Mahakaleshwar Temple is one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It is one of the most popular Hindu temples located by the Rudra Sagar Lake in the Ujjain district of Madhya Pradesh. This important pilgrim center is counted among the most important 18 Maha Shakti Peethas. The chief god of the temple Lord Shiva is assumed to be in the form of Swayambhu, stemming streams of power or Shakti from within. The upper lip of Devi Sati is also believed to have fallen in the Mahakaleshwar Mandir.
The history of Mahakaleshwar Temple is very interesting & engrossing. It is believed that, long ago, the city of Ujjain was ruled by King Chandrasen. The king was an avid devotee of Lord Shiva. A young fellow – Shrikhar – was highly motivated by his devotion and desired to be a part of his prayers. Unfortunately, he was rejected by royal cavalry.
Incidentally, some neighbouring rulers were planning to attack Ujjain. Shrikhar and the local priest – Vridhi – heard about it and started praying continuously. Lord Shiva heard their prayers and decided to forever safeguard this city as a lingam. Thereafter, the ruling king and his successors raised the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple.The Ujjain Mahakal Temple suffered many attacks over time and was destroyed & demolished. However, the Scindia clan took over the responsibility of its restoration in the 19th century.
This Jyotirlinga is famous for its Bhasma Aarti, which means aarti with ash. The aarti is one of the first rituals performed at around 4 am, to wake up the deity after Jal Abhishek. Lord Shiva is the main deity that is worshipped in the Mahakaleshwar temple and is also known as Maheshwara. Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara form the trinity of Hinduism and Lord Shiva is referred to as Maheshwara in it. The word Mahakaleshwar means the Lord of Time and according to Hinduism Lord Shiva is the God of Time. Lord Shiva is also known as Mahakal. The locals believe in two legends related to Lord Shiva being referred to as Mahakaleshwar.
Visiting the Mahakaleshwar temple and not attending the Bhasma Aarti is not good according to the locals and so we must attend it for witnessing this grand ceremony.
The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, facing the South. This is a unique feature, upheld by tantric tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva 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.
Mahalakesheshwar Temple is consider significant by the Hindus for the following reasons:
Mahakaleshwara Temple in Ujjain is regarded amongst the seven holy places that can liberate a human. The other six Mukti-Sthal being Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram and Dwarka. All devotees that come to participate in the famous Kumbh Mela organized year on the banks of the Kshipra River consider it important to seek blessings of Lord Mahakaleshwar.
At Mahakaleshwar Temple, festivals are celebrated grandly and a lot of tourists plan their visit at that time. The two main festivals that are celebrated at this temple are Nitya Yatra and Sawari. The celebrations of these temples include:
- Nitya Yatra: On this festival, after taking bath in holy sipra the main yatri visits the idols of goddess Mahakalesvara, Harasiddhi, Nagachandresvara, goddess Avantika, Kotesvara, and Agastyesvara for seeking blessings.
- Sawari: The sacred procession passes through the streets of Ujjain every Monday. This procession is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the one which is organized on the fortnight of Bhadrapada is celebrated with great excitement and zeal.