Pandavas followed him to the site, he dived into the ground leaving behind a hump on the surface. This conical projection is worshipped as the idol in the shrine.
The remaining parts of the body are worshipped at four other sites-the arms (Bahu) at Tungnath, mouth (mukh) at Rudranath, navel (nabhi) at Madmaheshwar and hair (jata) at Kalpeshwar. These five shrines collectively are known as the Panch Kedar.
It is believed that the temple of Kedarnath, was constructed by the Pandavas. At the entrance of the temple, is the statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva. The wall inside the temple, is exquisitely carved with images, and the temple houses a shiva lingam, which is worshipped by hordes of pilgrims. The lingam, here, unlike its usual form, is pyramidal.
At the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Garhwal (Kedarkhand) to Ukhimath, and is reinstated at Kedarnath, in the first week of May. It is at this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock from all parts of India, for a holy pilgrimage.
Legends notwithstanding, the shrine of Kedarnath is very scenically placed, and is surrounded by lofty, snow - covered mountains, and grassy meadows covering the valleys. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Keadardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. The sight of the temple and the peak with its perpetual snows is, simply, an enthralling sight.
Devotees outside Kedarnath Temple ,Around Kedarnath ,Vasuki Tal Situated at an altitude of 14, 200 ft, and 6 kms away from Kedarnath, Vasuki Tal is situated on the right side of the valley. The crystal clear lake with stupendous scenic surroundings, offers a splendid view for the nature buff.
Day 09 - Kedarnath - Guptkashi, 14 kms Trek, 32 kms drive –
Morning attent arati at Kedarnath ji. After breakfast proceed to reach Gaurikund where your vehicle is waiting you to drive back to Guptakashi for overnight stay.
Day 10 – Guptakashi to Haridwar
Morning after breakfast at the hotel drive to Haridwar and check into the hotel on arrival. Evening attent arati at Har Ki Pauri Ghat. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11 – Haridwar to Delhi
Morning after breakfast at the hotel drive to Delhi to reach in around 5 hours time and check into the hotel. Rest of the day free to relax in Delhi.
Day 12 – Delhi to Indore – Fly –
Morning after an early breakfast at the hotel transfer to the airport to board flight for Indore at 7.15 AM. Meeting on arrival at Indore airport at 8.15 AM and proceed to Ujjain and darshan of Mahabaleshwar (56 kms each way). Overnight stay at Ujjain.
One of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India, the lingam at the Mahakal is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself), deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti. The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, facing the South. This is a unique feature, upheld by tantric tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nagpanchami. The temple has five levels one of which is undergound. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhara or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.
The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendor, reigns eternal in Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhara soaring into the skies, an imposing façade against the skyline, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, and provides an unbreakable link with past traditions. One of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India, the lingam at the Mahakal is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself), deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti. The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, facing the South. This is a unique feature, upheld by tantric tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nagpanchami. On the day of Mahashivaratri, a huge fair is held near the temple, and worship goes on through the night.
Day 13 – Ujjain – Omkareshwar - Indore
Morning after breakfast proceed to visit Omkareshwar (53 kms from Ujjain) and than proceed to Indore (78 kms) for overnight stay.
The temple is built in the North Inidan style of architecture, with high spires The soft stone of which it was constructed has lent its pliable surface to a rare degree of detailed work, of which the frieze figures on the upper portion is the most striking with the stone roof of the temple being intricately carved also. Encircling the shrine are verandahs with columns which are carved in circles, polygons and squares. The temple also houses the shrines of Panchamuga Ganesha, and Annapoorani which are considered very auspicious by the devotees.
Day 14 – Indore to Mumbai – Fly – 10 AM / Arrival 11.05 AM
Mumbai to Aurangabad – Fly – 3.55 PM / arrival 4.40 PM
Morning after breakfast transfer to Indore airport to board flight for Aurangabad via Mumbai. Meeting on arrival at Aurangabad airport and transfer to the hotel for overnight stay. Rest of the evening free to relax.
Day 15 – Aurangabad
Morning after breakfast proceed for an excursion to visit Girikeshwar. Grishneshwar
Grishneshwar is an ancient pilgrimage site revered as the abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. It is located at a distance of 11 km from Daulatabad near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The Lord is also known by several names like Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara, Grushmeswara, Grishneswara. The Grishneswar temple was constructed by Ahilyabhai Holkar who also re-constructed the Kasi Viswanatha temple at Varanasi and the Vishnu Paada temple at Gaya.
Grishneshwar is also known as Ghushmeshwar.
Return to Auranabad for overnight stay.
Day 16 – Aurangabad - Tryambakeshwar – Nashik
Morning after breakfast at the hotel to Nasik and enroute visit Tryambakeshwar located near at a distance of about 30 km from Nasik in Maharashtra is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Tryambakeshwar is the source of the river Godavari. This is an ancient shrine, however the current structure is a result of the reconstruction efforts undertaken by the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao in mid 18th century. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Bhimashankar and Grishneshwar.
Legend has it that Gowtama muni resided on the Bhramagiri hill here with his wife Ahalya, and by virtue of his devotion received from Varuna, a bottomless pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains and food. The other rishis, jealous of his fortune, arranged for a cow to enter his granary, and caused it to die as Gowtama attempted to ward it off with a bunch of Darbha grass.
Gowtama therfore worshipped Shiva, to bring the Ganga down to his hermitage to purify the premises. The Ganga came down as Godavari, and Shiva took up an abode here in the form of Tryambaka. Interestingly, locals refer to the river here as Ganga and not as Godavari. (Shown above is an image of the Ganga at Haridwar). All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo.
The legend relating to the Lingodbhava manifestation of Shiva also prevails here. Legend has it that Bhrama and Vishnu searched in vain to discover the origin of Shiva who manifested himself as a cosmic column of fire. Bhrama lied that he had seen the top of the column of fire, and was hence cursed that he would not be worshipped on earth. In turn Bhrama cursed Shiva that he would be pushed underground. Accordingly, Shiva came down under the Bhramagiri hill in the form of Tryambakeshwar. Circumambulating the Bhramagiri hill is considered sacred. (Please also see the Arunachala Hill, and the legend associated with the Origin of Linga worship).
Day 17 – Nashik – Bhimashankar – Pune
Morning after breakfast at the hotel proceed to Pune via visiting Bhimashankar.
Bhimashankar, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, can certainly be termed as a Pilgrim Paradise. The dense forests surrounding the high ranges also play an abode to the rare species of flora and fauna. Situated at the extreme end of the Sahayadri Ranges, this place gives a wonderful view of the world around you, the forts, the rivers and the hill stations around.
Arrive Pune and check into the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 18 – Pune to Hyderabad – fly – 1.15 PM / Arrive 2.50 AM
Morning after leisurely breakfast and relax transfer to airport to board flight for Hyderabad. Meeting on arrival at Hyderabad airport and proceed to Mallikarjun (245 kms – 5 hours). Arrive and check into the hotel. Later if feel comfortable proceed to the Temple for evening arati and darshan. Overnight at the hotel.
Mallikarjuna -The hill temple looks like a large fort and is known for its wealth of sculptures. There are rows of sculptures on the walls, giving one the impression of a gallery. Then there are a large number of bass reliefs, which are a symbolic representation of the various legends. A sculpture of sage Bringi standing on three legs is noteworthy. The sage was cursed by Goddess Parvathi to become a skeleton because he was worshipping only Shiva. The Lord pacified Parvathi and gave the sage one more leg to stand.
Early inscriptions speak of how rulers of different dynasties like the Satavahanas, Vakatakas, Kakatiyas and Vijayanagar rulers were ardent devotees of Lord Mallikarjuna and enriched the shrine in terms of construction and other gifts. In later years, Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji is known to have constructed a gopuram of the shrine.
THE SANCTUM The sanctum enshrining Lord Mallikarjuna is a shell-like structure. The Mukhamandapa is a well-sculptured pillared hall in Vijayanagar style. Nandi, Shiva’s mount, is enshrined in a separate mandapa. There are smaller shrines for Nataraja and Sahasra Linga. The Sahasra Linga is an interesting aspect . The main Linga is divided into 25 facets, each of them again representing 40 Lingas, making a total of 1,000 Lingas. A three-hooded cobra is carved as entwined round the Linga. Another Linga of Mallikarjuna under a Vata vriksha (tree) is considered the original Linga.
Slightly away from these shrines is the sanctum of Goddess Bhramarambika, the consort of Mallikarjuna. The Goddess is believed to have assumed the form of a bee and worshipped Shiva here. Adi Shankara had visited the temple and sung in praise of Lord Mallikarjuna in his famous hymn Shivananda Lahari and of the Goddess in Bhramarambika Ashtakam.
Day 19 – Mallikarjun to Hyderabad
Morning visit Srisailam temple again and than leisurely drive to Hyderabad. Rest of the day at leisure to relax. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 20 – Hyderabad to Chennai – 6.30 AM / Arrive 7.30 AM
Chennai to Madurai – Fly – 12.05 PM / 1 AM
Early morning transfer to airport to board flight for Chennai. On arrival connect Madurai bound flight. Arrive and check into the Hotel. Evening visit Meenakshi Temple, Mariamman Teppakulam and the Palace of Tirumalai Nayak. In the evening attend the prayer ceremony at the Meenakshi temple. Overnight stay in Madurai.
Day 21 – Madurai to Rameswaram to Madurai
Morning after breakfast proceed to Ramnathpuram and check into the hotel. After wash and change proceed for Rameswaram darshan / Pooja. Overnight at Ramnathpuram.
Rameshwar - The temple is situated on the eastern coast. It is a huge structure with three parakaramsand several mandapams with mini shrines to other deities. There is a huge Anjaneya in a mini shrine. There is a huge Nandi measuring 12 feet in length and 9 feet in height., with the idols of Viswanatha Naicker and Krishnama Naicker. The lingams are housed in the inner section of the Ramalingeshwara. High walls enclose the temple, forming a rectangle with huge pyramidal gopura entrances on each side. The gateways lead to the spacious closed ambulatory, flanked to either side by continuous platforms with massive pillers set on their edges. These corridors are the most famous attribute of the temple, their extreme - 205 metres, with 1212 pillars on the north and south sides - giving a remarkable impression of receding perspective. Delicate scrollwork and brackets of pendant lotuses supported by yalis, mythical lion-like beasts, adorn the pillars. There are shrines for Ganapathi and Subramanya. To the right of the Lords shrine is the shrine for Parvathi. To its North is the Kasi Viswanathars shrine
Day 22 – Rameshwaram to Madurai to Chennai – fly
Morning depart by road Madurai to reach in around 3 hours. On arrival board flight for Chennai at 1.40. Arrive Chennai at 2.35 PM and connect flight for onward destination (Mumbai, Delhi or any other destination you would like to fly).
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