Mahashivratri, which translates to “the great night of Shiva,” is one of the most significant festivals in the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated annually in honour of Lord Shiva.
It is observed on the 14th day in the month of Phalguna (February-March). This year, Mahashivratri will fall on February 18, 2023, Saturday. Devotees across the world offer prayers and perform special rituals to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva on this auspicious day.
For those looking to visit some of the most revered Shiva temples on this occasion, India has an abundance of options. From the majestic Somnath Temple in Gujarat to the iconic Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, the country is home to many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
However, in this article, we will take a closer look at some of the top Shiva temples to visit on the occasion of Mahashivratri. We will explore their unique features, significance, and the rituals and festivities that take place during the festival. Whether you are a devout follower of Lord Shiva or a curious traveller seeking to learn about India’s rich cultural heritage, these temples offer an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression on your mind and soul.
Here are some of the most famous Shiva temples to visit on Mahashivratri in India :
1. Sri Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu:
Brihadeeshwara Temple also known as Periya Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple, and Rajarajesvaram is one of the largest temples in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. The magnificent temple was built during the Chola period by King Raja Raja Chola I in the 11th century and is considered a masterpiece of Chola architecture. The temple features a massive tower that stands over 60 meters tall and is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures. The temple is among the World Heritage sites where thousands of people around the world come to seek the blessing of Lord Shiva.
2. Somnath Temple, Gujarat:
Thousands of devotees visit Somnath Temple in Gujarat every year on Mahashivaratri to celebrate this special day. Located on the shores of the Arabian Sea, Somnath is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. Also known for its intricate carvings and grand architecture the temple is also one of the most popular tourist destinations among travellers around the world. According to legends the shore temple of Somnath have been built in 4 phases – the first phase was completed in Gold by Lord Soma, the second phase was completed in silver by Ravi, the third phase was completed in wood by Lord Krishna, and the fourth phase was completed in stone by king Bhimadeva
3. Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh:
Mahakaleshwar Temple is a Hindu temple located in the city of Ujjain in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered to be the most sacred shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is located on the banks of the Shipra River and is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus.
The temple is believed to have been built in the 5th century CE, but it has undergone several renovations over the years. The current structure is believed to have been built in the 18th century by the Maratha ruler, Ranoji Shinde. The lingam in the temple is said to be self-manifested or swayambhu, which means that it was not constructed by human hands. The temple also has images of several other Hindu deities, including Ganesh, Parvati, and Kartikeya.
The temple has a unique feature in the form of a bhasm aarti, which is a ritual where ash is used to worship the deity. This aarti takes place early in the morning, and it is considered to be one of the most important rituals in the temple. The temple is also famous for its elaborate evening aarti, which is a grand spectacle that attracts a large number of devotees. The temple is known for its grand architecture and rich cultural heritage and is visited by millions of devotees every year, especially on Mahashivratri and Shivratri.
4. Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu:
One of the most significant and ancient temples, The Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is popularly known for its unique architecture and the presence of the cosmic dancer, Nataraja, in its sanctum sanctorum. The temple’s main deity is the Akasha Lingam, which represents the element of space. The temple complex also includes various other shrines and structures, including the Kanaka Sabha or the Golden Hall, which is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures. The temple is revered by devotees for its spiritual significance and cultural heritage and is a popular tourist destination in Tamil Nadu. It is believed to be 1,000 years old and is also one of the five holiest shrines in South India. The temple is known for its beautiful carvings, intricate architecture, and spiritual significance, and is considered a masterpiece of Chola art and architecture.
5. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi:
Located in Varanasi in India, Kashi Vishwanath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is among the most famous Hindu temples that has a rich history and cultural significance where millions of devotees across the world visit to take a blessing of Shiva, especially on the occasion of Mahashivratri and Shivratri. is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered to be the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva.
6. Baidyanath Temple, Jharkhand:
Baidyanath Temple is a significant Hindu temple located in the Deoghar city of Jharkhand, India. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered to be the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. The temple complex is spread over a vast area and comprises several smaller shrines and ponds. The main temple is constructed in an intricate style of architecture and is adorned with numerous carvings and sculptures. Devotees from all over the country visit this temple to offer their prayers and seek blessings from Lord Shiva. The temple’s annual festival, Shravani Mela, is a major attraction and draws millions of devotees every year.
7. Ramanathaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu:
Ramanathaswamy Temple is a revered Hindu temple located in the town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered to be one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples. The temple’s history dates back to the 12th century, but it has undergone many renovations over the years. The temple’s most prominent feature is its long corridor with intricately carved pillars, which stretches for over 1,200 meters. The temple also has 22 wells within its complex, and which are believed that taking holy bath in these wells will help them to get rid of doshas and saabham. It is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus and attracts devotees from all over India.
These are just a few of the many famous Shiva temples in India. Each temple has its own unique history and spiritual significance, and all are considered to be powerful places of pilgrimage for devotees of Lord Shiva. Whether you are a spiritual seeker or simply a lover of history and architecture, these temples are well worth a visit.