Ujjain is one of the most ancient cities located on the banks of the Kshipra river in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is also known by the names Ujjaini, Avanti, Avantika, and Avantikapuri. It is the only city in the world which houses one of the Lord Shiva jyotirlingas, is among the Saptapuris (Seven Sacred Hindus Cities which grants Moksha) and is one of four cities where Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years. It is also an ancient seat of learning where Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama, and Sudama took education from Maharishi Sandipani in his ashram. It is also called the city of temples and a lot of mythological as well as historical legends are associated with it. There are thousands of Lord Shiva Temples in Ujjain but there are 84 specific ancient temples of Lord Shiva whose yatra is done specifically in Hindu month of Shravan. Apart from mythological events, Ujjain is also rich in history with a lot of kings who ruled here like Vikramaditya, Chandragupta II, scholars like Bhramagupta and Bhaskarachraya and poets like Kalidasa. Tropic of Cancer passes through Ujjain and it is called Greenwich of India. Here are some of the important places of interest which cannot be missed when one travels in Ujjain.
Ujjain: Places to Visit
1) Mahakaleshwar Jyotirling
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirling and Temple is the biggest and most important temple in Ujjain. All over India, this temple has high reverence and a lot of devotees all around the world flock here to have a glimpse of this great Jyotirling. The Jyotirling here is Dakshinmurti Swayambhu “self-manifested” which derives power within itself, unlike others where lingas are installed. The temple is huge with more than a hundred small shrines of various deities of Hinduism. The main temple is three-storeyed with Mahakaleshwar swayambhu jyotirlinga on the ground floor. Omkareshwar linga is on the first floor and Nagchandreshwara linga on the top floor. Nagchandreshwara linga is open only on the day of Nagpanchmi. Surrounding the main Sanctorum of the main linga, there are idols of Ganesh, Parvati Devi and Kartikeya in the west, north, and east respectively. There is also a very large-sized water body in the temple complex named Koti Teertha whose water is considered to be celestial. Many devotees take a dip in this Kunda and then take a glimpse of Mahakaleshwar Temple. The main attraction of this temple is Bhasma aarti which starts at 4.00 AM at dawn. A specific number of devotees are allowed to attend this aarti who are allotted passes one day in advance. This temple has its own Dharamshala also where devotees can stay and Prasad (food) is offered free of cost. Mahakaleshwar Temple is just 2 km from Railway and Bus stand of Ujjain and well connected by local buses and auto-rickshaws.
2) Harsiddhi Mata Temple
Just around 350 m away from Mahakaleshwar Temple and crossing Rudra Sagar Lake, there is another very important temple of Ujjain called Harsiddhi Mata Temple. It is one of the fifty-one major Shaktipeeths of India and it is believed that the elbow of Sati fell here when Shiva was carrying her body from the sacrificial fire. The temple complex is very large with the main attractive deity of Harsiddhi Mata painted in dark vermillion color in the center and idols of Mahasaraswati and Mahalakshmi besides it. The presence of Shree Yantra which represents nine forms of Durga Mata is one of the characteristic features of this temple. Long ago two demons Chand and Prachand attacked Kailash and Lord Shiva asked Parvati to vanquish them. Devi takes the form of Harsiddhi and kills them. The original temple of Harsiddhi Mata is located in Minalpur on the Gujarat coast. It was due to devotion and request by King Vikramaditya Harsiddhi Mata comes to Ujjain. The present temple is built during the Maratha Period and it has two towering deep stambhs. They are lit on the eve of every festival which gives a benedictory effect. This temple has also accommodation to stay and well connected within.
3) Gopal Mandir – Ujjain, India
Gopal Mandir also called as Dwarkadhish temple is the second largest temple of Ujjain after Mahakaleshwar Temple. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna the avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is was built by Bayaji bai Shinde, the wife of Maratha King Daulatrao Shinde in the 19th century in Maratha Style. It is located in the middle of the main market of Ujjain. The main temple has two feet of the beautiful statue of Lord Krishna in the Sanctorum which is made up of marble coated with silver. Along with Lord Krishna, there are idols of Lord Shiva, Devi Parvati, and Garuda. Janmashtami is celebrated with great pomp and there is a huge rush on that occasion. There is another sacred timing in Hinduism called Harihar Parva when Lord Shiva meets Lord Vishnu which is celebrated here. The images of Mahakaleshwar jyotirlinga are brought in this temple to meet up with Lord Krishna at this occasion and a two-hour-long pooja is conducted. The doors of Gopal Mandir are the ones that were stolen by Mahmud of Ghazni from Somnath Temple which were again brought back to Lahore by Ahmed Shah Abdali. Those doors have been founded by Mahadji Shinde and then brought back and installed here. There is a huge market outside this temple and one can purchase Kumkum whose quality is regarded best in the world.
4) Bade Ganeshjee kaa Mandir
Bade Ganeshjee kaa Mandir is a very important landmark and temple in Ujjain. It is situated on the opposite side of Mahakaeshwar Dharamshala near Mahakaleshwar Temple. The santorum houses a colossal idol of Lord Ganesha, its largest images situated in India. Ganesha is elephant-headed God and its head symbolizes wisdom, intelligence, and strength. Ganapati is favorite gana of Parvati and most beloved son. During Indian pooja ceremonies, Ganesha is worshipped first and then other gods are worshipped hence he is also called Prathamesh. The Gigantic idol of Ganesha in this temple is painted in light pink color and its left-hand holds a lot of ladoos which is his favorite food. There are idols of Riddhi and Siddhi who are spouses of Ganesha lie on the left and right side of the main Bade Ganeshjee’s idol. Riddhi means prosperity and Siddhi denotes the power of accomplishment. In the center of the temple there lies statute of another powerful god called Hanuman. The idol has five faces called Panchmukhi Hanuman which denotes courage, devotion, strength, loyalty, and righteousness . This temple is continuously surrounded by the pilgrims especially in Aarti which happens every morning and evening.
5) Chintamani Ganesh – Ujjain, India
Chintamani Ganesh is another very important temple located around 7 km away from Ujjain on the Fatehabad Railway line on the banks of the Kshipra river. Chintamani means remover of all worries and tensions. And hence people when they start any new venture they take blessings of Lord Ganesha here. Chintamani is another name of Lord Vishnu and hence devotees worship Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu simultaneously in this temple with great devotion. Devotees come and visit this temple and offer modaks, ladoos and red flowers which are favorite to Lord Ganesha especially on Wednesday. This temple is quite old which dates back to the eleventh century. The pillars of this temple are artistically carved in an assembly hall. Inside the garbagriha there is a swayambhu idol of Lord Ganesha with his consorts Riddhi and Siddhi. The idol of Lord Vishnu is in the vicinity. The whole temple complex although calm is occupied with a lot of monkeys. Since it is little away from Ujjain it is a little difficult to get regular buses to this place but one can definitely hire an auto-rickshaw or cab to this temple from Ujjain.
6) Iskcon Temple, Ujjain.
Iskcon temple in Ujjain, also called as Radha Madhana Mohan Temple is located neat Nanakheda Bus stand. The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) believe Lord Krishna as the supreme soul. They have temples all over the world with a huge number of Sanyasi’s in their organization whose sole purpose is to create awareness of God through Bhakti. Ujjain is very significant for them as Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama and their friend Sudama attended the Sandipani Ashram here and attained knowledge from Sandipani Rishi. The whole temple complex is very clean made up of super white marble stone with lush green lawns with a lot of colorful flowers in it. There are three Sanctorum in the temple which houses idols of Shri Krishna and Radha with two Gopis in the middle, Balarama Krishna in the right-hand side and, Nitaai Gaur ( incarnations of Krishna and Balarama) in the left. There is also one cow shed behind the temple and accommodation of devotees is provided in the building besides the main temple. Continuous music with chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Rama Dhun and dancing of devotees in front of the idols can be witnessed the whole day when the temple is opened. Iskcon believes in food for life and hence whoever visits this temple does not go out empty stomach.
7) Navgrah Shani Mandir – Ujjain, India
This temple is dedicated to the nine planets who decide the fate, destiny, and fortune of each and every individual according to Hinduism. These nine planets are Surya, Chandra, Mangal, Budh, Guru, Shukra, Rahu, Ketu, and Shani. But utmost importance is given to the planet Shani. Shani dev is god of justice and has a great effect on astrological charts. According to Hindu scripts he is the greatest judge and teacher. He is a well-wisher and gives prosperity and wealth to follow good deeds as well as severely punishes those who are evil and do wrongdoings. Hence people worship Shani planet more than anyone else to get his blessings and to be in his good books. Saturday is the day of Shani Planet, hence there is a lot of rush on Saturdays in this temple. People offer oil and black seeds to Shani as an offering. This temple is beside Triveni Sangam where the confluence of three rivers occurs namely Kshipra, Gandaki and Saraswati. It is said that one who bathes in this confluence washes all his sins accumulated in life. This temple is located in the Dedhiya region which is around 8 km from Ujjain. To reach this place one has to depend on private autorickshaw or cab.
8) Bhatrihari Caves
Bhartrihari caves are one of the masterpieces India has and are located around 5 km away from Ujjain on the banks of the Kshipra river. Raja Bhartrihari was once the king of Ujjain and the elder brother of Vikramaditya. He renounced his kingdom and all worldly pleasures to live a secluded hermit life. It is said he was cheated by one of his many wives Pingala whom he loved a lot. This forced him to take such a decisive step and he gave all the responsibilities to Vikramaditya and banished his kingdom. He along with one more hermit called Gopichand meditated in this caves just outside Ujjain. There are two caves whose entrance is very narrow but when one goes deep, one finds an area like a palace inside. He meditated inside this cave for 12 tough years. It is said that even Indra became afraid and thought that after his successful penance he would ask the kingdom of Swarga from God as a boon. He started attacking him by huge boulders. Bhartrihari reacted by holding those boulders with his left hand and then meditated for twelve years. Such was the power of meditation that even Indra failed. The mark of this left hand is still present in the caves. There are a lot of vintage statues of Indian Gods in each room supported by stone pillars. The whole area is calm and serene with waters of Kshipra river gushing nearby.
9) Gadhkalika Devi – Ujjain, India
Gadhkalika Mandir is a temple that is dedicated to the Mahakali aspect of the Goddess. It is situated around 5 km from the Ujjain railway station near Bhartrihari caves. Kalidas who is regarded as one of India’s finest poets was dumb and foolish and people used to make fun of him. But he was extremely devoted to Mahakali Devi. So by her blessings, he achieved exemplary skills in literature and composed many works that became famous universally. This temple is dedicated to Mahakali Mata in the name of Kalidas. There is a very huge deep stambh ( tower of lights) built-in Maratha style in the complex. At the entrance door, there is a very beautiful idol of the lion who is regarded as Devi’s vehicle. Inside the Sanctorum lies a huge idol of Gadhkalika Devi painted in red color and wearing a silver crown. The recent temple was made by King Harshavardhan in the seventh century and then rulers of Gwalior, again and again, renovated this temple regularly. The main festival is Navaratri and there is a lot of rush on those nine days. This temple can be reached by City Bus and private auto-rickshaws and cabs.
10) Pir Matsyendranath Samadhi
Matsyendranath or Machhindranath is the leader of Nath Sect, a Hindu group that shows particular traditions to achieve salvation. He is a master of Guru Gorakshnath who started Hath Yoga which is now practiced all over the world by the Yoga enthusiasts. He is also the guru of seven other disciples and together with Gorakshnath they form a group of nine saints called Navnath. Even Muslims follow Matsyendranath and they called him Pir ( Muslim Saint). It is believed that Matsyendranath took Samadhi here in Ujjain and his tomb is still present. Devotees from both Hindu and Muslim religions come here to pay reverence to this great saint. This tomb is located in a very attractive and secluded place near the Gadhkalika temple and Bhartrihari caves near the banks of the Kshipra river. The tomb is situated in the middle of a structure that simple white-colored building along with four minarets around its four corners. Pir Matsyendranath tomb is situated around 4 km from Ujjain railway station and can be reached by private auto-rickshaws and cabs.
11) Kalbhairav Temple
Kalbhairav is the most ferocious form of Lord Shiva and is among the eight Bhairavas of Lord Shiva. Here in Ujjain Kalbhairav is worshipped in a massive Kalbhairav Temple located on the outskirts of Ujjain by Shaivites. The temple is situated near Ganesh Nagar around eight km away from Ujjain Railway Station after crossing the Kshipra river. The temple complex is huge and Marathas have built it. The outer was walls of this temple and the gigantic gate resembles a fort and one does not feel like it is entering a temple. In the fort-like structure, there is a huge temple in the center of the complex which has a statue of Dog at its entrance. Dog is a vehicle of Kalbhairav and inside the Sanctorum, there is an orange-colored idol of Lord Kal bhairav. The distinctive tradition about this temple is that the devotees offer liquor to the idol and take home as Prasad. The liquor is poured in the dish and brought near the mouth of the Bhairav idol and one miraculously can see the whole liquor going inside the mouth. This place has been researched by scientists from all over the world but nobody could find out how an idol is able to drink liquor. Liquor is available 365 days in the shops outside the temple even on dry days. Kalbhairav Temple is one of the most visited temples of Ujjain and thousand of devotees rush every day to pay a visit here. Some especially come to see the miracle.
12) Kaliadeh Palace – Ujjain, India
Kaliadeh place is not only one of the most important and most visited sites of Ujjain but of Madhya Pradesh also. The architecture of this palace is of Persian type, mind-blowing and with lot detailed carvings. This palace is situated on the banks of the Kshipra river and it flows on both sides of the palace. There are man-made water tanks on the side of the palace on which water of Kshipra river flows which gives stupendous views. Natural beauty is in abundance and a lot of people come here to enjoy as it has also become a great area for picnics. During Monsoon this place becomes more beautiful as there is greenery all over with water gushing speedily everywhere. It is said that there was an ancient Sun Temple here along with two water bodies called Surya Kunda and Brahma Kunda. There are a lot of remains of old temples scattered all over. The central dome of the place is exceedingly beautiful and worth watching. There are Persian inscriptions on the walls which states that Emperors Akbar and his son Jehangir has visited this palace. This palace was destroyed by Pindaris once and redeveloped by Madhavrao Scindia in 1920. Kaliadeh Palace is just near Kalbhairav temple near the banks of Kshipra and one needs to take out and spend some time to have enchanting enjoyment.
Siddhvat is a banyan tree temple on the banks of Kshipra river . It is said that the tree is alive from ages and even if the world gets destroyed this tree won’t die. There are some trees like Akshayvat in Allahabad, Panchavat of Nasik, Vamshivat of Vrindavan which have said to have the same significance as Siddhvat has. It is believed that Devi Parvati has meditated here. A lot of devotees especially from Nath Sect come here to pay reverence. Many ancestral poojas are done here. This place has one of the most spiritual significances in India and thousands come here to take a holy dip in the ghats of Kshipra river beside it. There are a lot of temples made besides the Siddhvat. It is also said that Muslims Kings cut this tree and covered it with heavy metal sheets but the tree grew once again tearing the sheets apart and attained its foliation once again. Siddhvat is a highly visited place and well connected with Ujjain which is just around 4 km away.
14) Mangalnath Temple
Mangalnath is one more important temple in Ujjain specially dedicated to Lord Shiva on the banks of Kshipra river away from secluded away from hassles and crowd of Ujjain. Mangal or Mars is one of the nine planets associated with Hindu astronomy and astrology. Mangal was the son of the Earth and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was born here and then he meditated here on a shivlinga. Lord Shiva was pleased and he appeared before him and allocated him the position in Navgrahs ( nine planets). Mangal is a planet that is associated with valor, strength, courage, and righteousness. It is said to be a cruel planet and those whose Mangal is weak have Mangal Dosha and faces a lot of problems in life. In order to keep him pleased lots of people with Mangal Dosha come here to do Mangal Shanti pooja which resolves most of their problems. There is a huge temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the original shivlinga on which Mangal mediated is still present in the Sanctorum. The Tropic of Cancer passes through this temple and hence this place serves a very great purpose for astronomical viewing of planets. Mangalnath temple is around 7 km from the Ujjain railway station located near Kalbhairav temple.
15) Sandipani Ashram
Sandipani Ashram is located five km away from Ujjain Railway station on the Mangalnath Temple road just two km before it. The ashram complex is huge and with vast stretches of land away from the crowd. It is said that Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama, and Sudama had taken their studies here in this ashram under their tutor Maharishi Sandipani. There are a lot of shrines but obviously the main shrine belongs to Guru Sandipani. There is one more important temple called Kundeshwar Mahadev dedicated to Lord Shiva which has to stand Nandi Bull at its entrance which is rare. Another temple is called Sarveshwar Mahadev and it houses a 6000-year Shivlinga on which Guru Sandipani and his disciples worshipped. If one looks closely at the Sarveshwar linga images of Lord Shiva, Devi Parvati, Ganesha and Kartikeyan can be seen on it. There are several other shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna and other Hindu deities. There huge water tank called Gomti Kund in the premises where they used to store water for daily household purposes and also a stone that has footprints of Lord Krishna inscribed on it.
16) Ram Ghat
Ram Ghat is a place near the Harsiddhi Mata temple on the banks of the Kshipra river. It is here at this place where the world’s largest gathering called Kumbh Mela is held every twelve years. More than two crore people visit Kumbh Mela in those months with a lot of Sadhus and Naga Babas coming from all over especially from Himalaya. There are three sacred baths in different dates when Kumbh Mela goes on. All these three sacred baths are done here in the Kshipra river at Ram Ghat. There are a lot of temples on this ghat but the most important and unique temple is of Chitragupta the Hindu God who keeps the account of all the actions of all human beings. He assists the Yamaraj God of Death in giving punishments and rewards to the soul after death. Ram Ghat is the safest place in Ujjain if one wants to take bath in the Kshipra river. Also, a lot of pooja worship and offerings to deceased ancestors are done here. Earlier Kshipra used to be a perennial river but now after two months of monsoon the water vanishes. Hence a small dam-like structure is built near Ram Ghat to preserve water for 12 months.
17) Jantar Mantar , Ved Shala
Ved Shala or Jantar Mantar in Ujjain is India’s first and foremost observatory. Indian astronomers believe that the first meridian of longitude passes through Ujjain and hence it is also called Greenwich of India. Tropic of Cancer also passes through Ujjain making it the most suitable place for making an observatory and doing research. This observatory was made by Raja Jaisingh of Amer. Along with Ujjain he also made observatories at Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura, and Varanasi. Jantar Mantar has all the constructional instruments which determine the positions of heavenly bodies in space. Nadivalaya Yantra, Yamyotarra – Bhitti Yantra, Shanku Yantra, Nadivalaya Yantra, Samrat Yantra, and Sundial are the major instruments in Ved Shala. Although Jantar Mantar in Ujjain is smaller than those in Delhi and Jaipur, this observatory is most important as the Masonic instruments are still utilized to conduct research. After Raja Jaisingh this observatory remained isolated and poorly maintained for 200 years. Maharaja Madhavrao Scindia renovated it once again in the twentieth century. Ved Shala of Ujjain is located on the Chintaman Road 2.5 km from Ujjain Railway Station near the Kshipra river and can be easily reached via local transport.
My personal favorite places in Ujjain
If I was to take a short tour to Ujjain I would definitely visit
1) Mahakaleshwar Temple 2) Harsiddhi Mata 3) Bhatrhari Caves 4) Kal Bhairav Temple
Other places of Ujjain
Kalidasa Academy, Chaubees Khamba Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Vikram Kirti Mandir, Vikrant Bhairav Shrine, Nagarkot ki Rani Temple
Not to be missed
1) Bhasma Aarti of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirling at 4.00 AM. Devotees need to submit copies of documents and collect passes one day in advance to attend it.
2) Buy Articulate silver jewelry, kum kum and sweets near Gopal Temple Ujjain.
3) Bath in Kshipra river in Monsoon season at Ram Ghat.
4) If you have one day extra then do visit Dewas
There is no problem in Ujjain as far as accommodation is concerned. Around 2000 hotels and dharamshalas are present to suit the budget of everyone. Most of them are present near the Mahakaleshwar Temple. My suggestion would be to book Mahakaleshwar Dharamshala or Harsiddhi Mata Dharmshala well in advance before touring Ujjain.
How to travel around Ujjain?
For full sightseeing, there are government buses. But I would suggest hiring auto-rickshaws or Tata Magic cars for one full day where one can easily reach all the places.
How to reach Ujjain?
Road: Ujjain is located at a distance of 60 km from Indore and well connected to all cities of India.
Railway: Ujjain is a very important railway junction especially for the trains which ply to Indore.
Airport : Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport, Indore.
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