Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal

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Ujjain is an ancient city discovered beside the KShipra river. Before I started my exploration, I had a hot cup of tea. Along with it ate the famous Poha with Sev of Ujjain for our breakfast. I wanted to try the Bhang Thandai but was apprehensive as my mom travelled with me. I saw a Mahakal road shop offering Bhang in Peeda & others mixed with Thandai. So I did try it in the evening. And it was yummy. Now let’s begin with the experience of my enlistment.

Poha Jalebi for breakfast

Post a sumptuous breakfast; I started the tour with the following:

Bade Ganesh Temple

A few meters from the Mahakaleshwar temple are the Bade Ganesh Temple, devoted to Lord Ganesha, the presiding deity that signifies wisdom, discretion and foresight.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal
Bada Ganesh

This Ganesha temple is also a significant centre of learning about astrology and the Sanskrit language. Prayer houses were also studied centres in the ancient Vedic period, about 1500 BC. It is the country’s only temple with a Panchmukhi (five-faced) idol of the monkey god Lord Hanuman, symbolising courage, dedication, devotion, strength, and righteousness.

Vikramaditya Seat of Judgement 

The legendary emperor, Vikramaditya, the ideal king, recognised for his wisdom, courage, kindness and patronage of scholars, had Ujjain as his capital city. One of the city’s attractions, Bhartrihari Caves, natural caves were existing since ancient times. It is named after Bhartrihari, who is the step-brother of King Vikramaditya. He lived and meditated here after renouncing worldly life. Unfortunately, I could not visit them, but I suggest you add them to your list.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal

Harsiddhi Temple

It is one of 52 Shakti Peeths situated all over India and lies at a walkable distance from Mahakaleshwar temple. According to the Shiva Purana, the Elbow of the Sati fell at this spot when Lord Shiva was taking Sati from the Yagya of Daksha Prajapati. However, as per Skandhapuran, the Goddess was called Harsidhi for killing two demons, Chanda and Prachand, and buffaloes used to be sacrificed here. The synagogue houses the idols of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati, and Annapurna’s famous dark vermilion image, the Goddess of Nourishment.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal
Harsiddhi Temple

As per folk tales, King Vikramaditya was a keen devotee of Harsidhhi Mata. During the Maratha period, the temple was restored; two tall, deep stamps lit hundreds of lamps during festivities, especially during the Navratri festival. On one of the present tank’s Column gates, the year 1447 is inscribed on it. During the evening of Arti, Holi’s auspicious occasion, the deep stamps were enlightened with hundreds of lamps. It looked so mesmerising.

Siddhwat Temple

After the Akshayavata of Prayag, Vanshivata of Vrindavan, Panchavata of Nashik and Bodhivata of Gay, Siddhavata at Ujjain is known for its holiness. Post-funeral rites are done here at the Siddhavata ghat of Holy Shipra. Skanda-Purana has referenced this place as preta-Shila-Tirth. Agreeing with some, Parvati performed her penances here. It has likewise been a place of worship for the followers of the Natha Sect. Shipra abounds with tortoises at Siddavata. It is also believed that the Banyan tree at the Ghat was tried to be ruined, but the roots formed into an iron sheet, to protect themselves and later grew thicker & denser.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal
Siddhwant Temple

Kal Bhairav Temple

Kaal Bhairava is one of the famous temples for its strange rituals. However, many other temples lie in the vicinity of Siddavata. The Shaivite worship has also emphasised the eight Bhairavas, mainly by the Kapalika and Aghora sects. Kaal- Bhairava is the first among them, known for the fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva. And the supreme ruler of this universe as per Hindu scriptures. Skandpurana has made a mention of the temple of Kaal Bhairava in its Avanti Khanda. Kale-Bhairava is offered liquor as a part of their worship. And the Lord is accompanied by his divine vehicle, a black dog.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal
KalBhairav Temple

We visited & gave alcohol as part of the worship ritual since Kaal Bhairav is our Kul Devtaa. It is supposed that a certain king named Bhadrasen got this temple constructed during the Parmars period. I also discovered traces of old Malwa-style paintings on the temple walls and a deep-Stambh near the temple entrance. The right of the courtyard in the temple is dedicated to Vitthala, and the left is Adharmashala. This little town is famous for the wax-resist dyeing technique called Batik.

Gadhkalika Temple

The Gadhkalika Temple is a Shakti Peeth, and the idol is saffron in colour. It’s unlike the usual standards of Goddess Kalika, which are dark in colour. This temple was repaired in the 7th century AD by Emperor Harshvardhan.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal
GadKalika Temple

The fable goes that the famous Classical Sanskrit writer Kalidasa often visited the temple. And due to his devotion to the Goddess, he was blessed with supreme literary skill. The rulers of the Scindia dynasty built the present construction.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal
Goddess Kali

 Mangalnath Temple

After visiting the Gadhkalika Temple, I took a lunch break at 1 pm. Hence we went to a nearby Bhojanalaya. They offered different cuisines, veg Thali ranging from Rs 35 to Rs 55. It was a neat & decent place to dine. Afterwards, I headed further into Mangalnath Temple. It has scenic settings at Kshipra and Khilchipur rivers’ confluence. It depicts the religious significance of a banyan tree which Parvati supposedly plants.

Mangalnath Temple

Other Scriptures suggest this is the birthplace of the Mars planet. The Mars planet is worshipped in the form of Shiv Ling. From those seeking to remove defects in their Kundli (horoscope) related to Mars. This was an ideal geographical location for a readable view of Mars in ancient times. It is stated that this is the intersection point of the Tropic of Cancer and the zero longitudes passing the Earth. Also, the serene bank of Shipra, close to the temple, is worth spending an afternoon on.

Sun Dial in Ujjain Observatory

I have drenched my desire to visit temples, so I steered towards the Observatory (Vedh Shala). The calculation of time is done here, taking into account the unique geographical location of Ujjain. This observatory was constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh II between 1725 AD and 1730 AD. The observatory entry feet 10 INR, dawn to dusk, & it’s 2-3 km from the railway station. The planets’ astronomical motions and orbits are studied through Samrat Yantra, Nadivalaya Yantra, Digansha Yantra, Shanku Yantra, and Yamyottarabhitti Yantra, which are the main instruments.

Sun Dail

Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia renovated the observatory in 1923; he was then the ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Gwalior. And this spot is also known as Yantra-Mahal. The studies of planetary motions are still conducted in this observatory. And it’s published annually in a journal – an ephemeris showing planets’ daily speed and position. While leaving this place, I tried a glass of Keshar milk with some freshly made kachoris.

Active sun dail

Sandipani Ashram

Aside from its religious and political importance, ancient Ujjain was a seat of great learning. And also the oldest centre of education. Sandipani has great mythological value. And it is considered the first education place of Lord Krishna, along with their elder brothers Balram and Sudama. Also, Mahabharata, the Puranas, shared Bhagavata, Brahma, Agni and Bramavaivarta bear references to Sandipani Ashram. Students are imparted with Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and spiritual values.

Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal
Sandipan Ashram

Other subjects were mathematics, political science, military science, and arts. The principal objective was to reach spiritual alignment. That’s the sole reason why it gained more excellent academics. Much archaeological evidence of three thousand years has been recovered from here. It was mostly resembling Hastinapur, Indraprastha, Mathura, Achichchhatra and Kaushambi. This evidence indicates that this region is the oldest in the city. The Gomati-Kunda is the most senior water supply source to the Ashram, spoken about in Puranas.

Entrance to Sandipan Ashram

The area is known as Ankapata. And favourite tales describe that Lord Krishna used the spot for washing his writing table. I also saw the image of Nandi standing near the tank that belonged to the Shung-period. In the 16th century, Shri Vallabhacharya, a great saint of the Vaishnava sect, delivered his religious discourses in this Ashram’s locality. There are temples devoted to Lord Shiva too. An old engraved stone with numerals from 1 to 100 can also be seen within the ashram complex.

Ram Ghat

Lastly, I made my way to Ramghat towards the bank of the Shipra River. The ambience of the riverside was vibrant. And serene at the same time. As dusk came, the priests started the evening Arti and many worshippers. Somewhat similar to the Ganges Arti at Varanasi. It’s a spectacular event which connects every life breathing at a great distance. Our devotional vibes became stronger as chanting was rigorous. And spiritual vibrations become evident with Diyas floating on the river’s surface.

Evening Arti will leave you spellbound between sparkling temples and humming devotees. There are a few more places you could add up to your list. I toured one of my picks apart from Mahakaleshwar Temple. I am also sharing those places here. Hence you can travel whenever you are in Ujjain to visit Mahakaleshwar, as these are on my cards when I revisit the ancient city. Also will suggest trying local food like Dal-Bhapla, Jalebi, Kesar kulfi, and spicy sex is a must.

Kalideh Palace 

It is a historical watershed, now considerably decayed in ruin. Kailash was built unconventionally as a water palace in the middle of the Shipra RiverThThe Sultan of Mandu constructed Kalideh palaces, a fine example of Persian architecture. Nearer to the water palace lies the Sun temple, famous for a gorgeous sculpture of God Sun.

Kalideh Palace

Gopal Mandir 

It lies in the busy market centre, a beautiful example of the Maratha architecture style.

Gopal Mandir

Chintaman Ganesh Temple:

It is built across the Kshipra river. The ancient shrine with artistically-carved 11th-century pillars in the assembly hall. Along with Riddhi and SiddhiLoLoLotLord, Ganesha’s consort is seated on either side of him.

Chintaman Ganesh Temple

Navagraha Triveni (Shani Temple)

Situated on the Triveni Ghat of the Shipra, this temple is dedicated to Navagraha. It, too, attracts large crowds on new moon days falling on Saturdays.

Navgragh Triveni

Ram-Janardan Temple

Mirza Raja Jaisingh constructed it in the 17th C. And the boundary wall and the tank were added later during the Maratha period in the 18th C. This temple gives you an artistic survey of sculptures & paintings dating back to the 10th & 11th centuries.

Ram Janadharan Temple

While sitting at the nook of the Ghat, I started enjoying the crowd. A flare of Diyas on the river surface enlightened my soul & the moon dominated the sky. I am yet unable to comprehend something profound inside; I was Calm. After a couple of hours, I headed back to my hotel room. And I thanked the autorickshaw driver for an overwhelming tour of MahakaleshwarMy next destination was Omkareshwar, then Mandu. Hence enquired about cab fares from the hotel travel desk. And I booked an early morning drive. We had a delicious Thali for dinner before running into bed.

How to reach:

By Air: 

The nearest airport to Mahakaleshwar temple is located in Indore. It is 51 km away. Or Raja Bhoj Airport (BHO) at Bhopal, 172 km from Ujjain. It is connected with cities like Delhi and Mumbai. You can take Cab or taxi, or public busses to reach Ujjain.

By Rail: 

The Ujjain Junction, Vikram Nagar, Chintaman and Pingleshwar are four nearby railway stations. All these stations are well-connected to the major cities. After reaching the railway station, tourists can take any local transport to get to the temple.

By Road:

Many buses Ply to Ujjain, making it the best transportation mode if planning to visit via road. Several buses commute to this destination from major cities like Bhopal, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune.

Important points to note if you are visiting Ujjain:

  1. Ujjain Darshan Bus runs from Dewas gate Bus stand at Ujjain and covers most of Ujjain’s issues. There are two trips, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
  2. There are buses available that cover two jyotirlingas daily, Mahakaleshwar and Omkareshwar.






One thought on “Ujjain: An Acient City beyond Mahakal

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