As per Shiv Mahapuran, once there was an argument in terms of supremacy of creation between Lord Brahama(God of creation) and Lord Vishnu (God of preservation). In order to test them, Lord Shiva appeared as the endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either direction of that pillar of light.
Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu were not able to find the end of the pillar. Lord Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu accepted his defeat. Lord Shiva cursed Lord Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. Thus there is only one temple dedicated to Lord Brahma is the temple of Pushkar.
Originally there were believed to be 64 Jyotirlings while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious. The 12 Jyotirlingas are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga at parali in Maharashtra, Aundha Nagnath at Aundha Nagnath in Maharashtra, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Ghrushneshwar at ellora near aurangabad in Maharashtra. Kedarnath and Pashupatinath (Nepal) are considered half jyotirlingas counted together as one.
Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites takes the name of the presiding deity - each considered different manifestation of Shiva.
At all these sites, the primary image is Lingam representing the beginning less and endless pillar, symbolizing the radiance sign of the Almighty, Lord Shiva.
It is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment.