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Rai Shyam
Aug 29, 20228 min read

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga | History | Legends | Architecture | FAQs

Mahakaleshwar Temple is among the most visited Hindu temples in Ujjain. In Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain district, it is situated close to Rudra Sagar Lake. As one of the top 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, the prominent Hindu pilgrimage site is significant. Mahakaal is the Lord of time and Death. 

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga

Additionally, the Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple is mentioned in numerous classical Indian poetry works. These writings claim that the temple had been incredibly opulent and generous. Stones were used to construct the platform and foundation. On the wooden pillars, the temple was supported. Prior to the Gupta era, there were no shikaras in the temples. Most temple roofs used to be flat. This temple was referred to as "Niketana" by Kalidasa in Raghuvansham, possibly as a result of this. In close proximity to the temple was the king's palace. Kalidasa provides a wonderful description of the Mahakala temple in the first section of the Meghadutam (Purva Megha).

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What are Jyotirlingas?

According to the Shiva Purana, Brahma and Vishnu previously disagreed about who was the creator's highest being. Shiva used the jyotirlinga, an infinite shaft of light, to pierce the three realms and put them to the test. In order to reach the light's end, Vishnu and Brahma choose to move up and down the pillar, respectively. While Vishnu admitted defeat, Brahma made up the idea that he had found the end. Brahma was condemned by Shiva, who manifested as the second pillar of light, who said that while Vishnu would be worshipped forever, Brahma would have no place in ceremonies. Shiva partially manifests from the supreme partless reality known as the jyotirlinga. Shiva, therefore, emerged in the jyotirlinga shrines as a blazing column of light. These Jyotirlingas are viewed as various Shiva incarnations. Hindu worshippers from all over the country travel to each of the 12 Jyotirlingas, which are strategically placed shrines, as part of their spiritual pilgrimage.

History and Legends:

The city of Ujjain, known to the Puranas as Avantika, was renowned for its beauty and its role as the centre of devotion. It was also one of the principal cities where students travelled to study the holy scriptures.

The story says that Chandrasen, the ruler of Ujjain, was a devout follower of Lord Shiva and always offered adoration to him. A little kid from a nearby farm named Shrikhar once heard the King chant the Lord's name while he was roaming about the royal grounds. He immediately ran to the temple to join the monarch in prayer. However, the guards forcibly removed him from the area and dumped him close to the River Kshipra on the city's outskirts. Around this time, rivals of Ujjain, particularly King Ripudaman and King Singhaditya of the nearby kingdoms, resolved to assault the Kingdom and seize its resources.

When Shrikhar learned about this, he began to pray, and Vridhi, a local priest, also heard about it. After being horrified to learn this, he began to pray to Lord Shiv inside River Kshipra at his sons' pleading. The Kings made the decision to attack and were successful; with the aid of the formidable demon Dushan, who was given the gift of invisibility by Lord Brahma, they pillaged the city and attacked every Shiva devotee. Lord Shiva manifested in his Mahakal form and vanquished King Chandrasen's foes after hearing the cries of His afflicted worshippers.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva decided to settle in the city, take on the role of the Kingdom's supreme god, guard it against outside threats, and provide for all of His devotees at Shrikhar and Vridhi's request. From that moment on, Lord Shiva lived as Mahakal, the light of Shiva, in a Lingam that spontaneously sprang into being using the forces of the Lord and His spouse, Parvati. Additionally, the Lord bestowed blessings upon his followers and promised that anyone who revered Him in this form would be free from the fear of death and sickness. Additionally, they would get the riches of this world and the Lord's personal protection.

Over time, there were numerous attacks on the Ujjain Mahakal Temple, which was eventually destroyed. But in the 19th century, the Scindia clan assumed control of its repair and maintenance. 

The legend of Mahakaleshwar:

The primary deity revered in the Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple is Lord Shiva, sometimes referred to as Maheshwara. The Hindu trinity is composed of Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara, with Lord Shiva being referred to as Maheshwara. According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva is the God of Time, and the name Mahakaleshwar means "Lord of Time." Another name for Lord Shiva is Mahakal. Two traditions of Lord Shiva being referred to as Mahakaleshwar are held in high regard by the natives.

According to one of these myths, Sati stepped into the fire when her father, Daksha, objected to her union with Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva learned about it, he became enraged and performed the Dance of Death, or Tandava. As a result, he earned the names Mahakal or Mahakaleshwar and was also referred to as the God in the past. The alternative tale claims that when the demon Dushan injured Shiva worshippers, he became enraged and split the world in half, earning him the name Mahakaleshwar.

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple Layout Architecture:

Another major feature of the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is its architecture, which is a flawless fusion of Bhumija, Maratha, and Chalukya traditions. It is also worthwhile to visit the sikhara, the idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev, and the statues of Ganesh, Parvati, Lord Rama, Avantika, and Karttikeya. This magnificent temple was constructed close to a lake and has five floors. On the walls of this majestic temple are inscriptions glorifying Lord Shiva. The description of each level, which is dedicated to a different God, is given here.

The Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake. Shiv, the ruling deity, is thought to be Swayambhu and derives currents of power (Shakti) from within itself, as opposed to other images and lingams that are ritually constructed and endowed with mantra-shakti. Shiv is represented by a lingam. Mahakaleshwar's idol is referred to as "Dakshinamurti," which denotes that it is facing south. The tantric shivnetra tradition recognises this as a special characteristic that can only be found in the Mahakaleshwar temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. One of the temple's five floors is underground. The lingams of the gods Nagachandreshwar, Omkareshwar, and Mahakaleshwar are erected on the first, second, and third floors, respectively. Visitors can only see the Nagachandreshwar lingam during the Naag Panchami festival.

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

Koti Tirth, a very sizable Kund (pond), is another feature of the temple complex. The Kund was constructed in sarvatobhadra style. Both the Kund and its water are regarded as being extremely heavenly. Numerous representations of the sculptural splendor of the temple constructed during the Parmar period may be observed on the path next to the Kund's stairs. A sizable verandah with the entrance to the walkway leading to the "Garbh-graha" is located to the east of the Kund.

Images of the goddess Avantika and Sri Ram are worshiped in a cell on the verandah's northern side. Numerous tiny Shaivite temples constructed during the Shinde era can be found on the southern flank of the main shrine of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple. The Vraddha Mahakaleshwar, Anadi Kalpeshwar, and Saptarishi temples stand out among them as outstanding examples of architecture.

The Mahakaleshwar lingam is enormous. The shrine is made even more magnificent by the silver-plated Naag Jalaadhaari and the esoteric, etched silver plate covering the roof of the Garbh-graha. In addition to the Jyotirlinga, the Garbha-graha contains lovely miniature representations of Ganesh, Kartikeya, and Parvati. Classical eulogies in adoration of Lord Shiv are displayed all over the walls, and the lamp (AkhandDeep) inside the temple is always burning.

A large hall with a very attractive metal-coated stone Nandi in the sitting position is located on the exit path. The expansiveness of this massive temple complex is greatly enhanced by the courtyard, which is just across from the Omkareshwar temple. Two pillared projections facing the East are immediately adjacent to this temple, substantially enhancing its architectural design. The architecture of the Mahakaleshwar temple is a well planned fusion of Maratha, Chalukya, and Bhumija styles. The Shikhar, or dome, is extremely unusual because it has mini-sringas. Its upper portion has formerly had a gold plating.

Bhasma Aarti:

The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Bhasma aarti, which takes place every day at 4 am, is one of the main draws of Mahakaleshwar Mandir. The divine ceremony is applying holy ash that has been taken from the ghats to the idol while reciting religious chants. Locals advise against visiting the Mahakaleshwar temple and skipping the Bhasma Aarti, therefore you must go if you want to see this impressive ceremony. This aarti is only conducted at the Mahakaleshwar Temple, which is a Jyotirlinga temple. 

Bhasma Aarti

Other Celebrations:

Festivals are formally observed in the Mahakaleshwar Temple, and many visitors schedule their trips during that time. Nitya Yatra and Sawari are the two major festivals that are observed at this temple. The temples' festivities consist of:

Nitya Yatra:

The primary Yatri of this event bathes in the sacred Sipra and then visits the idols of the goddesses Mahakalesvara, Harasiddhi, Nagachandresvara, goddess Avantika, Kotesvara, and Agastyesvara to ask for blessings.


Every Monday, a religious procession travels through the streets of Ujjain. This procession honors Lord Shiva, and the one that takes place during the Bhadrapada fortnight is enthusiastically commemorated.

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple Details:

To reach the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple:

By air:

Devi Ahilyabai Holkar International Airport, Indore is the nearest airport. The temple is located almost 60 km away from the airport.

By Train:

There is a railhead in the city. From well-known cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Varanasi, Nagpur, Patna, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, one can take a direct train.

By Road:

The temple is located around 55 km away from Indore, you can travel there by bus or taxi.


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Timings Of Mahakaleshwar Temple Ujjain: 3 am – 11 pm