Mahakaleshwar Temple Historical Significance

Jyotirlingas are Lord Shiva’s sacred temples, and it is believed that Lord Shiva visited them; therefore they have a particular place in the hearts of followers. In India, there are a total of 12 of them. Jyotirlinga is a Sanskrit word that means “light column or pillar.” The ‘Stambha’ sign denotes the void of a beginning and an end.

The Jyotirlingas are Shiva’s manifestations of infinity, whose majesty has entranced followers since the dawn of time. Thousands of devotees go from all over the world to praise Lord Shiva and discover spiritual peace in his sacred shrines.

The 12 Jyotirlingas are: 

  • Somnath Temple, Gujarat
  • Mallikarjuna Temple, Andhra Pradesh
  • Mahakaleshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh
  • Omkareshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh
  • Baidyanath Dham, Jharkhand
  • Bhimashankar Temple, Maharashtra
  • Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram
  • Nageshwar Temple, Gujarat
  • Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Uttar Pradesh
  • Trimbakeshwar Temple, Maharashtra
  • Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand
  • Grishneshwar Temple, Maharashtra

Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga:

One of India’s 12 Jyotirlingas, Mahakaleshwar Temple is located in the historic town of Ujjain in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. It is located on the banks of Shipra, a sacred river. Mahakaleshwar is also one of India’s 18 Maha Shakti Peethas. 

Mahakaleshwar temple
Mahakaleshwar temple

The fact that Mahakaleshwar’s idol is Dakshina Mukhi, facing south, unlike all other Jyotirlingas, is another aspect that makes him one of India’s most renowned Jyotirlingas. The other jyotirlingas are all facing east. This is because death is said to occur in a southerly direction. Lord Shiva’s face to the south denotes his mastery over death. In truth, they worship Mahakaleshwar to avoid dying prematurely – to live a long life.

The Mahakaleshwar Temple complex features a vast patio with artistic finery and sophistication influenced by Maratha, Bhumija, and Chalukya architectural traditions, as well as Mahakaleshwar’s lingam sculptures. It also features Omkaresvara and Nagachandresvara inscriptions. 

On the festival of Nag Panchami, the idol of Nagachandresvara is available to the public for darshan. On the property, there is also a big Kunda called Koti Tirtha, which is thought to be heavenly.

A large veranda to the east of this Kunda houses the entrance to the walkway leading to the Garbhagrha, which also houses tiny pictures of Ganesha, Kartikeya, and Parvati. The mystical silver plate that surrounds the Garbhagriha’s ceiling adds to the shrine’s magnificence. The walls are covered in classical eulogies in honor of Lord Shiva.

The Rudra Sagar Lake, which flows beside the temple, is seen by devotees and is consequently regarded as a hallowed spot in which only the truthful can set foot.

Ritual of Bhasm Aarti:

When you tell locals you’re going to the Mahakaleshwar temple, the first thing they tell you is that you must witness the bhasm aarti. 

The bhasm aarti is the very first ceremony performed at the temple every day. It is conducted to awaken the god (Lord Shiva), perform shringar (anointing and dressing him for the day), and make the first fire offering to him (by circulating lamps, incense, and other items).

The addition of bhasm, or ash from funeral pyres, as one of the contributions, distinguishes this aarti from others.

The aarti is immensely popular, and reservations are required to attend. This may be done a month ahead of time online and is highly recommended.

If you want to walk within the inner sanctum and partake in the Jal Abhishek rite (giving water to the deity) before the aarti begins, you must dress appropriately. Women must wear a sari and males must wear a traditional dhoti.

Legend of the Temple:

Mahakaleshwar jyotirlinga
Mahakaleshwar jyotirlinga

King Chandrasena of Ujjain is said to have been a devoted devotee of Lord Shiva. Shrikhar, a young boy, wanted to pray with him while he was praying. He was not permitted to do so, and he was exiled to the city’s outskirts. He overheard rival monarchs Ripudamana and Singhaditya plotting to invade Ujjain with the assistance of a demon named Dushanan.

He proceeded to worship Lord Shiva for the city’s protection. A priest, Vridhi, heard his pleas and pleaded to the Lord to preserve the city as well. Meanwhile, Ujjain was assaulted by competing kingdoms. When Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakal appearance and saved them, they were on the verge of taking the city. Lord Shiva has been worshipped as a linga in this famed Ujjain temple since that day, at the request of his worshippers.

How to reach the temple?

  • Travelers may fly to Indore’s Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport in three and a half hours. It is the nearest airport to Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, as the temple is only 51 kilometers away and can be reached by bus. Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Jaipur, and Udaipur are other very close airports; however, these flights are comparably longer, with Udaipur being the longest at 16 and a half hours.
  • The route leading to the Jyotirlinga is well-connected to cities such as Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, and Bhopal. It is also the most practical method of getting to Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga. From Omkareshwar, visitors may take a 4-hour bus trip.
  • The closest railway stations to the temple are Ujjain Junction, Pingleshwar, Vikram Nagar, and Chintaman. Trains run from Omkareshwar to Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga. The railway travel from Omkareshwar to the temple will require around 3 hours.
  • Only from Omkareshwar can you use taxis or drive yourself. It takes around 3.5 to 4.5 hours to get there.

Best time to visit:

The months of October to March are ideal for visiting Ujjain since the weather is nice and breezy. It’s the ideal time to go sightseeing because the weather is lovely, with temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Celsius.

During the winter, when the mornings are chilly and the nights are bitterly cold, the entire town is shrouded in mist. Summers are hotter than they are in other regions of Madhya Pradesh, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius.

As a result, Ujjain is best visited in the winter, especially in March, when the Kumbh Mela takes place once every 12 years.

Places to visit:

  • Kal Bhairav Temple
  • Ram Mandir Ghat
  • Kumbh Mela, Ujjain
  • Harsiddhi Temple
  • Kaliadeh Palace

What about the food?

Ujjain is mostly a vegetarian destination, with just a few eateries offering non-vegetarian options. Finding a good non-vegetarian meal in Ujjain is far from simple. The cuisine is mostly Indian, with Punjabi food and Rajasthani thalis becoming particularly popular among visitors. South Indian food connoisseurs would likely find shelter for their hunger needs here as well.

Things to know before visiting:

  • It is suggested that you stay at the temple or a nearby hotel so that you may observe the mesmerizing Bhasm-Aarti.
  • Bring your photo-ID proof if you want to conduct the Bhasm-Aarti ritual. The use of PAN cards is not authorized.
  • Large bags, backpacks, and other similar items are not permitted. 
  • Mobile phones are permitted, however, images and films are not. 
  • Inside the premises, drinking water is supplied at appropriate distances.

Image Source: Google

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