Location: In Ujjain, on the banks of Rudra Sagar Lake, Madhya Pradesh
Dedicated to: Lord Shiva
Significance: One of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva
How to reach: One can easily reach Mahakaleshwar Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring Taxis from anywhere in Madhya Pradesh
Mahakaleshwar Temple is a famous shrine that comprises one of the twelve major Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Accredited as the sacred abode of Lord Shiva, Mahakaleshwar Temple is located on the banks of Rudra Sagar Lake of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. In order to reach the temple, one can take regular buses or taxis that are available throughout Madhya Pradesh. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of time and eternally resides in the form of lingam (phallic form) at Ujjain.
The glorious temple of Mahakaleshwar has been mentioned in several ‘Puranas’ (scriptures) of the Hindu mythology. Many poets of Sanskrit, including Kalidasa, have sung the praises of this temple. Lord Shiva is synonymous with ‘Mahakal’ and suggests the perpetual existence of the Almighty. As stated earlier, Mahakaleshwar is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India. This Jyotirlinga is said to be ‘swayambhu’ (self-manifested) that obtained its ‘Shakti’ (power) from within itself, unlike other lingams that were established ritually by chanting ‘mantra’.
Mahakaleshwar is recognized as ‘Dakshinamurti’, since the image of the lord faces the southern direction. This is another exclusive feature that is traceable only in Mahakaleshwar. In the sanctum, the idol of Omkareshwar (another form of Lord Shiva) is placed above the shrine of Mahakaleshwar. The site is adorned by the images of Lord Ganesh, Parvati and Kartikeya, placed in the west, north and east direction respectively. In the south, there is an image of Nandi (Lord Shiva’s Cow). The third storey comprises an idol of Nagchandreshwar (another form of Lord Shiva), but its ‘darshan’ are available only on the day of Nagpanchami.
During Muslim invasions, the original temple was attacked and it was reconstructed by the Scindias in the recent times. The spire of this three-storied temple dominates the skyline of southern part of Ujjain. The huge and grand structure of the temple is awe-inspiring. The curved structure is festooned with motifs on its all sides, intensifying above the pillared porches. The corridors’ walls are garlanded with the old statues and sculptures, whereas the courtyard comprises remnants of ancient shrines. The floors are decked with pricked railings, while the balconies are festooned with splendid roofs festooned in Rajput architectural style.
Festivals & Rituals
According to the Hindu beliefs, Lord Shiva is considered as the destroyer of the Universe. This belief is further enhanced by the fact that the Lord dwells in the cremation grounds. In this temple, one ritual includes a ceremony, where the lingam is smeared with the hot ash that is brought from the cremation grounds. This ritual suggests the vicious circle of life and death that is an inseparable part of the Hindu mythology.
‘Maha Shivratri’ is the major festival that is observed in the temple with full gusto and fervor. At this time, a grand fair is held in the vicinity of this temple. For the whole night, prayers and worship are offered to the Lord. This sculptural delight allures people with its divine charisma and religious appeal from all over the World.