Ujjain – Sri Mahakaleshwar Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Mahakaleshwar Temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Mahakaleshwar

Ambal: Parvathi


Shiva is worshipped as Mahakala in Ujjain and the MahakalaShiva Temple in Ujjain is counted third among the twelve Jyotirlingas. There is an interesting story which explains about the Mahakaleshwar form of Shiva – a fierce form which is beyond imagination and description. The story took place when Ujjain was known as Avanti and is mentioned in the Shiva Purana.

Once there lived a pious man in Avanti who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He had four sons and the family worshipped Lord Shiva daily. Not far away from their home in a hill named Ratanmala there lived an Asura (demon) named Dooshana. Demon Dooshana hated all forms of Shiva and vedic worship. He went around killing people who worshipped Shiva. Soon Dooshana came to know about the family in Avanti that worshipped Shiva. Soon the demon arrived with his army and attacked the city. But the family continued to worship Shiva in the form of a Shivling.

Finally, the demon and soldiers reached the home of the pious man and started hurling weapons. The demon broke open the door and advanced towards the Shivling by raising a sword. Suddenly, there was a deafening sound and there appeared a dreadful form beyond explanation before the Shivling. A single glance by the Mahakala form of Shiva burned the demon and his army into ashes. Uncontrollable and unsatisfied, the form of Shiva gave a huge roar; the entire universe trembled in fear.

The family was but delighted to see Lord Shiva and continued chanting his glory and prayers. Before his true devotees, Shiva is always the Bholonath – one can be easily influenced. Hearing the prayers of his devotees, His anger subsided.

But the family who was aware of the dangers of the world realized that the form of Shiva as Mahakala was essential for peace and prosperity and asked him to reside in this form at Ujjain. Since then Shiva remains at Ujjain MahakalaTemple as Mahakala – the one with the power to annihilate all living and non-living.

As per another legend. The most popularly accepted legend is that of the demon Dushana who was killed by Shiva who appeared in the form of light and took the form of a linga in response to the prayers of the people of Ujjain. Apparently, Kalidasa’s epics give a detailed description of the temple as it was in those days. Of course, the temple was plundered by invaders and was later re-built by other kings. The present temple was built during the reign of Peshwa Bajirao I.

The temple is a three tiered one, with Mahakal at the lowest level, which is actually below the ground. At the middle (ground) level is a temple to Omkareshwar, and over it is a shrine to Nagachandreshwara. This is an interesting shrine which is opened only on Nagapanchami day every year

The temple is a huge one with a pond at the centre, from which water is drawn for performing abhishek to the lord. All the corridors around the pond, which once were part of the circumambulatory path, are now modified into queues for the pilgrims who arrive for a glimpse of the lord. And yes, it is only a glimpse that you get, and a moment to touch and bow, before you are whisked off by the multitude of pujaris whose sole concern seems to be the making of more and more money from the devout.

The temple opens in the morning at 4 am with a special aarti  the one of its kind Bhasma Aarti  where the aarti is performed with sacred ash (Bhasma). Since ancient times, this bhasma used to be the fresh and burning hot ash from a funeral pyre, since Lord Shiva is believed to live in and enjoy the atmosphere of a cremation ground. However, now, the temple has changed its ways in keeping with modern times and the aarti is now performed with bhasma made with cow dung, what we call Vibhooti. While those who have seen the original aarti (which was performed till about 15years ago) maintain that it was a different experience which cannot be recreated

There are many smaller shrines surrounding the main sanctum, which line the outer corridors of the temple. Some of them are quite ancient and have interesting stories attached to them. There are supposed to be 84 Mahadev (Shiva) shrines in Ujjain, many of which are within this temple. Of these, the most important are Swapneshwara Mahadev (the one who helps ridding one of nightmares), Chandradityeshwara Mahadev, Trvishtapateshwara Mahadev, Anadikalpeshwara Mahadev, and Vruddhakaleshwara Mahadev (which is considered by some to be the original Jyotirlingam). There are also shrines to other deities such as Ganesha, Hanuman and the navagrahas within the temple grounds


It is well connected to all major railway stations in India. Direct train services are available to Bhopal, Indore, Pune, Malwa, Delhi and many other cities. Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in Indore is the nearest airport to Ujjain, which is situated 55 km away. Taxi services are available from Indore airport to Ujjain, costing about Rs 1000. International travelers can get connecting flights to Indore from Delhi (800 km) or Mumbai (655 km) airport.

Temple Timings:

4 am to 11 pm

Temple Telephone Number:


Temple Address:

Sri Mahakaleshwar Temple


Madhya Pradesh – 456006


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