Throughout the history, Ujjain has been the capital city for many rulers and has been called Avantika, Amaravati and Indrapuri in the past. It is also called 'Swarna Shringa' due to the many temples and their towers of gold in the city.
The city is one of the seven cities where a soul can attain salvation or 'moksha'. This city is full of holy places. It contains 28 thirthas, 7 sagara teerthas. In all, the city has around 30 Shiva Lingas and the most important one among them is the Mahakal Jyotirlinga.
Also Read: Here is the story of the second Jyotirlinga
The age of the Mahakal Jyotirlinga is hard to ascertain, but it is thought to be installed before the 3rd or 4th century BC, as the temple finds mention in the literature of that period. The present temple was built in the 18th century.
Sree Mahakaleshwar Temple
The temple is built in three floors, each containing the Lingas known as Mahakaleshwara, Omkareshwara and Nagachandreshwara. The Linga of Nagachandreshwara can be visited only during the festival of Nagapanchami. There is a large lake in the vicinity of the temple and is called the Koti Teertha.
The Jyotirlinga of Mahakaleshwar is huge and it is silver plated. The roof of the garbha-griha is silver plated too. Smaller images of Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya are also placed in the garbha-griha. There is a lamp called the 'Nanda deepa', which is eternally lit and is not allowed to go off. A beautiful metallic statue of Nandi is installed in the hallway.
Legends of Mahakal Jyotirlinga
As with most temples in India, the Mahakal Jyotirlinga Temple is also associated with many stories and legends. Continue reading to learn more about a few of them.
The Story of the Demon Dushan
In the city of Ujjain, there lived a Brahmin man with four of his sons. They were all staunch devotees of Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, the king of demons called Dushan had received a boon from Lord Brahma. He was using this boon to trouble the good people of the world.
The Demon Dushan reached Ujjain and started to torture the Brahmins living there. But they were so engrossed in the worship of the Lord that they were not affected at all. But he persisted and kept attacking them.
This made Lord Shiva very angry. When Dushan attacked the Brahmins the next time, the earth cracked open and Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Mahakal. Lord Mahakal warned Dushan to mend his ways, but he did not pay any attention to it.
This further enraged Lord Mahakal and he therefore burnt Dushan to ashes with just a grunt. But that did not calm the anger of Lord Mahakal. Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and the other Gods appeared and prayed to Lord Shiva to calm him down.
The Story Of A Boy Called Shrikhar
Shrikhar was a boy who lived in the city of Ujjain. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. The King of Ujjain, Chandrashekhar was performing a pooja for Lord Shiva. Shrikhar wanted to join their entourage but was turned away.
Saddened, he ran away into the forest and started praying to Lord Shiva. It was then that he overheard a few people talking about their plan to attack the city of Ujjain. They were from the enemy city and had planned to attack with a huge army.
The boy started praying to Lord Shiva for protection against the brewing trouble. It is said that Lord Shiva appeared and destroyed the enemies of Ujjain. He also promised to stay in the city to offer protection to the residents of the city.
Unique Feature Of The Mahakaleshwar Temple
The Bhasm-Arati is one of the main attractions at the Mahakaleshwar Temple. The Aarti of the Linga happens once every day, early in the morning. After the abhishek of the Linga is performed, the Linga is covered with 'Chitabhasma' - the ash from the cremation grounds. Chitabhasma is thought to be unholy and the scriptures ask humans to bathe and cleanse themselves after coming in contact with the Linga. But when in contact with the Linga, the Chitabhasma becomes holy and sacred.
Festival At The Mahakal Jyotirlinga
The best time to visit the temple is during the Mahashivaratri festival. The occasion is celebrated with great grandeur and is a sight to behold for devotees and tourists alike.