Lord Shiva is usually worshipped in the form of Lingam. Lingam worship is famous since ancient times, and if we read Ramayana, we can know that Lord Rama had worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of Shivalingam in Rameswaram Temple, Tamil Nadu.
Similarly Markandeya Maharishi, Vibhishana and Ravana also worshipped Shiva in the form of Lingam only. Sri Basavanna who was the founder of Lingayat sect, has asked his devotees and followers to wear a small Lingam on their body.
As per legend, once when Rishi Bhrigu went to Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, he was not properly honoured by Shiva. Hence he cursed him to be worshipped in the form of a Lingam. In Chidambaram Nataraja temple, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Nataraja, a divine cosmic dancer, and in most of the Shiva temples, a separate shrine of Lord Nataraja would be there. Performing milk bath to Shivalingam is considered as a sacred deed, and in some temples, big Shivalingams would be installed, and alsowecan find thousands of Shivalingams in some Shiva temples.
Ancient kings like Rajaraja Cholan were considered as ardent devotees of Lord Shiva, and he has installed a big Shivalingam in the Thanjavur Bhihadeeswarar Temple which was constructed by him before 1,000 years ago. Lord Shiva grants boons and fulfils our wishes in the form of Shivalingam. When Lord Yama had accidentally put his Pasha, a kind of powerful weapon, on the Shivalingam, instead of putting it in the neck of Markandeya, Lord Shiva emerged from the Shivalingam and punished Lord Yama. From this incident it can be known, that Lord Shiva permanently dwells in the Shivalingam.
When Lord Shiva destroyed Tiripuram, which was once belonged to the demon king Banasura, the destroyed parts were became Shivalingas, and due to that, the Shivalingams came to be known as Banalingam. Banasura has also become one of the Chief divine attendants of Lord Shiva, due to his sincere devotion on Lord Shiva.
There are lot of true incidents associated with Lord Shiva, and by reading all these incidents from the holy Shiva Purana, we would get peace of mind, and would attain spiritual bliss.
“OM NAMAH SHIVAYA”