– Dr A Pranesh
Ujjain is one of the ancient cities, on the banks of river Kshipra, located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Earlier it was called Ujjayini and in Mahabharata, it is mentioned that Ujjayini was the capital of Avanti kingdom.
During Saagar manthan (churning of the ocean), when the nectar was discovered, there was tug of war between gods and demons. During that melee, a drop of nectar fell on Ujjain, hence making it sacred. Ujjain is one of the four sites to host Kumbha Mela.
It has Mahakaleshwar temple, which is one of the (twelve) Dwadasha Jyotirlingas. It was an ancient site for learning, as Lord Krishna, Balarama and Sudhama were students of Sandipani Maharishi’s Gurukul.
Many great people lived in Ujjain. The legendary king Chandra Gupta II, great scholars Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya, poet Kalidasa were all from Ujjain.
Ujjain was invaded by Iltutmish the Delhi sultan in 1235 AD. But during Emperor Akbar, it became capital of Malwa. During 18th century, Ujjain was the head quarters of Maratha leader Scindia. It was Shinde dyanasty, which was responsible for development of Ujjain and its neighborhood.
This Jyotirlinga is believed to be swayambhu. The lingam is facing south, hence called Dakashinamurty. The idols of Ganesh, Kartikeya and Parvathi are installed in the west, east and northern directions of main Sanctuim.
Since he is facing south, some of the worship is in tantric tradition, only here and not in other Jyotirlinga temple, tantric worship is practiced. Bhasma arathi to Mahakaleshwar is very popular. Early in the morning, an Aghori brings a portion of freshly burnt ash from cremation ground. It is mixed with some more ash and smeared on the lingam. There is no entry fee for this seva but one has to take permission a day before. But to see bhasma arati, one has to go to temple at 3.30 am and wait. The whole arathi process takes about 2 hours. It will be a wonderful experience to see such a unique tradition.
The literal meaning of Mahakaal means lord of time and also lord of death. During ancient eras, the whole world would consider Ujjain as the center of earth for astronomical calculations.
Maha Kaali Temple
The Maha Kaali of Ujjain is also known as Rakta Dantika or Chamunda. She is also called Gad Kaali. It is one of the eighteen Maha Shakti Peethas, located at Bhairav Garh, Ujjain. Here Maa Sati’s Oordhavostha (upper lip) had fallen. She is the Shakti of Mahakaleshwar.
She is the slayer of the demon Andhakasur, the then ruler of Ujjain. He had obtained a boon that with every drop of his blood that fell on ground would produce a new Andhakasur. When Lord Shiva fought with Andhakasur, Maha Kaali appeared and drank all the blood before it fell on the ground. So finally Andhakasur was defeated as he got exhausted.
In this temple Maha Kaali is placed between Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. Emperor Vikramaditya believed to have worshipped here. The famous poet Kalidasa was blessed with knowledge by Maha Kaali here.
Harsiddhi is also known as Mangal Chandi and Annapurneshwari. Sati’s Kurpara (elbow) fell here and hence considered as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. She is the Shakti of Kapilambara and also described as Vaishnavi Shakti. She was worshipped by the great King Vikramadithya. Sriyantra is painted on the roof of the temple hall along with paintings of various Devi’s. There are two huge deepa stambhas at the entrance of the temple.
A small temple of Mahamaaya is located on the right side of the temple. But there is no Shiva linga for Kapilambara in Ujjain.
As a legend goes, once the demons Chanda and Munda attacked Kailasa. After defeating Nandi at the entrance they went inside where Shiva and Parvathi were playing dice. Taken by surprise, Shiva prayed Shakti, who appeared as Harsiddhi and killed the demons. Harsiddhi is also described as Shakti of Tripurantaka and helped Shiva to kill Tripurasura.
Bade Ganesh Temple
Bade Ganesh temple is next to Mahakaleshwar temple. It has a huge statue of Lord Ganesh. There is also a unique old idol of Panchamukh Hanuman viz. five faced Hanuman which is rare. The five faces symbolize courage, loyalty, devotion, strength and righteousness. Bade Ganesh temple is also a center for learning Sanskrit and Astrology.
Gopal Mandir, also known as Dwarakadish Mandir, is situated in the busy market area of Patni Bazaar, Ujjain. This temple was built by Bayajibai Shinde, queen of Maharaja Daulat Rao Shinde in 19th Century.
The idol of Krishna is made up of silver is two feet tall and is placed on a marble inlaid altar with silver plated doors. The temple is built with marble, a typical example of Maratha architecture.
Kaal Bhairav Temple
This is an old temple built by King Bhadrasen situated on the banks of river Kshipra. It is a tantric temple, and worship is mainly Kapalika and Aghora sect principles.
Paatal Bhairav temple is on the left side of Kaal Bhairav temple.
Virat Bhairav Temple
Virat Bhairav temple is about a kilometer away. One has to pass through cremation grounds to reach this temple.
Bhartrihari, believed to be the step brother of Vikramadithya, meditated here after his renunciation of worldly possessions. The caves are situated on the banks of river Kshipra.
Behind the caves, there is a temple of Nava yogis.
There is a pond in the ashram called Gomati Kund. Kundeshwar Shivalaya is located beside the pond.
Maharshi Sandipani inspire of settling in Ujjain, could not leave his morning ritual of taking bath in Gomati river at Dwaraka. So he was going to Dwaraka all the way from Ujjain. Lord Krishna noticed his guru travelling to Dwaraka to bathe in Gomati river, moved by his guru’s love to Gomati river, he dug a pond at night and requested Gomati river to Pour her divine waters into it. Hence it is called Gomati kund.
Mangalnath temple is situated in the outskirts of Ujjain city on the banks of river Kshipra. This place is supposed to be the birth place of Mars. During ancient period, Mangalnath was offering a clear view of planet Mars and hence this place was highly preferred by astronomers. Mangalnath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The temple is located on the place, where the first meridian is said to pass the earth and hence it is a renowned spot for a clear view of the planet Mars.
Siddhavat is an old Banyan tree on the banks of river Kshipra and has a great religious importance. Pilgrims take a dip in this river and this place was also a popular worshipping place of Nath sect.
Long ago Mughal rulers cut off the Banyan tree and covered the whole area with iron sheet to prevent its growth. But this tree pierced the iron sheet and flourished wonderfully. So a temple was built and this tree is worshipped with great reverence.
Chaubis Khamba Temple
The Chaubis Khamba temple, having 24 pillars is an impressive old temple of 9th or 10th century. It was a grand royal entry point of Mahakaal-Vana, but now its boundary walls are in ruins.
On either side of the gate, we find impressive images of goddesses Mahalaya and Mahamaya.
Nagarkot Ki Rani Temple
Nagarkot ki Rani or the queen of city wall temple is an ancient temple located at south west of Ujjain. She is considered as protector of Ujjain. It is associated with much folk lores of Bhartrihari and Vikramadithya and follows worship on the traditions of Nath’s sect.
It has a tank dating back to Paramar period.
Pir Matsyendranath Samadhi
There is a Samadhi of Pir Mathsyendranath on the banks of river Kshipra. Pir Mathsyendranath happens to be guru of Goraknath. Followers of Nath sect consider this place as the holiest place. It is very close to Brathrihari caves.
Rin Mukteshwar Temple
It has an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was here that King Harishchandra’s rin was cleared. Temple is on the banks of river Kshipra. On the other side of the bank is the cremation ground. Raja Harishchandra met his wife Taramathi along with his dead son Lohitashva.
Chintaman Ganesh Temple
It is an ancient temple of Lord Ganesh with Siddhi and Riddhi, his consorts on his either side. The carved pillars of assembly hall are very old and can be traced to Paramara period. The deity is addressed as Chintaharan Ganesh, which means grantor of freedom from worldly anxiety.
Navagraha temple is slightly away from Ujjain city. The temple is dedicated to nine planets. Of all the temples, Shani temple is big and most popular. Lot of devotees visit this temple to worship Shani (Saturn).
Chausat Yogini Temple
It is a very old temple. Raja Vikramadithya was visiting this temple regularly. Here unlike other Chausat yogini’s temple, all the 64 yoginis are in one sanctum. Although it is an old temple, the outer structure is new and recently they have renovated it.
Durgadas ki Chatri
It is a monument in Ujjain, built to commemorate the memory of Durgadas, who fought for the independence of Ujjain. The structure is in the form of chatri or umbrella, very impressively built in Rajput architectural style and has a statue of Durgadas.