Ujjain – holy temple town known for Kumbhmela

Ujjain – one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus is a religious tourist destination on the bank of River Shipra. This temple town of Madhya Pradesh is revered as one of the holiest town of India. This holy city with a long and rich history is one of the most visited pilgrim destination of the Hindus. Maha Kumbh – held once in twelve years at Ujjain is visited by pilgrims and tourists from around the world. This holy and sacred festival makes Ujjain one of the most visited and sought after pilgrimage destination of Hindus from around the world.

The fact that the city has a long and varied history is evidenced from its various architectural remains, including several damaged sculptures, monasteries, ruined temples, old remains of foundations of houses, ancient bones, skeletons, coins, terracotta figurines, beads and semi-precious stones.

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Procession during Maha Kumbh Mela at Ujjain

Where is Ujjain?

The ancient city of Ujjain is located on the Malwa Plateau in Madhya Pradesh. The city of Ujjain is the administrative centre of Ujjain District and Ujjain Division.

About Ujjain

The origin of Ujjain is believed to be related to the mythological legend of (Samudra Manthan) churning of the ocean of milk by the gods and the demons to discover the pot of nectar. Ujjain has a rich history dating back to the time of the Aryan settlers. Even the name of Ujjain has been prominently mentioned in the Buddhist literature as one of the four great powers along with Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha. Ujjain has even been mentioned as Ujjaini in the great epic of Mahabharata. The city has always been in the thick of action from the era of mythology and pre-history to present day.

The rich legacy of Ujjain is further evidenced from the fact that Ujjain was a major centre of mathematical and astronomical research in the 6th and 7th centuries. The famous mathematicians who worked there included, – Brahmagupta, Varahamihira and Bhaskaracharya. Great Indian poet Kalidasa’s name has been inextricably linked with Ujjayini through his immortal poem ‘Meghdoot’.

Ujjain boasts of a long and varied history that can be seen in its magnificent historical monuments and ancient temples. This holy pilgrimage city of the Hindus is believed to be so sacred that taking a dip in the holy river Shipra during the Kumbh or Ardh Kumbh becomes a mission of their life. In spite of the fact that there might not be much to do here except explore some of its well-kept treasures, yet it remains an interesting place to visit.

Ujjain Sightseeing

The temple town of Ujjain has a number of prominent and popular sightseeing spots, most of which are temples of various gods and goddesses. Description of a few of them is given below.

Mahakaleshwar Temple

The temple of Mahakaleshwar, dedicated to the presiding deity of time, Shiva, is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India. The awe inspiring lingam and the majestic temple seem to dominate the lives of the people of Ujjain. Hindu pilgrims from around the country visit this majestic temple of Mahakaleshwar throughout the year and especially during Shivaratri festival.

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Mahakaleshwar temple of Ujjain

The Mahakaleshwar temple is located near a lake, having five levels, one of which is underground. The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls. The temple with soaring shikaras and ornate walls has lingam believed to be swyambhu (born of itself) and the idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be Dakshina Murti or south faced. This unique distinction of dakshina murti worship, upheld in the tantric tradition makes this temple of Mahakaleshwar unique among the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesha, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum respectively. To the south is the image of Nandi. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey opens for darshan only on the day of Nagpanchami. Another unique feature of Mahakaleshwar temple is that, it is believed that prasada offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

Harsiddhi Temple

It is one of the most prominent temples of Ujjain, which enshrines the famous image of goddess Annapurna seated between the idols of Maha Laxmi and Maha Saraswati. Built during Maratha period, the temple exhibits prominent Maratha style of architecture. Dedicated to Harasiddhi, a name assumed by Mother Gowri it is the sixth of the 18 Sakti-Pithas and is a popular pilgrimage destination among Hindus. With idol of Annapurna painted in dark vermilion and Sri Yantra, the symbol of power or Shakti, enshrined in the temple, the temple is considered to be a sacred place for the Hindus. The beautiful lamp stands of the Harasidhhi Temple needs special mention.

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Kal Bhairava temple of Ujjain

Kal Bhairava Temple

It is one of the most famous and unique temples of Ujjain built by the Marathas. The temple, which resembles a fort, is unique in the sense that the main offering to the deity is wine, and this is also the only Prasad given to the devotees.

Bhairav is a fierce materialization of Lord Shiva; the Destroyer of the Universe is the main deity of the temple. A Shiva lingam is enshrined under a banyan tree inside the periphery of the temple opposite Nandi the Bull. The Kal Bhairava Temple is famous for Tantric style of worship in which wine is offered to Kal Bhairav as the main offering. Tantric are unorthodox secret cult with strong black magic overtones. Many sadhus or holy men with ash-smeared bodies and long matted hair are easily spotted around this temple.

Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir

It is another unique temple of Ujjain having a colossal statue of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God. In the center of the Ganeshji temple lies an exceptional statue of Hanuman with five faces. The five faces symbolize courage, loyalty, devotion, strength, and righteousness. The Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir is situated near the reservoir of the Mahakaleshwar Temple and is visited by tourists as well as devotees from around the country, all throughout the year.

Bhartrihari Caves

Situated on the bank of the Shipra River, Bhartrihari Caves is a popular tourist destination of Ujjain. Sage Bhartrihari, the step brother of Vikramaditya is believed to have meditated here after renouncing worldly life. His famous works, Shringarshataka, Vairagyashataka, and Nitishataka, were possibly written during the days when he lived in this caves. . Every year, thousands of devotees frequent the place, to pay homage to the poet-prophet. There is a small temple inside the caves, which is considered as a holy shrine for people belonging to the Nath community. In fact, Natha Sadhus camp in huge tents that surround the caves and one can often notice them sitting around ritual fires. The ancient site of Pir Matsyendranath located nearby heightens the religious aura of the place surrounding the caves.

Kaliadeh Palace

It is one of the most prominent and popular sightseeing destination of Ujjain. Situated 8 Km north of the town of Ujjain, Kaliadeh Palace was built over a Hindu Sun Temple, on an island in the River Shipra in 1458 by the Sultans of Mandu. The elegantly looked palace is a beautiful example of Persian architecture in India. The glorious landscape of the flowing river on both sides of the palace and the man-made tanks and channels, with gurgling of water presents a spectacular scene. Two Persian inscriptions record the visits of Akbar and Jehangir to this palace. The palace was broken by the by Pindari thugs, the looters from neighboring Pindar, and was restored by Madhav Rao Scindia in 1920.

Navagraha Mandir

This is another unique temple of Ujjain and is considered to be a must visit destination in the tour of this temple town of Madhya Pradesh. Dedicated to the nine Planets of Our Solar system, the Navgraha Mandir of Ujjain reiterated the fact that astronomy and astrology share an ancient bond in India. Situated at the confluence of the Shipra and two other rivulets, signifies that each planet exercises an influence on the lives of people and hence need to be conciliated to avoid a negative effect. Worshippers offer flowers, coconuts, vermilion and especially mustard oil to the idol of Saturn, which is considered to exercise the most negative influence. The temple attracts large crowds on new moon days falling on Saturdays.

Vedh Shala observatory

Tour of Ujjain is considered incomplete without a visit to this ancient observatory constructed by Maharaja Sawai Raja Jaisingh of Jaipur between 1725 and 1730. Apart from being a brave fighter and a politician, Raja Jai Singh was an exceptional scholar, who studied books on Astor-Mathematics available in the Persian and Arabic languages at that time. Based on his own knowledge and experience, he set up observatories in Ujjain, Jaipur, Delhi, Mathura and Varanasi under the patronage of king Muhammad Shah, under whom he served as the Governor of Malwa.

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Ancient observatory of Ujjain – Ved Shala

In local diction this observatory is called as Jantar Mantar, which is a plagiaristic form of Yantra and Mantra. Vedh Shala observatory situated at the south-east of the town is a surreal open-air observatories consisting of 4 monuments. The first one is a 22 ft. high Samrata Yantra, which was used to calculate the time. The equinoctial days are calculated with the help of the second instrument by name of Nadi Walaya Yantra. The position of stars and planets are calculated with the help of the third equipment, Dignasha Yantra. Bhitti Yantra helps to calculate the turning down of the Sun and the distance of the zenith. Two marble-topped sun dials in the small garden of the observatory; one a conventional sun dial, the other made up of two large quadrants split by a tall staircase whose shadow tells the time is bound to evoke a sense of pride for its builder. The observatory houses a planetarium and a telescope. The telescope is used to observe the moon, Mars, and Jupiter and is a hot spot for stargazers, tourists, students of astronomy and curious public.

Chintaman Ganesh Temple

This ancient stone temple dating back to 11th -12th centuries is highly revered and one of the most visited shrines of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. Built by the Paramara Kings of Malwa, the temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha who is conventionally worshipped here as Chintaharan Ganesh meaning “the redeemer from worldly anxieties”. Situated in the South-west corner of city Ujjain, this marvelous shrine in white, enshrines the idol of Lord Ganesha, which is believed to be swayamabhu (born of itself) and is flanked on both sides by his companions, Siddhi and Ridhhi.

Exquisitely carved stone pillars in the assembly hall needs special mention. Though the very appearance of the temple suggests that it belongs to prehistoric times, yet it has not lost its charm; in fact, it has become unique with its ancient origin and look. The temple also embraces the idol of Lord Vishnu in its vicinity. Here, Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu are worshipped together with great devotion.

Gopal Temple

Built in the 19th century, by Bayajibai Shinde, this huge temple dedicated to lord Krishna, is another popular sightseeing destination of Ujjain. Bayajibai Shinde, who happened to be Maharaja Daulat Rao Scindia’s queen, constructed this magnificent historical edifice in Madhya Pradesh which boasts of a glorious religious and legendary legacy that draws innumerable tourists at regular intervals. The marble-spire structure is an excellent example of Maratha architecture. The silver plated door of the inner sanctum is the same door, which had been carried away by Mahmud of Ghazni from the Somnath temple of Gujarat. Mahadji Scindia recovered the door and now it has been installed in this temple.

Some other prominent sightseeing destinations of Ujjain includes, Chaubis Khamba Temple, Pir Matsyendranath, Durgadas Ki Chhatri, Siddhavat, Sandipani Ashram, Gadkalika, Mangalnath and a few others.

How to reach Ujjain?

By Air

Ujjain does not have an airport of its own. Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in Indore, at a distance of about 55 Km is the nearest airport to Ujjain. Major airlines like Air Deccan, Jet Airways, Air Sahara, Go Air, Alliance Air, Spice Jet, Kingfisher Airlines and Indian Airlines connect Indore to major Indian cities like, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Goa, Nagpur, Ranchi, Raipur, Patna, Vizag and Kolkata.

By Rail

Ujjain is an important railway station on the Western Railway network and is well connected with most of the major cities of India. It lies on the Bhopal-Nagada rail route.

By Road

Ujjain is well connected by state road transport public bus services. Major roadways like Agra Road, Dewas Road, Indore Road, Maksi Road and Badnagar Road link Ujjain to other places of India. Good motorable roads connect Ujjain with Ahmedabad (402 km), Bhopal (183 km), Bombay (655 km), Delhi (774 km), Gwalior (451 km), Indore (53 km), Khajuraho (570 km), Mandu (158 km) and other major Indian cities.

Where to stay at Ujjain?

Ujjain being an important pilgrimage destination has a number of hotels that are mostly decent and pocket-friendly. An account of only a few them are given below.

Hotel Shanti Palace

This is a 3 star hotel located on University Road, near Madhav club, Ujjain. It is one of the best staying options in Ujjain at budgeted price. The hotel has 24 air-conditioned rooms with all modern and basic amenities. The hotel has an in-house multi-cuisine restaurant that needs special mention.

To know more about this Ujjain hotel and to avail its online booking facility, just click HERE. To book rooms in this hotel, you can also contact at : 0734-2533302/03/04.

Hotel Shipra Residency

It is one of the most popular and well known hotels of Ujjain. This 3 star hotel is located at University Road, near Madhav Club. This star category hotel in budget price offers well-maintained accommodation required for a comfortable stay. With accommodation units, categorized as AC Rooms, AC Deluxe Rooms and AC Suites, Hotel Shipra Residency is an ideal place, offering the best of amenities, at pocket friendly prices.

To book rooms in this hotel, contact at : 0734 – 2551495

Hotel Ashray

Located at a distance of 1 Km from Ujjain Railway station and 1.5 Km from Dewas Bus Stand of Ujjain, it is another good hotel for the discerning traveler. There are both AC and non AC rooms and suites to suit your budget. Providing a feeling of home stay, the hotel is quite popular among tourists and travelers.

To know more about this Ujjain hotel and to avail its online booking facility, just click HERE. To book rooms in this hotel, one can contact at : 0734-2519301/2519302/2519303.

Hotel Grand Tower

Located at Vikram Marg near Clock Tower, Ujjain it is another good staying option. With well maintained and well furnished AC and non AC rooms, this particular hotel is an ideal option for accommodation.

To know more about this Ujjain hotel and to avail its online booking facility, just click HERE. To book rooms in this hotel, one can also contact at : 0734 – 255 3699.

Other popular hotels that too are good staying options includes :

Hotel Surana Palace (booking contact number – 0734-2530045).

Hotel Ajay (booking contact number – 0734-2550856).

Hotel Anand Palace (booking contact number – 0734-2533211).

Hotel Atlas (booking contact number – 0734-2560473).

Hotel Kabir (booking contact number – 0734-2556191).

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About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.

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  1. Rajat says:

    Thanks for such great informations. Keep up the good work.

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