MahaShivratri, the Great Night of Lord Shiva!
Maha Shivratri is a festival celebrated across India in great reverence to Lord Shiva and considered to be a highly auspicious day. A festival that is celebrated across India in great reverence to Lord Shiva and considered to be a highly auspicious day. According to the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of the Maagha month which usually falls in February. This year the MahaShivratri is going to be celebrated on the 21st of February 2020. There are temples across the country dedicated to Lord Shiva and are ancient, which exhibits a glorious celebration of this festival. Being part of such celebrations and watching the cities and temples turning into an extravagant setting is a grand affair you must experience at least once in a lifetime. We bring you a list of places where you can soak in the festivity of Mahashivaratri at its best.
As a land of Yogis and with the number of temples and ghats the sacred city houses, Haridwar is a great place to be a part of Mahashivratri celebrations. Pilgrims bathe in these ghats on that banks of holy Ganga to relieve themselves of their sins, devotees and traveler flock here in numbers to take a dip in the Har Ki Pauri. While you are in Haridwar for the celebration of the festival, Ganga aarti on the ghats of Ganga on arrival of dusk is something you must not miss. One can also indulge in visiting various other temples, take a walk on the Lakshman Jhula, enjoy cafes and river rafting in Rishikesh. Rishikesh has gained popularity as a hub for adventurers as well as the Yoga capital of the world, so try your hands on things when you are around.
It does surely top the list the places to visit on Mahashivrati as this spiritual capital of India houses one of the most important Shiva temples in the country. So, it is natural to expect some of the best celebrations of the festival in this city of lights. Hindus from all over the country come to the famous Shiva temple in Varanasi and perform rituals on this day which also includes fasting by many as part of celebrations. A wedding procession of Lord Shiva takes place on this day with people playing roles of different Gods and Goddesses being part of the baaraat organized by several temples across the city. A committee chooses the right character for the parade, then the preparation continues. The procession goes on for about 5 hours which includes loud music in the background, people dancing and consuming Bhaang with the procession finally ending at Tilbhandeshwar temple where it began from. The Bhaang which is a legal form of marijuana common in Varanasi is consumed with a belief that it is a blessing of Lord Shiva and because of religious reasons.
The celebrations of Mahashivratri is observed with no less enthusiasm in any part of the country. Srikalahasti is one such place in Andra Pradesh where devotees throng especially on the day of Mahashivratri to visit the various temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main shrines here visited the most are Sri Kalahasteshwara Temple at Srikalahasti and the BharamarambhaMalikarjunaswamy Temple at Srisailam. The devotees observe a fast and chanting of Mantras honoring Lord Shiva to mark the auspicious festival. Other points of interest in Srikalahasti includes the Veylingala Kona waterfall, Sri Subramanya Swami Temple.
Umananda Temple in the state of Assam is a hub of Shivratri celebrations. This temple is situated on Peacock Island in the middle of the Brahmaputra river in the capital city of Assam- Guwahati. Shiva devotees from across the country visit the temple on the occasion of Shivaratri. Another prime center for Mahashivaratri celebrations in Assam is Sibsagar. You can also visit other places of importance while you are in Guwahati which includes Kamakhya temple, Assam State Museum.
One of the ancient and holiest cities of the country is situated in the Malwa region on the banks of the Shipra River. Ujjain is also known for being one of the four sites hosting Kumbh Mela which is the largest gathering on the planet attracting 100 million people during the festival. The Mahashivratri festival here is bliss to attend and take part in celebrations that are usually concentrated around Mahakaleshwar temple. You can also visit other attractions around such as KalBhairava temple, Mahakaleshwar temple, and Ram Mandir Ghat.
Set on a lofty natural setting on the banks of the River Krishna, Srisailam is a celebrated hill town in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Various ancient temples are housed here including those with a Jyotirlinga apart from other attractions of the place such as wildlife sanctuary and a dam. The authenticity of Indian culture is reflected in the Mahashivratri celebrations in these ancient temples of places like Srikalahasti and Srisailam. Other points of interest here include- Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, and Pathala Ganga.
In the state of Madhya Pradesh, Shivaratri is celebrated with religious fervor. People take a dip in the Sagar tank on the occasion of Mahashivaratri in Khajuraho as a part of the tradition. Bundelkhand hosts the biggest Shivaratri celebrations in the state because of the stronghold of Shaivites in the region. Lord Shiva devotees flock the temple of Matangeshwar in large numbers and worship throughout the night on the day of the festival. A 10-day-long fair at the Matangeshwar Temple is the highlight of the Shivaratri celebrations. Traders, peddlers, and gypsies from other parts of the state all take active participation in the fare alongside the display of traditional fare and a variety of handicrafts, shows of magic, rural circus, folk theatre, and merry-go-rounds. Some other attractions of this UNESCO world heritage site includesDulhadevi temple, Light and Sound Show Khajuraho, Kandariya Mahadev temple.
One of the biggest Shivaratri Celebrations of the country is hosted in the Temple of Bhootnath at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. A week-long International Mandi Shivratri Fair is held every year which attracts a lot many tourists from all over the country and even outside was started as a tradition of the royal family of Mandi about 500 years ago. Shobha Yatra led by the Governor of the state at a function inaugurated by the Chief Minister every year on the Shivratri Festival. You can include other attractions while visiting this region such as Pandoh Dam, Parashar Lake trek and many others.
This is a cultural town full of historic tourist dating back to the Ahom dynasty. Sibsagar houses numerous temples, historic tourist attractions such as forts with underground architecture and many more. You can get immersed in the divine Mahashivratri puja carried in Guwahati and Sivasagar. Tourist attractions related to architectural marvels, history, and culture are the prime offerings of the town some of which include Rang Ghar, TalatalGhar, and Ahom Museum.
Lokanath temple is quite popular for the Shivaratri celebrations in Puri. Puri was a center of Shiva worship long ago, based on the popular legends in Orissa. Lord Ramachandra, himself established the Lingam in the Lokanath Temple is what the stories of the legends state. The lingam here is kept submerged, in a vessel of water which can only be seen on the PankodharEkadasi, before Shivaratri, when the water is removed. Thousands of devotees come for darshan on this auspicious day.
Alongside the confluence of Ganga and Chandrabhaga, Rishikesh houses various ancient temples, popular cafes, yoga ashrams, and adventure sports at the foothills of Himalayas. Rishikesh is known to be one of a kind combination of spiritual enlightenment as well as adrenaline-pumping experiences. The town has grown immensely with more camping and cafe spots springing up catering to different needs of the people. It is a wonderful event to be part of Mahashivratri celebrations held in Haridwar and Rishikesh.