Ujjain, considered to be one of the holiest cities of India, is an ancient city situated on the eastern bank of the Shipra River in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. Ujjain is one of the four sites for the Kumbh Mela, the largest peace-time gathering on the planet that attracts 100 million people to the festival.
This makes Ujjain an important place of Hindu Pilgrimage. To add to that, it is also home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines to the god Shiva. Ujjain is one of the most glorious cities of ancient India as it was also known to be the educational hub of various Indian scholars. The immense wealth of Ujjain in terms of religion, architecture, and educational value makes this a top attraction amongst not only Indian travellers but also amongst foreign tourists as well. Ujjain is located at a distance of 52 km from Indore, which is also the nearest major airport.
Places to Visit
Mahakaleshwar Temple, located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Mahakal lingam at this temple is believed to be Swayambhu (self-manifested), obtaining currents of Shakti (power) from within itself. Mahakaleshwar is also one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas in India.
Another factor that makes Mahakaleshwar one of the most revered Jyotirlingas in India is the fact that the Mahakaleshwar idol is Dakshina Mukhi, facing south, unlike all the other Jyotirlingas. Considered no less than a Hindu pilgrimage, the Bhasma-Aarti of Mahakaleshwar Temple is hugely popular amongst the devotees.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple complex is a spacious courtyard with sculptural finery and sophistication that is influenced by Maratha, Bhumija and Chalukya styles of structural design and is complete with impressive lingam sculptures of Mahakaleshwar. It also has the inscriptions of Omkareshwar and Nagachandresvara and images of Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati. The temple, which is spread over five levels, sees a huge throng of devotees during the Maha Shivaratri festival.
Kal Bhairava Temple
Bhairav is a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva, and Kal Bhairava is the most important among the eight Bhairavas. If ancient scriptures are to be believed, Kal Bhairav temple is said to be related with the Tantra cult, a secret religious sect who thrived upon black magic.
There is a Shivalinga in this temple which during Mahashivratri attracts thousands of visitors to this religious site.
Ram Mandir Ghat
Ram Mandir Ghat is of immense religious significance to Hindus because it is one of the four locations where the Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years.
It is considered to be one of the oldest bathing Ghats in connection with the Kumbh celebrations. Millions of people throng this place during the mega Kumbh festival as it is believed that a dip here can wash off all your sins. Watching the sunset from the Ram Mandir Ghat is one of the most enchanting scenes you’ll experience.
The Kumbh Mela is one of the most extraordinary human gatherings on the planet. Held in India, the fair commemorates the legendary Samudra Manthan event in Hindu Mythology. The fair takes place only once in every twelve years for twelve days which are equivalent to the twelve years of the Hindu gods in the mortal world. The banks of river Ganga at Haridwar, river Godavari at Nashik, the confluence of river Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad and river Kshipra at Ujjain serve as the venues for this huge carnival.
The Kumbh is held every three years in one of the four cities, Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain. The last Kumbh Mela was held in Ujjain in 2016. The next Kumbh Mela will be held in Ujjain in 2028.
Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus and people from all over the world gather together at a place to bathe in a sacred river. From ancient times, four fairs are widely recognised as the Kumbh Melas: the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Allahabad Kumbh Mela, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha and the Ujjain Simhastha. These four fairs are held periodically at one of the four places by rotation. The main festival site is located on the banks of the river Ganga at Haridwar, Sarasvati at Allahabad; the Godavari at Nashik; and the Shipra at Ujjain. Bathing in these rivers is believed to clean people of all sins.
The Ujjain Kumbh Mela is a pompous and colourful event and is a treat for travellers. It is an enriching experience which immerses the attendees of the fair in the colours of spirituality and old world charm. One is never too young or too old to attend the Kumbh Mela. A ceremonial bath in these holy rivers is considered to be the essence and most significant ritual of this festival. It is believed that a holy dip in these rivers cleanses the soul of individuals and frees them from all their sins, as the rivers turn into the areas of sanctity during the favourable time of the Kumbh Mela.
The Harsiddhi Temple boasts of an idol of Annapurna painted in dark red colour between the idols of Mahasaraswati and Mahalaxmi.
This temple was almost in an irreparable condition, until the Marathas decided to reconcile it. This is the reason why the temple has a Maratha touch to it.
Situated on an island based in the Shipra River, this Palace holds immense religious significance. It was constructed in 1458 AD. The Palace is flanked on both sides by the waters of the rivers and the technical aptitude of the predecessors can be seen in the man-made tanks and channels.
It was so celebrated in the past that once Emperor Akbar and Jehangir had visited this gorgeous monument, which is reflected in the two Persian inscriptions that are found in one of the corridors of the palace. It was broken down during the reign of the Pindaris, but Madhavrao Scindia saw the inner beauty of this monument and decided to restore it.
Unlike the other architectural marvels in Ujjain and MP as a whole, Pir Matsyendranath is not a monument that is going to be eye-catching. It was constructed in remembrance of the greatest leaders of the Natha sect of Saivism-Matsyendranath, very much like all the other monuments.
When excavations were carried out in this area, some antiques dating back to the 6th and 7th century were discovered. This is a famous attraction on the banks of River Shipra.
The architectural marvel Jantar Mantar (also called the Vedh Shala Observatory), established in the 17th century is the oldest to be constructed among the group of five observatories ( Jaipur, Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi). Maharaja Jai Singh took onto its construction in 1719 to help the Hindu scholars and astrologers with their research and studies. Jantar Mantar, an outcome of great diligence has not only served as the research station to astronomers in the old times but also continues to serve its astronomical as well as tourism purpose even today. Visiting the place would make you learn about the ways by which time, revolutions, and position of celestial bodies were calculated in the bygone age. Everything you see would surely make you think about the richness of the king’s intelligence. Furthermore, the place is a paradise for stargazers.
The studies of motions and orbits constituted here have bought it the name of ‘Yantra Mahal’. It has different yantras such as Samrat Yantra, Sun Dial, Niyati Chakra, etc. The primary purpose behind the construction of Jantar Mantar was to illustrate and compile the data collected by astronomical calculations, the results of which helped in the study of the movement of sun, planets and their moons. Moreover, the observatory in Ujjain is the only observatory where astronomical research is still carried out. Several data including the study of planetary motions get published every year. Jantar Mantar indeed is a work of intelligence which undoubtedly has brought grandeur to the Indian Architectural works.
Legend has it that this is the very place where Bhartrihari, the step brother of Vikramaditya and a very renowned poet used to live and meditate after relinquishing all the luxuries of life.
The caves are situated on the banks of River Shipra, adjacent to the temple of Gadkalika, this is the reason the Caves were a serene place to be in and hence accentuating Bhartrihari’s concentration while meditating.
Chaubis Khamba Temple
Chaubis Khamba Temple is a captivating historical wonder dated back to the 9th or 10th century. The entrance showcases the images of guardian goddesses of the Temple – Mahalaya and Mahamaya with their names inscribed on the footsteps of the temple.
This place is a must visit for the immense tranquility that it has to offer.
Must Try Food in
1. Bholaguru & Sons
2. Shree Ganga Restaurant
3. Empire Restaurant
4. Lotus Restaurant
5. Kesar Vegetarian Restaurant & Cafe
6. Shree Ji Restaurant
7. Maa Vaishnavi Restaurant
8. Lotus Restaurant
9. Sathi Cafe
10. The Top Floor Restaurant & Cafe
How To Get Here
Ujjain is well connected to most Indian cities via a good network of roads and railways.
Nearest aerodrome is the Indore Airport which is 55 km away from the city. Indore is connected to all major cities via air and it wouldn’t be a problem to reach Ujjain from Indore as the cabs are available in plenty.
Nearest Airport: Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport (IDR) – 51 kms from Ujjain
Ujjain is well connected by state road transport public bus services. Regular bus services are available from major cities of MP to Ujjain. Super fast and Deluxe A/C buses are also available on these routes. Ujjain is very much traversable via road.
Ujjain Junction Railway Station is a major railway station itself and is connected to all the major stations of the country.