Mahakaleshwar temple which is located on the banks of the holy river Shipra in Ujjain is a Jyotirling of immense spiritual significance. The Shivlinga here is said to be “swayambhu”. It is difficult to tell when the temple came into existence but the event maybe assigned to the pre-historic period. Pauranic lore states that it was first established by Bramha in the city of Avantika which later on came to be known as Ujjain. The punch marked coins of Ujjain belong to the 4th – 3rd C bear the figure of Lord Shiva on them. The temple is also described in Kalidasa’s Raghuvansham & Meghdoota.
Shiva had appeared in the form of Mahakaal to save the city & its King Chandrasen & his devotees like Shrikhar & Vriddhi from their enemies. On the request of his devotees Shiva agreed to reside in the city in the form of a Lingam, become the chief deity of the Kingdom and to protect the city & all his devotees. The temple complex was destroyed by Iltutmish during his raid of Ujjain in 1234-35 and the Jyotirlinga was dismantled and thrown into the Kotiteertha Kunda. The present structure was built by the Maratha General Ranoji Shinde in 1734 CE. The temple is three storied. In the middle and uppermost parts are installed the lingams of Mahakaleshwar, Omkareshwar & Naagchandreshwar. Devotees can only have a glimpse of Naagchandreshwar on Naag – Panchami. The temple of Mahakaleswara is a planned admixture of the Bhumija, Chalukya and Maratha styles of architecture.
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the seven Muktisthal in India; the place that has the power to liberate a human from the cycle of birth and death. Ujjain is a place of immense religious as well as historical importance. It was once the Kingdom of King Vikramaditya. The meridian of the ancient world named Yamottara passes through this city. Before being named Ujjain the city was also called by various names like Avantika, Amaravati, Pratikalpa, Shivapuri, Chudamani & Kumudvati.
Ujjain can be clubbed with Indore, Mandu and Dhar. If time permits one can also visit Bhopal and Bhimbetka which is a famous archaeological site and famous for its Rock Shelters dating between Paleolithic and Mesolithic Periods.
The nearest airport to Ujjain is at Indore (53kms) with flights arriving from many major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad & Gwalior. Ujjain junction is the nearest railway station and the city is also well connected by roadways. You can plan a week-long trip covering Indore – Ujjain and Mandu thus having the good fortune of visiting two Jyotirlingas (Omkareshwar in Khandwa & Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain) in one trip.
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