The Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple, located in the ancient city of Ujjain on the side of the Rudra Sagar Lake in the state of Madhya Pradesh, continues to be one of the most sacred and outstanding places of pilgrimage for Hindus till date. The abode of Lord Shiva, the temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, which are considered to be the sacred dwelling place of the Lord. Even in the modern and hectic lifestyles, the temple continues to provide the visitor with an altogether different and unmatched peace of mind and composure.
The temple of Mahakaleshwar is a beautiful and artistic amalgamation of the Maratha, Bhumija and Chalukya styles of architecture. Situated near a lake and set upon a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls, the temple has five levels in all, one of which is underground. The colossal idol of Mahakaleshwar is located below the ground level (Garbhagriha) and is a Dakshina-murti, which means that it is facing the south direction. This unique feature is found only in the Mahakaleshwar Temple from amongst all the twelve Jyotirlingas.
The beautiful temple has the lingams of Omkaresvara and Nagachandresvara installed in the middle and uppermost parts respectively. The idol of Nagachandresvara is open for darshan to the general public only on the occasion of Nag Panchami. A large Kunda, known as Koti Tirtha, can also be found in the compound and is considered to be celestial. To the east of this Kunda lies a huge veranda, in which is the entrance to the path leading to the Garbhagrha, where small sized images of Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati can also be found. The esoteric silver-plate that covers the roof of the Garbhagra adds to the grandeur of the shrine. Classical eulogies in praise of Lord Shiva are exhibited all around the walls. The images of Sri Rama and goddess Avantika are worshipped in a cell in the northern side of the veranda.
All rituals, including Puja-Archana and Abhishekaarati, are regularly performed in the temple all year round. The main festivals celebrated here are:
1. Nitya Yatra: In this ritual, the participatory devotee, referred to as the Yatri, takes a bath in the holy Sipra and then visits Nagachandresvara, Kotesvara, Mahakalesvara, goddess Avantika, goddess Harasiddhi and Agastyesvara for Darshana.
2. Sawari (Procession): The sacred procession of the Almighty passes through the streets of Ujjain on every Monday for some particular time periods. The last Sawari that takes place on the dark fortnight of the Bhadrapada especially draws the attention of lakhs of people and is celebrated with great pomp and show. The procession during the Vijayadashami festival is equally exciting and attractive.
The Bhasm Aarti that takes place in the Mahakaleshwar Temple on a daily basis is a prime attention seeking event. The Aarti commences each day before dawn breaks and is performed to wake up the Divine Lord. During this religious ritual, the idol of the Lord is worshipped with sacred ash brought from the ghats, and the ash is then applied to the lingam before conducting the holy prayers. What adds to the joy and delight of attending this Aarti is that the temple at Mahakaleshwar is the only Jyotirlinga temple where this Aarti is performed.
The tickets for the booking of this Aarti are available online, and you need to apply a day in advance. The applications are accepted only till 12:30 PM, following which the list is declared at 7:00 PM.
1. From the month Chaitra to Ashwin:
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:
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
In case you wish to stay at the temple, the Shree Mahakal Dharmshala and the Pandit Shree Surya Narayan Vyas Dharmshala provide both AC and non AC rooms and can easily be booked online through the official website of the temple. If you are looking at staying at other hotels nearby, the city of Ujjain offers a variety of decent lodging options, which are easily accessible and affordable.
1. It is strongly recommended to stay in at the temple itself, or at a nearby hotel so that you get a chance to witness the mesmerising Bhasm-Aarti and make the best out of your devotional trip.
2. If there is a lot of crowd in the temple, you can purchase a VIP Pass. It will cost you INR 250 per head and will save you from a lot of queues.
3. In case you wish to attend the Bhasm-Aarti ritual, carry along your photo-ID Proof. PAN cards are not accepted.
4. Women and men need to necessarily dress up in a sari and dhoti/sola respectively during the Bhasma-Aarti.
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Do we need to purchase both the tickets. Bhasmarti as well as VIP Darshan Ticket.