Mahakaleshwar Temple is one of the most prestigious Jyotirlingas among the twelve Jyotirlingas worshiped in Hindu culture. It is situated in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. The temple is located on the banks of Rudra Sagar Lake. The city of Ujjain was also known as Indrapuri Amravati and Avantika. This town was also given the unique name of Swarna Shringa because of the presence of golden towers in several temples.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple complex consists of around 40 temples, most of them built around 10th century. The Mahakaleshwar temple is a three-storied structure. The Lingam of Mahakaleshwar is worshipped on the first floor which is actually under the ground level. In the second level, the Lingam of Omkareshwara is worshipped. The Nagachandeshwara Linga is worshipped on the third level. The third level is open to the public only on Naga Panchami.
Many of the supposed 84 shrines of Mahadev in Ujjain are located inside the Mahakaleshwar Temple complex. Some of the other shrines located nearby are Swapneshwara Mahadev (the one who helps to get rid of nightmares), Chandradityeshwara Mahadev, Trvishtapateshwara Mahadev, Anadikalpeshwara Mahadev, and Vruddhakaleshwara Mahadev (which is considered by some to be the original Jyotirlingam).
The Mahakaleshwar Temple is divided into four areas starting from front to back – The Ardhamandapa (Entrance), The Antarala (Vestibule), Garbhagraha (Sanctum) and Pradakshanapath. Images of various god and Goddesses, Apsaras and Kichakas adorn the walls and pillars of the temple.
Mahakaleshwar Temple History
As per the Puranas, Prajapati Brahma himself established the first temple at the site. The coins recovered at Ujjain belonging to the 4th B.C have the mark of Lord Shiva on them. The Mahakaleshwar Temple has been described as magnificent and grand in several poems including Meghadutam by the famous Kalidasa, Harsacharit and Kadambari of Banabhatta, Naisadhacharit of Sri Harsa, and Navasahasamkacharit of Padmagupta
Several dynasties like the Guptas, Maitrakas, Chalukyas, Kalachuris, Pusyabhutis, Gurjara Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas have ruled Ujjain over different periods of time. According to several poetic texts, in the Paramara period, the temple was destroyed by invaders. In later years of the eleventh century, it was re-built by Udayaditya and Naravarman.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple was destroyed by Sultan Shas-ud-din Iltumish in 1234. It was rebuilt by Srimant Raanojirao Shinde Maharaj (Scindia) in 1736 AD. The Marathas built several smaller temples inside the Mahakaleshwar temple complex. Several traditions like Abhishekams, Aartis and Sawaris were re-introduced into the temple schedule. Under the leadership of Madhavrao Scindia I, renovations were carried out at the Mahakaleshwar Temple.
According to the ancient scripture Sthalapuranam, King Chandrasena was a devotee of Shiva. A young boy named Shrikhar heard his prayers to the god and wanted to join him. However, he was not allowed to do so and was sent out of the city. Shrikhar heard the plans of rival kings Ripudhamana and Singhaditya to attack the city with the help of the demon king Dushan who was blessed to be invisible by Brahma. Shrikhar and a priest named Vriddhi prayed to Lord Shiva for help.
The enemies arrived at Avantika (Ujjain) and started torturing the people. They banned all Vedic Dharmanushtan activities in the city. The people started praying to Lord Shiva for help. It is believed that when Dushan started attacking Avantika, the ground split near the statue of Parvati and Lord Shiva came out of it as Mahakaal. He burnt the demons with just one grunt. Adhering to the request of the people of Avantika, Lord Shiva decided to stay there as the chief deity of Avantika.
Significance of Mahakaleshwar Temple
The Lingam of Mahakaleshwar is Swayambhu in nature. It means that it is self-born in nature. Lord Shiva is believed to have turned himself into the Jyotirlingas.
Sri Mahakaleshwar is known as the lord of Time. This is the only Lingam in the world which faces south, which is the direction of Death. The Shiva here is also called Dakshinamurthy, meaning the god facing south. Therefore, he is celebrated as the God who is capable of winning difficult situations.
The Mahakaleshwar temple is also one of the eighteen Maha Shakti Peethas. Shakti Peethas are the sites where it is believed that body parts of Sati Devi fell after being cut by the Sudarshana Chakra in the Daksha Yoga episode of Hindu mythology. The Upper Lip of the Sati Devi is believed to have fallen here. The Goddess here is called Mahakali.
The Linga of Mahakaleshwar is the largest in size among all other Jyotirlingas.
The “Bhasm Aarti” is performed every day at 4:00 AM to awaken the deity. This Aarti is unique to this temple only. In ancient times, Human ash was used for the Aarti but now the Bhasma is made from cow dung, known as Vibhooti. The Vibhooti is then applied to the Linga. It is believed that Chitabhasm (human ash) which is normally considered inauspicious turns holy when applied to the body of Mahakal.
The idol of Nagachandreshwar sits on a throne of a ten-hooded snake. This is the only temple in the world where Lord Shiva is sitting on a throne of snake instead of Lord Vishnu. It is a common faith here that one can get rid of any sarp dosh by visiting Nagachandreshwar temple on Nagapanchami.
It has been an established fact that Sultans of Malwa and Mughal emperors gave financial assistance to the priests to continue worshipping for the safety of their realm. The water from the Kund named Koti Tirtha is considered to be pure and is believed that it relieves you of your sins. The City of Ujjain is one of the seven ancient Mukti- Sthalas where it is believed that man can attain Moksha or divinity. The other six cities are – Kanchipuram, Dwaraka, Maya, Ayodhya, Kasi and Mathura.
Mahakaleshwar Temple Timings
- Mahakaleshwar temple opens at 4 AM and closes at 11 PM.
- The Bhasma Aarti starts every day at 4 AM.
- The Morning Pooja is performed between 7:00 AM to 7:30 AM.
- The Evening Pooja is performed between 5:00 PM to 5:30 PM.
- The Shree Mahakaal Aarti is performed between 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM.
- Leather items such as wallets, belts and handbags are not allowed inside the temple complex. Electronic gadgets like mobiles, laptops and cameras are prohibited.
- Smoking is prohibited inside the temple complex.
Mahakaleshwar Temple Dress Code
Avoid dressing in mini skirts, shorts and any disrespectful dress. Prefer decent clothing.It is a rule that during the “Bhasm Aarti”, ladies and gents should only wear Saree and Dhoti / Sala respectively.
Festivals celebrated at Mahakaleshwar Temple
- Kumbh Mela –This Mela has the distinction of being the largest religious congregation on the planet. It is conducted once in every 12 years. It is organized in Ujjain, Allahabad, Haridwar and Nashik. The 2016 Kumbh Mela will take place in Ujjain. The festival continues for about one and a half months. The pilgrims and sages (sadhus) take a ceremonial dip in the River Ksipra. Religious discourses, Ramlilas, Raslilas and the grand procession of sadhus are the main features of the Kumbh Mela.
- Maha Shivaratri – Thousands of pilgrims visit the temple to celebrate the day Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. It is celebrated on the 13th or 14th day of the Magha month (February / March) in the Indian calendar
- Karthik Mela – It is celebrated every year in the Hindu month of Karthik (November / December).
- Sawari in the Shravan month – The idol of Lord Mahakaleshwar is taken around the streets of Ujjain in this procession. The festivities start on Monday of the Shravan month (August/September) and ends on the Amavasya of the Bhadrapada month.
- Harihara Milana – This is celebrated on Vaikuntha Chaturdashi, which signifies the meeting of two Lords – Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva at midnight.
Other important festivals celebrated with great pomp are Vijaya Dasami, Holi and Nagapanchami.
Mahakaleshwar Temple Sevas and Poojas
- Bhasm Aarti – This aarti is unique to the temple. Vibhhoti is applied to the Shiva Linga every day at 4:00 AM in the morning. Only, pilgrims holding a VIP pass are allowed to enter the Sanctum or the Garbhagraha for the Aarti. You must apply for the VIP pass one day before the Aarti. Applications for the Aarti will be accepted only till 12:30 PM. As only the first 100 people are allowed to view the Aarti, the VIP passes are issued on “First come First serve” basis. The list of people successful in getting the VIP pass will be displayed in the evening at 7:00 PM and passes will be handed over between 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM. It is a must to bring a valid Identity card with your photo on it. PAN Card is not accepted as a proof. Women are not allowed to witness Bhasma decoration during the Aarti.Online booking can be done for the VIP pass. Please visit https://dic.mp.nic.in/Ujjain/mahakal/Default.aspx for more information.
- Maha Rudrabhishekham – In this Pooja, recitations from Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda and Atharva Veda are performed in front of the Mahakaal Linga.
- Mrityunjaya Jaap – This Pooja is done to increase the Longevity of a person.
- Laghu Rudrabhishekham – This Abhishekham is done to remove bad effects of different planets on the horoscope and for solving health-related issues.
- Other poojas performed at the temple are Shiv Mahima Path, Shiv Mahima Stotra, Rudra Patha Avartan and Bhanga Shringar.
How to reach Mahakaleshwar Temple
- By Air – The nearest airport is Indore which is 53 km away from Ujjain. Regular flights are available from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Gwalior.
- By Train – Direct trains are available to Ujjain from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Benaras, Kochi and Jaipur.
- By Road – Bus services are available from cities like Indore, Surat, Mumbai, Pune, Udaipur, Nasik and Mathura.
Mahakaleshwar Temple Accommodation
- The Temple Management has constructed two Dharmashalas for pilgrims to stay. The names of the Dharmashalas are Pandit Shree Surya Narayan Vyas Dharmashala and the Shree Mahakaal Dharmashala. Non AC dormitories, Non AC rooms and AC rooms are available to pilgrims at reasonable rates. No refund will be made after cancellation.
- Several budget hotels, 3-star and 5-star hotels operate in Ujjain as this is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world.
Where to eat
Several private hotels and restaurants are present near the main temple complex offering a variety of local food along with Punjabi and Chinese cuisine. The most popular restaurants are the Zharokha restaurant, Celebrity restaurant and the Aarti restaurant. The menu is pure vegetarian.
- Harsiddhi Temple – It is located just 400 mt away from the Mahakaleshwar temple. This temple is one of the Shakti Peethas according to the Hindu mythology, It is believed that Sati’s elbow fell here when she was cut through by the Sudarshana Chakra in the Daksha Yagna episode of the Hindu tradition.
- Bade Ganeshji ka Mandir – The ancient temple was built in the Paramara period. It contains the sculpture of Ganapati as the main deity. Panchmukhi Hanuman and the Navagrahas are also worshiped here.
- Gopal Mandir – It is located in the Patni Bazaar area of Ujjain, just 700 mts away from the Mahakaleshwar temple. It was constructed by Queen Bayajibai Shinde in the 19th century. The Banyan Tree on the banks of River Ksipra is considered sacred and thousands of pilgrims take bath here. Amazingly, liquor is offered to the deity here.
- Ram Janardhan Mandir – This temple was constructed by Raja Jai Singh in the 17th century. The specialities of the temple include the 11th-century sculpture of Govardhandhari Krishna, 10th-century sculpture of Vishnu and the 12th-century idol of Trimurti.
- Kala Bhairava temple – It is believed that King Bhadra constructed this temple over the ruins of an old demolished temple. This temple was of great significance during the Paramar period.
- Chintamani Ganesh temple – The Goddess Riddhi and Siddhi are present on two sides of Lord Ganesh. Special prayers are offered to the god every Wednesday in the month of Chaithra.