Lord Shiva, the destroyer, is the most powerful deity of the Hindu trinity and has nearly 1,008 names. He is worshipped in many forms but mostly in the form of Lingam. The Shivaratri is a major festival dedicated to him and devotees from all over the world come to seek his blessings during this festival. Here is a guide to the seven unique Shiva temples where you can head to this Shivratri.
The Brihadeshwara Temple is a major example of the amazing Tamil arhitecture and was constructed during the Chola dynasty. It boasts of Dravidian design and was built by Raja Raja Chola and is the largest temple in India. Also a unique feature about this temple is that it has been built out of a single piece of granite rock which weighed 25 tonnes. Even today it emotes the splendour and grandeur of the bygone days and gives us an insight into the rich culture of the Chola dynasty. Here is pictorial guide to this amamzing temple which is presently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Photo Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon
The oldest temple in the city, the Lingaraja Temple is a popular tourist attraction and a must-visit place in Bhubaneswar. The largest temple in the city it is considered to be over 1,100 years old. The architecture is also unique, and an outstanding example of Hindu temple structures. Built in Deula style, the sandstone structure stands strong to this day. It consists of four divisions; the sanctum, the assembly hall, festival hall and hall of offerings. A unique belief associated with the temple is that of a secret stream that flows below the temple and fills the nearby Bindusagar Tank. The waters here are said to have curative properties.
Photo Courtesy: Subhashish Panigrahi
Koti Lingeshwara Temple is located in Kammasandra Village. Swamy Sambha Shiva Murthy built this temple with 108 feet tall Shivalinga which is regarded as the biggest linga in the world. Devotees can also see a 35 feet tall idol of Nandi which has been placed in front of the presiding deity. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the temple during the occasion of Maha Shivaratri. Upon reaching this temple, they can see other deities here, namely Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama, Lord Maheshwara, Lord Anjaneya, Goddess Annapoorneshwari and Lord Brahma. Some shrines are dedicated to Goddess Kannika Parameshwari, Lord Venkataramani Swamy and Goddess Karumaari Amma and Lord Panduranga Swamy.
Photo Courtesy: Mithila
Murudeshwar Temple located at Kanduka Giri Hill, is one of the prime attractions of Murudeshwar and must be visited by all tourists. This temple is surrounded by Arabian Sea from the three sides. The location of the temple is said to be the spot where Lord Ganesha, in the form of a Brahmin boy, put down the Atma Linga that he was holding for Ravana. Devoted to Lord Shiva, tourists can see 123 ft high statue of Shiva along with the Shivalinga at this temple. Tourists can see several sculptures, such as concrete sculptures of maidens, in the temple premises. It also has a twenty-storied Rajagopura with two full sized elephants at its entrance. The temple is built using granite and showcases the South Indian style of architecture.
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Tungnath Mandir, one of the Panch Kedars, is acclaimed as the highest Shiva temple in the world. This temple is located at an elevation of 3680 mt above sea level in the Tungnath Mountain Range. According to Hindu mythology, the temple was built by Arjuna, one of the Pandavas. The literal meaning of Tungnath is ‘Lord of the Peaks'. The arm of Lord Shiva is worshipped at this temple, which represents the North Indian style of architecture. At the main entrance of the shrine, there is a stone figure of Nandi Bull, who according to Hindu mythology is the mount of Lord Shiva. The idols of popular Hindu sages, such as Kala Bhairav and Vyas, are also enshrined in the temple along with the images of the Pandavas. Besides, small shrines of different gods and goddesses can be seen around this temple.
Photo Courtesy: Vvnataraj
Amarnath, situated at a distance of around 145 km from Srinagar, is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. The site lies at an elevation of 4175 mt above sea level and is popular among the devotees of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. Devotees throng this natural cave with its naturally formed ice 'shivlinga', a symbol of the deity, as the main attraction. The pilgrimage site received its name from the Hindi words 'amar', which stands for immortal, and 'nath' which stands for god.
Photo Courtesy: Gktambe
The Kailasanathtemple is a famous rock cut monument located atEllora in Maharashtra. It is a remarkable example ofDravidian architectureon account of its striking proportion, elaborate workmanship, architectural content, and sculptural ornamentation. The temple was commissioned and completed between dated 757-783 CE, when Krishna I ruled the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is designed to recallMount Kailash, the home ofLord Shiva.It is amegalithcarved out of one single rock.
Photo Courtesy: Sanjay Acharya