Ujjain – A land of Gods
India is said to be the land of spirituality and Ujjain, situated on the banks of sacred River Shipra, is one of the most important holy cities in the country. The city, earlier called Avantika, also plays host to Maha Kumbh Mela every 12 years.
The city has numerous mythological associations. In fact, the place brackets together its name with figures like Ashoka, Kalidasa, Vikramaditya, and the like.
Ujjain is an outstanding blend of legacy of bygone era and modern-day architecture. Known as Shiva's land, the city is an abode of many temples. It is not just acclaimed as one of the seven sacred cities of Hindus, but is also famous for having Mahakaleshwar temple, which is one of the 12 celebrated Jyotirlingas in India. Mahaklala (Lord Shiva) is considered to be the distinctive presiding deity of Ujjain. In fact, locals greet each other by saying ‘Jai Mahakal’.
It was my first trip to Ujjain. I chose to travel by air while going and by rail while returning. The nearest airport to Ujjain is Indore. You can hire a taxi or a bus for the journey from here to Ujjain which takes around 3 hours. If you choose to travel by rail, there are regular trains from all major cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Once you reach Ujjain, shared autos, called tempos, and auto rickshaws could be seen plying inside the city.
There are a number of hotels to choose from in Ujjain and most of them are budget category. However, finding a good hotel is a task for those who are new to the city. Cleanliness as well as food are major issues in the city, which is flanked by tourists in all seasons.
Whether one is suffering from <i>Mangal Dosh, Kal Sarp Yog</i>, or any other <i>dasha</i>, Ujjain is the answer to all your woes. A number of priests, known as <i>Pandas</i> here, are here at your service, promising solution to all your problems. Most of the tourists come here to perform pujas of different kinds.
The glory of Mahakaleshwar temple is hard to explain. The 'shivalingam' of this temple is believed to be 'swayambhu' (born of itself). The idol of Mahakaleshwar is facing the South, which is a unique feature. The idol of Omkareshwar Shiva is in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. To the west, north and east are the images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya. The image of Nandi is to the south. A huge fair is held near the temple on the day of Mahashivaratri.
The temple is divided into five levels and one of them is underground. The way to this section of the temple is lit up with brass lamps.
One should try and participate in <i>Bhasma Aarti</i>, which takes place at 4:00 am everyday, which is an experience of a lifetime. One has to get a booking done a day ahead to perform the <i>Aarti</i>. Please ensure to carry an ID card to get the booking pass.
Men have to drape just a <i>dhoti</i> and women must don a new saree if they want to attend the event. Wallets, purses and leather belts are not allowed inside the temple. Lockers are available outside the temple to submit the belongings. One can get Shiva <i>Abhishek</i> done at the temple at any time. A lot of Pandas are there who charge an amount to get this done.
This temple looks upon a vast expanse of River Shipra waters. Known as the birthplace of Mars, the place was in ancient times famous for a clear view of the planet. I was amazed to see the number of people who come here to get rid of their Mangal Dosha. Most of them were young boys and girls, who were Mangliks and were there to assuage Mangal Graha.
Another famous temple in Ujjain is Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir, where one can learn Sanskrit language as well as astrology. The temple, situated above the tank near the Mahakaleshwar temple, enshrines a massive sculpture of Lord Ganesha.
Kal Bhairava temple is another interesting place to visit. Liquor is offered as part of the ritual to Kal Bhairava. The bottles can be purchased from outside the temple. Some believe that journey to Ujjain is said to be incomplete if you don’t visit this temple.
Other major places to visit in Ujjain are Chintaman Ganesh Temple, Harsiddhi Temple, Sandipani Ashram, Gadkalika Temple, Gopal Mandir Temple, Navagraha Mandir (Triveni), Chaubis Khamba, Nagarkot Ki Rani Temple, Rama-Janardana Mandir, Rumi ka Makbara, Vikram Kirti Mandir, Bhartrihari Caves, Kailadeh Palace, and Observatory (Veda Shala).
The visit to Ujjain, <i>in toto</i>, is an experience of spirituality and divinity.
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