Ujjain is the fifth largest city in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, and is also known as one of the most ancient cities in India, with high religious and spiritual values. Traveling in Ujjain will give one great insight into India’s ancient culture and heritage and you will experience how today’s people, living in and outside of this city, are beautifully connected with their ancient history.
This ancient city is often called the “Greenwich of India” because the first meridian of longitude passes through it. Starting from ancient Vedic times to today’s modern era, Indian astronomers are of the same opinion that the Tropic of Cancer passes through the city of Ujjain. If you find yourself visiting the city, take along this list of the top places to go and things to do and enjoy Ujjain’s rich history and culture!
1. Visit the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga (Mahakaleshwar Temple)
The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 prominent Jyotirlingams, or devotional objects dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, in India. The temple of Mahakaleshwar is located in the ancient city of Ujjain, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity here in this temple, in the form of a lingam, which is considered “swayambhu” (meaning self-manifested and not made by human hands). Numerous tales are linked with the natural creation of the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga.
Address: Jaisinghpura, Ujjain – 456006 Madhya Pradesh
Contact: +91 734 255 0563
Important Festival: Maha Shivaratri
2. Watch the worship at the Kal Bhairav Temple
Just 5.6 km (3.5 miles) away from the temple of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, the Kal Bhairav Temple is dedicated to Kal Bhairav (Lord Shiva’s violent manifestation, associated with annihilation) and he is considered the guardian deity of the city. Hundreds of devotees visit the temple every day, with the hope that their prayers will be answered by Kal Bhairav. Another attractive thing here to see is the offering of liquor to this presiding deity.
If you wish to make an offering of hard liquor to Kal Bhairav, you can purchase it from the local stalls outside the temple. The surprising unsolved mystery of this temple is that no one knows where the liquor goes after it is being offered by the priest in front of the devotee. You simply hand over the liquor to the priest who is standing nearby and he will put the contents into a shallow plate that is placed near the mouth of the idol. You will be stupefied with amazement as the liquor level begins to disappear into the deity’s mouth and, finally, the priest will withdraw an empty plate.
Kal Bhairav Temple
Address: Kala Bhairava Mandir, Ujjain – 456003, Madhya Pradesh
3. Visit the Maharshi Sandipani Ashram, where Lord Krishna received his education
The Maharshi Sandipani Ashram is one of the most famous tourist spots and is located around 2 km (1.2 miles) outside Ujjain. This place has a great value to Hindus because it is perfectly described in the 5,000-year-old text, the Mahabharata, as the location where the great guru Sandipani used to teach Lord Krishna and his brother Lord Balarama.
The ashram is now a temple, where you will get to see several inscriptions that are said made by Sandipani himself, thousands of years back. Ankapata, an area near the ashram, is believed to have been the exact location where Lord Krishna used to wash his writing tablets.
Maharshi Sandipani Ashram
Address: Ankapat Kshetra, Mangalnath Road, Ujjain – 456001, Madhya Pradesh
4. Pir Matsyendranath Samadhi – Where Gorakhnath’s guru left his mortal body
The Pir Matsyendranath Samadhi is a very important place for the saints of the Nath sect and for yogis and meditation practitioners. Matsyendranath was the guru of the great enlightened Nath saint, Gorakhnath, who was the “Rastradeva” or Lord of the State of Nepal and whose name appears on numerous pieces of Nepalese currency.
Nath followers believe that Matsyendranath left his body through his yogic power at this place, around 1,000 years ago. Followers of the Nath sect refer to their enlightened saints as Pir and Muslims also call their high level saints Pir. Hence, this place is equally respected and worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims. The Samadhi of Pir Matsyendranath is a beautiful place on the bank of the Shipra (Kshipra) River and it is around 4 km (2.5 miles) from Ujjain Railway Station.
Pir Matsyendranath Samadhi
Address: Near Raja Bharthari Cave, Ujjain – 456006, Madhya Pradesh
5. Mangalnath Temple - Known ss Mars’ birthplace
Located on the bank of the Shipra (Kshipra) River, the Mangalnath Temple is dedicated to Mahadeva or Lord Shiva. It is one of the most active temples in Ujjain as it is visited by hundreds of devotees, every day. The Hindu text, the Matsya Purana says that this is also the birthplace of the planet Mars (in Sanskrit, Mangal).
The surroundings of the temple are very serene and it is located in a spot where ancient Hindu geographical science claims that the most primitive meridian passes through the planet Earth.
Address: Mangalnath Temple, Mangalnath Marg, Ujjain, 456006, Madhya Pradesh
Contact: +91 734-2584208
6. Visit Kaliadeh Palace and be reminded of Akbar & Jahangir
Located on the banks of the Shipra (Kshipra) River, Kaliadeh Palace is known as a famous historical landmark that was built by the Sultan of Mandu, in 1458. Here you can see the central dome, which is a wonderful example of Persian architecture, as well as large manmade water tanks and channels.
Persian inscriptions inside the palace, in one of the corridors, records a visit by the Mughal Emperors Akbar and Jahangir. The palace was damaged during an attack by the Pindaris, during the Pindari War, but later restored in 1920 by the Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia of Gwalior.
Address: Kaliadeh Palace, Ujjain – 456006, Madhya Pradesh
7. The Raja Bharthari Cave (Cave of the King Barthari)
Raja or King Bharthari was the ruler of Ujjain in the 1 century BC. He is also known as Saint Bharthari, for renouncing worldly pleasures and becoming a follower of Guru Gorakhnath. He gave up the throne to his younger brother, Vikramaditya, who is characterized as an ideal king and remembered as a legendary emperor of ancient India.
After renouncing his throne, Bharthari became a Nath monk and simultaneously a poet in the Sanskrit language. It is said that he had spent a lot of time here in this cave, during his penance, and was involved in meditation and yoga. Apart from his cave, you will get to see the caves of other ancient Nath Saints, where everyone was involved in penance.
Raja Bharthari Cave
Address: Raja Bharthari Cave, Ujjain – 456006, Madhya Pradesh
8. Ram Ghat – The place where Kumbh Mela takes place
Ram Ghat is an extremely popular venue along the bank of the Shipra (Kshipra) River and famous for its Kumbh Mela, or Hindu pilgrimage, that occurs every 12 years in Ujjain city. At this time, millions of people, including religious saints from all sects, gather here at the ghat, which is known as the oldest bathing ghat in Ujjain.
The regular aarti, or worship with fire, is very popular and many tourists gather to see it. The best time to visit Ram Ghat in the summer season is in the evening, when you can take a bath and experience the beautiful ceremony.
Address: Jaisinghpura, Ujjain 456001, Madhya Pradesh
9. Harsiddhi Temple – The 13th Shakti-Peetha
Harsiddhi Temple is not only one of the most ancient places in India, it is the 13th Shakti-peetha, or holy places of cosmic power, among the 51 Shakti-peethas spread across India. Hence, this is a very sacred place for the Tantrics (followers of the Tantra sect). The location of this temple is awesome – it is situated between Ram Ghat in the west and Mahakal in the east. Hence, it is considered as a big source of energy and power for meditation practitioners, Yogis and Tantra performers.
It is strongly believed that the presiding deity, the Divine Mother Harsiddhi, fulfills the desires of all devotees and pilgrims, irrespective of religion or nationality and whoever comes into her temple with complete faith will have their prayers answered. You can easily reach Harsiddhi Temple by taking a local hired vehicle (like an auto rickshaw). There is also bus service available to and from the temple.
Address: Jaisinghpura, Ujjain 456006, Madhya Pradesh
How to reach Ujjain
Reaching Ujjain is very easy as it is connected to other cities by air, road and rail. Regular buses are available from various nearby cities to Ujjain, but traveling by train from any Indian city will be more comfortable and affordable. Ujjain is just 55 km (34.2 miles) away from Indore Airport and 172 km (107 miles) away from Bhopal (the capital city of Madhya Pradesh). Both Indore and Bhopal are connected to all major Indian cities by air.
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