23 Feb 2024
Ujjain, a city located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, is a divine land that offers a unique blend of solitude and spiritual experiences. This temple town is renowned for hosting one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, Simhastha (Kumbh Mela), which occurs every 12 years on the banks of the Shipra river.
Also known as the temple town of Madhya Pradesh, the city is home to more than 100 temples and numerous pilgrimage sites of different eras. Here are some famous temples and must-see places in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh for tourists to explore.
The biggest attraction of Ujjain is the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple. It is one of the 12 jyotirlingas, where Bhasma aarti is a daily ritual that you must not miss and this is what Ujjain is famous for. The process begins with the 'Abhishek' or the ritual bath of the shivling then smearing it with multiple offerings like curd, honey, sandal paste and finally cleaning it with milk and water. Finally, the Shiva linga is decorated with ash and shringaar material. To attend the Bhasma aarti, make sure to go through the prior registration process from the authorized website https://shrimahakaleshwar.com/.
According to ancient legends, the foundation of the temple was laid by the Lord Brahma (God of Creation). It was considered by historians that there was no Shikhara on the top of the temple till Gupta period. However, later on, a shikhara was constructed and it enhanced the beauty of the temple.
To develop tourism, preserve ancient heritage, and provide world-class modern facilities to the pilgrims, the 'Mahakal Lok' project has been implemented in Ujjain.
The length of the Mahakal Lok Corridor is more than 900 meters. It is surrounded by the old Rudrasagar Lake, which is also a part of the development project. Once you enter the corridor, you will see 108 pillars, around 200 statues, and murals that display stories of Shiva.
By crossing the bridge over the Shipra river, close to Bhagirathi caves, you'll reach the very famous Kal Bhairav temple. The devotion toward the ashta bhairava or eight attendants of Lord Shiva is an integral part of Shiva Bhakti (devotional worship) in Ujjain and since Kal Bhairav is chief among those eight, this temple is particularly important in the town.
The temple is believed to be built by King Bhadrasen of Mahismati, now Maheshwar. The significance of the temple is mentioned in the Hindu scriptures like Avanti Khanda of the Skanda Purana. The offering to the deity includes flowers, coconut, incense and especially liquor. One can purchase the offerings from the shops out of the temple premises and can hand it to the priest in the garbhagriha. The priest then offers half of the liquor to the idol of Kal Bhairava and returns the rest to the devotee as prashad.
The temple is located next to the campus of Mahakal Temple on the path leading to Harsiddhi Temple. It houses a gigantic 4 meters tall statue of Lord Ganesha. There is also a four-faced brass idol of Lord Vishnu in the inner chamber.
Goddess Annapurna is seated between the idols of Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati in the temple. Being the significant deity worshiped in the temple, the goddess Annapurna is painted in vibrant vermilion. The pillars in the Ardhamandapa of the temple date back to the 11th century exhibiting their antiquity. The present temple was restored during the Maratha period and two soaring deepastambhas, each adorned with 1008 lamps, were made to stand outside the entrance. The glory of the lamps is best sighted during Navaratri festival which is celebrated with much zeal in Ujjain.
The sacred city of New Ujjain is home to Jantar Mantar or Vedh Shala. Maharaja Jai Singh II, also known as Sawai Jai Singh constructed an observatory in 1725 that included 13 architectural astronomical instruments. He constructed five observatories in the eighteenth century in the north Indian cities of Shahjahanabad (Delhi), Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi. One of these five observatories, the Vedshala, was constructed while he served as the governor of Ujjain. Vedh Shala was built with the intention of determining eclipses, local time, height (of the location), as well as the declination of the Sun, stars, and planets.
Ujjain can be explored anytime in the year. However, the best time to visit Ujjain is during festivals like Mahashivratri, Mondays of Savan month, Nag Panchami and especially during Kartik Mela (yearly) and Kumbh Mela (once in 12 years).
By Air: The closest airport is Devi Ahilya Bai International Airport, Indore at a distance of 55 km, which is well connected through regular flights to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Raipur, and Kolkata.
By Rail: The Ujjain railway station is located in the heart of the town. It is connected to all the major cities within the state as well as the rest of the country with both commuter and express trains. The main bus stand at Dewas Gate is located 600 meters from the railway station.
By Road: Both private and state-operated direct buses ply between Ujjain and Indore, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Burhanpur, Dhar and Bhopal. There are two main bus stands in the city. The Dewas Gate bus stand is at the heart of the town from where one can easily hire other modes of transport as well, including auto-rickshaws, tempos and cycle rickshaws or cabs. The other bus stand, Nanakheda Bus Terminus is at a distance of approximately 5 kilometers.
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A glorious example of Maratha architecture, the Gopal Mandir is a marble-towered structure dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The Harsiddhi temple was built in the Maratha period. The entrance is adorned with two tall ?light? pillars designed to hold oil lamps.
Dedicated to the chief of 8 Bhairavas, Kal Bhairav is one of a kind temple in Ujjain. At Kal Bhairav, the devotees offer liquor to the deity as prashad.
One of the twelve Jyotirlingams (Sacred Shiva shrines) in India, this five-storied temple is considered to be the most sacred in Ujjain.
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The Kumbh Mela takes place once in twelve years at Ram Ghat, which is known to be the most ancient bathing ghat.
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