Lord Shiva is one of the three main deities of Hinduism. Lord Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are collectively called the trinity. They carry out an infinite cycle of creation, operation, and destruction of the entire universe. Among these three deities, Lord Shiva, as being the god of destruction, is responsible for the destruction and re-emergence of the universe.

This endless cycle of birth and rebirth of cosmic creation is the basic tenet of Hinduism, where destruction is inevitable, whether it be the life of living creatures, planets, or the entire universe as a whole. Everything that physically exists in the universe has to be destroyed for the new creation to flourish.

Shiva, being the supreme lord of destruction, is thus worshiped by millions of devotees across the world. As per the ancient scriptures of Hinduism, he is the only eternal who exists even when all creation ceases to exist.

Hence, it is needless to say that Lord Shiva is an inseparable part of the entire Hindu belief system. And the sheer number of Shiva temples in this country is enough to demonstrate this.

Here, you will find Shiva temples in every nook and corner of the country, but in this post, I have only compiled a list of the top 12 most visited Shiva temples that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Kedarnath Temple

This famous temple of Kedarnath is situated on the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in the state of Uttarakhand. The Kedarnath temple is open only six months a year, from April to November.

The temple opens daily at 7 a.m. and closes between 3 and 5 p.m. The daily evening aarti begins at 6:30 pm, and the temple finally closes at 8:30 pm.

According to legend, this temple was built by the Pandavas of the Mahabharata about 5,000 years ago, but Adi Shankaracharya restored the temple in the 7th century, 1,200 years ago. The Kedarnath Temple is one of the 12 established Jyotirlingas in India.

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Somnath Temple

Somnath Temple is also known as Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple. It is located in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Anyone of any race or caste can enter the temple, but only temple priests are allowed to enter the main sanctum sanctorum.

The temple opens daily at 6 a.m. and the morning prayers are offered at 7 a.m. The temple is closed at 10 pm after the evening aarti at 7.30 pm. Somnath Temple is a Shiva temple, but because most people are not familiar with the name Somnath of Lord Shiva, they get confused at first. Actually, Shiva is also known as Somnath, which literally means “Lord of the Moon”.

The temple is famous because it is believed that Lord Krishna ended his life at this place and returned to his divine abode, Vaikuntha Dham. In 1025, Mahmud Ghazni, in his 16th invasion of India, looted the vast wealth of the Somnath temple.

Omkareshwar Temple 

Omkareshwar Temple is located in Khandwa district in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Visiting Omkareshwar Temple is completely free and this temple is open all days of the month. Throughout the day, the temple opens twice: from 5 to 12 in the morning, and from 5 to 10 in the afternoon.

According to legend, the linga of Omkareshwar Shiva temple was brought from Kashi. The temple was built in the 19th century by King Ling II, a ruler of the Kodagu kingdom.

Kashi Vishwanath Mandir

This famous Kashi Bishwanath Temple is located on the west bank of the Ganges River in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The temple is open daily from 2 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aarti and rituals are performed in the temple five times throughout the day. Despite being located in Varanasi, the temple is called Kashi Bishwanath Temple, because in ancient times, the city was once called Kashi. 

In this way, the temple carries on the legacy of that place. Hindus believe that anyone who dies here in this holy place and is cremated on the banks of the holy river breaks the cycle of endless rebirth and attains ultimate freedom, salvation. Kashi Bishwanath Temple is also one of the twelve established Jyotirlingas in India.

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Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple 

Mallikarjuna Swami’s Temple is another Jyotirlinga located on the banks of the river Krishna in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The temple is open daily from 04:30 am to 10:00 pm. The temple was built during the Hoysala Empire, more specifically during the reign of Narsingh II in 1234 AD. 

The temple is strategically located in a place where the traditions of both Shaivism and Shaktism meet. Because it is referred to as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and one of the eighteen Shakti Peethas in India. Devotees worship Lord Shiva as his Mallikarjun and Goddess Parvati as his Bhadrakali forms.

Mahakaleshwar Mandir

Mahakaleshwar Temple is located in the city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The temple is open daily from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Devotees are encouraged to take part in various rituals performed throughout the day, such as morning, noon, and evening aarti.

Mahakaleshwar, one of the fierce forms of Lord Shiva, is the chief deity of the temple. Hence the name of the temple. Mahakaleshwar Temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. In ancient times, funeral ashes were used to make bhasma aarti. However, in the modern era, ashes are made from dung.

Kailashnath Temple

Located in Ellora, near Aurangabad, the Kailashnath Temple is a remarkable example of Rashtrakuta architecture. There is no entrance fee to enter the temple complex, and it is open in two shifts a day: from 6am to 12pm and then from 4pm to 8pm.

The Kailashnath temple is built by carving and sculpting a single hill rock from top to bottom. The temple was built by King Krishna I in 756-773 AD during the Rashtrakuta Empire.

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According to legend, the temple can not be destroyed. Aurangzeb, one of the Mughals who looted and destroyed thousands of Hindu temples in India, sent about 1000 men to destroy this Kailashnath temple in 1682, but failed miserably after 3 years of hard work.

Amarnath Temple

Located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, this Amarnath temple is located in a hollowed cave, also known as Lord Amarnath. From June to September is the best time to visit the temple. Because the famous Amarnath Jatra starts at this time of the year.

The Amarnath Temple is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in India. Throughout the year, the temple’s presiding Shiva Linga is covered with natural snow, except for a short time in summer. 

According to legend, the sage Vrgu first discovered this cave and named it. Thus, the Amarnath Cave is believed to be about five thousand years old, which makes it the oldest sacred cave in the world. The cave is so ancient that it is mentioned in several ancient Hindu texts, such as the Amarnath Mahatmya, the Anita Sanhita, the Nilamata Purana, and so on.

Tarakeshwar Temple

Located in the state of West Bengal, Tarakeswar Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Millions of devotees visit this temple every year. The temple is open all days of the month and entrance fee is free. The temple conducts worship of the presiding deity twice a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening.

Tarakeswar Temple is one of the most well-known temples in the entire state of West Bengal. This temple is very ancient and is believed to have been built in 1729 by King Varmalla II.