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Madhya Pradesh - Ujjain
Ujjain was known as Avantika previously. The holy soil of Ujjain still recalls the names of the renowned personalities, such as the great poet Kalidas, intrepid emperor Ashok and divine Sri Krishna. Located at an altitude of 492 meters, on the astonishing banks of Shipra River (one of the tributaries of Chambal River), Ujjain, is one of the prime Hindu pilgrimage among twelve Jyotirlingams. It is one of the seven holy Hindu pilgrimage centers of India and one of the seven Sati Pithas as well.
Plenty of ancient temples of Ujjain were destroyed over time. A number of temples were restructured and reconstructed later on as well. But, the ancient charm is still noticeable on these hallowed temples in the proximity. Countless mythological tales are also associated with the array of the temples and the Shipra River.
Ujjain is rich in education, industries, cultures and traditions. More than four hundred Buddha Bihars were there in Ujjain previously but all of these edifices had been destroyed long ago. Try to read the famous epic called Meghdutam, written by Kalidasa. He has wonderfully described the splendor of the city in his book.
The Mughal emperor Akbar had built a fortification to safeguard the entire territory of Ujjain. The wall, alongside the border of Ujjain, is in ruins though. The dotted divine Hindu temples around the city were built with the aid of the Mughal ruler Jahangir. Jay Singh, the governor of Malwa, had built Jantar Mantar along with the hundreds of temples.
The Mahakaleshwar temple, the prime and foremost holy destination of Ujjain, is located on the prolonged and beautiful banks of the River Shipra. The crest of the temple was painted with saffron yellow color. But, the ancient form of this finicky temple was demolished in 1235. The newly built 5 storied temple was reshaped during 18th century on the ruins of the primeval Mahakaleshwar temple. The doorway, based on 24 pillars (Khamba), is an example of the architecture of 11th century. The prime throne of the temple, located below the floor, is illuminated with the divinity of Makaleshwar Shiva (2nd century). Omkareshwar Shiva is residing on the adjoining floor above the Mahakaleshwar Shiva. The Mahakaleshwar Shiva (the 6th Joyitrlingam) is believed to be the inspirational and chief source of strength and power. The deities, such as, Parvati, Ganesha and Katthik are residing at the north, west and eastern sides of the temple respectively. Nandi is placed at the southern tip of the righteous temple.
The best time to visit the temple is the evening. The worship that takes place during the evening is the prime and foremost attraction of Mahakeleshwar temple. The holy water of the Koti Ganga Kund (well) allures pilgrims as well. A divine bath in the holy water sheds sins. The deities, Ganapati, Hriddhi and Siddhi, placed at the western side of the temple, are protecting the temple from the devils. Besides the pentagonal idol of the monkey, a lot of deities are residing in the devout temple.
Engrossed devotees who want to purchase Prasadam (food with divine blessings) can buy it from the shop, placed on the temple premise. The temple has been offered a new look completely. Avail the Mini bus of route no 2 from the Railway station to the Mahakal temple.
The sanctified Bada Ganesha temple, atop the tank, on the slope of the hill, is located by the side of the Harasiddh Marg. The prime deity of the temple is Ganesha. This idol of the temple is decorated with multiple colors. The pentagonal Hanuman idol is located midst of the temple as well.
Take a walk for some time to hit the temple of Ayodhya devi Annapurna or Harasiddh mother, built by the tantric emperor Vikramaditya long back in 18th century. The prayers of the devotees who visit the temple are answered. The deity resides here along with Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. Thousands of diyas (earthen lamps) enlighten the holy throne of the temple during the eventful Navaratri festival.
The ruins of the old Mahakal temple, adjacent to the Sindhia palace, can be witnessed. The temple was badly shattered during 1235. Stroll around in the vicinity to watch the sanctified Sriram temple. The Shipra River flows through the lower acclivity.
Even though the grandeur of the Shipra River cannot be compared with that of the Ganges but the River is holy. Plenty of Hindu rituals are celebrated on the banks of the Shipra River. Siddhabat is another divine tree (Ficus benghalensis) placed on the banks as well. Devotees take a holy bath in the water of Shipra River throughout the year. Pilgrims flock to the place from far and wide just to take a bath in the River. The River had started its journey from the soaring Vindhya hill, located at a distance of 50 km away from Ujjain. Turtles are there in the water of the Shipra River. The Kumbh festival takes place once every 12 years. Last time the absorbing festival was held in 2004.
The sanctified Gopal temple, about 1 km away from the River banks, is located right in the middle of the city and was built by Baijabai in 1833. Located amidst the congested town, the temple, depict marvelous Maratha architectural flair and stylishness. Silver door, Mogli dome and the arch showing Moorish architectures, prove the affluence of the hallowed temple. The deity, Gopal (Sri Krishna) was also built using precious silver. The history of the silver door of the temple dates back to the ancient century. The throne of the temple is inaccessible during 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The River Shipra marks its way through the lower acclivity.
Muslim pilgrims visit the Moti Mosque, situated at the opposite side of the Gopal temple, often to witness the divinity.
Another famous sanctified temple namely Chintamani Ganesh temple, is located at a distance of 8 km from the railway station, at the other side of the Shipra River. The throne of the temple is illuminated due to the presence of the pious God Ganesh along with two of his disciples, called Hriddhi and Siddhi. The magnificence of the temple is worth watching on every Wednesday.
Out of the 5 Jantar Mantars, one (Vedha Shala) is located here in Ujjain. The Manmandir or the Jantar Mantar, about 1 km towards the south- western side of the railway station, on the lingering banks of the Shipra River, was constructed by the emperor, Jai Singh in 1733. It is the 3rd largest Jantar Mantar in India (after Jaipur and Delhi). But, five machines of the Manmandir still show the appropriate time and the movements of the sun and the moon.
The planetarium and telescope are there in the proximity now. Set your eyes on the telescope to watch the stars and the sun. It would be an enticing experience for one and all.
Scindia Oriental Research Center and Santoshi temple are other coveted attractions of Ujjain.
Located at a distance of 7 km towards the northern tip of the city, on the River banks, the Bhartrihari cave was built way back in 11th century and is a fabulous place to be at. According to the mythological tales the pandit Bhartrihari had resided and meditated here in the cave for 12 long years. It was a cave for the Nath community.
The nearby Rin Mukteshwar temple, at the roadside, is another holy destination for the pilgrims.
Take a walk to the Gadkalika temple which is known to be the righteous abode of the goddess Kali. The huge idol of Kali is attractive and eye-catching. Tourists and pilgrims, however, can watch the pretty face of the deity as rest of the body parts are wrapped up in attires. Watching the silver crown at the top of the temple is an enticing experience. Two lion idols are protecting the temple and welcoming devotees warmly to the temple. Two contiguous pillars are also there right in front of the devout temple. The famous Malwa architectures are prominent on the walls of the simple looking temple. The deity, Lakshmi, made up of marbles, is residing at the right hand side of the chief idol where as the the holy idol of Saraswati is residing at the left hand side of the principal idol of the temple. The deity, Kali in this pious temple was worshipped by the great writer Kalidas who was blessed by the deity. The blessings of the deity had changed the course of kalidas’s life.
The idol of the Pir Matsyendranath, adjacent to the Gadalika temple, is a renowned commemorative of the Guru Pir Matsyendranath of Nath communities.
The Kalbhairav temple, about 2 km away from Gadkalika temple, was built by Bhadra Sen. A group of people also opines that this divine temple was built by Madhuji Scindia. The face of the deity in the temple is fully covered with red cinnabar. The deity has circular shaped eyes and face. Well stretched brows draw the attention of the devotees as well. It is believed that the 4439 years old deity still drinks alcohol offered by the purohit (worshipper). The tour of Ujjain would be incomplete if you are unable to watch the façade of the deity of the Kalbhairav temple.
The excavations that had taken place in the neighboring places had revealed countless ancient sculptures.
Located at a distance of 10 km from the city, the Kaliadeh palace is nestled in the Island like land. Previously a small canal from the Shipra River used to supply water to the temple. To get relieved from the scorching sun a number of kunds (wells), such as, Brahmakund and Suryakund, were excavated during the epoch of the emperor, Nasiruddin in 16th century. The palace had been given a new shape of the Sun temple by the ruler Sultan Mahmud Khilji in 1458. The Surya idol was established by the empress (Rajmata) of Scindia way back in 1920. The walls of the palace would show you the severe signs that prove the lack of maintenance at various parts but the palace still deserves a visit for its immense historical values and wonderful natural locale around.
If you have some spare time then you can visit the nearby village of Batik artists.
Mangalnath, once was a famous place where from people used to watch the pretty look of the moon. The epic, Matsya Purana, had described that ancient story as well. The renowned Manmandir was built long ago by the saints of India. It’s popularly known as the “Greenwich” of India. It was the prime and foremost astrological centre of India before the arrival of the Christ’s child. The Tropic of Cancer, also referred to as the Northern Tropic, used to pass through Mangalnath. Now, it is passing through the Green Witch.
Even though the old charm of the city had been diminished long ago but the appealing temple of Mangalnath still attracts huge number of devotees on Tuesdays. Devotees take the pain to climb up the temple crossing 84 stair steps to watch the divine deity of the holy Mangalnath temple. The panoramic view of the Shipra River from the temple premise is spectacular.
About 3.2 km away from the city of Ujjain, the Sandipani Ashram, is another enticement for the believers of Hindu mythology. A number of mythological tales, related to the Hindu deities, such as, Krishna and Balarama are associated with this place.
Countless numbers of other temples in and around the city can be accessed if you are willing to stroll around. The glass temple in the vicinity depicts the Jain cultures and mores. The Navagraha temple, on the banks (Triveni) of the Shipra River, is a primeval divine temple and is famous for its divinity. The temple was dedicated to the 9 planets (Sun, moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu).
Interested holiday makers should visit the Oriental Research Institute as well. Archeological museum, art gallery and library in the rooms of the Vikram Kirti temple of the research Institute are prime allurements. The impressive library has a huge collection of 1800 books.
The Vina-Niv-Ki-Masjid in Anantpet was built way back in 1400 on the ruins of the Jain temple. The Kalidas Academy is another tourists’ attraction.
How to reach: Ujjain is well connected to Vilaspur, Ahmadabad, Varanasi, Delhi, Indore, Dehradun, Bangalore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Allahabad and many more cities by well spread out railway networks. The city of Ujjain is also accessible to Gwalior, Bhopal, Mandu, Dhar, Omkareshwar and Kota by bus.
Where to stay: Hotel Rama Krishna, Hotel Sagar, Hotel Bharti, Hotel Kabir, Hotel Ramkrishna, Grand Hotel, Shipra Hotel, Hotel Gujarat and Hotel Abantika.
Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings.