Mahashivratri – The Great night of Lord Shiva is a festival that is widely celebrated by Hindus all over the world. Every celebration is unique and one can thoroughly enjoy these different forms of celebrations of the same festival. To enjoy these, you can visit the following places:
1) Mandi Festival: The Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh is a cute little region situated on the banks of the Beas River. The Bhootnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the highlight of the festival, which is organized by this town especially for Mahashivratri. A 500 year old tradition, the Mandi festival is a week long affair. It attracts tourists from within as well as outside the country. The Shobha Yatra in inaugurated by the bigwigs of the state.
2) Varanasi: Varanasi is undoubtedly the Spiritual Capital of India. It is also home to the Tilbhandeshwar temple devoted to our very own Lord Shiva. Mahashivratri is considered to be the day when Shiva married Parvati which is exactly why Varanasi organizes a Baraat or a wedding procession that goes on for 5 hours which starts and ends at the temple. During the procession the participants dress up as divine deities, play with colour, dance and merry make.
3) Rishikesh: The Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir is situated at the very place where the Vish from the Samudra Manthan was consumed by Lord Shiva. Many legends state that Mahashivratri was the day when Shiva became Neelkanth and hence a grand fair is organized by the temple on this occasion. Visitors throng the temple to participate in these celebrations.
4) Srisailam: One of the twelve Jyotirlings is situated in Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, which is devoted to the Mallikarjun avatar of Lord Shiva. The beauty of this temple is that it has both the Jyotirling as well as the Shakti Peeth thus signifying the strong union between Shiva and Adi Shakti. People chant Shiva mantras and observe fast to attain happiness, peace, prosperity and nirvana.
5) Odisha: One can definitely visit either the Lokanath temple in Puri or the Linagaraj temple in Bhubaneswar to enjoy the Mahashivratri festivities. At the Lokanath temple the Shiv Linga is immersed in a natural water fountain all the time and the water is drained only once on Mahashivratri day so that the Shiv Linga is visible and people offer their prayers after seeing the phenomena unfold in front of their eyes. The Lingaraj temple has lakhs of visitors on Mahashivratri most of who fast on this day. The fast is only broken after the huge lamp of Mahadeepa is lit. It is a sight one should witness at least once in their lives.
6) Alappuzha or Allepey: This coastal town of Kerala is home to the Thrikkuratti temple which hosts the Sivarathri Nrutham i.e. a dance program on the occasion of Mahashivratri. The dance draws inspiration from Shiva’s dances and is hence called the Anandatandava. The priests conduct various rituals and during the same, the doors of the main temple open for a meager 10 minutes for which lakhs of devotees rush to this temple.
7) Pashupatinath: A beautiful temple located on the banks of the river Bagmati in Kathmandu, Nepal, Pashupatinath temple is a grand and culturally rich temple which is visited by umpteen number of visitors on Mahashivratri. With beautiful legends surrounding the origin of the temple, devotees lovingly offer their prayers to the Shiva Linga to invoke his blessings.
Other than these there are major events held in the locations of the Jyotirlings like Somnath, Grishneshwar, Rameswar, Aundha Nagnath, Vaidyanath, Trimbakeshwar, Omkareshwar etc. One can always enjoy the Mahashivratri festivities in these places.