Ujjain, situated on the right bank of River Kshipra in Madhya Pradesh is one of the seven sacred and holy cities of Hindus. Its literary, mythological, historical and geographical importance is chronicled in religious and history books and famed pieces of literature. 

The illustrious kings of the Gupta dynasty whose reign is considered as the golden period of India belonged to Ujjain. Earlier known as Ujjayni and Avantika, it was the ruling kingdom of the father of emperor Asoka. It was during this time that the Hindu Geography’s first meridian of longitude was marked. It was the capital of the great king Vikramaditya in whose court the Sanskrit literary genius Kalidas was a member. The famous mathematicians Brahmagupta and Varahamihira were born here.

Ujjain is the place where Lord Krishna, along with his brother Balarama and friend Sudama, received his education from Maharshi Sandipani.

Ujjain is also one of the four sites that host the Kumbh Mela (also called the Simhastha), a mass pilgrimage that attracts millions of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world once in 12 years.

The majestic Mahakaleshwar, the all-powerful Mahadev temple, located in the heart of Ujjain in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls is very special in the sense that it is dakshinamurti (south facing), a unique feature upheld by tantric traditions and is one of the 12 celebrated Jyotirlinga shrines in India which is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself) deriving currents of power (shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams in India which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.

At Mahakal you must ensure that you attend the ‘Bhasm- Aarti’, the first ritual conducted every day at 4 am at the temple. Fresh Bhasm (Ash) is brought from Shamshan (cremation place) and poured on Shivling – a unique feature nowhere seen in the world.

There are two ways to gain entry to the temple to watch Bhasm-Aarti –- one is through the free entry line, where you don’t have to pay except for any offerings that you want to take in. The other is through a Pass issued a day before by an authorized office on application between 12 pm and 2 pm, which lets you go into a shorter line and helps you gain quicker entry to the sanctum. Apart, the temple is open for regular visitors all through the day.

Besides the most revered Mahakal temple, there is the Kal Bhairav temple where worship of Kal Bhairava is carried out with hundreds of devotees daily offering liquor to the deity. It is amazing as hundreds of litres of Indian and foreign liquor is offered but it is unknown where this huge amount of liquor goes. The temple is also noteworthy for its exquisite painting in the Malwa style, traces of which still remain.

Chintamani Ganesh is a temple of considerable antiquity and the idol here is believed to be self-formed. There is the Mangalnath temple which is regarded as the birthplace of Mars according to the Skanda Purana. Mangalanath commands a panoramic view of the Kshipra. Mahadev is worshipped at the temple.

There is also Harsiddhi Temple of Goddess Annapurna, Siddhavat temple, Gopal mandir, Pir Matsyendranath temple, Gadkalika, ISKCON temple and Navgraha ka Mandir (Triveni), which are some of the famous religious places that bless Ujjain.

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