Located at the ancient city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Shri Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake. Lord Shiva here is in the form of Swyawambhu, emanating the power from itself against other images and lingams which were ritually established and invested later with mantra-shakti.
Just as any other Jyotirlinga, this is also where Shiva appears as partless reality. The primary image is the lingam here too, which symbolizes the eternal nature of Shiva, the infinite nature of Shiva, and the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar.
The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga faces south, thus is dakshinamurthy. This is unique among other Jyotirlinga since other Jyotirlinga faces other directions rather than south. There is an idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev sanctified in sanctum above the shrine. One can also see the images of Ganesh, Parvati, and Kartikeya in west, north, and east of the sanctum. Further south, is an image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Visitors can worship the Nagchandreshwar idol on the third storey, which only opens on the day of Nag Panchami.
The entire temple has five levels, including the underground. Massive courtyard with massive walls surrounds the temple. The shikhara is made with great details in terms of sculptural finery. To the underground sanctum, the brass light lights the way. Unlike other shrines, the prasads offered here can be offered to others too.
Everyone agrees that the temple is majestic, with its Shikhar pointing to the sky, facing the skyline and evoking awe and reverence amongst all. It even dominates the life of the city and the people, especially with the strong connection with the ancient Hindu traditions in the area.
Like most Shiva temple, a huge fair is organized at Mahakaleshwar on the day of Maha Shivaratri, with the worship continuing throughout the night.
Other times, the temple is open from 4 am to 11 pm.
There is a Shri Swapaneshwar Mahadev temple in the precinct of Mahakaleshwar temple; this is where people pray to Lord Shiva and realize their dreams. It is said that those who pray to Sadashiv, their wishes are fulfilled since Sadashiv Mahadev is empathetic, benevolent and easy to please.
During the times of Tamil Tevarams in the 7th century C.E., the temple was revered in the hymns of Tirugnanasambandar, Sundarar, Tirunavukkarasar.
The History of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
When Sultan Shams-ud-din iltutmish raided Ujjain in 1234-1235, the temple was destroyed. Later, the Mahakaleshwar temple was again rebuilt by Maratha general Ranoji Scindia in 1736 CE. It was further developed by other dynasties, including Mahadji Scindia, Daulat Rao Scindia’s wife Baiza Bai. Major programs during the reign of Jayajirao Scindia used to be held in this temple. Today, the temple is under the protection of Ujjain district’s collectorate office.
Hindu Scriptures and Legends
In the ancient times, the city was known as Avantika, instead of Ujjain, and was renowned for its beauty and its position as a devotional epicenter, according to the Puranas. Back then, students went to the city to learn about the holy scriptures. Legend has it that then ruler of Ujjain, Chandrasena, was a sacred devotee of Lord Shiva and he worshiped Lord Shiva day and night. As he was chanting the words, one day, a farmer’s boy named Shrikhar was walking on the street and heard the king. The boy joined the king and started to pray together with him. But the guards removed him and sent him to the outskirts of the city, near the river Kshipra. It was during that time the rivals of Ujjain, King Ripudamana and King Singhaditya of the neighboring kingdoms attacked Ujjain. When the boy heard this news, he started to pray to Lord Shiva that the city be protected from the invasion.
The neighboring Kings were successful to invade the city with the help of powerful demon Dushan, who was blessed by Lord Brahma. The news that boy was praying to Lord Shiva spread across, and many devotees started to pray together to Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva heard the pleas, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Mahakala and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasena. The devotees requested Lord Shiva to reside in the city and become a protector of the city. Since then, he has been residing in the city in the form of Mahakala in a Lingam.
Lord Shiva also told the devotees that whoever prayed him through the Mahakala, they would be blessed and freed from fear of death and diseases and that they will be under the protection of the Lord himself.