Ujjain (also known as Ujain, Ujjayini, Avanti, Avantikapuri),is an district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Kshipra River. Ujjain is one of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) of the Hindus, and the Kumbh Mela religious festival is held there every 12 years. It is also home to Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines to the god Shiva and is also the place where Lord Krishna got education. Sculptures and monasteries have been found sprinkled around Ujjain, leading to the credence that Buddhism thrived here in the 4th century. Ujjain's relevance is not constrained to the small circle of a religious place.
Apart from that, this city was a haven of astronomers, and great poets. Besides this Ujjain was ruled over by many greatest rulers who have given out their best to this historic city. The illustrious kings of the Gupta dynasty whose reign is considered as the golden rule of India belonged to Ujjain.
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingams, which are supposed to be the most sacred abodes of Shiva. It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake. The presiding deity, Shiva in the lingam form is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams that are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti. he idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva.
According to the legend from the Shiv Purana, an ancient Hindu text Hindu text in Sanskrit, Lord Shiva was greatly disturbed after the death of his consort, Sati (Parvati). Overwhelmed with grief, Shiva decided not to part with her body, carrying with him wherever he went. Greatly distressed by such uncalled action, the other divine members of heaven cut her body into pieces and threw the pieces onto `Mrityulok`, the land of mortals. Wherever the parts of her body fell, it became Shaktipeeth, a centre of the female manifest form of cosmic energy, thereby rendering the place sacred. It is believed that Goddess Parvati`s elbow fell here in Ujjain temple site.In the centre of this ancient Hindu temple is a rock smeared with turmeric paste and vermilion, believed to represent the head of the Gupta King, Chandragupta Vikramaditya (reigned-380-415 AD), offered to Goddess Durga, on the eve of Dusshera. Shakti, the female principal of primal cosmic energy, had to be appeased with sacrifices. The temple has two unique pine-shaped iron lamp stands that loom to a height of 15 feet and display their radiance after being lit. Hundreds of lamps burning bright simultaneously make a magical sight, especially on Navratri, the nine-day festival celebrated in the month of October, dedicated to Goddess Durga. The red temple, an ancient Hindu structure beyond the lamp stands symbolizing the potency of Durga, is peculiar to the Maratha art of architecture.
Yet another arresting feature of the Harsiddhi Temple is the Sri Yantra, or nine triangles that represent nine names of Durga. A Yantra is symbolic of the cosmos and is used for meditation. Each division of a yantra is figurative of Shakti. Also enshrined in the temple are the illustrious dark vermilion image of Annapurna, the Goddess of Nourishment, seated next to Mahasaraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge.
Dedicated to lord Krishna, Gopal Temple in Ujjain presents a classic example of Maratha architecture. Built in the 19th century, by Bayajibai Shinde, this huge temple is placed in the middle of a big market. Its strategic position in the heart of the city attributes the popularity of the temple. This temple is a marble-spired structure and the deity's two feet tall statue is placed on a marble-inlaid altar with silver-plated doors. The door in the inner sanctum is the same door, which had been carried away by Ghazni from the Somnath temple. Mahadji Scindia recovered the door and now it has been installed in this temple.
Bhartrihari Caves have, over the time become a great tourist destination. The caves are situated just above the banks of River Shipra near Gadhkalika Temple. The caves are famous as the place where the step brother of King Vikramaditya meditated after renouncing all worldly possessions and relations. The name of the saint was Bhartrihari, thus the caves too got this name. It is said that Bhartrihari was a great scholar and a talented poet.
The city of Ujjain has numerous shrines dedicated to Bhairava, a vicious manifestation of Shiva, the destroyer of the Universe. The Kalbhairava Temple is also believed to be associated with the cult of Tantra, an unorthodox secret cult with strong black magic overtones. Although Tantra practices on the sly are said to keep enemy at bay, missing the target may spell doom to the practitioner. Many sadhus or holy men with ash-smudged bodies and long matted hair can easily be spotted around this temple. Pieces of sculpted stones depict deities from Hindu pantheon along with Vishnu. A Shiva lingam is enshrined under a banyan tree inside the fringe of the temple opposite Nandi the Bull. According to legends, the bull was given to Shiva and Parvati as a wedding present from Daksha, Parvati`s father. The temple comes to life especially on the festival of Mahashivratri, when devotees congregate in great numbers.
This enormous banyan tree on the banks of the Shipra, has been vested with religious sanctity as the Akashyavat in Prayag and Gaya, Vanshivat of Vrindavan and the Panchavata of Nasik. Thousands of pilgrims take a dip in the Shipra from the bathing ghat built here. According to one tradition, Parvati is believed to have performed her penance here. It used to be a place of worship for the followers of Natha sect.One legend has it that some Mughal rulers had cut off the Banyan tree and covered the site with iron sheets to prevent its roots from growing. But the tree pierced the iron sheets and grew and flourished. The little village of Bhairogarh near Siddhavat is famous for its tie and dye painting for centuries. In ancient times when trade with other countries flourished, exquisitely printed cloth from Bhairogarh used to find its way to Rome and China.
The Ancient Indian Tradition of gurukul imparts education to students irrespective of their wealth or poverty. Besides a variety of subjects and ancient scriptures, in gurukul, students were taught battle techniques and spiritualism. From the vedic period itself, Ujjain was a reputed center of learning. Sandipani Ashram is a famous hermitage situated in Ujjain, where Lord Krishna spent his formative years until adolescence. Sandipani, the saint in the hermitage, taught Krishna and Balarama, here in this Ashram. The Ashram situates adjacent to so many remarkable spots, which are closely associated with lord Krishna. Another important feature of this ashram is that the supporters of Vallabha sect regard this place as the 73rd seat of Vallabhacharya where he conveyed his speeches throughout India. Sandipani Ashram and its serene surroundings provides a divine feeling to all those who wish to be in tranquil ambience.
The historical palace is situated at a distance of 8 km from the town on an island in Shipra river. The palace was built by Mandu Rulers in the year 1458. Kailadeh Palace was built in Persian style of architecture. The palace took the brunt of time and huge portion of the palace collapsed. It was then mended by Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia I in 1920. The palace is set in very calm environment that further adds to the surrounding natural beauty.
Ujjain enjoyed a position of considerable importance in the field of astronomy. Great works on astronomy such as the Surya Siddhanta and the Panch Siddhanta were written in Ujjain. According to Indian astronomers, the Tropic of Cancer is supposed to pass through Ujjain. It is also the fist meridian of longitude of the Hindu geographers. From about the 4th century BC, Ujjain enjoyed the reputation of being India's Greenwich. The observatory extant today was built by Raja Jai Singh (1686-1743), who was a great scholar. He translated the works of Ptolemy and Euclid into Sanskrit from Arabic. Of the many observatories built by him at Jaipur, Delhi, Varanasi, Mathura, and Ujjain, the one at Ujjain is still in use actively. Astronomical studies are conducted through the Department of Education and the ephemeris is published every year. There is a small planetarium and a telescope to observe the moon, Mars, Jupiter and their satellites. The observatory is also used for weather forecasts.
The Vikram Kirti Mandir in Ujjain has been established in order to jog the memory of the young generation about the glory of the Mauryan Age. A cultural centre, which is established on the occasion of the second millennium of the Vikram era, the Vikram Kirti Mandir holds the Scindia Oriental Research Institute, an archaeological museum, an art gallery and an auditorium. The Scindia Oriental Research Institute has a priceless assortment of 18,000 manuscripts on diverse subjects and runs a reference library of vital oriental publications. The Institute's manuscript collection, which covers a wide range of subjects, is really amazing. Besides the illustrated manuscript of Shrimad Bhagavata, this museum houses rare collection of Mugal and Rajput paintings, Palm leaf and bark leaf manuscripts, vast collection of coins, sculptures and inscriptions.
An impressive structure, which belongs to ninth or tenth century AD, Chaubis Khamba Temple presents an architectural marvel. The majestic entrance gate of the magnificient Mahakala-Vana, the remains of which provides an amazing spectacle. Two splendid images of goddesses are depicted on each side of the gate with the inscription of their names on the foot steps. These guardian-deities by name Mahamaya and Mahalaya in a very graceful form guards the grand entrance of the structure. One can imagine the dimensions of the boundary-wall of the conventionally recognized Mahakala-vana, which is now covered under thick inhabitation.
A legendary temple, which holds an astounding story about the power of the mother Goddess, Patal Bhairav Temple adorns a prime position. Hindu mythology states Bhairav Nath, a selfish demon, chased a young girl Vaishno Devi, who was none other than the incarnation of the Mother Goddess. In order to escape from the demon, Devi shot an arrow into the Earth from which water gushed out and then found a shelter under a cave. When Bhairav located her, Devi was compelled to take the form of Mahakali, and killed the demon. In his last moments, Bhairav pleaded for forgiveness. Bhairav was granted Moksha along with a boon that every devotee, in order to accomplish their pilgrimage, had to visit Bhairav Nath's temple near the Holy cave after the darshan of the goddess.
55 Km from Indore, 200 km from Bhopal
July to March