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Pancha Bhoota Shiva Temples – Shivlings Representing Five Elements

Pancha Bootha sthalams are five ancient temples in India where Lord Shiva is represented in the form of five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether. In these five temples, linga or lingam which symbolically represents Lord Shiva is in the form of elements. Ether is known as ‘akasha’ in Sanskrit and is occasionally referred as Sky or Space while referring to the Pancha Mahabhutas.

The five temples that represent Shiva in the form of five elements are:

EarthEkambaranathar Temple or Ekambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram – Shiva Lingam here is the element earth. The Shiva Lingam here is believed to have been created by Goddess Parvati from sand or earth.
WaterJambukeshwar Temple or Thiruvanaikaval Shiva Temple near Trichy – Jambukeshwara represents the element water. The deity is found under a Jambu tree over a small river. The small stream engulfs the idol during the rainy season.

FireArunachaleswara Temple or Annamalaiyar Temple at Thiruvannamalai – Arunachaleswarar or Shiva represents the element fire here. Shiva here is in the form of Lingodbhavamurti, the column of fire, which appeared before Vishnu and Brahma.

Air Sri Kalahasti Temple at Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesh – Vayu Lingam represents the element air or wind here. The element air is evident by a continuous flame which flickers when there is no air source in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

EtherNataraja Temple at Chidambaram – Shiva is represented as ether or sky in an empty space within the sanctum sanctorum. (In Nataraja Temple, Shiva is represented in three forms Nataraja, Crystal Linga form and as Nishkala (ether) in Chidambara Rahasyam.)