Mahakaleshwar Mandir, Ujjain

One of the many things that interest people to Hinduism is the hundreds of legends associated with their mythology. According to one such concept, Lord Shiva is worshipped as Mahakal.

In the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, Mahakaleshwar Mandir, Ujjain is one of the revered places for the Hinduism. At Ujjain, this temple is one of the important pilgrimage places and is said to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (most sacred abodes of Shiva). In fact, it is also significant as one of the top ten Tantra temples of India.

Did you know it is the only temple which has bhasm aarti (ash ritual) of its kind in the world?

Situated on the banks of Rudra Sagar Lake of Ujjain, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the temple could be easily reached by state and private run buses or taxis. The temple is an important centre for pilgrimage for the Hindus and attracts visitors from different part of the country.

The Popularity of the Temple

The magnificent Mahakaleshwar Mandir, Ujjain has been mentioned in several religious texts including the 'Puranas' (scriptures). These temples have been mentioned in works of celebrated Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa.

Details of the Temple

The image of the lord faces the southern direction which is why the Mahakaleshwar Mandir, Ujjain is called as 'Dakshinamurti'. In fact, according to the traditional forms of Himduism, this is another unique feature of this temple. Within the sanctum another idol of Shiva, named Omkareshwar, is positioned above the shrine of Mahakaleshwa. Just like an atypical Shiva temples, images of Parvati (Shiva’s divine consort), Kartikay and Lord Ganesh (both sons of Shiva) are placed in the north, west, and east direction respectively.  In the south, the image of Nandi (the favourite pet cow of Lord Shiva) is seen. The third storey of the temple has an idol of Nagchandreshwar (yet another form of Lord Shiva), however, visitors can only see or 'darshan' it on the day of Nagpanchami.


Although the earliest structure of the Shiva temple was damaged by the foreign invaders, the Scindia’s of Gwalior constructed the existing structure in the recent times. The temple spire is one of the signature objects of Ujjain’s skyline and witnesses to numerous historic tales.  Whether it is the first time or the umpteenth time you are visiting the temple, its structure will live you awe-inspired. The curved structure has swathes of motifs on all the sides, which creates an intense image of the pillared porches. The old statues and sculptures watch over devotes who come here. The existing shrines embrace of the remnants of ancient shrines. Pricked railings deck the floor while there is strong resemblance of Rajput architectural style in the balconies and the roofs.

Festivals and Rituals

'Mahashivratri' is the major festival which is celebrated with much zeal and fervour in Mahakaleshwar Mandir, Ujjain. To mark the festivity, a grand fair is held near this temple. The devotees worship for the whole night, offering prayers and singing chants.  This sculptural delight attracts people (and not just the devotees) to experience the divine charisma from all across the globe.

Puja-Archana and Abhishekaarati are regularly performed in the temple all the year round.

The other two festivals include:
Nitya Yatra – this is a ritual where the participatory devotee, referred to as the Yatri, goes to take a bath in the holy Sipra River. After getting cleaned, he visits Nagachandresvara, Kotesvara, Mahakalesvara, goddess Avantika, goddess Harasiddhi and Agastyesvara for prayers.

Sawari (Procession) – As the term suggests, this is more of a cavalcade but on feet. Every Monday, this sacred procession of the Almighty takes place. It is trailed through the streets of Ujjain on specific time based on the lunar calendar. The last Sawari or procession that takes place on the dark fortnight of the Bhadrapada is joined by lakhs of devotees. It is, as understood involves a lot of pomp and show. A similarly exciting procession takes place during the Vijayadashami festival.

According to Hindu mythological and philosophical traditions, Shiva is believed to be the destroyer of the Universe. This faith is further strengthened by stories which points out that Shiva dwells in the cremation grounds. Probably that is the reason why a ceremony where the Shiva lingam is smeared with ash collected from the cremation grounds. If you closely follow the significance of this ritual, it is evocative of the circle of life and death, which is a vital part of the Hindu mythology.

The Ash ritual

There's a dress code when attending the bhasm aarti where men must wear traditional dhoti and women must wear a sari.

Timings of the Temple

From the month Chaitra to Ashwin: (mid of April to October)
•    Morning Pooja: 7:00 AM - 7:30 AM
•    Mid-day Pooja: 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM
•    Evening Pooja: 5:00 PM - 5:30 PM
•    Aarti Shri Mahakal: 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM
•    Closing time: 11:00 PM

2. From the month Kartik to Falgun: (Mid October to March)
•    Morning Pooja: 7:30 AM - 8:00 AM
•    Mid-day Pooja: 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM
•    Evening Pooja: 5:30 PM - 6:00 PM
•    Aarti Shri Mahakal: 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM
•    Closing time: 11:00 PM

Staying Near Mahakaleshwar Mandir, Ujjain

For those are interested to stay at the temple, the Pandit Shree Surya Narayan Vyas Dharmshala and the Shree Mahakal Dharmshala are the two perfect options. Both of them can be reserved online through the official website of the temple. Apart from these two, there are plenty of other decent lodging options that are easily accessible to the temple and other attractions of the city.

Chants of praises to the Lord, along with the chatters, little shops, amazing colour and vibrancy in the ambience around the temple will give you the perfect image of a traditional India. If not offering prayers, the shutterbugs can capture the semi-urban life of the country.

See More in Ujjain:

Mangalnath Mandir - Mars’ Birthplace

Jantar Mantar - The Oldest Observatories of the Five Observatories in India

Harsiddhi Mandir

Kaal Bhairav - The Guardian to the Ujjain City